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MasterCard - Condemns cryptocurrencies but embraces blockchain

Blockchain technology shakes the financial world because it does not require central management agencies, banks or third-party payment systems. This reason makes many traditional financial institutions not support this new technology, and the main concern is that over time it may make their systems obsolete.

Let's talk about the global bank card provider MasterCard. Over the past few years, the company’s position on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology has been somewhat polarized. This card vendor maintains a certain distance from the virtual currency, and CEO Ajay Banga took a stern attitude in 2017 and marked the cryptocurrency as “junk” in October.

Banga firmly believes that digital money needs to be issued by the government before his company provides any support. As he told the Times in India, "The non-government prescribed currency is rubbish."

In addition to Visa, MasterCard has been skeptical of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as early as 2014. A video produced by MasterCard by Southeast Asia CEO Matthew Driver emphasizes that cryptocurrencies lack trust and transparency:

"If it's an anonymous transaction, it sounds like a suspicious transaction, which means why someone needs to trade anonymously?"
Driver's remarks focus on the idea that cryptocurrencies are used for malicious purposes, as various cryptocurrency blockchains provide encrypted anonymity for point-to-point transactions.

Instead of attempting to explain the value of distributed ledger technology (DLT) or cryptocurrencies, this video highlights that anyone who uses virtual currency for trading will try to hide his own track, for whatever purpose.

In addition, he praised MasterCard’s achievements but denied the fees they paid or the lawsuits they were involved in, including the settlement agreement that resulted from the US$6 billion in U.S. retailer’s transaction fees. In 2012, VISA signed the agreement.

In spite of this, promotional materials are just like this. While advertising MasterCard's services, they try to discredit Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. These cryptocurrencies started to become popular at that time.

Say NO for cryptocurrencies and YES for blockchain

Fast forward to 2018, the company's policy on cryptocurrency has not changed much. In March, Ari Sarker, the co-president of MasterCard Asia Pacific, said that the company is willing to support the national virtual currency launched and operated by the Central Bank.

When Sarker responded to Driver in their 2012 campaign, he denounced support for anonymous cryptocurrencies - only the state-issued virtual currency would be considered:

"As long as it is supported by regulatory agencies and real value... It is not anonymous, it meets all regulatory requirements and we will study with greater interest."
Although MasterCard shied away from Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, they have been developing their DLT-based products for the past 12 months. In conclusion, it is believed that the MasterCard R&D Center has submitted more than 30 patents for blockchain and cryptocurrency related projects.

Blockchain supports B2B and real-time trading

In November 2017, MasterCard submitted a patent based on a blockchain payment system. It promises merchants to implement timely remittances and quickly track the cumbersome verification of payments from the customer to the issuing bank. This process may previously require several days of processing time.

Just a month ago, MasterCard launched a business-to-business payment system based on DLT. Using the security and transparency provided by blockchain technology, MasterCard introduced products that they believe are "safe, reliable, auditable, and easy to extend."

As estimated by Accenture in January 2017, if banks adopt blockchain technology, banks can save up to 30% in infrastructure costs. It is likely that these cost savings are the driving factors behind MasterCard's active adoption and implementation of blockchain solutions in several businesses.


ID and credential verification

MasterCard’s recent patent submission in the United States was released on April 12, again confirming this. The company plans to launch an identity identification (ID) and credential protection and verification system supported by blockchain technology.

This is a solution designed to prevent falsification of credentials and credentials – by storing identity and credential data in an immutable database. The content is outlined here, but it is essentially a semi-private GL solution that allows only authorized nodes to submit and update such data.

Bitcoin pilot program in Japan

While MasterCard is firmly opposed to using Bitcoin as a currency, Sarker also told the British Financial Times that the company is conducting bitcoin pilot projects in Japan.

The program allows Bitcoin holders to use 'know your customers' and 'anti-money laundering components' and honor them on MasterCard. Even so, Sarker made it clear that this is not the traditional mode of operation on the MasterCard network.

He also stated that they are immersing 'toes in water' and 'recognize reputational risks'. Ironically, many MasterCard customers may be interested in such services.

Desiring blockchain

Even MasterCard seems to be scrambling to hire the best blockchain technology elite to continue developing their payment processing systems.

On April 12, Irish Science and Technology News reported that MasterCard launched 175 new positions at its Dublin office. MasterCard is looking for blockchain experts, software engineers, data scientists, cloud infrastructure experts and information security experts. All these new positions form part of the blockchain development team.