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  • J McGlynn and M Bacina

Rivals Mastercard and Visa compete as crypto-linked cards and payments continue to grow

Updated: May 3

An effective marketeer knows that consumers like to be liberated by choice. With the value of crypto assets held in regulated digital wallets now in the hundreds of billions (USD), the global community's growing demand for ways to make crypto payments is unquestionable.

Both Visa and Mastercard have already taken steps to recognise these growing consumer demands for methods to make crypto payments.

Visa recently reported that in the first half of 2021, it's crypto-linked cards (Visa cards which permit users to load up their account with the cryptocurrency of their choice and then use the card to make payments as usual) were used to spend over $1 billion USD, facilitating tens of millions of crypto wallet holders.

It has also introduced a program known as Fast Track which offers crypto startups a way to issue debit or credit cards. To keep the momentum of their success going, Visa has recently announced its intentions to keep expanding the reach of these cards until they can be used much like normal fiat cards, in places that don't directly accept cryptocurrency.

The company said:

We’re partnering with 50 of the leading crypto platforms on card programs that make it easy to convert and spend digital currency at 70 million merchants worldwide.
What’s more, these programs don’t require coffee shops, dry cleaners, or grocery stores to directly accept cryptocurrencies at the checkout. It’s the magic of “tap and go” without the complexity of new acceptance points or cryptographic keys.

Mastercard is introducing a similar program to FastTrack known as StartPath, a "global startup engagement program" which partners with crypto start ups to empower them with the ability to offer crypto-linked Mastercard's and payment mechanisms. Mastercard describes it as "a springboard to help the best & brightest later stage startups maximize their opportunity for success". Reportedly, both Visa and Mastercard are liaising with various exchanges, like BlockFi in Gemini, in aims to help them launch their own crypto-linked credit cards too. Considering these companies are rivals, this competition isn't surprising.

Simply put, what's most important to notice about these developments is how the growth in crypto linked cards and payments have been creating an easier way for crypto-innovators to spend their money. While it remains to be seen how long it will take for these payment methods to become available in Australia (as Visa and Mastercard's initiatives are U.S based), the steps that both these major companies have taken clearly indicate that crypto debit and credit cards will nonetheless become more widespread in the future.


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