TL;DR: Characterizing it as “another significant milestone in the mainstream adoption of crypto as a genuine utility,” popular US-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced itself as a first pure-play ecosystem company to receive Visa membership. It’s the latest public relations move by the credit card giant, continuing an obvious recent flirtation with the future of money.
Visa Continues Its Crypto Flirtation
“Visa membership will enable us to further improve the customer experience, making it easier to spend cryptocurrency in everyday situations,” Coinbase explained. “This membership will enable us to offer more features for Coinbase Card customers; from additional services to support in more markets — all elements that will help to evolve and enrich the cryptocurrency payment experience.”
Significance of a “pure-play” and “membership” relationship with Visa isn’t exactly clear beyond platitudes, but it might mean less reliance on bridging services such as Paysafe. The UK online payments company helped Coinbase Card previously work its way through Europe, including the UK, Italy, and Spain, perhaps as a test of crypto’s viability and marketability in modern, sophisticated economies. Coinbase becoming a principal member might mean it no longer has a need for companies such as Paysafe to go-between it and Visa or any other credit card service in the future.
At present, half of Coinbase customers use the card regularly, and it has penetrated more than two dozen markets around the world, allowing users to spend 10 different types of cryptos for everything from “funding holidays abroad to trips on public transport,” the exchange stressed, “making their crypto work for them in everyday situations.” While widely lauded as a significant boost for the ecosystem, there is definitely something brewing on Visa’s part when it comes to crypto. The narrative is shifting from crypto as an alternative to legacy banking and credit to an embrace: censorship resistance and relative transaction privacy be damned.
Cuy Sheffield, in an earlier twist, Visa’s head of crypto, recently shared his thoughts about adoption, prompted by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong’s Twitter thread on the history of costs associated with the technology of messaging. “I’d argue there are some really interesting use cases and scenarios that could drive mainstream consumers to spend Bitcoin instead of traditional dollars or stablecoins in the future that are under-discussed in Bitcoin, fintech, and traditional payments circles,” Sheffield insisted. The flirtation continues.
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