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  • J McGlynn and M Bacina

Ready, Set, Go! - Mastercard sets off to launch crypto-linked cards in the Asia Pacific

Mastercard has set course to introduce crypto payments to the Asia-Pacific region. In a recent press release, Mastercard announced that it has partnered with cryptocurrency platforms Amber Group, Bitkub, and CoinJar to launch crypto payment cards in Asia-Pacific.

This initiative forms part of Mastercard's Global Crypto Card Program which was designed to make it easier and faster for crypto businesses to bring reliable and compliant payment cards to market during a period where global consumers are increasingly seeking ways to make safe, everyday transactions with digital currencies.

This announcement follows shortly after Mastercard partnered with CoinJar to launch Australia's first crypto-linked card in August, which we wrote about here. It also comes at a time when interest in digital currencies is at an all-time high across the Asia Pacific region, with Visa partnering with Sydney based CryptoSpend recently.

While some merchants in the Asia Pacific accept digital currency payments in Ethereum and Bitcoin directly, cards accessing existing payment rails grant consumers and businesses a much easier way to access crypto for spending anywhere the cards are accepted.

According to the latest Mastercard New Payments Index - a global survey that identifies consumer behavior payment trends to meet customer needs going into the future, 45 percent of those surveyed in the Asian Pacific Region say they will likely consider the use of cryptocurrency in the next year, a significant leap from the 12 percent of people using cryptocurrency this year, and higher than the global average of 40 percent. Younger consumers are also showing an increased interest in digital currencies with 71% more open to using cryptocurrencies than they were a year ago.

In acknowledging how Mastercard and global consumers could benefit from introducing crypto payment cards in Asia-Pacific, Rama Sridhar and Executive Vice President at Mastercard in the Asia Pacific said:

Cryptocurrencies are many things to people—an investment, a disruptive technology, or a unique financial tool. As interest and attention (in cryptocurrencies) surges from all quarters, their real-world applications are now emerging beyond the speculative.

She continued:

In collaboration with these partners that adhere to the same core principles that Mastercard does – that any digital currency must offer stability, regulatory compliance and consumer protection – Mastercard is expanding what’s possible with cryptocurrencies to give people even greater choice and flexibility in how they pay.

As Mastercard has been known to take only a few months to execute its initiatives (light-speed for such a large company) and their close competition with Visa, there is sure to be a healthy competition in this space in the coming months and years.


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