Mastercard (NYSE:MA) has conferred its Mastercard principal status on cryptocurrency exchange operator Wirex, it announced on Monday. The U.K.-based company is now set to be the first cryptocurrency platform allowed to issue the finance-industry titan's payment cards to its account holders.
The move is part of a broader initiative by Mastercard to become more of a partner to businesses active in the cryptocurrency space. The company announced in its press release about Wirex that it is expanding its cryptocurrency tie-ups by inviting such enterprises to join the card giant's Accelerate fintech development program.
Wirex already offers a Visa-branded payment debit card to its account holders. It can be funded with either fiat money or cryptocurrencies. It functions as a multicurrency product that does not generate fees when used outside the holder's country, and it earns bitcoin rewards. According to Mastercard, Wirex's Mastercard products will also have this bitcoin reward feature, at up to 1.5% of every purchase.
The company said that its arrangement with Wirex allows the latter "to issue payment cards directly to consumers, making it easier for people to buy, hold and exchange multiple traditional and cryptocurrencies. Consumers can instantly convert their cryptocurrencies into traditional fiat currency, which can be spent everywhere Mastercard is accepted around the world."
The excitement about cryptocurrencies has cooled significantly since they arrived on the financial scene in 2009 when bitcoin, then and now the world's bellwether cryptocurrency, came into existence. That said, many large banks and other finance sector companies continue to work on ways of integrating them into the mainstream of the global financial system.