Visa Is Building A Payment Channel Network On Ethereum

Visa has been active in engaging with crypto, and this week is no exception. Reports have emerged that the payment facilitator and financial services firm has deployed it’s first smart contract on Ethereum Testnet.

The move isn’t the first to signal Visa’s increased acceptance to adopt crypto in their operations.

Visa’s Universal Payment Channel

The company is showing clear investment in becoming a leader of payment processing through central banks via crypto. Visa’s first smart contract deployment was a payment channel accepting both Ether and USDC. This is a conceptual protocol in development by the payment processor that will enable interoperability between central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), called a “Universal Payment Channel,” or UPC.

The timing is appropriate given the global discussion around CBDCs. This week alone, Nigeria is looking to be the first country in Africa to launch a CBDC, the Bank of England has released it’s CBDC forum members, and New Zealand’s Central Bank has sought public feedback on CBDCs. Of course, the biggest story in the speculation is China’s recent bitcoin ban paired with rumors of the country’s exploration of a ‘digital yuan.’ Through it all, it’s safe to say that crypto and centralized currencies are at the forefront of most countries treasury departments lately.

Visa’s UPC is being built to support different CBDCs across a variety of blockchains. The company’s head of crypto, Cuy Sheffield, described the initiative as a “longer-term future thinking concept around a way that Visa could potentially help become a bridge between one digital currency on one blockchain and another digital currency on another blockchain.”

Ethereum testnet is host to Visa's first take at a Universal Payment Channel protocol. | Source: ETH-USD on

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It’s All Part Of The Plan

This week’s development is far from the first move from Visa to dig their heels in crypto. Last month, the company purchased a CryptoPunk and released a positive perspective around NFTs. And at the midpoint of 2021, the company shared that over $1B had been spent on crypto-linked Visa cards on the year. Through it all, Visa has shown a clear favorite in Ethereum as well, and now is utilizing the chain once again with the Universal Payment Channel. The company’s clear engagement with Ethereum could prove fruitful to establishing further institution buy-in for the blockchain.

In the corresponding UPC research and insights report released by Visa, the company shows a clear desire to be a “network of blockchain networks” for global transactions. Digital asset tracker 21Shares has described Ethereum as “the most significant single innovation within the cryptoasset and blockchain industry since the creation of Bitcoin in 2009.” Should Visa’s UPC be built on the backbone of Ethereum? There’s good reason to be optimistic looking forward.

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