Originally published in the NOWPayments blog
Visa and Mastercard are the two biggest names in the payment space. Both of them are striving to increase the adoption of crypto assets. They are taking various measures for it. The cryptocurrency industry will benefit from the support of these payment industry behemoths.
Both Visa and Mastercard are the leading brands of the financial industry. Their cryptocurrency initiatives will make global financial institutions take notice. The global user-base of Visa stands at over 1140 million payment cards. 340 million Visa cards are in the United States alone. Another 801 million VISA cards are outside the United States.
The global number of Mastercard credit cards stands at 939 million in 2020. Of this, 236 million are in the United States. The rest — 703 million cards are in use around the world.
Are you wondering what the user-base data indicates? It proves that the cryptocurrency industry can make use of it. Both of these industries offer digital payment services to millions of users worldwide.
Visa wants to offer the best possible service to its network of users and merchants. They do it through a combination of partnerships and technology. So, why are they pursuing the cryptocurrency industry? They are trying to leave a bigger footprint in the cryptocurrency space. Their aim is to maintain a special place in the global commerce industry. In May 2020, the digital assets industry was worth $10 billion. Hence, they are taking many digital currency initiatives.
The Visa and Coinbase partnership began in the United Kingdom in 2019. Thanks to this partnership, UK-based consumers were able to get a Coinbase debit card. It enabled them to use their digital currency holdings as easily as they would use fiat.
Within a year, the Coinbase debit card was supported by 29 more countries. The users holding the cryptocurrency debit card could spend up to ten cryptocurrencies.
Fold is a popular rewards app — It allows its users to earn bitcoin by shopping at Fold’s partner retail stores. They announced on April 9th that they were joining the ”Visa Fintech Fast Track program.” It enabled Fold to offer co-branded cards to its users. The co-branded card allows Fold users to earn Bitcoin for all purchases. But the Fold users must make purchases through a co-branded Visa-powered card.
Visa has become a preferred choice for payment integration today. It has become popular among digital currency wallets and the general digital wallets. A digital wallet also leverages the capabilities of “Visa Direct.” It enables them to offer a faster method of converting crypto assets into liquid funds. Then, users can send the fiat currency into their accounts in real-time.
Most of the crypto-related activities happen under the “Visa Fintech Fast Track Program.” It has proved to be a great help for financial services companies. Both fintech and cryptocurrency companies can join Visa’s network through Visa’s flagship program.
Anchorage is one of the first investments made by Visa in digital asset space. Visa was one of the leading investors that took part in Anchorage’s series B funding round. Anchorage got $40 million funding in its series B funding.
So what is the goal of Anchorage? It wants to increase institutional participation in the digital currency space. Anchorage does it by building a secured infrastructure. It has been striving to achieve its goal for the last three years.
Many governments around the world fear cryptocurrencies. They don’t see it as a viable alternative to the current financial system. This is why Visa works with governments around the world. They are working to ease their concerns about cryptocurrencies. They are working with the World Economic Forum and the national banks of various countries. The payment behemoth believes that stablecoins has the potential to gain mainstream acceptance.
Visa is helping to increase digital currencies awareness. They are helping the policymakers and public finance institutions understand cryptocurrencies. At the same time, they are also making recommendations to central banks. All their recommendations center around the Central Bank Digital Currency.
When it comes to crypto-oriented initiatives, Visa is miles ahead of Mastercard. But Mastercard, too, has realized the potential of the cryptocurrency industry now. Hence, Mastercard has started building valuable partnerships in the crypto space. They are also offering digital currency-related services now.
Mastercard is aiming to build a safe and friendly platform for the crypto industry. It will be useful for both the customers and the digital currency service providers. Mastercard’s involvement in the digital assets space is a huge thing for the cryptocurrency space. It will help the crypto industry gain mainstream acceptance.
So, is Mastercard going all guns blazing towards the adoption of cryptocurrencies? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is “No.” The involvement of Mastercard in the crypto space is pretty limited now. Its Cryptocurrency Wirex card is also only available in the United Kingdom now.
“All crypto to fiat conversion is through the cryptocurrency wallets,” says Mr. Dhamodharan.
It means that Mastercard is not giving their support to any of the digital currencies. Mr. Dhamodharan believes that the true potential of the cryptocurrencies is yet to emerge. He says that the cryptocurrency space is still maturing. Today, Mastercard’s involvement is limited. Yet, they are aiming to help commercialize the many use-cases of crypto assets.
Mastercard has made it easier for crypto companies to issue payment cards. How did they do it? They did it by expanding their crypto program. Wirex is the first startup to join the Mastercard membership program. This membership will enable Wirex — a native crypto platform, to issue cards on their own.
All Wirex cards will be powered by the Mastercard network. Under the “Mastercard Accelerate” framework, the multinational payment company is aiming to help many other crypto companies.
In 2018, Mastercard initiated a ban on all crypto transactions. Yet today, both of the Payment giants are trying to outdo each other in the crypto payment space. Visa has a first-mover advantage. They started allowing crypto companies to issue crypto debit cards before Mastercard. In 2019, Crypto.com, Coinbase, among many others started issuing Visa debit cards.
There are many benefits for companies joining the “Mastercard Accelerate” program. Through it, they would be able to access Mastercard’s network of services and technology. This program is a big step in Mastercard’s goal of building an inclusive financial ecosystem.
The digital assets industry has come a long way. Yet, there still are a few concerns associated with crypto assets around the world. The support from Visa and Mastercard will prove beneficial for the industry. It will help the crypto industry to address all concerns and help legitimize it.
Both Visa and Mastercard are trying to get a major share of the cryptocurrency payment market. Visa has the advantage of taking the first steps but we cannot discount Mastercard yet. So, who will win this race? That is something that only time will tell. One thing is for sure. The digital currencies and the digital payments market will enjoy this race. It is because such partnerships are crucial for the digital economy.