Multinational financial services firm Mastercard will this year start accepting some cryptocurrencies on its network. This as other big-name international firms have started backing digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, among others.
Elon Musk’s Tesla recently moved to support Bitcoin, after the company bought $1.5 billion in Bitcoin, sending the value of the digital currency up. Tesla has also indicated it will, in future, start accepting Bitcoin as a payment method.
Other big-name companies which have also embraced Bitcoin include the likes of PayPal and Square.
Bitcoin was driven to new record highs this week – trading above $48 000 – as investors continued to pile in after the Tesla Bitcoin news.
A filing with the US financial regulator on Monday reveals the electric car company run by the world’s richest person, Musk, made the massive purchase of the digital asset which has jumped more than 300% in a year.
The surge in the price of Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, including Dogecoin – which was also fuelled by an endorsement by Musk on Twitter over the weekend – comes as digital currencies become mainstream due to soaring interest from both retail and institutional investors, increasing levels of mass adoption, and as global interest rates remain at historic lows.
“We are preparing right now for the future of crypto and payments, announcing that this year Mastercard will start supporting select cryptocurrencies directly on our network,” says Raj Dhamodharan, Mastercard executive vice-president of digital asset and blockchain products and partnerships.
“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.”
Dhamodharan notes Mastercard’s philosophy on cryptocurrencies is straightforward – it’s about choice.
“Mastercard isn’t here to recommend you start using cryptocurrencies. But we are here to enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital value – traditional or crypto – however they want. It should be your choice, it’s your money.
“Whatever your opinions on cryptocurrencies – from a dyed-in-wool fanatic to utter sceptic – the fact remains that these digital assets are becoming a more important part of the payments world.
“We are seeing this fact play out on the Mastercard network, with people using cards to buy crypto assets, especially during Bitcoin’s recent surge in value. We are also seeing users increasingly take advantage of crypto cards to access these assets and convert them to traditional currencies for spending.”