MasterCard isn’t ruling out cryptocurrencies
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MasterCard isn’t ruling out cryptocurrencies

Global cashless transaction provider MasterCard isn’t ruling out working with cryptocurrencies at some point in the future. A number of central banks, including Sweden’s, have considered creating their own cryptocurrencies that mirror the benefits of Bitcoin (such as security and ease of use) without the drawbacks (wild levels of volatility). If those central bank-backed cryptocurrencies ever become a reality, MasterCard’s co-president in Asia Pacific, Ari Sarker, says the company would be “very happy to look at” facilitating their use.

MasterCard and Visa have both seen their share prices soar over the last 12 months

graph 2903 mastercard

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Sarker said: “If governments look to create national digital currency we’d be very happy to look at those in a more favourable way [compared with existing cryptocurrencies]. So long as it’s backed by a regulator and the value . . . it is not anonymous, it is meeting all the regulatory requirements, I think that would be of greater interest for us to explore.”

Sarker’s statements follow on from decisions the company has taken, alongside competitor Visa, to make life harder for people looking to use Bitcoin. Both companies have reclassified Bitcoin purchases as “cash transactions” – thereby making them eligible for higher fees. Despite that, MasterCard is offering a pilot scheme letting customers “cash out” of Bitcoin onto a MasterCard. He told the press:

“We are not operating trading of bitcoin through the MasterCard network. The pilot is a toe in the water, we're fully cognisant of the reputational risk.”

A MasterCard spokesman declined to comment on both the pilot scheme (which is running in Singapore and Japan, but is not yet “of scale”) and the possibility that the company could work with nationally backed cryptocurrencies in the future, on the grounds that the company had made no official announcements about either.

The spokesman said: “MasterCard Labs is working on a blockchain technology that will support a wide range of use cases, including but not exclusive to [business to business] interbank payments, tracking trade finance obligations along the value chain, exchanging know your customer and anti-money laundering data between trusted parties, and more.”


Dominion holds MasterCard and Visa in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund. 

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