Visa Launches Bitcoin, Crypto Cards In 40 Countries

  • FTX is launching bitcoin and crypto-backed debit cards in 40 countries.
  • The exchange partnered with Visa and will focus on Latin America, Asia and Europe.
  • The offering is available to US users, and the partnership will now be extended internationally.

Visa has partnered with one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges, FTX, to launch bitcoin and cryptocurrency debit cards internationally, per a press release.

“The debit cards, which are linked directly to a user’s FTX accounts, are currently available in the United States and are now being rolled out globally in over 40 additional countries, including many across Latin America,” p[er The next phase of the rollout for the FTX-branded Visa debit cards is expected in Europe before the end of the year, with additional regional launches planned for 2023.

Visa, along with its competitors in the marketplace, continues to hold that users of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies still want to use their holdings as a medium of exchange, even amid a bear market downturn.

“Even though values have come down, there’s still steady interest in crypto,” said Visa CFO Vasant Prabhu, per the release. The debit cards simply connect to FTX’s platform enabling users to spend the digital assets in their wallets without needing to remove the assets from the exchange’s platform.

“We don’t have a position as a company on what the value of cryptocurrency should be, or whether it’s a good thing in the long run –– as long as people have things they want to buy, we want to facilitate it,” said Prabhu.

Visa’s major competitor, Mastercard, has also partnered with a number of different companies to offer bitcoin and crypto-backed debit cards. American Express has reportedly expressed interest in offering a similar product as well, though its CEO said it likely would not be “anytime soon.”

FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried discussed Visa and other payment providers entering the ecosystem in a CNBC report: “There’s a decision you have to make as a traditional payments company: do you want to lean into this or do you want to fight against it? I respect the fact that many of them are leaning into it.”

By:

Source: Visa Launches Bitcoin, Crypto Cards In 40 Countries – Bitcoin Magazine – Bitcoin News, Articles and Expert Insights

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Critics by CoinTelegraph

Spending cryptocurrency may become a lot easier. FTX, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, has partnered with payments giant Visa to roll out debit cards in 40 countries worldwide.

The move would allow FTX users to pay for goods and services using debit cards that boast “zero fees.” Plus, card ownership is free, according to the company website.

Sam Bankman-Fried, the most influential person in crypto according to Cointelegraph’s Top 100 in 2022, has long touted his desire to unveil an FTX debit card. His company’s decision to partner with legacy payment rails — as opposed to crypto payment rails such as the Lightning Network — aligns with his views that the future of Bitcoin

The FTX token, the native cryptocurrency of the FTX trading platform, spiked 7% on the news, reaching highs of $25.62. The token’s all-time high is some way off, however, at almost $80.

Spending cryptocurrency may become a lot easier. FTX, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, has partnered with payments giant Visa to roll out debit cards in 40 countries worldwide.

The move would allow FTX users to pay for goods and services using debit cards that boast “zero fees.” Plus, card ownership is free, according to the company website.

Sam Bankman-Fried, the most influential person in crypto according to Cointelegraph’s Top 100 in 2022, has long touted his desire to unveil an FTX debit card. His company’s decision to partner with legacy payment rails — as opposed to crypto payment rails such as the Lightning Network — aligns with his views that the future of Bitcoin .

The FTX token, the native cryptocurrency of the FTX trading platform, spiked 7% on the news, reaching highs of $25.62. The token’s all-time high is some way off, however, at almost $80.

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Why the US is one of the most crypto-friendly countries in the world

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Big for Bitcoin adoption: FTX partners with VISA to offer Bitcoin and Ripple (XRP) to millions of users in 40 countries Crypto News Flash

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New Payment Service Using Same Tech As Zelle And Venmo Will Cut Out Visa And Mastercard Fees

For decades, retailers have protested the fees Visa V -3.3% and Mastercard MA -3.7% charge them to accept credit and debit cards. “Pay by bank” is the latest effort to circumvent those fees by letting people pay directly from their bank accounts. Financial services consulting firm Sionic has partnered with MX, a company that connects fintechs to users’ bank accounts, and Google Cloud Services to launch pay by bank in the United States.

