Visa, the world’s largest electronic payments network, is reportedly joining the growing list of financial giants getting to know blockchain.
Back in the days when Bitcoin was better known for its volatile currency, all three major credit cards processors (Visa, MasterCard and American Express) had summarily written off Bitcoin as a non-threat to their businesses. Visa CEO Charlie Scharf said that that while cryptocurrency is touted as “frictionless”, it is more complex than meets the eye. “People talk about things like frictionless and things like that, and when you actually dig through it, it’s really not the case. We feel very comfortable with the business that we have here,” he reassured investors during a conference call in January 2014.
Visa had also gained a reputation among some as an aging dinosaur when it comes to innovation. A former executive at Visa commented that it would take the giant 15 years to develop what Fraud Sciences, an Israeli fraud detection firm bought out by PayPal in 2008, had created.
But this may be changing as it becomes evident that blockchain technology harnesses the potential to revolutionize everything from currency transfers to securities trading.
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Rajat Taneja, executive vice-president of technology at Visa, reportedly told India-based news site Livemint:
“For now, the focus of this technology innovation centre will be on Visa Checkout and mVisa (Visa’s two new digital mobile payment products), but for certain, India will soon have teams that will jointly work with our two research labs in US and Singapore in studying the many aspects of blockchain.”
Visa has 400 engineers working at the technology innovation lab it opened in Bengaluru, India, last week, and expects the number to grow to 1,000.
Visa, whose market capitalization is nearly equal to that of MasterCard and American Express combined, would become one of the largest financial companies to get involved with blockchain technology.