On July 7, Visa announced that spending on crypto-linked cards in its network topped $1 billion over the first six months of the year. Both Visa and Mastercard have taken steps toward broader acceptance of cryptocurrencies through new cards and other initiatives, suggesting how widespread crypto debit and credit cards could become in the future.

Key Takeaways

  • Visa-branded crypto cards topped $1 billion in spending volume over the first half of 2021.
  • Visa provides a network for several crypto-linked debit cards, as well as some new crypto rewards credit cards.
  • The payment network has also announced plans to settle transactions using digital currency to reduce costs.

Crypto Doesn't Show Signs of Going Anywhere

Despite the constant barrage from crypto detractors, it doesn't appear that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and its competitors are going away.

Several crypto exchanges offer debit cards, some of them branded with a Visa logo. These cards allow users to load up their account with the digital currency of their choice and then use the card to make payments as usual. The card provider converts the cryptocurrency linked to the debit card into the fiat currency of the merchant, such as the U.S. dollar.

To make that conversion process go more smoothly and be more cost-effective, Visa announced earlier this year that it would begin to settle transactions in USD Coin, a stablecoin that helps simplify the settlement process.

Additionally, some exchanges, including BlockFi and Gemini, have announced plans to launch credit cards, some in partnership with Visa and others with Mastercard. 

As large financial companies like Visa and Mastercard deepen their engagement with digital currencies, it solidifies those currencies' place in the modern economy.

That's not to say cryptocurrencies aren't still a risky venture, especially as a speculative investment. The price of Bitcoin reached an all-time high near $65,000 earlier this year, only to drop to roughly half that price within a handful of weeks. 

But as more consumers use digital currencies in their everyday lives, as evidenced by the rising spending on Visa crypto cards, that risk may eventually become more manageable.