Mastercard unveils crypto-linked cards in Asia-Pacific region

Mastercard has partnered with a trio of crypto service providers to launch the new card

Bitcoin and Mastercard                                 
Mastercard to launch crypto-linked card in Asia-Pacific region – Photo: Shutterstock

Mastercard, the American multinational financial services corporation, has unveiled a trio of partnerships with cryptocurrency service providers to launch a crypto-linked Mastercard payment card for the Asia-Pacific region.

The three companies Mastercard has partnered with are Amber Group, Thailand-based Bitkub and CoinJar in Australia. They become the first Asia-Pacific crypto platforms to join the Mastercard Crypto Card Programme, which was launched in July 2021. The programme is Mastercard’s commitment to enhancing its card programme for crypto wallets and exchanges, “making it simpler for partners to convert cryptocurrency to traditional fiat currency”.

The company said: “For the first time, consumers and businesses in the Asia-Pacific region will be able to apply for crypto-linked Mastercard credit, debit or pre-paid cards that will enable them to instantly convert their cryptocurrencies into traditional fiat currency, which can be spent everywhere Mastercard is accepted around the world.

The company believes consumers increasingly wish to fund everyday transactions with digital currencies.

Acceptance of crypto as payment not widespread

As Mastercard states, some merchants currently accept bitcoin and ethereum as payment, but not all shops do this. The new Mastercard crypto-linked payment card, on the other hand, will instantly convert people’s cryptos into fiat currency, which then can be spent anywhere that Mastercard is accepted.   

According to the Mastercard New Payment Index, interest in cryptos in the Asia-Pacific region is high. The index found that 45% of those in the region are likely to consider using cryptos in the next year, a big increase from just 12% the previous year and higher than the global average of 40%.

“Expanding what’s possible”

Rama Sridhar, Microsoft’s executive vice-president of digital and emerging partnerships and new payment flows in the Asia-Pacific region, said: “Cryptocurrencies are many things to people – an investment, a disruptive technology, or a unique financial tool. As interest and attention surges from all quarters, their real-world applications are now emerging beyond the speculative.

“In collaboration with these partners that adhere to the same core principles that Mastercard does – that any digital currency must offer stability, regulatory compliance and consumer protection – Mastercard is expanding what’s possible with cryptocurrencies to give people even greater choice and flexibility in how they pay.”

CoinJar CEO Asher Tan, added: “As one of the world’s longest-running crypto exchanges, we’re thrilled to partner with a global giant like Mastercard to make cryptocurrency more accessible and useful than it’s ever been before.”

Further reading: Mastercard pilots USDC to streamline crypto card payments

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