In brief

  • Visa CEO Alfred Kelly said that he sees big potential in cryptocurrencies.
  • Digital assets will be very useful in countries with high numbers of unbanked people, he added.
  • However, it may take several years before Visa fully embraces the nascent technology.

Alfred Kelly, CEO of payments giant Visa, said that his company sees big potential in digital currencies in the years to come, especially in developing markets with significant numbers of unbanked people, according to CNBC’s report published on Friday.

“Crypto is a developing part of payments in the world,” Kelly said, adding, “Ultimately, we could see digital currencies running on the Visa network on a more regular basis,” albeit “a number of years out.”


The company recently acquired Plaid, a company that helps 11,000 financial institutions in the US and 2,700 fintech developers to exchange data.

“We’re a network and increasingly trying to become a network of networks,” Kelly noted, explaining, “Plaid is just at its most simple level another network that we believe fits into a desire to have multiple networks on which we move information and money around the world.”

The Visa CEO added that one of crypto’s biggest advantages lies with the 1.7 billion unbanked people around the world who don’t have access to traditional accounts.

“There are 1.7 billion people on the face of the Earth we think are not banked in a mainstream banking system in whatever country they live in, including some here in the US,” Kelly noted, adding, “We are certainly open to any vehicle that helps facilitate the movement of money around the world. We want to be in the middle of it.”


Simultaneously, Visa plans to cooperate with central banks if—or when—they will start issuing their own central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). While most of these projects are still in the early stages of development, Kelly noted, the company expects that these efforts will come to fruition in the future.

“We continue to expect to work with central banks around the world as they develop digital currencies for the future,” the Visa CEO said. And it looks like that will be with many of them.

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