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NEW YORK — Visa Inc has approved a prepaid card backed by the cryptocurrency Monaco as the world's largest payments network continues its foray into digital currencies.
Monaco's prepaid card has been approved for issuance to Singaporean residents, Visa spokeswoman Lea Cademenos said in an email. Visa approved the programme through Monaco's issuer, Wirecard AG.
"The demand for the Monaco Visa prepaid cards has exceeded our expectations with over 17,000 cards reserved, based on word of mouth alone," Kris Marszalek, Monaco's chief executive officer, said in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 31). "This is an important step towards Monaco's vision to introduce cryptocurrency to the mass market."
Cryptocurrencies are clamouring for deals with Visa because it would mean they could be converted into fiat money and accepted at the 44 million merchant locations in the payments network. Monaco gained as much as 695 per cent in value beginning on May 17, when the firm tweeted it would offer a Visa-branded payment card. Monaco didn't have a deal with Visa at the time.
Monaco has said Singapore is only a starting point for its prepaid card programme. The firm recently hired Brent Diehl, a former Visa executive, to lead its international expansion into Europe, North America and the rest of Asia.
Visa has also approved programs for BitPay and Shift Card that allow consumers to convert cryptocurrencies into legal tender and deposit those funds into a bank account that is linked to a Visa debit or prepaid card, Cademenos said.