Mastercard, Visa, Paypal And Banks Expand Cryptocurrency Cards And Programs (#GotBitcoin?)
Mastercard, Visa, Paypal and banks are reaching out to cryptocurrency firms and encouraging them to apply to become partners as part of their newly-expanded cryptocurrency cards and programs.
On July 20, Mastercard said it was simplifying access to its Accelerate program for crypto card issuers, allowing applicants to be onboarded as partners “in a matter of weeks.”
Now enhanced for crypto card applicants, the Accelerate program gives partners support with their market entry, continued growth and international expansion.
New crypto partners will be assisted in integrating Mastercard’s technology and will be in a position to benefit from the firm’s cybersecurity expertise and market research.
While it is streamlining access to its program for crypto firms, Mastercard has emphasized that all partners must comply with its “core principles.”
These include providing robust consumer protection (ensuring privacy and security for users), operating in compliance with relevant laws and regulations, such as Anti-Money Laundering rules, and establishing a level playing field for all stakeholders, such as financial institutions, merchants and mobile network operators.
Raj Dhamodharan, Executive Vice President Of Digital Asset And Blockchain Products And Partnerships At Mastercard, Said:
“The cryptocurrency market continues to mature, and Mastercard is driving it forward, creating safe and secure experiences for consumers and businesses in today’s digital economy.”
Wirex Becomes Mastercard’s First Crypto Partner With Principal Membership
Parallel to reaching out to crypto card partners, Mastercard has also announced that London-based crypto payment processor Wirex has become the first native cryptocurrency platform to be granted a Mastercard principal membership, which will allow it to directly issue crypto payment cards.
Thanks to the membership, Wirex card users will be able to immediately convert their crypto holdings into fiat currency, which can be spent at points of sale that accept Mastercard. Currency will thus enter Mastercard’s network in the form of fiat, not cryptocurrency.
Wirex CEO and co-founder Pavel Matveev has said that the membership “represents a growing interest and recognition in the acceptance of cryptocurrency by leading bodies and regulators.” He added that partnering with Mastercard will help the firm to realize its “vision of empowering everyone to experience a world where all currencies, traditional and crypto, are equal.”
Wirex is regulated by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority and has a license to issue crypto cards in Europe. Earlier this year, it hit over 3 million active users, noting that increasing numbers of them are “not typically hardcore cryptocurrency users.”
Prior to partnering with Wirex, Mastercard collaborated with blockchain payments provider BitPay this June to launch a prepaid card for crypto users in the United States.
Crypterium Becomes An Official Visa Europe Partner, Launches New Crypto Payment Card
Cryptocurrency adoption relies heavily on companies and services making digital currencies as easy to use as cash. Decentralized finance, and second-layer payment technologies have played prominent roles in widespread reach and acceptance of cryptocurrencies.
One company that is doing it differently is Crypterium. Through a unique offering combo of crypto banking options, a wallet, and a payment card, Crypterium is redefining crypto adoption. The company recently became an official VISA Europe partner and announced the launch of its new Crypterium Card VISA Edition
New Crypterium Card Visa Edition To Expand Its Crypto Card Reach Globally
After becoming an official partner of the world’s leading electronic payment card issuer, Crypterium is diversifying its crypto card lineup with a new Crypterium Card VISA Edition.
Crypterium Card, the company’s previous card product offering through UnionPay, is already a popular choice amongst 30,000+ users across 150 countries.
The new VISA card will expose more than 500,000 customers of Crypterium to a globally accepted payment method.
Users can load up the Crypterium card through the Crypterium Wallet. The in-wallet exchange service will immediately convert cryptocurrencies stored into fiat that can be used to load the card and then spent at any location accepting VISA cards.
The distinctly designed card adorned in vibrant yellow and dark blue not just looks stunning but also provides a smooth and familiar user experience. The card even supports contactless near-field payment technology, which is critical given the current environment and is expected to support Apple Pay.
