Within five years, according to Visa CEO Al Kelly, cryptocurrency could become “highly mainstream.” If cryptocurrency takes off, he wants Visa to be right in the middle of everything. He also reported that Visa is working on allowing bitcoin transactions, as well as allowing the cryptocurrency to be used in the 70 million Visa-accepting shops.

Visa CEO Al Kelly discussed bitcoin and his company’s blockchain plan on Tuesday’s Leadership Next podcast with Alan Murray and Ellen McGirt. He was asked what the recent increase in bitcoin’s price meant for his credit card company.

Kelly started, “I’d like to split crypto into two buckets.” “One is the more speculative asset,” he clarified, referring to bitcoin as “digital gold.” The CEO continued “In that category, we’re attempting to achieve two goals. One option is to allow bitcoin purchases using Visa credentials”.

Second, Visa is “working with some bitcoin wallets to allow bitcoin to be converted into a fiat currency and thus be instantly usable at any of the 70 million Visa-accepting locations around the world,” according to Kelly.

“Digital currencies are the other form of crypto,” he continued, adding “We believe that these have a lot of potential to become a modern payment method. In reality, when we look around the world, it may be a catalyst in some emerging markets”.

He went on to say that Visa is “working with a lot of players” in this area. He clarified that “these are currencies that are fiat-backed [stablecoins],” saying, “There are around 35 different players we are working with.”

His words echo what Visa said during its first-quarter earnings call in 2021. “Our strategy here is to work with wallets and exchanges to allow users to buy these currencies using their Visa credentials or to cash out into our Visa credentials to make a fiat purchase at any of the 70 million merchants worldwide where Visa is accepted,” the company told its shareholders.

Kelly was also asked about Visa’s position on cryptocurrency, which is used to reduce transaction costs so that users don’t have to pay as much to Visa and Mastercard as they do now.

He explained, “The thing about our company that I really like is that we don’t choose winners and losers.” “As we sit here talking today, I’m not sure how big of a deal cryptocurrencies are going to be. Can we tell in five years that it was just a fad and not a big deal? Is it going to be very popular, or is it going to be very niche? I’m not smart enough to know, but I am smart enough to make sure that our business is in the thick of it right now, so that if it takes off, we’ll be there to help move the money.”

He then contrasted Visa’s new business model with that of the past, stressing that Visa’s business model used to be all about people using its products to purchase and sell goods and services. “Today, we made the business all about money movement globally,” he said, emphasising: “Any kind of funds that are going to flood, we want to be in the centre of that.”

We definitely want to be prepared if it takes off and we can get our fair share or more of the volume because we anticipate this will take off and become a big deal, and I believe we are off to a good start.