Financial services giant Mastercard is set to announce that the thousands of banks and millions of merchants on its payments network will soon be able to integrate crypto into its products, according to a report by CNBC.
To do so, Mastercard is partnering with digital asset firm Bakkt, which will provide custody services for the merchants and institutions who sign up.
When it was launched back in 2018, Bakkt was conceived as a Bitcoin custodian, like Coinbase Custody or Anchorage.
In March, Bakkt launched its crypto wallet and Bakkt app. The Bakkt app enables consumers to use Bitcoin as payment and collect loyalty points and rewards with several participating brands, including Starbucks.
This month, Bakkt began trading on the Nasdaq. It closed its first day at $876, 6.41% down from its opening price of $9.41. Today, it’s trading at $12.28 a share.
The Mastercard deal will bring a plethora of crypto services to the Mastercard payments network, including Bitcoin wallets, the ability to earn crypto rewards on crypto-enabled credit and debit cards, and participation in selected airline or hotel loyalty programs where rewards can be converted into Bitcoin.
Rising institutional interest in crypto has been the driving force behind the latest initiative, said Sherry Haymond, Mastercard’s executive vice president of digital partnerships.
Mastercard follows Bitcoin ETFs
The news comes after a week of explosive price performances in the global crypto market.
On Wednesday last week, market leader Bitcoin set a new all-time high price of $66,930. The following day, Ethereum, the second-biggest cryptocurrency by market cap, also set a new all-time high of $4,366.
Much of the recent excitement around crypto was due to the launch of Proshares’ Bitcoin futures ETF, the first regulated investment vehicle in the U.S. that enables investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin without buying it directly.
The ProShares launch was followed on Friday with the announcement that the SEC had approved Valkyrie’s Bitcoin Futures ETF filing too.