The product lets merchants cut out card acceptance fees, which range from 1% to 3%. Its success in the U.S. depends on whether merchants can incentivize consumers to switch from heavily utilized credit or debit cards. Pay by bank lets consumers bypass Visa and Mastercard’s payment rails and pay directly from their bank account. It’s already popular abroad, particularly in Asia and Europe, but has so far failed to catch on in the U.S. market where 84% of adults have at least one credit card.

While credit and debit cards approach ubiquity in the United States, the card networks are facing scrutiny as interchange fees–charges to merchants to cover the cost of processing transactions–have continued to climb. In 2021, merchants were charged $77.5 billion in credit card fees, which are split between issuing banks and the card networks. In March, Visa and Mastercard were preparing to raise interchange fees even further, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The pay-by-bank product uses the real-time-payments (RTP) network operated by The Clearing House, an organization owned by 23 of the largest banks including Citibank, Wells Fargo WFC -3.1% and HSBC HSBC -1%, with lower fees than the card networks. The Clearing House’s real-time-payments network is also used by Venmo and Zelle to facilitate money transfers. Launched in 2017 in America, RTP aims to speed up bank transfers so they settle instantly – that’s a stark contrast to the days it can take to settle most bank transfers over the ACH network.

“We’re reallocating the control of that merchant-customer relationship away from those expensive rewards credit cards into the hands of the merchants,” CEO and founder of Sionic Ron Herman said. Customers use Sionic’s pay-by-bank option, called ULink, by scanning a QR code at checkout. The option could also appear to consumers as a button within their mobile banking apps. For security, the technology “tokenizes” user account information.

“The merchant never sees the account number for the individual that’s paying because they didn’t present a debit card, they presented a token to the merchant,” says Elizabeth McQuerry, a partner at payments consulting and research firm Glenbrook Partners. With ULink, MX’s technology confirms a customer has the balance available to cover the transaction, and the fund transfer occurs within seconds over the RTP network.

There is no risk merchants will not receive payment or that the customer will overdraft their account. However, once the transaction has occurred, there are fewer options for recourse if there is a dispute. For example, if a consumer orders something online and it never arrives, they will either have to settle the dispute with the merchant or ask their bank to issue a refund.

Card networks have more experience handling fraud and protect customers through things like Visa’s zero liability policy, which requires banks to cover card holders in the event of a fraudulent transaction. “We know Visa is and will remain one of the most cost effective and secure ways to pay and be paid – offering superior functionality and benefits to merchants and consumers at a competitive cost,” a Visa spokesperson said.

Merchants who want customers to use pay by bank will want to handle disputes swiftly, similarly to how Amazon AMZN -4.8% has built customer loyalty through generous refund policies. Merchants eager to accept pay by bank could incentivize consumers to switch over by offering rewards or discounts for using the service. Some merchants are ahead of the curve, offering their own card programs similar to pay by bank.

The Target TGT -4.1% Red Debit card, for example, works by transferring customer funds directly from their bank account to Target’s. In return for using the product, Red Card customers receive up to 5% cash back on their purchases. In addition to avoiding interchange fees, the Red Card gives Target greater control over the customer experience and more access to offer new promotions or products.

Plaid, an MX competitor and one of the most valuable private fintech companies in America, does not currently offer a pay-by-bank service or utilize the RTP network. In 2020, when Visa announced plans to acquire Plaid for $5.3 billion, the Department of Justice blocked it saying that Visa was trying to “eliminate this competitive threat to its online debit business before Plaid had a chance to succeed.”

