Mastercard Signs Three APAC Firms to Issue Crypto-Linked Payment Cards

Payment card network Mastercard has partnered with three digital asset platforms in the Asia-Pacific region to issue cryptocurrency-linked cards that will enable users to convert their crypto holdings into fiat currency.

To do so, the payments network is joining hands with Australia’s trading platform Coinjar and Hong Kong-based crypto finance firm Amber Group along with Thai crypto exchange Bitkub.

These companies are the first APAC-based cryptocurrency platforms to join Mastercard’s global Crypto Card Program. However, Mastercard expects to onboard more crypto firms and merchants to its program that makes it simpler to bring compliant payment cards to market.

The company justified its decision to bring cryptocurrencies on its network as consumers increasingly seek to fund everyday transactions “securely and efficiently” with digital currencies.

This collaboration intends to introduce credit, debit and prepaid cards that are linked to cryptocurrency wallets. The co-branded cards help remove barriers between merchants who do not accept cryptocurrency and customers who want to pay in digital assets.

The US payment behemoth explains that individuals and businesses across the region will be able to instantly convert their cryptocurrencies into fiat currencies, which can then be spent with any of the merchants that accept Mastercard payments.

“This announcement comes at a time when interest in cryptocurrencies is at an all-time high across the Asia Pacific region. According to the latest Mastercard New Payments Index, 45 percent of those surveyed in APAC say they are likely to consider using cryptocurrency in the next year – a huge jump over the 12 percent that already used it in the last year, and higher than the global average of 40 percent,” Mastercard said.

The move comes as payment giants, including Visa and PayPal, have stepped up their engagement with cryptocurrencies in recent months, as more merchants are warming to the nascent digital asset.

Earlier this month, Mastercard announced a partnership with Bakkt, the crypto exchange owned by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), to allow merchants offer their clients crypto-centric loyalty opportunities.

This alliance also streamlines issuance of branded crypto debit and credit cards, while enabling interested consumers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency.

Through the partnership, the American multinational financial services corporation enables merchants, banks, and fintechs within the US to more easily embrace and offer a broad set of cryptocurrency solutions and services. The offering will leverage Bakkt’s custodial wallets to facilitate access to cryptocurrency capabilities.