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  • Writer's pictureT Skevington and M Bacina

Mastercard embraces digital currency integration with Accelerate program and Wirex partnership

Updated: May 2

Mastercard recently announced the expansion of its cryptocurrency program 'Accelerate', which gives digital payment providers a path to a Mastercard partnership. In addition to the expansion of the Accelerate program, Mastercard announced that London-based crypto payment processor Wirex is the first native cryptocurrency platform to be granted principal membership, enabling it to directly issue digital and crypto payment cards. 

Principal membership with Mastercard enables an entity to issue Mastercard payment cards directly to consumers. With their card, consumers can instantly convert their digital currencies into traditional fiat currency, which can be spent everywhere Mastercard is accepted around the world. Of course, the cryptocurrency aspect is ring-fenced to the digital currency partner, and Mastercard confirms that currency will always enter Mastercard’s network as traditional fiat currency only.

Executive Vice President of digital asset and blockchain products and partnerships at Mastercard, Raj Dhamodharan, said:

The cryptocurrency market continues to mature, and Mastercard is driving it forward, creating safe and secure experiences for consumers and businesses in today’s digital economy.

Of course, it wouldn't be a corporate partnership program without compliance to meet. Mastercard emphasises that they "will only work with crypto partners that follow our core principles." In practice this means a prospective partner must:

  1. Provide strong consumer protection, including privacy and security of the consumers’ information and transactions, likely through a sound security audit and privacy policy and sign off of same;

  2. Deliver a level playing field for all stakeholders, including but not limited to financial institutions, merchants and mobile network operators, something which could be addressed in terms of use, pricing and practical processes deployed in the business; and

  3. Operate in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including those applicable to anti-money laundering, and consistent with the economic systems of the countries the network operates in, which will mean at a minimum having an Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Program and compliance signed off for same.

Mastercard's involvement and interest in cryptocurrency appears to have only accelerated since it's initial involvement in (and subsequent abandonment of) the Libra Association. Whether this acceptance continues into the future remains to be seen. In the meantime, we regularly assist clients with their compliance in privacy AML/CTF and terms and conditions to meet the high standards of Australian law.


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