Visa denied the allegations, claiming that Plaid’s business is “complementary to Visa’s, not competitive.” Mastercard made its move into pay by bank in 2016 by acquiring Vocalink, which offers the service throughout the United Kingdom. Sionic’s product isn’t the first time pay by bank has attempted to gain traction in the United States. In 2014, Merchant Customer Exchange, a payments company owned by a group of big box retailers including Walmart WMT -3.1%, attempted to launch a pay-by-bank product called CurrentC.

The initiative was shut down two years later after failing to gain traction with consumers. Even if merchants are eager to spur adoption, changing consumer payment habits is a slow process, especially when many are accustomed to a quick and simple card experience. It is unclear if Google Cloud Services’ involvement in Sionic’s pay-by-bank product foreshadows bigger plans for the tech giant, since Google has been working on payment technology for over a decade.

Its products have moved through several iterations. In May, Google Pay (a competitor to Apple Pay) was rebranded to Google Wallet. The most recent version is a digital wallet designed to store card information, in addition to tickets or vaccination cards. Last year, the company ditched plans to offer Google Pay users the option to sign up for checking accounts and debit cards through a program called Google Plex.

Given Google Wallet’s history, it wouldn’t be too far a leap for the company to add pay by bank. “The Sionic and MX announcement is likely to be warmly embraced by Google Wallet, which abandoned its own efforts known as Google Cache and Google Plex to provide a direct pay-by-bank option,” CEO and founder of payments firm Crone Consulting, Richard Crone, said.

I cover fintech for the money team at Forbes. I am an NYU graduate with bylines at AMNewYork, Gotham Gazette, and Prague Daily Monitor.

Source: New Payment Service Using Same Tech As Zelle And Venmo Will Cut Out Visa And Mastercard Fees

Related News:

Owner of Chinatown’s Wok Shop defrauded with unauthorized Zelle transactions ABC7 /

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Venmo, Cash App and Zelle are handy, but scams happen. Here’s how to keep money safe The Kansas City Star

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Apple Pay Fees Vex Credit-Card Issuers

Banks are nudging Visa to change the way it processes some Apple Pay transactions, according to people familiar with the matter.

According to people familiar with the matter, banks are pressing Visa to change the way some Apple Pay transactions are processed. Some banks are pushing back, weakening the card network Visa Inc.

To change the way some Apple Pay transactions are processed, according to some. This change will reduce the fees that banks pay to Apple.

According to people familiar with the matter and a document seen by Businesshala, Visa plans to implement the change next year. Apple executives have told Visa officials they oppose the change, the people said. The two companies are in discussion and it is possible that the planned change will not start.

Currently, banks pay the fee to Apple when their cardholders use Apple Pay. Under the new process planned, the fee will not apply to automatic recurring payments such as gym memberships and streaming services.

The dispute reflects a long-running tension between the tech and finance giants. Companies like Apple and Amazon.com Inc.

Consumer payments have been expanding over the years. Banks often bargain with them for fear of being left behind. But deals don’t always work out: Alphabet Inc. NS

For example, Google is dropping plans to introduce bank accounts to users. Apple said in a statement that “our banking partners are an important part of the growth of Apple Pay.”

The company said, “Our bank partners continue to see the benefits of providing Apple Pay and invest in new ways to implement and promote Apple Pay for our customers for secure and private in-store and online purchases. “

Major networks including Visa and MasterCard Inc.

There are effective gateways between banks and Apple Pay, as they help to load banks’ cards into mobile wallets. The change will apply to Visa-branded cards, though other networks may follow suit.

Mobile wallets are smartphone apps on which people can load their debit or credit-card credentials and use their phones instead of tangible cards to make payments. The transaction fee is charged to the buyer’s card.

When Apple introduced Apple Pay in 2014, the iPhone had already discontinued the music player, camera, and GPS system. Banks and card networks are worried it will displace card payments as well.

Banks agreed to pay 0.15% to Apple for every purchase made by their credit cardholders. (They pay a separate fee on debit-card transactions.) Those charges account for most of the revenue Apple makes from its digital wallet, according to people familiar with the matter.

