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Visa earmarks $100M to invest in generative AI companies

What's the opposite of a lean startup?


Visa announced today that it plans to invest $100 million in companies developing generative AI technologies and applications “that will impact the future of commerce and payments.”

The investments will be made through Visa Ventures, the card giant’s 16-year-old global corporate investment arm. 

Visa claims to have been a “pioneer of AI use in payments” since 1993. For the unacquainted, generative AI is an emerging subset of AI trained on large sets of existing data to generate text, images or other content when given text prompts. 

“While much of generative AI so far has been focused on tasks and content creation, this technology will soon not only reshape how we live and work, but it will also meaningfully change commerce in ways we need to understand,” said Jack Forestell, chief product and strategy officer of Visa, in a written statement.

David Rolf, head of Visa Ventures, said that generative AI has the potential “to be one of the most transformative technologies of our time.”

Via email, he told TechCrunch that Visa Ventures “had a lot of flexibility” with regards to how many investments it would make out of the new fund, and average check size.

“Given the early stage of the industry we’d expect to make a range of smaller investments of a few $M,” Rolf said. “That said, we have the ability to make larger investments where there is a strong rationale to do so.”

As for criteria, he said that Visa in particular is looking to back companies that are “applying GenAI to solve real problems in commerce, payments, and fintech.”

“This includes B2B processes around payments as well as infrastructure that can have a profound impact on commerce. We are interested in companies at multiple levels of the stack, from data organization for GenAI up to the experiences that users will have at work or in their personal lives,” Rolf added. “Visa can be a impactful enabler of companies solving the next set of challenges to further unlock commerce and this is a way for us to connect with those startups. One of our key considerations is how well these companies are practicing responsible use of AI, in line with Visa’s policies.”

In August, TechCrunch talked with Marie-Elise Droga, who was appointed Visa’s new head of fintech late last year. At the time, she noted that her team “often collaborates” with the Visa Ventures team — serving as sort of a scout engine for Visa’s venture arm.

Reporter’s note: This story was updated post-publication with some comments from Visa Ventures.

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