Crypterium Is Issuing The New Visa Card For Free, Crpt Token Will Holders Get Free-Delivery
The KPMG and H2 Ventures awarded crypto bank aims to break down barriers and bridge the gap between crypto adoption and mainstream usage. One way they plan to do so is by offering the all-new Crypterium Card VISA Edition for free.
VISA is the world’s most accepted payment card. For us, this product was a logical step. The launch of the Crypterium Card VISA Edition is aligned with our desire to provide customers with exceptional flexibility. With this card, our clients can easily pay anywhere in the world with a single tap, keeping full control of their finances through the Crypterium Wallet.
The only cost associated with each new Crypterium Card VISA Edition is the delivery fee, however, holders of Crypterium’s CRPT tokens will receive free-of-charge delivery – yet another key benefit to holding the tokens.
Access All Card Features Through Crypterium Wallet For Ios And Android
The new Crypterium Card VISA Edition, like the Crypterium Card from UnionPay, can be managed entirely from within the Crypterium Wallet on iOS and Android.
The free app download enables a wallet interface that lets users block and unblock the card, set and alter their security PIN, take a look at transactions, and more. All accounts are 100% backed by insurance from industry leader BitGo.
The Crypterium Card VISA Edition could be a giant leap for crypto adoption, allowing more crypto holders to pay for goods and services at point-of-sale locations all over the globe where VISA cards are accepted. For more information, visit their website or download the free iOS and Android app.
Coincidence? Top 5 Swiss Bank’s Profits up 34% After Bitcoin Integration
Julius Baer, a top-five Swiss bank, saw its net profit climb by 34% in the first half of 2020, a period during which it began offering digital assets like Bitcoin to its clients.
Top five Swiss bank Julius Baer Group, which manages $427 billion in assets, announced on July 20 that its profit increased by $524 million in the last two quarters. The bank most likely benefited from an increase in trading revenues throughout the U.S. and Europe.
The profit of Julius Baer reportedly spiked by 34% in the first half of 2020. It coincides with the bank’s introduction of a custodial service for digital assets — like Bitcoin (BTC) — in January.
Overall Surge In Global Banking Revenues Or Bitcoin Integration?
The trend of major banks in the second quarter of 2020 suggests a massive increase in trading revenues. The pandemic and the introduction of stimulus packages drove a retail “fear of missing out” (FOMO) rally in the stock market.
The noticeable increase in retail demand for stocks led the revenues of banks, especially for trading departments, to surge. JPMorgan, as an example, earned $4.7 billion in net income in the second quarter of 2020. The U.S. investment bank posted its highest quarterly revenue in history.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Said On July 14:
“We earned $4.7 billion of net income in the second quarter despite building $8.9 billion of credit reserves because we generated our highest quarterly revenue ever, which demonstrates the benefit of our diversified global business model.”
Like other banks, the rise in Julius Baer’s profit likely comes from heightened levels of retail trading since the start of April. While Bitcoin recorded high volatility from March to May, since June onwards, it has seen historically low levels of volatility.
Stocks have been significantly more volatile in recent weeks. Sellers and buyers triggered large short-term movements in the stock market, as the anticipation of new stimulus continuously increased.
But, as Coinbase explained, Bitcoin saw a big spike in demand from retail users in the aftermath of “Black Thursday.” On March 13, BTC dropped to as low as sub-$3,600, causing havoc in the cryptocurrency market.
In the following two months since the massive correction, Bitcoin saw a 190% rally from $3,600 to $10,440. Since Julius Baer added support for digital assets in January, it might have benefited from Bitcoin’s volatility from March to May.
Julius Baer Said On January 21:
“Julius Baer has extended its service range and as of now includes digital assets offerings such as secure storage and transaction solutions […]. The Bank is able to offer access to a select group of cryptocurrencies, chosen for their tradability, safety, and technical reliability.”
More Banks Are Seemingly Becoming More Comfortable With Crypto
Since early 2020, an increasing number of major financial institutions have started to support Bitcoin exchanges.
On May 12, for instance, JPMorgan Chase added Coinbase and Gemini as its clients. This suggests that major banks are starting to embrace the new asset class. In previous years, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon heavily criticized Bitcoin, saying “it’s not a real thing” according to CNBC.
