Visa expands stablecoin settlement capabilities to merchant acquirers

Cuy Sheffield, Head of Crypto at Visa
Cuy Sheffield, Head of Crypto at Visa

Visa, a world-renown payments specialist, announced its next step in modernizing cross-border money movement. Visa is expanding its stablecoin settlement capabilities to the high-performing Solana blockchain and is working with merchant acquirers Worldpay and Nuvei.

How is Visa revolutionizing the crypto payments space?

Through live pilots with issuers and acquirers, the company reveals that it has already moved millions of USDC between its partners over the Solana and Ethereum blockchain networks to settle fiat-denominated payments authorized over VisaNet. When consumers use Visa cards to make a purchase at any of the millions of Visa-accepting merchant locations around the world, they can experience the convenience of nearly instant payment authorizations.

But what they don’t see is that the funds used for their purchase need to move between their bank (issuer) and the merchant’s bank (acquirer). This is where Visa’s treasury and settlement systems enable the clearing, settlement and movement of transactions, making sure the correct amount in the preferred currency is received from the issuer and sent to the acquirer. This happens between nearly 15K financial institutions across over 25 currencies.

“By leveraging stablecoins like USDC and blockchain networks like Solana and Ethereum, we’re helping to improve the speed of cross-border settlement and providing a modern option for our clients to easily send or receive funds from Visa’s treasury. Visa is committed to being on the forefront of digital currency and blockchain innovation and leveraging these new tech to improve the way we move money,” said Cuy Sheffield, Head of Crypto at Visa.

Building on the Pilot

In 2021, Visa began testing how USDC could be used inside its treasury operations, making Visa one of the first major payments networks to test stablecoin settlement on the issuance side. This led to a successful pilot leveraging USDC and the Ethereum blockchain to receive payments from for cross-border volume on their live card program in Australia. now uses USDC to fulfill its settlement obligations on the Visa card in Australia.

Before the pilot, settlement for cross-border purchases made on Visa cards required a days-long currency conversion process and costly international wire transfers. Now, can send USDC cross-border over the Ethereum blockchain to a Visa treasury managed Circle account which reduces complexity of international wire transfers.

Jeremy Allaire, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Circle
Jeremy Allaire, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Circle

“We are excited about the USDC use cases Visa and its partners are driving to create fundamental blockchain innovation. Circle built USDC to provide a functional digital dollar that could move at the speed of the internet to facilitate secure, reliable payments. Expanding the pilot exemplifies how pairing USDC with Visa’s innovation opens up the future of payments, commerce and financial applications,” said Jeremy Allaire, Co-founder and CEO at Circle.

Moving from Issuers to Acquirers

While Visa’s treasury operation continues to test receiving funds onchain from multiple issuer partners, with these new settlement options Visa can send funds onchain to acquirers like Worldpay and Nuvei to help speed up settlement times for their merchants. Worldpay and Nuvei are global acquirers serving merchants worldwide from a diverse range of sectors.

This includes a growing number of merchants interacting with the blockchain and crypto economy including on-ramp providers, games, and NFT marketplaces who may prefer to receive stablecoins over traditional fiat currencies for the card payments they accept. Using Visa’s own Circle account, Visa can now manage settlement payouts in USDC to Worldpay and Nuvei who can then route these payments in USDC to their end merchants.

Adding Support for the Solana Blockchain Network

As Visa looked to expand this capability to more clients, there has been significant demand to leverage high performance blockchains that can send and receive stablecoins with higher speed and lower costs. Visa chose to add support for Solana as a high performance blockchain that its partners can choose to send or receive USDC settlement payments.

This makes Visa one of the first major international payments companies at scale to directly utilize Solana for live settlement payments between its clients. The Solana blockchain sees 400 millisecond block times, averages 400 transactions per second (TPS) and typically surges to more than 2K TPS across a variety of use cases during periods of peak demand.

Forging New Partnerships

With an eye towards the future in an increasingly digital financial landscape, Visa is forging ahead with new partnerships and embracing the innovative potential of digital currencies. Visa’s work with Worldpay and Nuvei represents a significant stride in this direction.

Jim Johnson, President of Worldpay Merchant Solutions at FIS
Jim Johnson, President of Worldpay Merchant Solutions at FIS

Commenting on the initiative, Jim Johnson, President of Worldpay Merchant Solutions, FIS, said, “Visa’s USDC settlement capability enables Worldpay to bring more of our treasury operations in-house and allows us to offer merchants more choices for receiving funds.”

“Diversifying funding options and increasing flexibility is critical to serving the changing needs of global merchants in today’s rapidly evolving commerce landscape,” Johnson further said.

“Stablecoins like USDC are cutting edge payments technology that can enable online businesses around the world to accelerate their growth. Optimizing cross-border transactions is only one use case where stablecoins can benefit businesses. As a leading global payments company, we are constantly focused on innovation, and we’re excited to work with Visa to bring these capabilities to our partners,” commented Philip Fayer, Chair and CEO, Nuvei.