Visa has partnered with First Boulevard, a neobank focused on the financial empowerment of the United States black community, to conduct crypto asset application programming interface (API) tests.
According to a February 3rd announcement, First Boulevard will be the first bank to have access to Visa's crypto API, allowing the firm to purchase, custody, and trade digital assets such as Bitcoin, held by American federally chartered crypto bank Anchorage. Through this collaboration, the payment processing giant hopes to better understand ways to facilitate the access to crypto assets for financial institutions lacking specific infrastructure. Visa chief product officer Jack Forestell shed more light on the long-term aim of the API:
We set out to make Visa the bridge between digital currencies and our global network of 70 million merchants and today we are the leading network for crypto wallets with 35 crypto platforms choosing to issue with Visa. [...] With this pilot program, we want to extend the value of Visa to our neobank and financial institution clients by providing an easy bridge to crypto assets and blockchain networks.
Visa potentially integrating Bitcoin and altcoins with its exceptionally long list of partners and customers is a major development, but not an unexpected one. As the BTC Times reported in late October, Michael Novogratz, founder and CEO of cryptocurrency merchant bank Galaxy Digital, predicted that within a year's time, major credit card companies such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express would follow into PayPal's footsteps and launch offerings for merchants to transact in stablecoins and cryptocurrencies.
Visa claims that it chose First Boulevard for this project as part of its commitment to embedding diversity and inclusion into its partnership and go-to-market strategies. Prioritizing firms such as this one reportedly aims to “level the playing field when it comes to access to new technologies.” The bank’s CEO and president Donald Hawkins better explained the institution's purpose and Bitcoin's role in it:
The First Boulevard mission is to help Black America build wealth. [...] We are thrilled to partner with the leader in digital payments, Visa, and leverage their crypto APIs to provide another channel for the Black community to access crypto as a new asset class that can help build Black wealth.