Mastercard enhances its card program for cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges

Mastercard announced it will enhance its card program for cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges, making it simpler for partners to convert cryptocurrency to traditional fiat currency.

Working with Evolve Bank & Trust and Paxos Trust Company, the leading blockchain infrastructure and regulated stablecoin issuance platform, and Circle, a global financial technology firm and the principal operator of the USD Coin (USDC), a dollar digital currency or stablecoin, Mastercard and its partners will test this new capability to enable more banks and crypto companies to offer a card option to people wanting to spend their digital assets anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

Today, when people spend cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, or Litecoin, it must enter and settle on Mastercard’s network as traditional fiat currency, such as the U.S. dollar. Until now, crypto providers planning to launch or expand card programs could find it operationally challenging to perform the currency conversion, a critical step preceding the settlement on Mastercard’s network. Mastercard’s engagement with Evolve, Paxos and Circle solves this challenge for players across the industry.

Mastercard announced in February 2021 it is preparing to enable select stablecoins directly on its network, expanding the future potential of digital assets and payments. Today’s news, enhancing the experience for cryptocurrency exchanges, is a critical step in expanding the ecosystem and safely, securely and compliantly setting the stage for the future of crypto payments.

Raj Dhamodharan, executive vice president of digital asset and blockchain products & partnerships at Mastercard, commented: “Today not all crypto companies have the foundational infrastructure to convert cryptocurrency to traditional fiat currency, and we’re making it easier. Through our engagement with Evolve, Paxos, Circle and the larger digital assets community, Mastercard expects to deliver on our promise of consumer choice to provide options to people around the world on how and when to pay.”

The enhancement to Mastercard’s existing Crypto Card Program includes a suite of partners. Mastercard is in discussions with Evolve Bank & Trust and Metropolitan Commercial Bank to issue cards, Uphold and BitPay to provide real-time crypto wallet technology, and i2c Inc., Apto Payments and Galileo Financial Technologies to support processing and program management.

With this enhancement to Mastercard’s Crypto Card Program, Paxos and Circle will use their platforms to facilitate the conversion of crypto to fiat through fiat-backed stablecoins, a class of cryptocurrency that offers price stability and is backed by reserve assets. Making the process simpler will allow more banks and crypto partners the opportunity to offer their consumers the choice of paying with cryptocurrency.

“As pioneers in crypto-backed debit card issuance, we are absolutely thrilled to see the level of investment that Mastercard and all the associated partners are demonstrating for innovative products,” said Apto Payments CEO Meg Nakamura.

“BitPay believes the future of payments is on the blockchain because it transforms how consumers send, receive, and store money around the world,” said Stephen Pair, co-founder and CEO of BitPay. “Working with Mastercard’s pilot to turn digital assets into dollars for everyday spending will accelerate consumers’ use of crypto as a means of commerce.”

Dante Disparte, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Global Policy at Circle, commented: “The collaboration between Circle and Mastercard demonstrates that dollar digital currencies like USDC play a foundational role in making payments more efficient and can facilitate new economic activity for businesses worldwide.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Mastercard and other leaders to evolve the payments landscape,” said Scot Lenoir, chairman of Evolve. “Evolve is a known leader that supports all forms of stored value and money movement for our diverse array of fintech customers. To support the tremendous consumer and business adoption of digital currencies over the last few years, we see settlement via USDC and other stablecoins as our next step in our journey to continue to modernize banking for all.”

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