• “Digital assets have the potential to reimagine commerce, from everyday acts like paying and getting paid to transforming economies, making them more inclusive and efficient,” said Ajay Bhalla, president of Cyber & Intelligence at Mastercard
  • As digital assets like cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) become more mainstream, they will require solutions and greater intelligence to scale the crypto ecosystem in the same trust and security that traditional payment methods currently have, Mastercard said

Mastercard is extending its coverage into the field of digital assets with a new agreement to acquire a crypto intelligence company CipherTrace, the company announced on Thursday.

The credit card company plans to close the acquisition before the end of the year to “enhance” its crypto capabilities for insight into more than 900 cryptocurrencies currently monitored by CipherTrace, which is funded by the US Department of Homeland Security. 

The deal will help mastercard customers and stakeholders build upon and benefit from CipherTrace’s solutions as consumers “build their own virtual asset offerings,” it said. 

CipherTrace was founded in 2015 and has provided “blockchain forensics” for over 150 of the largest banks, exchanges, financial institutions and regulators across over 7,000 cryptocurrency entities, it said. The company said its mission is to protect financial institutions from virtual asset laundering risks and crypto-related threats, while also growing the blockchain economy by making it safer for users and trusted by the government. 

“We help companies – whether they are banks or cryptocurrency exchanges, government regulators or law enforcement to keep the crypto economy safe,” said Dave Jevans, CEO of CipherTrace. “Our two companies share this vision to provide security and trust throughout the ecosystem.”

As digital assets like cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) become more mainstream, they will require solutions and greater intelligence to scale the crypto ecosystem in the same trust and security that traditional payment methods currently have, Mastercard said. 

“Digital assets have the potential to reimagine commerce, from everyday acts like paying and getting paid to transforming economies, making them more inclusive and efficient,” said Ajay Bhalla, president of Cyber and Intelligence at Mastercard. “With the rapid growth of the digital asset ecosystem comes the need to ensure it is trusted and safe. Our aim is to build upon the complementary capabilities of Mastercard and CipherTrace to do just this.”

The integrated offering will build on CipherTrace’s suite of digital assets and Mastercard’s cyber security solutions to provide businesses with more transparency in identifying and understanding risks and to help companies manage regulatory and compliance obligations, Mastercard said. 

CipherTrace will continue to work with partners in financial technology, crypto-wallet providers, governments and other entities, it said. 

“The acquisition is part of Mastercard’s mission in the digital assets space to help provide customers, merchants and businesses with more choice in how they move digital value,” it said.

Earlier this week, Mastercard also announced its agreement to acquire a European open banking technology company, Aiia. 

“The addition of Aiia anchors our European open banking efforts and allows us to continue to meet our customers where they are,” said Craig Vosburg, chief product officer at Mastercard. “As open banking continues to ignite innovation, we’re committed to providing a unique set of technology platforms, data connectivity and infrastructure combined with data privacy and security principles,” Vosburg said. 

In July, Mastercard added seven startups to its engagement program focused on supporting fast-growing digital assets, blockchain and cryptocurrency firms as the payment company continues its push in the space, Blockworks previously reported

Mastercard has developed a handful of investments, including partnerships with Uphold, Gemini and BitPay to create crypto rewards cards, the development of new platforms to test and support potential Central Bank Digital Currencies, as well as programs to support blockchain technology and NFTs, and the potential to support select stablecoins directly on the company’s network, it said.

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  • Jacquelyn Melinek is a Houston-based reporter covering digital asset funds and markets. She previously reported on energy markets for S&P Global Platts and Bloomberg News and is published in over 65 news outlets. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Media and Journalism.