Mastercard is expanding its horizons, bringing cryptocurrency payments to the Asia Pacific region.
Mastercard has developed the world’s most extensive payment network, with more than 36 million points of sale in more than 210 countries, according to official figures.
Mastercard Offers More Options For The Crypto Enthusiasts
Despite surpassing the hundred or so supported currencies and payment methods, Mastercard has been testing compatibility with cryptocurrencies for some time. Now, it has managed to close a partnership with the financial services provider Amber Group —from Hong Kong—, the Thai cryptocurrency exchange Bitkup and the Australian service for buying and selling cryptocurrencies CoinJar.
The partnership aims to enable a cryptocurrency-linked payments card service in the Asia-Pacific region that will allow users to use their cryptocurrencies in the same way as if they were using standard fiat money when paying for goods and services.
In theory, customers would swipe their cards to pay the amount of money requested by the merchant. Subsequently, a direct communication would be made with the corresponding exchange to immediately convert the cryptocurrencies into fiat money. This money would then move through the Mastercard network, finalizing the payment in an almost instantaneous and inexpensive way.
According to official Mastercard information, the partnership will allow the use of debit, credit, and prepaid cards, considerably increasing the options for crypto enthusiasts who, in most cases, were limited to debit card options.
Amber Group, Bitkup, and CoinJar will also be the first APAC-based cryptocurrency platforms to join Mastercard’s global Crypto Card Program – a Mastercard initiative created to serve the cryptocurrency payments market securely and efficiently.
New Times, New Opinions
Mastercard has had a U-turn in the way it understands cryptocurrencies.
Despite being currently focused on innovation to provide digital currency support services, the company had a critical stance on the industry in the past.
Back in 2018, Mastercard President and CEO Ajay Banga said cryptocurrencies were garbage because of their anonymous, decentralized nature and poor stability.
“I think crypto-currency is junk….The idea of anonymized currency produced by people who have to mine it, the value of which can fluctuate wildly – that to me is not the way that any medium of exchange deserves to be considered as a medium of exchange,”
However, the passage of time seems to have proved Mr. Banga wrong and that cryptocurrencies had arrived to revolutionize the world of finance. In 2020, and especially in 2021, the corporation started shifting towards a more crypto-friendly approach.
For instance, in May, Mastercard reported that near 40% of its userbase would be using cryptocurrencies in a matter of months, and in July, a partnership between Circle and Mastercard made it possible to settle payments in USDC using the Mastercard Network.
Now, the CEO of Mastercard believes the company has to be in the cryptocurrency space. Not bad for a technology that just 3 years ago was considered “junk.”