The spike in profit of increasingly crypto-friendly banks, such as Julius Bear and JPMorgan, appears to be another sign of increasing institutional demand and the improving perception of Bitcoin as an alternative asset class.
Mastercard’s Revenue Falls, Hurt By Recession
Company’s earnings came in at $1.42 billion.
Mastercard Inc.’s revenue in the second quarter tumbled nearly 20% as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to weigh on business.
Mastercard’s revenue was $3.34 billion, down 19% from a year earlier. The company’s top line beat the consensus estimate from Wall Street of $3.25 billion, according to FactSet.
The revenue drop was in part from a slump in gross-dollar volume, or the value of card transactions, which fell 10% on a local currency basis. Also leading to the revenue decline was a drop in cross-border volume, which fell 45% on a local currency basis, and switched transactions, which fell 10%. Switched-transaction revenue comes from the company authorizing, settling or clearing transactions.
The company reported earnings for the quarter that ended in June of $1.42 billion, or $1.41 a share. Those earnings declined from a year earlier $2.05 billion, or $2 a share.
Adjusted earnings were $1.36 a share.
According to FactSet, Wall Street expected $1.16 a share.
The company recorded a $22 million litigation provision for the quarter. Those charges were related to fees and litigation settlements with merchants in the U.K. and pan-Europe, Mastercard said.
Visa Inc., which reported results earlier this week, also logged results that were heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The company saw a 10% drop in payments volume.
Mastercard and Visa Are Making Bold Moves Toward Mass Crypto Adoption
Global payment processors Mastercard and Visa are laying the foundations for crypto support that may drive adoption on a global scale.
Leading global payment companies Mastercard and Visa have been making moves to accelerate the support of cryptocurrency payment processors by opening up new options for users around the world. Both companies made strong statements in support of the use of cryptocurrencies in July by announcing respective projects and collaborations that are driving the adoption of cryptocurrencies.
The positive attitude toward cryptocurrency exchanges and payment platforms from the world’s largest traditional payment processors signals a shift in perception from the traditional financial space. Mastercard has been actively encouraging exchanges and payment service providers to enlist in its recently expanded cryptocurrency card program, becoming partners in just a few weeks as part of its Accelerate program.
Meanwhile, Visa outlined its vision of the cryptocurrency space with an overarching theme of positivity toward the market and the role it will play.
The payment service provider noted digital currencies as an exciting avenue to expand existing network-of-networks to support the latest technology powering global commerce. These two global giants are not just offering lip service, either; their payment cards and technology are already powering a number of platforms and service providers within the crypto space.
The likes of Coinbase and Binance crypto exchanges use either Visa or Mastercard to power their crypto debit card services.
Visa’s and Mastercard’s relationship with crypto is growing
Visa’s public affirmation of its positive stance toward cryptocurrency payment services reflects its drive to remain a leading player in the global payment network. As highlighted in its “outlook on new digital currency payment flows,” the company admits that a growing body of players in the traditional financial sphere has been looking to plug into the crypto space: “It’s a concept that is gaining traction beyond fintechs.”
The company has already established a working relationship with some leading cryptocurrency-based firms in 2020, including Coinbase and Fold. This is in addition to more than 25 cryptocurrency wallets that are connected to Visa’s systems. Visa also has its fintech-focused accelerator program called FastTrack, which allows tech firms including cryptocurrency and blockchain-based companies to access its systems and network.
The company has also been developing its own cryptocurrency projects that include an investment into tech firm Anchorage, which builds security infrastructure for the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Its research team has also been working in the blockchain space for a number of years, culminating in the creation of the white papers for the Zether and FlyClient projects.
Furthermore, Visa has been involved in helping shape regulations and policies toward cryptocurrencies around the world. It has worked with the World Economic Forum to develop recommendations for central banks looking into the use cases of central bank digital currencies. Cointelegraph reached out to Visa for additional insights, but the company declined to provide any further information other than its blog post.
