The term “Sidechains” is relatively new to the crypto-currency space but is a term that describes an area or test bed for new protocols, developer tools and alternative layers built for the digital currency space. These may not be ready for “prime time,” but are worth tinkering with to discover a better way forward, that might lead to a new altcoin or even a new feature that can make Bitcoin even better. Well, the world’s largest payment processor, Visa, has not only adopted the concept from the world of digital currency but will integrate the use of crypto-currencies into their new program for 2016.
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Visa is working on overcoming their own weakness in processing microtransactions, whether it deals with small transactions that have less than $5 USD in value, or exchange different forms of payment. Newer, more flexible payment systems like Bitcoin or Kenya’s M-Pesa are showing how these potentially huge economic markets can be served through better technology, and Visa is dipping its toes into that ocean of opportunity with their Microtransactions (MTX) API.
“The Microtransactions (MTX) APIs offer a full suite of monetization solutions for online and mobile applications. MTX provides a set of APIs that let developers create payment solutions using points, promotional rewards, or virtual currency and coupons.”
Visa sees an opportunity to leverage multiple forms of payment, from coupons and mobile -app gaming points to rewards points and digital currency, which they mentioned three times on their new MTX developer website. You might see shades of the original Ripple exchange concept at work here. The idea is the ability to potentially monetize many different activities, for developers and consumers, like shopping or taking a survey online, and then storing or exchanging value when performing different functions on your mobile or your favorite online destinations.
“The MTX APIs are being made available on Visa Developers so that you can experiment with them and give us feedback on your experiences. At the present time, they are not generally available in production and may never be.”
What becomes of this is anyone’s guess, but digital currency is not going away, and Visa seems interested in leveraging its long-term potential as a part of their future business plan, at least as a beta test. This could be considered another vote of confidence for digital currencies like Bitcoin. Keep in mind that this is not the first foray by Visa into the digital currency realm.
As I reported back in October, Visa has already partnered with DocuSign to revolutionize the car and insurance industries while using Bitcoin’s Blockchain as the transaction ledger. The partnership created a prototype app that allows users to buy car insurance, pay tolls, and purchase an automotive lease within minutes. Released at the Money 20/20 conference in last Vegas, the app could even give the car its own identity on Bitcoin’s Blockchain, and it could renew its registration, or even schedule its maintenance and order a pizza!
It looks like Visa is ready for what Bitcoin and the digital currency world is bringing to the table. Whether it is as a digital ledger or as a form of payment, Visa is not ignoring the digital currency space but is embracing it in all its forms.