Financial services giant Visa has revealed that over $1 billion in cryptocurrency was spent using its cards in the first half of 2021.

The company has teamed up with more than 50 cryptocurrency-related companies, including exchanges FTX and Coinbase, to allow its clients to convert and pay with digital assets at over 70 million merchants across the world.

“The merchants don't have to change anything. It will be the same as any other Visa transaction to them. But on the backend, the crypto assets are instantly converted into fiat,” Cuy Sheffield, head of cryptocurrency at Visa, told Business Insider today.


Sheffield added that there's a growing number of consumers trading and holding cryptocurrency. “Then you have millions of merchants who don't really understand crypto," he said. "They don't want to have to update their point of sales and terminals and figure out what a blockchain is.”

Speaking to CNBC, Visa CFO Vasant Prabhu said that the company aims to "create an ecosystem that makes cryptocurrency more usable and more like any other currency."

In late March, Visa announced that it would enable transactions settled using USD Coin on its payment network. A pilot launched earlier in the month saw crypto trading app send a USDC transaction to Visa's Ethereum address at digital asset bank Anchorage.

However, Visa has no plans to follow the likes of Tesla and MicroStrategy by buying Bitcoin for its own corporate coffers. "We don’t hold cryptocurrencies on our balance sheet today," Prabhu said, adding that the company holds currencies that "we get paid in or we pay people in," such as the dollar, pound or euro. "So we don’t have plans to hold cryptocurrency because it’s not typically the way we get paid or the way we pay people.”

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