Visa Hastens Institutional Crypto Adoption With New Advisory Arm

Card giant Visa recently made a statement with the purchase of its first NFT, and now it is going deeper down the rabbit hole. The $452 billion company is introducing an advisory business to hold the hands of its institutional clients who want to traverse the cryptocurrency terrain. Dubbed the Global Crypto Advisory Practice, Visa's new arm will exist as part of Visa Consulting & Analytics (VCA) and is a growing sign of the institutional adoption of cryptocurrencies.

Visa reportedly responded to client demand and cited its own research as the catalyst for the new division, saying crypto awareness among financial decision-makers globally hovers at over 90%. In addition, close to 40% of crypto holders would probably change their main bank to one that offers crypto products if given the chance. Visa wants to help institutions to get off the sidelines on crypto and strategize. The company has already signed on UMB Financial as a VCA client.

Visa is seemingly targeting financial institutions, retailers, and even central banks that are interested in building “crypto rewards programs and [central bank digital currency]-integrated consumer wallets,” for example. The company points to a paradigm shift in corporate America and beyond in which clients are ready to move past the experimental phase and into innovating on crypto.

NFT Push

Visa is no stranger to the blockchain and was an early mover when it purchased its first NFT in August. The company plunked down close to $150,000 for a digital avatar CryptoPunk NFT, which it paid for in the Ethereum cryptocurrency. According to social media accounts, Visa's NFT portfolio soon expanded when an overly eager cryptocurrency community allegedly started flooding Visa's digital wallet, which was apparently doxed, with more NFTs.

Visa has also partnered with former MLB player Micah Johnson on an NFT initiative. Johnson, who is behind the digital collection known as Aku World, is teaming up with Visa to support the next generation of creators so that they understand blockchain technology and can profit from using it.

Johnson's Black NFT Astronaut, Aku, was recently featured at the Art Basel show in Miami, Fla. The athlete turned digital artist created Aku after hearing his nephew ask if astronauts can be Black. Johnson partnered with cryptocurrency exchange FTX for the exhibition, which was a hybrid of NFT and IRL (in real life) attractions. It gave participants the opportunity to create their own crypto wallets, collect NFTs and mint avatars that exist in Aku World, and can be minted into NFTs that can be traded.

Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa, recently said that NFTs are ushering in a “whole new class” of the mainstream across art, music, and culture into crypto.

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