Visa announces neobank pilot focused on getting crypto tools to Black community

Visa has teamed up with a neobank to pilot a crypto program that will allow underbanked individuals to purchase, custody, and trade digital assets.

In an announcement today, customers at First Boulevard, a neobank “built for Black America,” will soon be able use Visa’s application programming interfaces, or APIs, to access the benefits of trading and custodying crypto. Visa said the partnership was part of its efforts to give people using financial institutions without the infrastructure for digital assets the means to tap into crypto and blockchain.

“With this pilot program, we want to extend the value of Visa to our neobank and financial institution clients by providing an easy bridge to crypto assets and blockchain networks,” said Visa chief product officer Jack Forestell.

According to First Boulevard CEO and president Donald Hawkins, Visa’s crypto APIs will help “provide another channel for the Black community to access crypto as a new asset class,” which is expected to narrow the wealth gap. Hawkins claimed that given current economic trends, the net medium income of Black families in the United States will drop to $0 by 2053.

The First Boulevard partnership is part of a move from the financial firm to address underrepresented communities in digital businesses, banking, and FinTech. Visa said it would be working with Black-focused businesses including CapWay, eatOkra, First Boulevard, OneUnited Bank and Urban One “to provide financial and business services” in addition to increasing education of digital payments and solutions.

Others in the crypto space have been promoting the use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain to unbanked and underbanked individuals. Bitcoin & Black America author Isaiah Jackson has called for digital assets as a means for Black people to deal with financial oppressors in the United States.

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