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Visa partners with First Boulevard, advancing digital currency roadmap

By Pavithra R

February 04, 2021

  • Europe
  • VISA
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Visa partners with First Boulevard, advancing its approach to digital currencyVisa has announced partnering with First Boulevard, a digitally native neobank focused on building generational wealth for the Black community.

Under the partnership, First Boulevard will pilot Visa’s new suite of crypto APIs, empowering their customers to purchase, custody and trade digital assets held by Anchorage, a federally chartered digital asset bank. The pilot will play a crucial role in supporting API capabilities that help additional Visa clients access and integrate crypto features into their product offering, anticipated to launch later this year.

The development of Visa’s crypto APIs marks the next phase of the company’s digital currency strategy, focused on expanding the company’s role as a network-of-networks. During the initial test and learn phase, Visa will focus on how FIs lacking their own digital currency infrastructure can leverage its platform for tapping into the world of crypto assets and blockchain networks.

“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,” said Jack Forestell, chief product officer, Visa.

By partnering with First Boulevard, Visa aims to level the playing field to access new technologies. As part of Visa’s longstanding commitment to narrowing the racial wealth gap, the firm has also partnered with a series of businesses to meet their missions to serve underrepresented groups. These series include collaboration with CapWayOneUnited Bank and Urban One to provide financial and business services that cater to the Black community’s needs, increase financial education and help bring the benefits of digital to everyone, everywhere.

First Boulevard will also introduce First Boulevard Visa Debit card, which offers digital-first features, including a Cash Back for Buying Black program, early access to wages with Early Direct Deposit, and financial education and budgeting tools to improve spending habits. As a Visa FinTech Fast Track partner, First Boulevard will be first to pilot the new suite of crypto APIs. The neobank plans to incorporate financial literacy education into their core platform with bite-sized “playlists” for consumers to listen in order to learn key concepts about money and investment.

“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,” said Donald Hawkins, president and chief executive officer, First Boulevard.

As part of the initial pilot program, Visa plans to enable First Boulevard to connect to the infrastructure provided by Anchorage to allow their customers to buy and sell Bitcoin.

“Visa’s crypto APIs pilot program is a significant step forward both for the proliferation of crypto as an asset class and for accessibility and inclusion in payments and financial services. We are thrilled to be working alongside Visa and First Boulevard to build the infrastructure for a more secure and equitable financial future,” said Diogo Monica, president and co-founder, Anchorage.

Recently, Visa unveiled VisaNet +AI, AI-powered innovations for smarter payments.

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