The future of money revolves around cryptocurrencies, CBDCs.


  • Adoption rates for emerging payment options such as cryptocurrencies have always been better in the Asian region, Mastercard said.
  • Thai and Indian consumers are more comfortable using cryptocurrencies compared to a highly developed market like Australia.
  • With nearly every central bank venturing into or testing the CBDC, Mastercard remains optimistic about its wider adoption sooner rather than later.

Whatever your take on cryptocurrencies, the fact remains that these digital assets are gradually becoming an important part of the world of payments. Simply put, cash won’t be king forever and that’s what Mastercard, a global payments leader, believes in. In fact, Mastercard has started offering its customers access to debit, credit, and digital wallets, as well as cryptocurrency. loyalty rewards programs.

Earlier this month, the U.S.-based multinational financial services company partnered with three major cryptocurrency service providers in Asia-Pacific and for the first time launched Mastercard-backed payment cards. cryptocurrency in the region. Digital asset service providers – Hong Kong crypto finance firm Amber Group, Bitkub in Thailand, and CoinJar in Australia – have all started allowing consumers and businesses in their respective markets in the region to apply for credit, a debit or a prepaid Mastercard linked to cryptography. cards. These cards will then allow them to instantly convert their cryptocurrencies into traditional fiat currency.

In a conversation with Tech Wire Asia (TWA), Executive Vice President of Mastercard Asia Pacific, Digital and Emerging Partnerships and New Payment Flows, Rama Sridhar, shared the company’s strategy in the area of ​​digital assets, particularly with its approach to cryptocurrencies and central bank digital currencies (CBDC).

Mastercard first tapped into the Western market by offering cryptocurrency products and services. How has acceptance been and how do you expect it to be for the Asia-Pacific markets?

From a global perspective, adoption rates of emerging payment options have always been better in the Asian region. There are, however, a few reasons why Asia is leading the world in this area. First, based on Mastercard’s New Payments Index conducted in 18 markets around the world last year, 94% of consumers in the Asia-Pacific region plan to use emerging payment methods this year.

Mastercard sees that emerging payment methods are QR Code, digital wallet, BNPL payment (buy now-pay later), cryptocurrencies and biometrics among others. However, the will and enthusiasm to adopt a new payment method in this part of the world is very strong. The second thing is a large population of Asians who operates across borders, whether through online shopping or physical travel. Therefore, more is expected of a more comprehensive, homogeneous and interoperable framework in Asia than most developed Western economies. Law.

Which country in the Asia-Pacific region would Mastercard consider to be the most accepting cryptocurrency?

There are more consumers in Thailand and India who are very comfortable with using cryptocurrencies compared to a highly developed market like Australia. Even Vietnam and Indonesia are currently experiencing double-digit growth. Therefore, the combination of these factors only gives a good understanding of emerging payment methods.

This itself tells a story of the developing economies of Asia, where the cash flow trail is very high. Without forgetting how, according to the United Nations, over 60% of the world’s youth live in Asia-Pacific, which translates to over 750 million young women and men aged 15-24.

Now, when the crypto matures over the next three to four years, many of these players would either learn from adults or start their careers. In short, Asia-Pacific is demographically configured for higher adoption rates and that’s probably the best way to think about it. As it stands, almost 30% of the global value of crypto transactions occurs in Asia, so it is inevitable that the region will be a world leader when it comes to the future of money.

What was the tipping point when Mastercard realized it was time to accept cryptocurrencies into the payment network?

Mastercard’s cryptocurrency philosophy is pretty straightforward: it’s a matter of choice. We are not here to recommend that you start using cryptocurrencies. But we’re here to empower customers, traders, and businesses to move digital value – traditional or crypto – as they see fit. It should be your choice, it is your money.

Within the Mastercard network itself, we’ve noticed a large number of people using cards to purchase crypto assets, especially during the recent surge in Bitcoin’s value. We are also seeing that users are increasingly taking advantage of crypto cards to access these assets and convert them into traditional currencies for spending.

AFirst and foremost, we have and will continue to pay close attention to the assets we support based on our Principles for Digital Currencies, which focus on consumer protection and compliance. Currently we have over 30 crypto card program partnerships and to be completely clear not all current cryptocurrencies are and will not be supported on our network.

But if you look at stablecoins, which are either backed by a basket of decrees or a single decree, they’re more and more accepted. To top it off, stablecoins are more regulated and reliable than in the recent past and these are the same stablecoins that we hope to integrate into our network.

Tell us more about your take on the CBDC and the “safe space” Mastercard provides for governments and private sector banks to understand how it works?

Around last year, we announced this exclusive testing platform for central banks which essentially allows central banks to engage in a simulated environment where they can issue currency and distribute it among banks, financial institutions. and consumers in a virtual world to understand how it could and would work in a real world. In doing so, it will enable banks to identify and develop strategies to launch central bank digital currencies (CBDC) and how to create the ideal regulatory environment.

Truth be told, today almost all central banks are actually exploring CDBC not only because they want to issue it immediately, but because it leads to becoming a necessary part of the ecosystem. With that, creating the framework, the rules and evaluating what is the best way to do it is just a timely decision. And for Mastercard, whatever the central bank does as principles, will automatically be the principles that we assume. This is how we move forward in our partnerships.

In all developing economies, and in Asia in particular, cashless is the main program of central banks. With that, a lot central bankers believe that CBDCs have great potential to bring people into the digital financial system.

The other real agenda on the radar of central banks is transparency. This is why all governments and regulators are moving in this direction. Yes, this is not the only way to do it, but it is a good way to do it and it facilitates quick access to currency for populations, where the circulation of physical money may be limited.

Do you think the future of a CBDC will be shaping up sooner rather than later?

To help digital transformation, financial and digital inclusion as well as cash elimination, CBDCs are the way forward. Will that happen in the next two or five years? Unfortunately, I can’t predict, but I think there is a lot of framework and work to be done. There will undoubtedly be a lot of debate among central banks – about the good and the bad of how things should be run. They will have to ensure that the other existing payment ecosystems coexist harmoniously with the CBDCs.


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