The CEO of Visa Inc. has stated that he does not think that blockchain technology or cryptocurrency is useful to the international credit card company. In an address at Boston College yesterday, Alfred F. Kelly Jr. also stated that he felt the firm was a great example of a fintech success story.
Blockchain is Too Slow for Visa-Style Customer Payments
During a luncheon with executives at Boston College Executives Club, Kelly spoke about two of the hottest fintech topics of recent years – cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. In response to questions posed by audience members, the CEO stated that he did not feel either innovation is much use to Visa in the short-term.
Kelly stated that blockchain was designed to handle low-volume, high-value transactions. He went on to say that such value transfers were the opposite of what Visa had become known for. According to a report in BizJournals, Kelly said:
“It’s an interesting technology… It isn’t really at its core, for us, a good technology.”
He also claimed that the technology would never be able to handle the number of transaction that Visa could.
Despite his reservations about blockchain technology for consumer customers of Visa, Kelly did admit that there was room for the innovation in the company’s business-to-business department. He went on to talk about a blockchain-inspired platform that the California-based payments giant has been working on called Visa B2B Connect.
That said, like fellow credit card firm Mastercard, the company does have a dedicated research department studying the implications of blockchain technology and other bleeding-edge innovations. The group is based in Palo Alto, California and comprises of 275 specialists.
When addressing cryptocurrency itself, Kelly said Visa was looking at the digital asset space, but does not think Bitcoin and other virtual currencies were much use as a payment vehicle in the immediate future.
Even though Visa executives are clearly not overly enthused by the fintech innovation that is blockchain and cryptocurrency, Kelly did claim his company was still a leader in the technology space:
“I actually tell people I think Visa’s the greatest fintech story in the world.”
He went on to highlight that almost half of all the company’s 17,000 employees work in technology as engineers or cybersecurity specialists.
It hardly seems surprising that an executive that thrives on profits created by serving as a financial middleman would be unexcited by cryptocurrency though. Currencies built using blockchain technology completely remove the necessity of payment processing firms such as Visa.
As the technology continues to mature, it will likely pose a far greater threat to established players in the financial industry with or without the support of those most at risk.
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