With payment services PayPal and Square already having embraced bitcoin and achieving great success with it, it is time for the competition to move. Traditional service provider companies Visa and Mastercard recently announced that they will also be increasing their support of digital currencies such as bitcoin.
In a press release Mastercard states that it wants to enable payments in cryptocurrency through their network. VISA, in turn, has announced that partners will soon be able to offer bitcoin management and exchange services to their customers through them.
According to Mastercard, there is an undeniable trend among consumers to buy or spend cryptocurrencies. It therefore wants to prepare for the future and support cryptocurrencies.
This will allow Mastercard customers to use their existing accounts to buy, store and pay for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin at affiliated retailers.
While the press release does not state which crypto currencies are involved, it does state that it concerns a limited selection where compliance measures, consumer protection and price volatility play a role in the choice.
Mastercard emphasizes that they do not want to give the impression that they recommend buying or using crypto currencies. It is mainly about offering consumers a choice as stated in their press release:
“Our philosophy on cryptocurrencies is straightforward: It’s about choice. Mastercard isn’t here to recommend you start using cryptocurrencies. But we are here to enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital value – traditional or crypto – however they want. It should be your choice, it’s your money.”
In collaboration with partners, Mastercard has previously released payment cards that allow payments in bitcoin whereby the payment is switched during the transaction so that the merchant receives a regular currency. Success of these initiatives contributed to Mastercard’s decision to integrate cryptocurrencies into their network. It is likely with this announcement it will also soon be possible to receive the payment in bitcoin without converting to a regular currency.
Mastercard is looking forward to a crypto-future and playing a role in this:
“We are inspired by so much of the work going on in the payments world — in banking, in emergent fintechs, in crypto — to push forward change. And we are doing as much as we can to set the stage for these players to take the next step forward.”
Visa has also been offering the option to pay with bitcoin through their network for a while. To this end, it works together with about 35 exchanges and wallet providers.
Usually these are payment cards to which consumers can deposit a balance, after which they can use them to pay at affiliated retailers. Limited cash withdrawals from ATMs are also possible. Sometimes the payment cards also offer a cashback, whereby consumers receive a percentage of the purchase amount back in bitcoin with every purchase.
Visa recently announced that it is further expanding its services related to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It will offer an Application Programming Interface (API), which will allow Visa partners to offer their customers the ability to buy, sell and store bitcoin.
These are exciting times for cryptocurrencies and bitcoin in particular. With the embrace of traditional service providers, the ecosystem around bitcoin is continuously growing and strengthening its legitimacy and recognition.
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