The race to make crypto payments available to the masses is on.
Mastercard has become the latest payment processor to announce that it intends to support some digital assets on its network by the end of this year. The move would allow merchants to accept payments in cryptocurrencies.
While the credit card giant has previously partnered with Wirex and Uphold, who offer customers Mastercard-branded crypto cards, digital assets are currently converted into traditional currencies before reaching the merchant.
The idea behind the latest development is that Mastercard customers would be able to settle payments directly in crypto.
In a blog post explaining why the payments giant is taking the plunge, Mastercard executive Raj Dhamodharan said:
“Whatever your opinions on cryptocurrencies — from a dyed-in-wool fanatic to utter skeptic — the fact remains that these digital assets are becoming a more important part of the payments world.”
Warning that the transition will take time, Dhamodharan said Mastercard wasn’t recommending that customers start using cryptocurrencies — instead, the company simply wants to offer as much choice as possible. He added:
“To be completely clear, not all of today’s cryptocurrencies will be supported on our network … While stablecoins are more regulated and reliable than in the recent past, many of the hundreds of digital assets in circulation still need to tighten their compliance measures, so they won’t meet our requirements.”
The news follows Visa’s plans to launch a pilot API program that would allow banks to offer Bitcoin-based services. PayPal has also experienced great success with the limited rollout of its crypto service so far — with usage “greatly exceeding” expectations.
Mastercard already holds 89 blockchain patents and is waiting for 285 to be approved.
As the e-commerce sector starts to embrace cryptocurrencies, giving merchants the ability to accept them, we could see a world where crypto is spent freely rather than held for profit.
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