Visa Inc, the world’s largest payment processor, launched a global crypto advisory service for its banking clients and merchants on Wednesday, as the adoption of digital currencies gains steam.
The move is aimed at financial institutions eager to attract or retain customers with crypto offerings, retailers looking to delve into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or central banks exploring digital currencies, the company said.
Visa’s services include educating institutions about cryptocurrencies, allowing clients to use the payment processor’s network for digital offerings, and helping manage back-end operations.
A new global study by Visa showed nearly 40% of crypto owners surveyed said they would likely or very likely switch their primary bank to one that offers crypto-related products in the next 12 months.
Visa is set to launch services this year that will allow buying, selling and custody of digital currency through its banking partners.
There are also a number of Visa card programmes that let users earn bitcoin on purchases and the network will also allow its client the use of USD Coin, a stable coin cryptocurrency whose value is pegged directly to the US dollar, to settle transactions on its payment network.
However, for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to be used as a medium of exchange, price stability is needed, Visa’s chief financial officer, Vasant Prabhu, told Reuters.
“If the price is going to fluctuate from $60 000 to $50 000in a few hours, it’s a very difficult thing for a merchant to accept (bitcoin) as a currency,” Prabhu said.
“I don’t know if cryptocurrencies like bitcoin will ever be a medium of exchange. Stable coins will,” he said, adding that Visa would facilitate such transactions when the time was right.
By Kim Lyons for The Verge
Google has unveiled new tools to help people planning their first post-vaccination vacations, as COVID-19 restrictions and requirements still vary widely among domestic and international travel destinations.
A Google search for flights, hotels, or things to do will now also bring up results for any COVID-19-related travel advisories or restrictions at the searcher’s destination. Google has added additional travel restriction details, including whether quarantine is required or if you have to show proof of immunisation or a negative COVID-19 test. Users can choose to receive updates about when restrictions are lifted or added for a given destination. The updates are country-specific and state-specific within the US.
Under the “explore” tab on Google’s travel page, people can browse not just for flights but filter destinations by interests, like beaches or skiing. When you choose a destination, you’ll get the updated information on any travel advisories or restrictions as well.
After pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions kept many people at home much of last year, Google isn’t the only company preparing for the return of travel. Expedia Group — which includes online travel agent (OTA) websites Expedia, Vrbo, Travelocity, Hotels.com, and others — created its Travel Advisor tool to help customers plan trips and follow any COVID-19 restrictions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends Americans delay travel until they’ve been fully vaccinated, after which they can travel safely within the US. The agency has a map showing where travel may be especially risky due to the coronavirus.
And while Americans are still barred from travelling to many international destinations, a European Union official told The New York Times over the weekend that Americans fully vaccinated against the coronavirus should be able to visit the EU this summer.