Visa is rolling out a program that permits payments to be settled in the cryptocurrency USD Coin (USDC), replacing the U.S. dollar's customary role in processing such transactions.

The initiative, a partnership between Visa and Crypto.com, was first reported by Reuters on Monday. Consumers could previously use a Crypto.com Visa card to pay for goods and services, but those payments had to be settled in U.S. dollars (USD). The arrangement added a costly and complicated step in the payments settlement process for so-called crypto natives. 

Visa's solution: permit Crypto.com Visa payments to be settled via USDC. Card-carriers previously had to convert cryptos held in digital wallets to USD to make a payment. Visa's latest initiative removes the crypto-to-fiat conversion from the process -- permitting payments to be made and settled without having to bring the dollar into the equation. 

Visa partnered with digital-assets banking specialist Anchorage to test the USDC settlements solution earlier this month, the company said. Industry participants are closely following developments after Visa alluded to rolling out the digital-assets settlement ability to additional partners, likely later this year.

“Crypto-native fintechs want partners who understand their business and the complexities of digital currency form factors,” said Jack Forestell, Visa's chief product officer, in a statement. 

Visa's crypto-to-crypto conversion process uses the Ethereum blockchain to settle transactions. 

The push into stablecoin settlements for Visa could also position the payments processor to support similar digital-assets tied to fiat currencies as they come to the market. The area has been closely watched by central banks and sovereign wealth funds.

In recent weeks, finance players including BNY Mellon, Soros Fund Management and Fidelity have made or deepened forays into digital-assets.