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Bankchain Briefing: What Visa’s Creator Program says about its interest in NFTs

  • Visa has launched a Creator Program to help digital content creators navigate NFTs.
  • The firm has been quite active in blockchain and crypto-related initiatives over the past year.

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Bankchain Briefing: What Visa’s Creator Program says about its interest in NFTs

Visa is going deeper into NFTs. The card giant recently launched the Visa Creator Program, a one-year program that brings together a global cohort of creators and entrepreneurs involved in digital art, music, fashion, and film, who are interested in engaging with NFTs and blockchain technology. 

Visa has developed the program in collaboration with former Major League Baseball player-turned NFT artist, Micah Johnson. It’s geared towards entrepreneurs who want to incorporate NFTs into their business model, whether they’ve just minted their first NFT or have several drops under their belt. 

The creator economy is one of the fastest-growing categories of small business, with an estimated global market size of over $100 billion. Visa says that around 50 million artists, musicians, and creators currently publish content as a full- or part-time source of income.

Visa’s program is focused on supporting these creators across five areas:

  • Technical mentorship with Visa’s crypto product and strategy team on blockchain networks, smart contracts, and NFT marketplaces  
  • Community building: Exchanging ideas with a network of creators in different stages of their NFT journey
  • Access to thought leaders: Hearing from researchers and professionals working across digital commerce, Web3, crypto, and payments
  • Exposure to Visa’s clients: Engaging with companies across Visa’s network of clients and partners
  • A one-time stipend to help creators with their initial growth

What’s in it for Visa?

Visa says the Creator Program is part of its ongoing efforts to digitally enable small and micro businesses to gain greater access to funding, resources, and expertise. But really, how does Visa itself hope to benefit from the program?

Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa, says that while the firm doesn’t have a direct financial incentive, it can use this program to learn how it can develop NFT commerce products and position itself to support creators using NFTs to reach new audiences, products, and services.

“We have some of the largest merchants and brands across the world asking us about NFTs and how they can participate and get involved in this space,” said Sheffield. “And so, we want to have this cohort of creators that we can connect to clients across our ecosystem to help enable really interesting collaborations.”

The Creator Program is the latest in a series of initiatives that Visa has launched over the past year as part of its crypto strategy. The firm first revealed its interest in NFTs when it bought a CryptoPunk last August for $150,000. Sheffield said at the time that Visa purchased it to get “a first-hand understanding of the infrastructure requirements for a global brand to purchase, store and leverage an NFT.”

Visa also announced it’s working on a blockchain interoperability hub for crypto payments last September, and launched a crypto advisory unit in December to help its clients and partners navigate the space.

I spoke with Sheffield to get his perspective on where NFTs are headed in the coming years, and what role Visa wants to play in their future.

What role do you think NFTs will play in the future of commerce, retail, and finance?

NFTs sit at the intersection of commerce and culture, and to that end we think they could play a critical role in the future of retail, social media, finance, entertainment, and more.

The rise of ecommerce has made it possible for SMBs to sell online and reach customers around the globe, but production and shipping of physical goods can bring high costs. NFTs provide merchants with the opportunity to harness public blockchains for producing digital goods, which can then be delivered instantly to a crypto wallet – providing a seamless commerce opportunity.

NFTs have the potential to become a powerful accelerator for the creator economy and lower the barrier to entry for individual creatives to earn a living through digital commerce.

What role does Visa see itself playing in the future of NFTs?

Through this program, we hope to gain a better understanding of the opportunities and pain points facing creators, and explore the role that NFTs could play in accelerating their ability to monetize their work and build a business.

Enabling commerce is at the core what we do at Visa, so we want to play a role in connecting consumers who want to own and display NFTs with artists and creators selling these goods.

We’ve been exploring ways in which we can support the growing creator economy and are seeing a lot of interest from merchants, brands, and content platforms who are looking to participate in the NFT commerce ecosystem.

That’s why the goal of this program and other efforts at Visa is to support a new breed of entrepreneurs. Right now, there’s a benefit for both Visa and NFT creators to partner together, but we look forward to expanding into new opportunities as the industry continues to grow.

Update: Agenda closed for Bankchain Conference (May 24 – 25, 2022)

The worlds of blockchain and traditional financial services aren't diverging – they are finding intersection points of collaboration.

We’ve closed our agenda for Tearsheet’s upcoming Bankchain Conference on May 24-25, 2022. Join us as we explore the most exciting and impactful thing happening in financial services today.

We’ll unpack the strategies that different financial firms are employing when it comes to tackling crypto, from trading to stablecoins to custody. Hear from the leading blockchain firms working with FIs – like Coinbase, Anchorage Digital, Paxos, Ripple, Zero Hash, and more.

Join us online on May 24 – 25 to learn what it takes for FIs and fintechs to partner together to launch new blockchain and crypto products.

We’ll drill down into what Decentralized Finance is and where opportunities lie to weave together these new technologies with the incumbent financial system. We’ll congregate top firms and professionals to talk about where we’ve come from and where the trends are pointing. 

We still have complimentary tickets left. Sign up here.

Highlights from our recent coverage

8 blockchain companies that partner with traditional FIs to launch crypto products

The growth of the crypto industry has led to banks’ increasing openness toward adopting blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Here are some of the top blockchain firms working with banks to launch blockchain-enabled and crypto products. 

What Biden’s executive order means for crypto growth

With Biden’s executive order showing more interest in crypto development, the next question is, what does that mean for the future of banks and digital currency?

Could the music industry be an inroad for mainstream NFT use?

With the NFT-minted Grammys behind us, there’s been talk of what NFTs mean for the music industry — but also what the music industry means for NFTs.

What we’re reading

  • BlackRock, Fidelity to invest $400 million in USDC stablecoin issuer Circle (TechCrunch)
  • Crypto industry helps write, and pass, its own agenda in state capitols (New York Times)
  • Inside the bitcoin bust that took down the web’s biggest child abuse site (Wired)
  • Fintech unicorn Bolt acquires crypto startup Wyre for reported $1.5 billion (Silicon Angle)
  • FDIC asks all banks to report crypto activities (CoinDesk)
  • Binance’s US affiliate valued at $4.5 billion in debut funding round (FT)
  • Worldpay to offer merchants direct settlement in USDC (Finextra)
  • Crypto’s night at the Grammys (CoinDesk)
  • SEC explores segregating businesses at crypto exchanges (FT)
  • Circle selects BNY Mellon to custody USDC reserves (Finextra)
  • Britain plans to mint its own NFT as it looks to ‘lead the way’ in crypto (CNBC)
  • OpenSea teams with MoonPay for NFT credit card payments (PYMNTS)
  • Crypto exchange hits $14 billion valuation in Lightspeed-led funding round (CoinDesk)

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