MasterCard says banks and merchants can now offer crypto perks

MasterCard has announced a big change that allows banks, merchants, and others on its network to offer cryptocurrency perks. The change underscores the rapidly growing mainstream appeal of crypto and the rollout of platforms that make digital currency easier for the average person to acquire.

The new opportunity is made possible by a partnership between MasterCard and Bakkt, a platform that revolves around cryptocurrency and the new digital assets being rolled out regularly. Under this partnership, MasterCard says it is able to offer crypto-as-a-service, namely equipping its network with rapid access to different cryptocurrency capabilities.

For example, this new opportunity enables MasterCard's partners to offer cryptocurrency as rewards in the same way many credit card companies offer loyalty points. One may, for example, be able to redeem those loyalty points for crypto assets instead of cash. As well, the new opportunity paves the way for offering consumers crypto-branded credit and debit cards, Bakkt-powered "custodial wallets" for buying, holding, and selling crypto, and more.

In a statement about the new partnership, MasterCard executive VP of Digital Partnerships Sherri Haymond said:

Mastercard is committed to offering a wide range of payment solutions that deliver more choice, value and impact every day. Together with Bakkt and grounded by our principled approach to innovation, we'll not only empower our partners to offer a dynamic mix of digital assets options, but also deliver differentiated and relevant consumer experiences.

The decision comes amid growing public interest in cryptocurrencies, the most notable of which is Bitcoin. Despite the crypto market crash earlier this early, the digital assets remain very popular and, some believe, they may become a prominent part of the future economy. The days of setting up complicated mining rigs and wallets are largely over, with several notable platforms rolling out various degrees of crypto support, including PayPal.