Mastercard has been actively encouraging crypto exchanges and payment service providers to sign up to their Accelerate platform in an effort to expedite the process to become partners by fast-tracking the onboarding of new crypto debit and credit card providers while providing added assistance for market entry and expansion in different countries. Nevertheless, prospective partners need to meet stringent requirements set by Mastercard. This includes high levels of consumer protection and compliance with AML/KYC regulations.
This move to collaborate with the crypto industry comes off the back of the news that Wirex became the first cryptocurrency platform granted a Mastercard principal membership. Part of the functionality allows users the ability to instantly convert cryptocurrencies into conventional fiat currency. An added benefit is a rewards program that gives users 1.5% of purchases made with these cards in Bitcoin.
Bridging The Divide
Recently, Binance confirmed that a limited run of its Binance Cards is being shipped to Europe. The move adds real substance to the statements made by Visa and Mastercard, as users are beginning to have access to these card services through some of the biggest players in the cryptocurrency exchange space.
According to Josh Goodbody, the director of European and Latin American growth and institutional business at Binance, traditional banking cards are a “bridge between the crypto and traditional finance,” adding: “Crypto debit cards provide a tangible and frictionless way to spend your crypto, and it provides users with the ability to incorporate crypto into their day-to-day lives.”
Goodbody declined to go into detail about the direct working relationship with Visa but stated that the acquisition of cryptocurrency payment platform Swipe would allow Binance to tap into an established network of regional service providers where the company hopes to bring new users into the cryptocurrency space. Goodbody believes that mainstream financial firms will have a key role to play in this:
“Visa and other networks’ willingness to work with the blockchain industry is a very positive vote of confidence for the further adoption of cryptocurrencies. Not only are traditional technology providers facilitating adoption, they are actively participating in the development of the ecosystem — we see this as an opportunity to further the adoption and accessibility of cryptocurrencies.”
Crypto analyst Mati Greenspan also complimented the move by Mastercard and Visa in the Quantum Economics email newsletter from late July, saying: “As far as fundamentals are concerned, this is about as bullish as it gets for Bitcoin and the gang.”
Netanel Kabala, the chief analytics officer and co-founder of payment platform Simplex, told Cointelegraph that his company has been working alongside Visa and Mastercard for seven years. The relationship has allowed the company to open up cryptocurrency offerings to new users exploring alternative investment methods:
“Crypto adoption is growing globally as people seek out alternative investment avenues.” Kabala identified a lag time for new users being introduced into crypto, but the integration of mainstream financial institutions like Mastercard and Visa is a strong signal:
“From an analytics standpoint, we’re seeing many new users enter the crypto world. With every new technology or advancement, it often does take some time before the general public incorporates it into the mainstream. While we definitely believed this mainstream adoption would have come earlier, it seems to be starting now.”
Simplex CEO Nimrod Lehavi believes that there is a more receptive perception to the potential benefits of cryptocurrency, mainly driven by people who want to wrestle back control of their assets and ability to transact independently: “Anything that lowers friction and helps people gain full control of their assets will spread adoption, and crypto-connected debit and credit cards are a key component in that regard.”
Financial industry leaders like Mastercard and Visa vocally supporting and actively working with cryptocurrency and blockchain firms add more credence to the value and utility of these services. Lehavi believes that this will open the door to more users that have not been exposed to digital assets: “The support of major players removes a great deal of the uncertainty people might have regarding cryptocurrencies and will enable them to discover digital assets for what they are.”
Visa Powers One More Crypto Card Amid Ongoing Antitrust Charges
U.S. regulator’s growing distrust in tech companies is not stopping them from extending their services into the crypto industry.
As technology titans in the United States capture a larger part of their industries and beyond, regulators and governments have become increasingly concerned about their extensive power and influence.
Indeed, Facebook, Twitter and Google’s parent company Alphabet all appeared before a Congressional antitrust hearing in July.
The primary concern of the government is that these companies use their authority to stifle competition and manipulate users to maintain their leading position in the marketplace.
