Unbanked and VISA: Combining Reliable Payment Solutions with Accessible Crypto


The VISA Fast Track programme is making it easier for fintechs who wish to work with VISA to do so. And thanks to the financial services provider’s recent partnership with Unbanked, fintechs can enjoy the advantage of entering and scaling the market with VISA products.

Ian Kane, Co-Founder, UnbankedIan Kane, Co-Founder, Unbanked
Ian Kane, co-CEO, Unbanked

In this guest-authored piece for The Fintech Times, Ian Kane, the co-CEO of Unbanked,  details their fruitful partnership with VISA and what it means for growing fintech companies looking to enter VISA’s Fast Track programme.

The evolving fintech industry coupled with innovations like cryptocurrency, blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are changing the ways in which the financial services industry works. Financial institutions are leveraging the power of financial technology firms to keep up with increasing technological advancement and digitalisation. This is clearly evident in the way banks and wealth management firms now are investing.

Since 2015, financial institutions have invested over $98 billion in fintech and digital innovation. Additionally, customers are expecting a greater personalisation, faster customer support mechanism, and greater transparency, thus, we are witnessing a shift in both customer behavior and expectations. A recent survey by Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that around three-quarters of people trust the technology sector to bring a positive change. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that 94% of financial institutions are looking to increase their fintech partnerships in the next 2 to 3 years.

Such partnerships are mutually beneficial for both party entities. New fintech firms, for instance, can expand their markets to reach new customers and connect with previously uncontacted clients. And financial institutions can maintain their innovation strategies while offering their customers unique services and reduced costs.

The year 2021 has been a year of several notable fintech partnerships. For example: In April, the partnership of Nedbank, one of the leading financial institutions in South Africa, Mastercard, and Ukheshe Technologies launched Money Message; a payment platform that helps small to medium business owners receive payments from their customers through their WhatsApp messaging services. The owners can send an invoice to their customers through WhatsApp and the customers can directly pay through the same platform. One of the major innovative powers of fintech is providing financial services to the people who lack access to a conventional bank account. Currently, there are around 1.7 billion adults who lack a bank account.

Some fintech partnerships involve the issuance of card products (debit/credit/prepaid cards) to their customers. These card programmes have the potential to reach people who are unbanked or who do not want to open a traditional bank account. In this piece, we’ll be discussing one such revolutionary partnership between Unbanked, a global fintech leader which provides crypto-powered financial services, and VISA.

What does this partnership mean?

Unbanked announced on September 16, 20201 that it has been certified as a VISA Ready Partner for Program Management in the Visa Fast Track Programme. Unbanked also became a VISA Fast Track Enablement partner in 2020.

In November 2020, VISA launched its fintech Fast-Track programme to empower and support fintechs in their goals to restore and rebuild the global economy. The global pandemic has brought forward several economical challenges both for business owners and customers alike. To support the financial system, VISA launched this programme in two components:

  1. Fast Track Partner Toolkit: This toolkit aims to accelerate the growth of partner fintechs and help them to better serve their clients and stakeholders. The toolkit will allow fintech companies to leverage VISA’s expert strategy, marketing, design, risk management, and more. Additionally, each company can tap into VISA’s strategic resources and VISA’s online card design to build and launch their own credit cards.
  2. Visa Ready for Fintech Enablers: The Visa Ready certification helps fintech companies to design and launch payment solutions for customers that meet VISA’s global standards of functionality and security. VISA will provide its expertise to these companies to help them develop their products as well as market them.

With the new VISA Ready certification, Unbanked will share and expand its capabilities with its growing suite of partners. Unbanked currently offers its clients several different cryptocurrency-powered cards, which they can use to affordably and reliably participate in online and in-person transactions. With this partnership, Unbanked will be able to leverage VISA’s global payment network and introduce new crypto-friendly payment experiences. Using its VISA Ready certification, Unbanked can also help guide fintechs as they scale and launch new VISA products.

“We could not be more excited that VISA has certified us as a Programme Manager in its Fast Track Programme,” said Unbanked Co-CEO, Ian Kane. “We pride ourselves on offering a full-suite issuance, compliance, and ongoing management service for VISA cards linked to digital assets.”

Unbanked connects traditional enterprise, financial technology, and banking systems with innovative blockchain infrastructure – expanding the utility of cryptocurrency for everyday purchases and investments. Customers can also interact with cryptocurrencies using debit cards and bank accounts – allowing them to move from fiat money to cryptocurrency. Unbanked equips customers with a more convenient, flexible way to buy, share and spend their cryptocurrency. The company’s debit card programme also features one of the highest rewards rates in the industry, offering users up to 6.38% back on purchases. So not only are customers using their digital currencies, they are earning returns on them as well.

Unbanked believes that financial access and control is a basic human right. That is why its main focus of the operation is offering its clients transformative products and services that will allow them to free themselves from the restrictions of traditional banking. Unbanked believes in empowering everyone to create a financial experience as unique as the life they live. It uses blockchain technology to rebel against the status quo, which has plagued the traditional banking system for decades.

The past 5 years have introduced a level of disruption in the financial industry that is nearly unprecedented. The ability of emerging fintech companies to quickly gain traction in the global financial services market is forcing financial institutions to evolve in order for them to remain competitive. These financial institutions, new and old, are increasingly adopting customer-centered innovations and back-office solutions that will help them provide a more unique and cost-efficient customer experience. As digital currency and blockchain continue to shape the financial landscape, so too do our methods of banking and payment.

The partnership between VISA and Fast Track Enablement Partners like Unbanked portrays its commitment to finding new ways to help empower their network of fintechs. This partnership also demonstrates VISA’s  vision and commitment to a new way of thinking and – more importantly – a new way of banking.

Unbanked’s partnership with VISA combines their passion and mission for accessible crypto banking with reliable, easy-to-use credit and debit services. Fintech partnerships, such as this, will continue to shape and drive innovative practices within the financial services industry. More than collaboration, such partnerships have become the backbone for innovation in our increasingly digital society.

  • Tyler is a Fintech Junior Journalist with specific interests in Online Banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.