Worldpay is already processing billions of dollars of crypto purchases. Now the card-payments giant is diving deeper into crypto.
The unit of FIS has a network of more than 1 million merchants that it could use to mainstream crypto payments — a sector that’s been dominated to date by a handful of crypto-native companies. And it works with four large U.S. crypto exchanges: Binance, Coinbase, Crypto.com, OKEx.
It’s planning to leverage those relationships to move beyond allowing consumers to buy crypto with credit or debit cards, its primary crypto business at present. With a big bet on stablecoins, Worldpay is hoping to mainstream crypto payments with two new products it’s readying for release.
First, it plans to let crypto-native businesses such as crypto exchanges accept fiat payments via Visa or Mastercard and convert the proceeds to stablecoins, said Nabil Manji, head of Crypto and Emerging Business at Worldpay. This product, especially useful for companies that use stablecoins as their reserve currency and prefer not to touch fiat, is expected to launch by the end of June.
The second product, “pay by crypto,” would let any Worldpay merchant accept stablecoins and other cryptocurrencies as payment directly from consumers, online or in person. The merchant would have the option to immediately convert the payment to fiat if it wants. The product is still being developed but could be available later this year or early next year. Instead of paying with a card, consumers could use a crypto wallet — which is a notable move coming from a payment processor that built its business on cards.
This pay-by-crypto product would potentially provide consumers with many more merchants where they could spend their crypto, since Worldpay has more than 1 million merchants worldwide.
The company got its start in crypto in late 2018, building the tools and expertise it needed to process cryptocurrency transactions at scale over time, Manji said. Worldpay did about $15 billion in debit and credit card purchases of crypto in 2021.
Though cards are a big part of Worldpay’s business, it does offer a number of alternative payment methods, such as Alipay, PayPal and WeChat Pay, as well as direct bank transfers in a number of countries.
Worldpay hasn’t said what it will charge merchants yet. While they could bypass Visa's and Mastercard’s interchange rates and avoid chargebacks, crypto transactions carry their own fees, and merchants would have to figure out processes for refunds and disputes.
The move of a major card processor into crypto could magnify the threat crypto poses to Visa's and Mastercard’s payment rails. At the same time, the card networks are making their own moves to get into crypto. Mastercard has a deal with Coinbase on NFTs, as well as another with Bakkt to enable crypto-based debit and credit cards. Visa has cards with Coinbase and BlockFi among others and is testing settling in stablecoins.
It’s not clear if consumers will want to spend their crypto. Cards offer many advantages, such as airline miles, chargebacks and fraud protection and ease of use. Even those who are crypto-savvy are reluctant to spend crypto that fluctuates in value, since that could mean triggering taxes or foregoing a big run-up in price.
Worldpay’s emphasis on stablecoins could help address this, since those tokens are designed to hold a steady value against fiat currencies. And it’s positioning itself to be ready if and when consumers decide they’re willing to pay with crypto.