The terms had the potential to be uniquely attractive to Apple. Banks do not charge Google for its Wallet.

Visa and MasterCard also agreed to make an unusual concession to Apple: Apple will be able to choose which issuers it will allow on Apple Pay and which issuers will accept cards, according to people familiar with the matter. Visa and MasterCard generally require that all entities that accept their credit cards must accept them. Apple agreed not to develop the card network to compete against Visa and MasterCard, the people said.

But since then, customers have been slower to adopt Apple Pay than bank and card network executives expected. And some bank executives were outraged when Apple launched its own credit card with Goldman Sachs Group in 2019 Inc.,

People familiar with the matter said, because it made Apple a direct competitor.

Apple said in a statement that it “works closely with approximately 9,000 banking partners to offer Apple Pay to customers in approximately 60 countries and territories.”

Visa has shared its planned technological change with at least a few banks in recent months. A document reviewed by the Journal explains the new process that doesn’t mention fees, but details a change to so-called tokens issued by Visa for mobile-wallet payments.

When consumers load their credit cards on Apple Pay, Visa issues a special token that replaces the card number. This allows the card to work on Apple Pay and also helps protect the card in a potential data breach, among other benefits.

Visa is planning to start using a separate token on recurring automatic payments. This effectively means that after making the first payment on the subscription, Apple will not receive a fee on the following transactions.

According to people familiar with the matter, some of the larger banks first tried to lower their Apple Pay fees around 2017, but were not successful.

By: AnnaMaria Andriotis

AnnaMaria Andriotis reports on credit cards for The Wall Street Journal. She covers Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover as well as the big banks’ credit-card divisions. She also writes about consumer credit broadly, with a focus on issues that have a big impact on U.S. borrowers. She has been a reporter with The Wall Street Journal since 2014 and got her start at Dow Jones more than 10 years ago. You can email AnnaMaria at annamaria.andriotis@wsj.com and follow her on Twitter @AAndriotis.

Source: Businesshala News Exclusive | Apple Pay Fees Vex Credit-Card Issuers

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Visa’s 54 Bitcoin-Linked Cards Pave The Way For Younger Generations To Spend Growing Crypto Wealth

Visa V -0.5% is taking robust steps to connect digital currencies to its global electronic payments network in order to prepare for a financial future where digital assets comprise a meaningful amount of a saver’s wealth.

To date, 54 crypto companies have partnered with Visa to enable crypto spending. Much of this progress comes from the issuance of debit cards using Visa’s FastTrack program, which is targeted towards integrating fintech companies with the Visa network. Over the summer, the firm launched two more products, a crypto rewards credit card in partnership with BlockFi and a debit card with major crypto exchange FTX, which just raised a record $900 million at an $18 billion valuation.

Other crypto-friendly card partners include CoinZoom, Coinbase, Zap, Crypto.com, Bitpanda, Fold, Upgrade, Wirex, and ZenGo.

“We saw this opportunity as these crypto platforms grow, as consumers want to gain access to the liquidity that they have held in these assets, issuing a Visa card could become a bridge that unlocks that value and enables it to be spent at any merchant that accepts Visa,” Head of Crypto at Visa, Cuy Sheffield said.

These projects have gained traction — crypto-linked Visa debit cards facilitated over $1 billion worth of transactions across Visa’s 70 million merchants worldwide in the first half of 2021 alone. $1 billion is only a small fraction of the trillion-dollar payments industry, however retail interest in cryptocurrencies is picking up, suggesting the market has room to grow, especially with younger generations. Sheffield says that no single predominant spending category has emerged in crypto-linked card use.

Survey data suggests that younger generations are increasingly diverting wealth into cryptocurrencies and digital assets. This is especially true for the most affluent members of these generations, which are especially prized by financial institutions and card networks.

