The CEO of Mastercard, which is “the second-largest payment-processing corporation worldwide”, recently shared his thoughts on crypto.

On 18 January 2022, Raj Dhamodharan, EVP Blockchain / Digital Asset Products & Digital Partnerships at Mastercard, published a blog post in which he said that Mastercard believes that “buying digital goods should be as simple as buying a T-shirt or coffee pods on an e-commerce site.”

He went on to say:

That’s not the case for many NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. Today, if you want to buy an NFT — such as a digital art piece — you first need to open a crypto wallet, buy crypto, then use it to purchase an NFT in an online marketplace.

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts are used to this process. But for most people, it’s not simple, it’s not intuitive. We think it should be much easier. That will ensure NFTs can be for everyone.

As an important step in this mission, we’re excited to announce today that we’re partnering with Coinbase to let people use their Mastercard cards to make purchases on Coinbase’s upcoming NFT marketplace.

Speaking in a recent interview with Yahoo Finance, Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach explained his company’s role in investing and exploring the crypto space, including their partnership with Coinbase.

As reported by The Daily Hodl, the Mastercard CEO said:

It’s an interesting technology. People have an interest in that. There are problems to solve. Payments aren’t as efficient as they could be everywhere in the world. And we want to be there… But I think it’s a long way to go before crypto becomes mainstream... I think there are questions on regulatory compliance, on scalable technology, on making sure there’s a predictable user experience.

Why is buying an NFT such a clunky experience? It shouldn’t be. So we partnered with Coinbase to make it as simple as you buying a coffee. I think these things all need to click in and then you have the building blocks for it to become mainstream. Is that going to happen in the next six months? Most likely not. But are we optimistic and are we investing? Absolutely.

On 17 October 2022, CNBC’s Kate Rooney reported that Mastercard plans to act as a bridge between Paxos and banks with Mastercard handling “the regulatory compliance and security.”  

Mastercard’s chief digital officer Jorn Lambert told CNBC:

There’s a lot of consumers out there that are really interested in this, and intrigued by crypto, but would feel a lot more confident if those services were offered by their financial institutions. It’s a little scary to some people still.

The CNBC report went on to say that “the payments company said its role is to keep banks on the right side of regulation by following crypto compliance rules, verifying transactions and providing anti-money-laundering and identity monitoring services” and that “Mastercard will pilot the product in the first quarter of next year, then ‘crank the handle’ to expand in more geographies.”

Later that day, Mastercard issued a press release, which stated that today it is introducing two programs — Crypto Source and Crypto Secure — to “enable financial institutions to bring secure crypto trading capabilities and services to their customers” and to “bring additional security to the crypto ecosystem and support card issuers in their compliance with complex regulations.”

In a blog post published on 12 October 2022, Dhamodharan gave examples of things that Mastercard is doing to “turn cryptocurrencies into an everyday way to pay”:

  • crypto debit cards: “In Argentina, we launched a prepaid card with Binance that lets users fund their card with their crypto, which is converted to fiat currency immediately when they make payments.
  • services for crypto firms: “Mastercard is a provider of cybersecurity, digital ID, advisory and open banking services to tens of thousands of financial institutions. We’re going to use those same tools to provide more support to crypto players and issuers.
  • payments: “We’ve partnered with a handful of top-tier crypto-focused companies — including Paxos, Circle, Evolve and Uphold — to develop ways for people to quickly convert their crypto to fiat to make payments.
  • supporting select cryptocurrencies directly on their network: “An important way to expand choice for people is to bring certain Mastercard-approved digital assets onto our networks, a plan we announced last year that continues to move forward.
  • support for NFTs: “Coinbase users can now pay for NFTs with Mastercard, and in June we announced plans to bring the same capabilities to eight new NFT marketplaces and infrastructure providers.

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