Mastercard has 2.8 billion cards in use and works with 20,000+ financial institutions globally. The payment platform has announced that it is to provide services to help the millions of merchants on its network to be able to use crypto. Sherri Haymond, from Mastercard, has recently said: “We want to offer all of our partners the ability to more easily add crypto services to whatever it is they’re doing.”
This announcement is significant as it will enable easy access for those who wish to use cryptocurrencies, so removing an often-cited challenge that cryptocurrencies faced in the past – “How do I spend my cryptos?” Furthermore, Visa has reported that its customers had spent over $1billion using cryptocurrencies in the first half of 2021. So, clearly there is a demand for people to use cryptocurrencies for everyday transactions, and presumably this is the reason why Mastercard is looking to offer the ability for the banks and merchants using Mastercard to be able to transact with cryptos. Mastercard is also helping to build the infrastructure required by Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) if they are to be fully embraced by retail users around the world. Mastercard’s CEO, Michael Miebach, has been noted to report during the latest earnings update to shareholders that: “We are saying at this point in time, the most likely chance for this kind of technology to work for payments is if it’s issued through a government in the form of a CBDC. We said that on a couple of calls before, and we said that we will make our network ready to do that as and when a government is ready to put out a CBDC that will exist alongside the dollar or the euro as a settlement currency in our network.”
Given that Visa is an official partner for the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022, has Mastercard therefore been motivated to be ready to accept China’s new CBDC and so be the debit/credit card of choice for Chinese visitors, whereby undermining Visa’s sponsorship?