A Michelmores survey of 501 ‘affluent Millennials’ in the United Kingdom found that one in five have invested in cryptocurrencies and a CNBC survey of 750 investors conducted in April and May of 2021 reports that nearly half of Millennial millionaires have at least 25% of their wealth in cryptocurrencies. Millennial interest in crypto isn’t limited to the Western world — a recent Mastercard MA -0.1% survey found that Middle Eastern and African Millennials surveyed during February and March of 2021 are especially interested in crypto with 67% agreeing they are more open to using crypto now than they were in 2020.

Meanwhile in Asia, India and China each account for 33% of the $9.4 million worth of weekly peer-to-peer payments volume in the region. In both nations, tech savvy millennials with aspirations of wealth are leading the trade. The Covid-19 pandemic only accelerated this trend by simultaneously spurring savings ambitions and interest in cryptocurrencies.

Approximately 70% of burgeoning retail brokerage platform Robinhood’s $80.9 billion assets under custody came from users aged between 18 and 40. $11.5 billion of those assets under custody are cryptocurrencies, according to the firm’s S-1 filing, and for the three months ended March 31, 2021, 17% of its total revenue was derived from transaction-based revenues earned from cryptocurrency transactions. This number is up from 4% for the last three months of 2020. All of this data suggests high interest among retail traders between 18 and 40 in crypto assets.

As retail brokerage accounts boomed, the crypto market was also hitting new heights, adding to the excitement among younger generations. Bitcoin reached its all-time-high price of $64,654 on April 14, 2021, just after the one year anniversary of the start of the pandemic. The market crashed a month later, bottoming out in July at a $1.2 trillion value for all cryptocurrency in circulation. Since then, the crypto economy has started to recover. The market broke past $2 trillion again on Wednesday, August 11, for the first time in nearly three months.

While investors are still mostly thinking long-term, a time will come when they need to generate liquidity from their holdings. Speaking to that effect, Sheffield argues that even if crypto owners intend to HODL (hold on for dear life, a crypto rallying cry), the day will come when they want to spend.

When that happens, Lisa Ellis, partner and senior equity analyst at research firm MoffettNathanson noted that they won’t want to go through the often arduous process of converting that crypto into fiat because of what Visa is doing.

“Brokerages like Fidelity figured out a long time ago that they should — and Merrill Lynch — figured out that they should issue a card against the balance in your brokerage account because that way you can keep your money in the brokerage account and you’re not constantly moving money,” Ellis said. “It’s basically the same. This is just allowing people to keep funds in what’s essentially a brokerage account and keep it in crypto. And then if they need it for spending fine and people like to do that.”

These developments are unlikely to stop with crypto-fiat payments. In pursuit of creating opportunities for seamless crypto transactions, Visa is finding new ways to appeal to crypto platforms who are looking to expand client offerings. Among these upgrades is the ability for crypto firms to settle payments using a dollar-pegged and quickly-growing stablecoin, USDC. As of writing, USDC’s market cap stands at $27.39 billion.

Typically when transactions are carried out with a crypto-linked debit card offered by a company like Crypto.com, that company converts the crypto to fiat and then sends the funds to Visa, who then sends the funds to the merchant’s bank for the appropriate amount and in the correct currency. Through a partnership with the first federally chartered digital asset bank, Anchorage, Visa will now accept USDC, instead of fiat, from card providers like Crypto.com.

“The goal is if we can make it easier for crypto platforms to issue Visa cards and interact with Visa we think many more — and we’re already seeing a ton of demand in crypto companies coming to us — will have a path to creating a Visa card,” Sheffield said. “We are committed to Visa being the preferred network for crypto wallets and so we want to meet them where they are.”

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Source: Visa’s 54 Bitcoin-Linked Cards Pave The Way For Younger Generations To Spend Growing Crypto Wealth

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Visa And BlockFi Launch 2% Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card

In this photo illustration a Visa logo is seen on a mobile...

