Mastercard "Very Happy" to Support [Condition] Cryptocurrencies, Just Not Anonymous "Junk"


Payments giant Mastercard is completely behind supporting state-backed, fundamental bank-issued cryptocurrencies, a senior executive has shown.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mastercard Asia-Pacific co-president Ari Sarker has opined that the world's second-biggest payments company would be «very happy to look at» supporting national electronic currencies that are issued and backed by central banks.

He told the publication:

«If governments look to create a national digital currency we would be quite pleased to look at people in a more positive way [compared with existing decentralized cryptocurrencies].»

«So long as it's backed by a regulator and the value...» he said, adding «it isn't anonymous, it is meeting all of the regulatory requirements, I think that would be of greater interest for us to explore.»

Central bank-issued cryptocurrencies are garnering plenty of interest amid widely-publicized research efforts undertaken by several countries including China, Singapore, Canada, Israel, South Africa, Sweden and more. They are, however, yet to materialize despite the likes of China and Singapore successfully trialing digitized versions of their fiat money on a blockchain. The first notable release of a country cryptocurrency, for better or worse, is the contentious oil-backed Petro, proclaimed as a national cryptocurrency that will evade international sanctions by Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.

The Mastercard executive's revelatory opinions follow those of president and CEO Ajay Banga, who disregarded all non-government mandated cryptocurrency as «junk» last year. «If the government generates digital currency, we will find a way to maintain the game. We'll provide rails for moving money from customer to merchant,» he said at the time. «The government mandated digital currencies are intriguing. Non-government mandated currency is junk.»

Further, Sarkar touched upon a bitcoin-to-fiat pilot that allowed customers to «cash from bitcoin» over to a MasterCard. Few details are known, but a pilot is now underway in Singapore and Japan even though it hasn't reached any particular similarity of «scale», according to the executive.

«We aren't operating trading of bitcoin through the Mastercard network,» Sarkar said of this cautious approach by Mastercard.

Aside from filing for blockchain-related patents last year, Mastercard has also unveiled three blockchain APIs that covers characteristics including real-time settlements, smart contracts and a toolkit for users running their own nodes on a blockchain.

Mastercard and rival Visa have categorized bitcoin purchases as «cash transactions», the FT report adds, putting a barrier for users to buy cryptocurrencies because of higher fees.   Sarkar's take on Mastercard's lack of support for decentralized cryptocurrencies is entirely expected and a lot more reserved than those provided by Visa's finance chief who mouthed off a privileged tirade against cryptocurrencies recently.