Mastercard was one of the first companies to release statements after Tesla CEO Elon Musk made waves earlier this year by purchasing nearly €1.2 billion worth of bitcoin and announced that Tesla will soon start accepting it as a payment method among traditional ones. While Musk’s announcement seemed to be open to most cryptos, Mastercard was definitely more detailed when discussing future plans with digital currencies. Some of these specifications included that they would only allow transactions involving cryptos that meet a list of specific criteria, such that the currency must “provide strong consumer protection, including privacy and security of the consumers’ information” and “deliver a level playing field for all stakeholders.” Now, Mastercard says that they are making an effort to analyze trends in fintech to bet on the next big ideas.
Linda Kirkpatrick, Mastercard’s current North American President, has led the way for them since assuming her role back in January of this year by making it part of her job to give new fintechs in the space a chance to figure out what trends are worth investing in. The ideology behind this seems to be that, as a global financial services company, they need to be willing to adapt to and offer their consumers the option to transact in as many ways as they desire on a safe, secure network. Kirkpatrick also makes mention that she knows that every fintech they inquire with will not be a winner, but through this process of trial and error and consistent optimism, they will come out with a few great ideas. Some of the bold risks Mastercard has taken recently include purchasing Finicity at the end of last year, a financial data analytics company offering advice for better credit decisions, and the aforementioned news of allowing cryptos.
The latter mentioned previously is perhaps one of their riskiest ventures, as with most others up till this point would only result in a monetary loss. Being a pioneer of the crypto age by being one of the first to permit transactions can open them to a whole host of trust and possible liabilities issues if transactions are found to be insecure or increased money laundering efforts are made, as is the case in Lithuania. The bottom line seems to be that if there’s a high enough consumer demand for the service, as there is in the case of crypto payments, then it’s ultimately the customer’s decision if they’d like to use it and it’s just their part to properly support and facilitate transactions.