Cryptocurrency services company BlockFi launched its first-ever crypto rewards credit card, in conjunction with Visa, to approved clients in the United States on Tuesday. BlockFi’s plans for a credit card were initially disclosed in December 2020 when the exchange released a waiting list for US-based clients, which is now over 400,000 people. BlockFi CEO Zac Prince expects everyone on the waitlist to receive their card around the end of July.

The new offering provides clients with a simple way to acquire bitcoin without having to pay fees or navigate the sometimes complicated onboarding processes at exchanges. BlockFi stands to benefit from utilizing the card as a customer acquisition tool as well as from the fees it will receive from money spent on the card.

“The crypto industry has come a long way since the first Bitcoin payment transaction 11 years ago,” Flori Marquez, Co-Founder and SVP of Operations at BlockFi said. “Today, nearly everyone knows about the important role crypto plays in reshaping the financial space, and our new credit card is set to be another game-changer. This card will make it easier than ever for people to earn Bitcoin back while making day-to-day purchases.”

Holders of BlockFi’s Rewards Visa Card will be able to earn 1.5% back in bitcoin on every purchase, with the payout increasing to 2% on every dollar spent over $50,000 annually. As an incentive to new users, they will receive a 3.5% bitcoin rewards rate for the first 90 days or until they receive $100 worth of bitcoin. The card also offers other benefits such as rebates on trading fees and comes with no annual fee or foreign transaction fees.

These rewards are competitive when compared to other traditional cards. For example, Bank of America’s Customized Cash Rewards credit card offers 3% cash back in one spending category of the customer’s choosing, 2% back automatically on grocery purchases and 1% back on all other purchases.

However, depending on an individual’s spending habits they could be outshone by Gemini, the crypto exchange headed up by the Winklevoss twins, when it launches its crypto rewards credit card this summer in partnership with Mastercard. While BlockFi only offers rewards in bitcoin for now, Gemini will give clients 3% back on dining purchases in any cryptocurrency offered on the exchange on purchases without annual fees or exchange fees. However, the rewards drop to 2% on groceries and 1% for all other purchases.

The launch of the BlockFi crypto rewards credit card also marks a new offering in Visa’s expanding crypto business. The electronic payments company has partnered with several crypto firms to offer Visa debit cards and supported over $1 billion worth of volume through crypto-linked cards in the first half of 2020, but the partnership with BlockFi will bring its first crypto rewards credit card. In 2021, Visa appeared on Forbes’ Blockchain 50 list after applying for over 150 blockchain-related patents and announcing an integration with US-dollar pegged stablecoin USDC.

Card users will receive a 1.5% cashback on an accrual basis for every transaction made through the card, which will then be converted to bitcoin and placed into a BlockFi account in a regular monthly cycle.

“Crypto rewards programs are a compelling way to engage consumers in the crypto economy,” Terry Angelos, SVP and Global Head of Fintech at Visa said. “We’re excited to see programs like the BlockFi Rewards Visa Card, which offer rewards that are relevant to the growing community of digital currency adopters.”

The move by BlockFi comes after PayPal Holdings Inc in October said it would allow customers to hold bitcoin and other virtual coins in its online wallet and shop using cryptocurrencies, a move which could help bitcoin and rival cryptocurrencies gain wider adoption as viable payment methods.

Bitcoin has surged about 160% this year, fueled by demand for riskier assets amid unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, interest in assets perceived as resistant to inflation and expectations that cryptocurrencies will win mainstream acceptance.

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Source: Visa And BlockFi Launch 2% Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card

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Critics:

BlockFi is a New York City-based start-up cryptocurrency financial institution. It lends U.S. dollars against bitcoin and other cryptocurrency collateral, as well as accepting deposits of cryptocurrencies which pay interest to the depositor. BlockFi Co-Founder and CEO Zac Prince has a background both in consumer lending and start-ups.

In February 2018, BlockFi received a $1.55 million funding in a seed round from ConsenSys Ventures, SoFi and Kenetic Capital, among others. In July it secured another $50 million in funding from Michael Novogratz‘s Galaxy Digital Ventures

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