The merging of traditional payments processors with the crypto space is picking up traction. Recently, rumors that the previously skittish PayPal would open its gates to the crypto industry made plenty of waves. While there is still no official confirmation, the firm would join many of its competitors that already offer fiat-to-crypto gateways.
For the average consumer who has long held onto either a Visa or Mastercard credit card, however, accessibility remains a key factor in terms of crypto exposure. Through its Mastercard Accelerate program, the card-issuing giant is looking to facilitate just that, having most recently brought the crypto startup Wirex on board.
The Accelerate program was launched in October as a way to boost various fintech startups and introduce them to Mastercard’s broad ecosystem. The partnership with Wirex marks the first instance of a cryptocurrency startup being brought into the Accelerate program, which is big news for the startup and even bigger news for the crypto sector.
With the new partnership, Wirex will now be able to issue its own Mastercard-backed cryptocurrency cards that will let owners make payments with tokens just as they would with a standard debit or credit card. Raj Dhamodharan, Mastercard’s executive vice president for digital asset and blockchain products and partnerships, was very clear in regards to the company’s goals when it comes to both accelerating crypto adoption and bringing forth new solutions for clients.
Interestingly enough, this is neither Wirex’s first partnership with a card-issuing giant nor the first cryptocurrency card. The crypto firm, which started in 2014, had previously offered a Visa card with similar compatibility. In early 2019, Coinbase also announced that it would launch a Visa debit card in the U.K. that would allow customers to pay with crypto in both brick-and-mortar stores and online. Since then, Coinbase and Visa have nurtured their relationship further, which might pique curiosity in light of recent insider reports that Coinbase is aiming for a direct launch into the stock market.
Casting aside the seeming race towards crypto between Visa and Mastercard, Wirex’s latest partnership may yet turn out to be one of the most important milestones for mainstream crypto adoption. In contrast to the seemingly Coinbase-centered Visa, Mastercard appears significantly more dedicated to blockchain techonology and the crypto industry as a whole. The bond between Mastercard’s globally recognized brand and Wirex’s fiat-to-crypto platform should be one to closely monitor as the card goes live.