Payments giant Mastercard and cryptocurrencies firm Bakkt Holdings Inc. announced on Monday they have partnered to facilitate cryptocurrency debit and credit card payments. The partnership will make it easier for merchants, banks and fintechs in the U.S. to offer a broad set of cryptocurrency services and enable consumers to buy and sell digital assets through custodial wallets supported by Bakkt, according to the companies’ statement.
- The partnership “extends Mastercard’s ecosystem of cryptocurrency partners enabling Crypto-as-a-Service, which provides quick access to cryptocurrency capabilities,” the companies said in the release.
- This crypto integration means customers’ digital wallets could be filled with cryptocurrency and allows customers to earn rewards in crypto, enable digital assets to be spent, and convert airline or hotel points into Bitcoin through their loyalty programs.
- Mastercard shares rose 0.6% to $360.86. Shares of Bakkt Holdings, the digital asset platform arm of Intercontinental Exchange that went public via a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) last week, closed higher by 234.43% at $30.60 on Monday.
- Mastercard’s partnership marks the latest in a series of forays into the crypto industry this year, including its partnership with one of Australia’s oldest crypto exchanges CoinJar in August and a pilot program in partnership with Circle’s USDC stablecoin and others in July. In September, Mastercard extended its reach into the realm of cryptocurrency with the acquisition of CipherTrace, a blockchain analytics startup, for “greater security, transparency and trust to digital assets across the ecosystem.”
- Mastercard’s competitors, VISA, PayPal, and American Express, have also ramped up their cryptocurrencies businesses in recent years.
- In the Bakkt U.S. Consumer Crypto Survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers, 48% of respondents reported purchasing crypto in the first half of 2021, while 32% of those who didn’t are either very or somewhat interested in doing so before year-end.
- “As brands and merchants look to appeal to younger consumers and their transaction preferences, these new offerings represent a unique opportunity to satisfy increasing demand for crypto, payment and rewards flexibility,” Nancy Gordon, a vice president at Bakkt, said in the statement.