Do you take crypto? The answer is “yes” if the merchant you are asking accepts Mastercard.
The credit card giant is planning to give participating businesses the option of receiving payments settled in cryptocurrency later this year. However, the company has not yet disclosed which digital currencies it plans to support, or where the participating vendors will be located.
CEO Michael Miebach pledged late last year to to integrate digital currency payments “directly on our network” in a move aimed at providing greater payment flexibility to both customers and merchants.
Mastercard, which has one billion users and 30 billion merchants in its global network, already supports limited crypto transactions through its cryptocard partners Wirex and Uphold. However, they cover payment exclusively, not settlement, meaning that cryptos are converted to fiat currency before they reach the vendor.
Why does it matter?
It promises to radically change the retail payment dynamic by allowing both buyer and seller to operate outside the fiat ecosystem when making transactions.
“This is a big change that will require a lot of work. We will be very thoughtful about which assets we support based on our principles for digital currencies, which focus on consumer protections and compliance,” said Mastercard’s digital asset and blockchain VP Raj Dhamodharan in a blog post.
“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.”
Billionaire bitcoin advocate Mike Novogratz welcomed the news, saying it is a milestone for the sector. He tweeted, “The MasterCard news is huge. A few months ago it would have been all the crypto community would focus on for the ensuing month. Now we are getting so much good news it almost goes unnoticed. Let me repeat. It is huge news. Crypto adoption is here.”