While banks and non-financial institutions in Nigeria have been restricted from supporting cryptocurrency transactions, Mastercard has disclosed that it is planning to allow merchants to receive payments in cryptocurrencies later this year.
The feature will see Mastercard customers’ digital currency payments settled in crypto at participating merchants. The company has not yet disclosed which digital currencies it intends to support, or where.
The details shed new light on CEO Michael Miebach’s Q4 pledge to integrate digital currency payments “directly on our network” which he said will provide maximal flexibility to customers and merchants alike.
Previously, Mastercard supported limited cryptocurrency transactions through its cryptocard partners Wirex and Uphold. But those programmes only cover payment, not settlement; the coins are converted to fiat currency well before reaching the merchant.
Mastercard first filed a patent for handling bitcoin payments in 2013 but abandoned that effort in 2015. It began hiring a team of wallet developers and crypto veterans in 2019. The company now hosts a platform through which central banks can test digital currencies.
These are interesting times for cryptocurrencies. Tesla run by Elon Musk recently bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoins and this News sent the digital currency soaring 14% to a record high of $43,500, a 300% increase on this time last year as cryptocurrency investment has moved into the mainstream as global interest rates remain at record lows.