According to a source familiar with the matter, the functionality will see Mastercard customers’ digital currency payments settled in crypto at participating merchants, a first for the financial giant. The company has not yet disclosed which digital currencies it intends to support, or where.
The details shed new light on CEO Michael Miebach’s Q4 pledge to integrate digital currency payments “directly on our network” in a move the new chief, helming his first earnings call on Jan. 28, said will provide maximal flexibility to customers and merchants alike.
The new initiative promises to upend that dynamic among the store owners and businesses who opt in. They will be able to conduct their business beyond the bounds of the fiat ecosystem, assuming, of course, their customers have crypto they’re willing to spend.
That’s hardly a safe bet given the buy-and-hold mantra pervading the world’s largest cryptocurrency. The source pointed out most bitcoin buyers primarily treat their coins as investment vehicles, not payment tools. And the source underscored there’s no guarantee Mastercard’s crypto settlement initiative will support bitcoin.
“Our 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,” Dhamodharan said.
But Mastercard has been laying the groundwork for that future through years of patents around the digital currency space. The company said it holds 89 blockchain patents and is waiting for approval on an additional 285 around the world.
The payments space is rushing to support blockchain-based currencies at a pace not seen since Bitcoin pioneered the concept of stateless, peer-to-peer immutable transactions in 2009. PayPal intends to roll out bitcoin payment functionality later this year. Visa’s CEO said the rival company may add crypto payments in the future.
This content was originally published here.