Digital Asset Payment On-Ramps Accelerating

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a major uptick in the number of companies willing to accept Bitcoin and ETH as payment, with Visa, Mastercard, Venmo, and WeWork leading the charge. The news comes in the midst of a historical rise in the institutional adoption of digital assets, a trend that signifies the growing legitimacy in the public’s eyes.

You might remember a time when the media-perceived absurdity of one man using bitcoin to purchase Papa John’s pizzas made national headlines. Those days are far behind us. Now, bitcoin is being used to buy artwork, video games, gold, and clothes, to name a few. Even Teslas can be acquired with BTC.

Recognizing that digital assets are here to stay, Visa and Mastercard have begun integrating the technology into their offerings. At the end of March, Visa announced that it could now settle transactions with crypto partners in USDC on the Ethereum blockchain, accepting the first-ever payment from its global crypto wallet partner Crypto.com.

“We’re seeing an increasing demand from consumers across the world to be able to access, hold and use digital currencies,” says Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa. “And we’re seeing demand from our clients to be able to build products that provide that access for consumers.”

Not to be left behind by their top competitor, Mastercard also revealed plans to support digital assets on its network. Last week, the financial services stalwart formed a strategic partnership with Ethereum startup studio ConsenSys focused on enterprise blockchain applications.

Even Venmo, whose parent company PayPal began integrating cryptocurrencies as early as October, wants in on the action. Venmo announced that users can now buy, hold, and sell BTC and ETH on their app on Tuesday. With a user base of more than 70 million, this development makes mainstream adoption of digital assets seem all but inevitable.

In a recent statement to Reuters, CEO, and president of PayPal Dan Schulman explained, “We think it is a transitional point where cryptocurrencies move from being predominantly an asset class that you buy, hold and or sell to now becoming a legitimate funding source to make transactions in the real world at millions of merchants.”

And the list goes on. Moving away from traditional payments firms, WeWork also made headlines this week for its own crypto integrations. The company has added cryptocurrencies to its balance sheet and announced that membership fees can now be paid in these digital assets. In fact, Coinbase just became WeWork’s first client to pay its membership in cryptocurrency.

“WeWork has always been at the forefront of innovative technologies, finding new ways to support our members. It only makes sense for us to expand on the optionality we provide by adding cryptocurrency as an accepted form of payment for our members,” said WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani.

The irony of all this institutional adoption is that very few people are looking to spend their crypto in the midst of a bull market. But whether or not you want to spend, the big news of the week is that institutions like WeWork and Venmo are creating an ever-growing list of ways you can.