It is a long-held belief that the payment industry will be affected by Blockchain and crypto, and many analysts have pointed out in the past that crypto is a potential disruptor to Visa’s business model. In a surprise move, Visa has listed a job offering in smartrecruiters.com for a technical product manager. This is especially surprising given the fact that last year Visa CEO Al Kelly was quoted saying that cryptocurrencies do not pose a challenge to the company in the payment sphere anytime soon. He further went on to reason that crypto represents a commodity nowadays and first needs to undergo a transition to a payment instrument, only then can it put up the competition to Visa.
The Job Listing
The recent job posting by Visa is the first by the company, and goes to show that it’s serious when it comes to crypto. The gist of the ad listing is that they want someone passionate enough in crypto and finance to work with their research team to develop new products. The position offered is of a Technical Product Manager at Visa Fintech in their Palo Alto office, the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley. The package is not mentioned in the listing, although this sentence “The person will…..report to the Head of Crypto within Visa’s Fintech Product group ” hints that the pay scale offered will be one that can’t be refused.
Even though the official stance of the company, at least according to its CEO, is that crypto is no threat as of now, Visa has been placing its bets on this new technology for sometime. In 2018 Visa bought a crypto startup, Earthport, which is a partner in the Ripple. Earthport is a London based company founded in 1997. It is a financial services firm that offers cross-border payments service to banks and financial institutions. The partnership with Ripple is aimed at integrating the Ripple protocol into the firm’s existing payment network to improve international transactions. Visa brought the company at four times the rate the company was trading in the open market leading some to speculate that this could be an indication of Visa’s intention of entering the crypto space.
Visa has been criticized for taking advantage of its dominant position in the payment market to charge exorbitant fees for processing transaction. This has resulted in a legal battle in Europe which led to a ruling, capping the fee which can be charged by the card company. This has not forced the card companies to lower rates in other jurisdictions. This is one of the merits pointed out by crypto enthusiasts as the big selling point, in crypto transactions are virtually free of cost. Due to what Kroger claims to be predatory pricing, on Friday March 1 the company officially announced that its Smith’s Food & Drug stores will not accept Visa cards starting April 3. This prompted a series of events which might lead to Kroger directly accepting crypto using lighting network, hearing this news Morgan Creek Digital founder Anthony Pompliano has suggested that Kroger should deploy the Lighting Network in its stores. And it is suspected that Kroger reached back, in a tweet Pompliano said “Looks like things are progressing. Stay tuned”.
It was foreseen by many analysts that many big names in Wall Street finance and fintech will enter crypto in 2019. This job opening by Visa is a continuation in a series of moves by a number of financial giants in recent weeks, like the launch of Digital Asset Service (FDAS) by Fidelity Investments and the announcement of JPM coin by JP Morgan. These first steps are a positive sign for the wider crypto community faced with direct competition from crypto, as is seen in the case of Kroger, Visa has no option but to innovate. This goes to show that a wider adoption of the technology is inevitable especially by the traditional financial giants who first opposed crypto.
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