Visa has been exploring ways to allow users to pay blockchain gas fees directly with a credit or debit card.
Gas fees are required for transactions on blockchain networks like Ethereum (ETH). Traditionally, users needed to hold balances of native cryptocurrencies like ETH to cover these fees.
In an internal experiment, Visa leveraged smart contract technology to let users pay gas fees in fiat currency through a linked Visa card. This aims to remove the need for users to hold crypto solely to pay blockchain expenses.
“By doing so, Visa helps take care of the complex processes behind the scenes, enabling users to effortlessly select their Visa card to cover gas fees.”
The proposed solution utilizes Ethereum’s ERC-4337 standard and involves a “paymaster” smart contract handling the background work.
To test the concept, Visa engineers built an implementation on Ethereum’s Goerli test network. They reported successfully sending blockchain transactions with off-chain gas fee payments.
“The intricacies and complexities of blockchain-based transactions have been a significant stumbling block for many users, creating a challenging learning curve and increasing user friction,” Visa said. “However, our experiment aims to offer a promising approach to substantially addressing these challenges.”
The financial services giant framed the effort as part of its broader work to make digital currency transactions more accessible.
Visa suggested merchants, decentralized apps, and wallet providers could adopt the gas fee approach. It said that the company’s crypto-focused teams are open to collaborating with other firms exploring programmable payments tech.