The latest in a series of ongoing antitrust charges and investigations on corporate giants is the one being considered by the U.S. Department of Justice against Visa. The DOJ said in a public statement that it was investigating the payments giant acquisition of financial services company Plaid.
The statement accuses Bain & Company, Visa’s management and consulting partner, of not complying with the department’s Civil Investigative Demand and withholding important documents about the acquisition. The information requested from the company is considered necessary for the department’s ability to analyze the fairness of the transaction and its impact on the existing competition. The DOJ seemingly fears that Visa could have gone against antitrust laws to keep its competition in check.
Despite the fiasco, the payments giant seems to be spreading its territory not only across the traditional financial landscape but also in crypto payments. Visa cards processed almost $2.2 trillion worth of transactions in Q4 2020, leaving behind the second-largest payment processor, Mastercard, by a margin of more than $1.25 trillion. Even in the cryptocurrency space, the company has gained strong grounds and powers some of the most famous cryptocurrency cards.
Adding to Visa’s already extensive reach in the cryptocurrency space, the San Francisco-based crypto cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced plans to roll out a Visa-powered cryptocurrency debit card in the United States. The card has been available in the United Kingdom and European Union since 2019. Early next year, Coinbase will also start delivering its cards to people from all U.S. states except Hawaii.
According to Coinbase, the card will support stablecoins and other cryptocurrencies supported on its platform. Users will be able to make payments or withdraw money using their Visa-powered crypto debit cards at any portal that supports Visa cards.
Crypto credit and debit cards certainly make crypto payments more convenient. And the integration of cryptocurrencies to PayPal is also another major boost to cryptocurrency adoption. However, the expansion of these companies further into the financial technology space may become a concern for the U.S. government.
While these companies’ failure to comply with antitrust laws has already been a major trouble for the government, their slow but successful growth into the decentralized financial world may be seen as even bigger trouble.
Regulatory scrutiny toward Facebook’s cryptocurrency project Libra is a fitting example of how wary the government is against centralized and private cryptocurrency projects that have the potential to reach a wide user base.
Visa Stalls Plans To Raise Fees For Some In-Store Retailers
Visa Inc. is delaying plans to raise the swipe fees paid by certain U.S. merchants each time a customer uses a credit card in-store as the coronavirus pandemic continues to crimp commerce across the country.
The network told merchants this month it will leave consumer credit card-present retail rates unchanged, citing the pandemic’s effects on in-store shopping, according to a document seen by Bloomberg. A spokesman for Visa declined to comment.
Visa had planned to make the biggest changes to swipe fees in a decade this year, with higher rates planned for transactions on e-commerce sites. Some retailers, such as those in real estate or education, were set to see such fees decline.
The network opted to delay the changes as the pandemic took hold across the U.S., forcing consumers to stay inside and crimping transactions on the firm’s network. The planned changes will now happen in April 2021.
“Given the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the U.S. economy, Visa determined it would not make any structural changes to the payments ecosystem over the last year,” the network said in the document.
In the initial proposed changes, Visa said the interchange rate for so-called card-not-present transactions, which include those made online or over the phone, will increase. For a traditional Visa card, the fee on a $100 transaction will climb to $1.99 from $1.90. For premium Visa cards, the fee will rise to $2.60 from $2.50.
While those rates are still set to go into effect in April, the network said it will offer a lower rate for merchants who elect to tokenize those transactions using a Visa EMV payment token, starting in October.
Visa, along with Mastercard Inc., has spent years promoting tokenization technology. The service was designed to reduce online card fraud and help issuers approve more transactions by swapping sensitive information such as account numbers with a unique one-time use set of numbers that validates a customer’s identity.
Still, there’s been resistance to the technology. Merchants have complained that they’ve lost the ability to route certain debit-card transactions over alternative, cheaper networks for online and mobile-wallet transactions that use tokenization.
“Incentivizing greater use of tokens will improve e-commerce authorization rates and bolster security at a time when fraudsters are increasingly targeting digital and e-commerce channels,” Visa said in its message.
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