Mastercard is said to be planning to allow any bank or merchant on its vast network to accept Bitcoin and offer Bitcoin and Bitcoin rewards.
According to a new report from CNBC, Mastercard is partnering with Bitcoin and crypto wallet provider Bakkt, which will offer Bitcoin custodial services to merchants that sign up, executives at Mastercard and Bakkt said.
There are currently thousands of banks and millions of merchants on Mastercard’s network, all of which could soon be able to send or receive payments with Bitcoin wallets, earn rewards in Bitcoin through credit and debit cards, and implement loyalty programs whereby airline or hotel points could be converted into the asset as a result of the partnership.
Existing points could be also converted into Bitcoin at rates set by the participating companies, giving customers the ability to earn a yield, according to Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael.
Sherri Haymond, Mastercard’s executive vice president of digital partnerships, said in an interview with CNBC, “We want to offer all of our partners the ability to more easily add crypto services to whatever it is they’re doing.”
Haymond continued, “Our partners, be they banks, fintechs or merchants can offer their customers the ability to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency through an integration with the Baktt platform.”
The integration of Bitcoin services into the Mastercard network could introduce billions to Bitcoin, providing them access through fiat channels they’re already comfortable using. According to Mastercard there are currently 2.8 billion cards in use.
The global demand for Bitcoin products and institutional access has led Mastercard clients to ask the network to provide Bitcoin services, according to Haymond. According to CNBC Mastercard and Bakkt are set to officially announce their partnership later on Monday.
This comes just after a watershed moment for U.S. stock exchanges as regulators have allowed Bitcoin futures ETFs to launch for the first time, similarly providing Bitcoin price exposure to investors who can’t or wouldn’t think to acquire it otherwise.