Global payments giant Visa earned the ire of the bitcoin community earlier this year when CEO Charlie Scharf stated that he didn’t see bitcoin and its technology as posing a significant threat to its operations.
Now, however, new comments from Visa senior vice president of digital solutions Sam Shrauger suggest that the company may be reevaluating bitcoin.
In a new interview with The Australian Financial Review (AFR), Shrauger confirmed that while the company is not currently responding to developments in the bitcoin space, it could be well positioned to do so in the future, should circumstances require.
Shrauger told AFR:
“Visa is not a currency, it’s a network. We can process real or virtual currencies to the extent that it makes sense. So, [facilitating bitcoin payments] is possible but we are not thinking about it today.”
Shrauger further explained that Visa has no interest in creating a Visa-branded digital currency, as has been suggested of some of its competitors who have sought to secure digital currency-related patent filings.
Shrauger formerly served as vice president of global product and design for online payments powerhouse PayPal, serving the company from 2004 to 2012.
The interview took place at Visa Labs in San Francisco and followed the late July launch of Visa Digital Solutions, a new company initiative that seeks to support new payment methods and encourage technology that protects consumers and innovation.
Emphasis on innovation
Notably, the comments come at a time when Visa is trying to increasingly align its brand with the ongoing revolution in digital and mobile payments.
Visa recently opened Visa Labs, a San Francisco-based office meant to inspire next-generation ideas for the company, and unveiled its version of an online credit card, Visa Checkout, designed to increase the speed and ease of e-commerce for web consumers.
Shrauger likened Visa’s strategy shift to those that seek to embrace the new changes being brought on by technology, stating:
“We are now seeing connected thermostats and cars and everything – our view is that a lot of those things will become points of transaction.”
Shrauger’s comments, while not necessarily indicative of the company’s, suggest that there are at least some members of Visa that may be considering the possibilities posed by bitcoin and its related technologies.
However, Shrauger’s open answers to digital currency-related questions may be indicative of his extensive background in electronic payments.
PayPal has steadily increased its visible support for digital currency of late, with corporate strategist Roman Leal joining Blockchain’s Peter Smith for a panel talk at The North American Bitcoin Conference on 20th July.
PayPal also notably held an ‘Introduction to Bitcoin’ event in San Jose, California on 31st July.
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