Visa says crypto purchases during this spring's price peak boosted cross-border volumes during fiscal Q3

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Earnings data from Visa indicates that this spring's peak in the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies had an impact on the payments giant's cross-border transaction volume.

The "bump" in volume was discussed during this week's fiscal third-quarter earnings call with Visa executives. 

As Vasant Prabhu, Visa's CFO, noted during the call (per a transcript) on Tuesday: 

"The cross-border volume recovery continued as more countries opened their borders. Constant dollar crossborder volume, excluding transactions within Europe, was at 82% of 2019 volume, a 7 point improvement from Q2, led by a steady increase in travel as well as a spike in cross-border cryptocurrency purchases from mid-April through the end of May. Cross-border card-not-present volume, excluding travel, continued to be very strong, up 56% from 2019, improving 12 points from the second quarter, with cryptocurrency purchases representing most of that acceleration. We have seen more active cards and more spend per card in cryptocurrency purchases."

Prabhu later noted that such activity has fallen — largely in line with the price of bitcoin and other digital assets. "We had a spike in April and May, as we mentioned. So that has pulled back in July, as you can see," he remarked.

When questioned about the crypto-related impact on the cross-border numbers, Prabhu highlighted how similar traffic bumps have occurred in the past. Specifically, the volume increases appear to be a result of people using their cards to make purchases from overseas exchanges.

"We've seen a few months here and there of these kinds of spikes in purchases," Prabhu explained. "So essentially, most of the time cryptocurrency impacts our business is when purchases go up. A lot of the people who buy crypto are buying them from entities that are non-US based, often based in Europe. So these end up being cross-border transactions when they buy cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin."

"And so when there is a spike in buying activity, you will see that in some of our cross-border e-commerce numbers," he continued.

The chart below illustrates the bump in cross-border volume that Visa experienced, courtesy of The Block Research:

Looking at the weekly data, one can see the heightened cross-border volume spiking during the period in which bitcoin's price was ranging in the highs above $55,000. Bitcoin hit an all-time high of roughly $64,800 in mid-April, and was last above $50,000 on May 14. 

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