• Mastercard’s Ajay Bhalla previously described digital assets as having the potential to “[transform] economies, making them more inclusive and efficient”
  • Bakkt shares skyrocketed on the news, up 72.95%

One of the largest banking merchants in the world will soon offer its customers cryptocurrency-based credit cards and debit cards, according to a press release on Monday. 

“We want to offer all of our partners the ability to more easily add crypto services to whatever it is they’re doing,” Sherri Haymond, Mastercard’s executive vice president of digital partnerships, said in an interview. “Our partners, be they banks, fintechs or merchants can offer their customers the ability to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency through an integration with the Baktt platform.”

Mastercard will partner with publicly traded digital asset firm Bakkt to offer crypto as part of their loyalty rewards program, CNBC first reported. This means customers who use their cards at hotels or restaurants can convert their points from spending into crypto in the future. Mastercard customers will also be able to buy, sell and hold digital assets through custodial wallets powered by Bakkt.

Bakkt Holdings Inc. (BKKT) went public last week on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) via special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The company’s shares skyrocketed on the news Monday, jumping 72.95% at $15.63. Mastercard Inc. (MA) is trading at $361.17 a share, advancing 0.72%, as of press time. 

Not Mastercard’s first foray into crypto

However, this is not the payment network’s first foray into digital assets. 

In recent months, Mastercard announced that it would acquire crypto intelligence company, Ciphertrace, later in the year. This was to “enhance” its crypto capabilities and access insight into over 900 cryptocurrencies monitored by the company, Blockworks reported in September. 

“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,” Ajay Bhalla, president of Cyber and Intelligence at Mastercard, previously told Blockworks

Bakkt and Mastercard did not immediately respond to Blockworks’ requests for comment.

  • Morgan Chittum is a New York-based reporter covering markets, NFTs, the metaverse and digital assets. Before Blockworks she was a street reporter at New York Daily News, where she wrote about homicide, extremist groups, state politics and other critical topics in New York. She was a Media and Journalism Fellow at the Poynter Institute, where she dabbled in data and investigative journalism. She is published in American Banker, Yahoo News, Chicago Tribune and more.