by Emma Newbery | April 20, 2021
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Visa takes another major step forward for cryptocurrency.
In yet another 2021 digital currency milestone, Visa announced it is the first major payments network to settle a 100% cryptocurrency transaction.
What does that mean? Well, let's say you want to use your crypto credit or debit card to buy a new pair of shoes. Previously, the payment would first have to be converted into a fiat (traditional government-backed) currency like U.S. dollars before it could be processed.
This extra step in a transaction adds cost and complications. For example, since cryptocurrency values can fluctuate dramatically, even the slightest delay could change the transaction amount. This can make things tricky for vendors and payment processors.
In this landmark transaction, Visa's payment stayed in cryptocurrency all the way. This means that -- eventually -- crypto businesses won't need to convert to a fiat currency to process payments.
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As a consumer, you may not notice the difference. But it could impact how many businesses accept crypto payments and whether more credit or debit cards will begin to offer this feature.
Not yet. This is a small but exciting step for cryptocurrencies, but it's still only a pilot project.
For now, Visa is working with crypto platform, Crypto.com, and Anchorage digital bank on this new initiative. This partnership will allow Crypto.com to settle transactions with Visa using USD Coin (USDC), which is a stablecoin. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, stablecoins are pegged to fiat currencies (like the U.S. dollar), so they aren't as volatile as other cryptocurrencies.
Visa expects to roll out the system to more partners as the year goes on.
This program furthers Visa's relationship with Crypto.com. Currently, Crypto.com offers five prepaid Visa debit cards. These cryptocurrency debit cards allow users to spend their digital currency wherever Visa is accepted. Like a debit card, the catch is you need to top up your account with digital currency to cover any spending. Several other top cryptocurrency exchanges also offer this type of crypto debit card.
Right now, you can only get a crypto debit card. However, two companies have said they will launch crypto credit cards later this year.
The waiting list for both cards is now open, but don't get seduced by the word "Bitcoin." It's still a good idea to compare crypto credit cards with other cards on the market. If you qualify for a credit card that pays more cash back for a lower fee, you can always convert your earnings into Bitcoin later.
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Visa's announcement is yet another step toward the mainstream for Bitcoin and other digital currencies. But there's still a long way to go and they are still extremely volatile. If you're considering spending with or investing in cryptocurrencies, tread carefully. Try not to convert money you can't afford to lose.
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Emma Newbery owns Bitcoin. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Bitcoin.
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