Mastercard has joined Blockchain Australia in a move that should further expand its reach in local digital finances.
The action demonstrates their commitment to providing financial services centered around non-fungible tokens (NFTs), upcoming central bank digital currencies, and further integrating cryptocurrencies with traditional financial services, as well as Visa Australia's.
Michael Bacina, a board member for Blockchain Australia, cited regulation as a major factor in Mastercard's decision to join the group.
"They have taken an active role in speaking out at blockchain and cryptocurrency-related events. Comparing that to joining a leading industry organization like Blockchain Australia is a different position.
They want a place at the table so they can contribute to the projects Blockchain Australia is working on. The regulatory structure surrounding blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and other continuing issues is a crucial component of it.
A company like Mastercard entering the discussion and contributing is really beneficial because there is an industry that is actively seeking regulation and clarification on regulation.
"Payments are a clear application for blockchain technology that offers tremendous potential for automation and efficiency. Therefore, there is a definite convergence in the direction that technology is going.
Stablecoins, according to Mr. Bacina, "are things which are pretty near to the tasks that Mastercard and the other credit card networks are participating in." The Reserve Bank Governor recently made some remarks on them.
The move occurs in a new context for cryptocurrencies, which were experiencing highs up until the market meltdown in November 2021. When it reached its height, Bitcoin was worth over $90,000; today, it is only around $30,500.
It's unclear whether major financial institutions are as excited about a future of cryptocurrencies, but they nonetheless seem to be moving forward with blockchain integration and cryptocurrencies at full speed.
Mastercard has already taken steps to make it simple for its users to swap cryptocurrencies for fiat money and use Mastercard. It has done so by forming alliances with regional bitcoin exchanges.
Mastercard and local exchange BTC markets announced a cooperation in March 2022. This came after a different group of Mastercard collaborations with the Australian company CoinJar and the Thai exchanges Amber Group and Bitkub were announced in November 2021.
“For the first time, consumers and businesses in the Asia Pacific region will be able to apply for crypto-linked Mastercard credit, debit or prepaid 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,” Mastercard said at the time.
“While some merchants already accept payments in digital currencies such as Bitcoin or Eth, this form of acceptance is not widespread.”
The financial sphere of Visa has also attempted to include blockchain and cryptocurrency. Similar to Mastercard, it has a vision statement that centers on customers effortlessly converting cryptocurrency to fiat money and conducting typical business transactions, trading, and investing over the Visa network.
Visa, however, is envisioned as being a component of a global ecosystem centered on central bank digital currencies. It claims that it plans to create a CBDC payments module, Visa payments for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and Visa cards based on cryptocurrencies.
According to the journal Business 2 Community, Mastercard submitted applications for more than a dozen NFT patents and trademarks associated with the metaverse in the US in June.