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Visa Makes Wirex its Valentine in New Deal, Offering Crypto Cards to APAC and UK Regions

2 mins
Updated by Ryan James
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In Brief

  • Crypto payments giant Visa onboards Wirex to expand crypto payments business.
  • The new partnership will look to penetrate the Asia-Pacific region, whose interest in crypto is growing, despite bans in several countries.
  • Wirex will likely face hurdles in Cambodia and Thailand, both of whom do not recognize crypto payments.
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Crypto payments platform Wirex partners with Visa to expand its customer base in the Asia-Pacific and United Kingdom regions.

According to the agreement, Wirex will become a U.K. and APAC Visa member, enabling the crypto payments firm to extend its services to 40 countries. 

Wirex to Tap Tech-Savvy and Increasingly Affluent APAC Customers

Wirex’s debit and prepaid cards support payments in over 250 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, MKR, DOT, SOL, and MATIC. It added ALGO to its payment options in July 2022.

The new Visa partnership allows Asian consumers to spend crypto at a growing number of APAC merchants. More than half of the region’s population have become active internet users as of August last year. Up to seven percent of an APAC resident’s investment portfolio is allocated to crypto, Forbes estimates

Crypto payments also attract a more affluent clientele who otherwise would not patronize a retailer. A recent BitPay report suggested that Bitcoin was used for large purchases in 2022, increasing the likelihood of wealthy customers frequenting a retailer accepting Bitcoin payments.

In addition to expanding Wirex’s footprint into the burgeoning APAC market, the Visa partnership wants to capitalize on Wirex’s large U.K. market of 5 million customers. According to its whitepaper, Wirex is registered with the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority according to Electronic Money Regulations 2017. Wirex also has a presence in the United States.

Founded by Pavel Matveev and Dmitry Lazarchev in 2014, Wirex launched its crypto payments card with Visa in 2015 to enable crypto holders to pay for merchandise at over 80 million merchants with near-instant point-of-sale conversion. Customers can also receive special over-the-counter trading desk rates. 

Asian Nations Offer a Mixed Bag of Crypto Payment Acceptance

Despite the APAC region’s tech-savvy constituents, Wirex will likely face hurdles in promoting its card’s use in several countries in the Southeast region.

Last year, the Thailand Securities and Exchange Commission banned crypto payments, citing its potential as a money laundering tool. It stressed that the ban does not extend to trading.

The National Bank of Cambodia, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia, and the General Commissariat of the National Police signed a joint statement in 2018 to force all crypto traders to obtain licenses.

Additionally, the Vietnamese government has ruled that cryptocurrencies are not an accepted payment method. Regardless, the country had the highest adoption rate of crypto in 2022, according to Chainalysis’ 2022 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report. 

Arguably, the most infamous and draconian of all Asian crypto bans is in force in China. The state has banned cryptocurrencies and is instead promoting a centralized digital currency currently in an advanced stage of trials.

For Be[In]Crypto’s latest Bitcoin (BTC) analysis, click here.

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...
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