MasterCard: A Long Way From ‘Useless Bitcoin’ to DCG Investment

News and Analysis

Last Week MasterCard has invested in cryptocurrency industry for the first time. In funded the activities of Digital Currency Group (DCG), a bitcoin incubator.

Spokesperson to the payment system stated that DCG is capable of assessing modern technologies in virtual money and blockchain space, which was the reason for the investment.

The leading payment system’s change of heart was noticed in early October 2015. Back then, Ann Cairns, MasterCard president for international markets, stated that bitcoin was heading towards regulation and integration in global finance.

Notably, earlier this summer MasterCard was obviously dismissive of digital currencies. For instance, answering the call from HM Treasury, the payment processor opted to highlight that cryptocurrency had no substantial advantages in comparison to existing financial solution. Moreover, MasterCard noted bitcoin’s drawbacks as scalability issues, low network capacity, and slow confirmation of transactions.

As of October, the company’s top management spoke of digital currencies in milder words. It recognized the right thereof to become a part of a unified financial ecosystem. However, the company’s stance toward bitcoin is still very cautious, and they think that it will not solve burning issues. In particular, Ann Cairns stated that bitcoin is not required for remittances today as a plastic card is accepted in at least 38 million different places throughout the world. In that relation, she told, bitcoin is a mere hard-to-obtain alternative for an average consumer.

Anyway, MasterCard could not but notice banks’ increasing interest towards blockchain and digital currencies, as well as Ripple’s impressive success in cooperation with banking organizations in the world, from Australia to the UK. Back in March, the company published yet another report repeatedly mentioning ?virtual currencies’. Every such mentioning was in the context of competition.

Probably one of the world’s biggest plastic card issuers realizes the potential of bitcoin and technologies underlying it. One could easily imagine that in a few years plastic cards would not go away, yet value is transmitted from card to card via new protocol. Yes, it is a private blockchain owned by MasterCard.

It would be interesting to known MasterCard’s opinion as to other payment systems and plastic card issuers which issue bitcoin plastic cards – or, to be more precise, the cards that convert bitcoins into fiat following a customer’s request during the transaction. A traditional plastic card is a convenient thing, and it might be even more convenient with bitcoin. Yet NFC-based payments may seem more interesting trend. MasterCard’s wish to carve its way to the future is easy to understand. The question is whether there is a place for it in the future.

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