Crypto exchange FTX is partnering with Visa (V) to make it easier for individuals around the globe to use crypto holdings for everyday purchases.
The pair are rolling out Visa debit cards linked to FTX accounts in 40 new countries starting in Latin America, allowing crypto holders to use their digital assets to pay for goods and services from their FTX wallets with Visa's network of 80 million merchants.
The partnership marks the latest in a string of crypto announcements from payments giants, suggesting they continue their efforts to move deeper into the space despite the plunge in cryptocurrency values this year.
“We believe that digital currencies will have a lasting impact on the future of financial services and money movement,” Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa told Yahoo Finance, noting that despite the market’s trajectory, the payments company’s views on crypto remain undaunted and particularly encouraged by the use of crypto stablecoins in global commerce.
FTX and Visa plan to have the offering go live across Europe by the end of the year. The debit card also comes with zero administrative and processing fees.
Visa already supports debit cards issued by Coinbase, Binance and several others including an FTX card for U.S. customers.
The deal is only the start of a “long-term global” relationship, according to both Sheffield and FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.
“We’re excited to partner with one of the world’s largest payment networks to give our users the ability to utilize their crypto to fund purchases at millions of merchants around the globe,” Bankman-Fried said in the announcement release.
The news follows the recent announcement from Mastercard, which said it would offer a risk rating tool to improve fraud prevention for banks and card users interfacing with crypto across its network.
While the volatility of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has not presented a reasonable medium of exchange, stablecoins — which are pegged to the price of other currencies — have shown more promise in global commerce.
On a per capita basis emerging markets have been leading global crypto use over the past two years, a good reason for the partnership to debut its debit card in Latin America.
A global adoption index from crypto firm Chainalysis found that people in middle-income countries where banking and financial services infrastructure are less robust turn to cryptocurrency to fulfill financial needs such as sending remittances or preserving savings.
In the Middle East and North Africa — the fast-growing regions globally for crypto this year — retail transfers under $1,000 make up 80% of all crypto transfers, according to Chainalysis.
While total global retail investment in crypto has evaporated, digital coin trading volume size remains noteworthy to the payments giants.
Year to date, total crypto trading volume sits at $77 trillion, 23% below where the market began in January. For the same period, FTX has carried $3.1 trillion of those transactions (-16%), according to indexing company, Nomics.
For the first quarter, Visa debit card programs processed approximately $2 trillion in total volume. For the same period, it facilitated $2.5 billion in transactions from cards linked to accounts from crypto platforms.
During the same quarter, the company’s crypto arm also introduced a “sandbox” for central bank digital currencies and launched a one-year NFT program for creators. Like the crypto economy itself, both initiatives are meant for Visa to better understand how it can provide a bridge between crypto and traditional commerce.
Year to date, Visa shares have sold off by more than 14% from $217 to $185. In pre-market hours, the stock is little changed.
David Hollerith is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance covering the cryptocurrency and stock markets. Follow him on Twitter at @DsHollers