Payment giant Mastercard has established a forum to foster collaboration and discussions within the cryptocurrency industry regarding central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
In a blog post on Thursday, Mastercard announced the launch of the CBDC Partner Program, which has already attracted prominent participants like Ripple, Fireblocks, and Consensys.
The primary aim of Mastercard’s program is to encourage dialogue, innovation, and efficiency within the cryptocurrency industry. Raj Dhamodharan, Head of Digital Assets and Blockchain at Mastercard, emphasized the importance of payment choice and interoperability across various payment methods for a thriving economy. He stated, “As we look ahead to a digitally driven future, it will be crucial for CBDCs to be as user-friendly as traditional currencies.”
While CBDCs differ from cryptocurrencies, they share similarities and could potentially utilize blockchain technology, the foundation of popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Mastercard has a strong track record of driving innovation in the digital asset sector, particularly in the realm of CBDCs.
Earlier this year, the company introduced a prepaid card in the Bahamas to facilitate the use of the country’s pioneering CBDC. Additionally, Mastercard has revealed plans to establish a testbed in the United Kingdom to explore tokenized bank deposits, with future integration of CBDCs and regulated stablecoins, demonstrating the company’s commitment to exploring emerging technologies within the financial industry.
Global Interest in CBDCs Grows as Mastercard Forges Ahead
Mastercard’s move aligns with the trend of numerous nations considering the digitization of their currencies through CBDCs. According to CBDC Tracker data, 114 countries, representing over 95 percent of global GDP, are currently exploring CBDCs, with more than 10 nations already launching pilot programs or operational CBDCs. For instance, Russia recently approved a bill to introduce a digital version of its national currency, with testing beginning in August.
It’s worth noting that while many countries are exploring retail CBDCs for general public use, the United States has focused on developing a wholesale CBDC primarily for interbank transactions.
Mastercard has consistently supported blockchain technology, recognizing its potential to bring value to the financial industry. The company has also actively engaged with the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem through initiatives like Start Path Crypto, aimed at helping blockchain, crypto, and digital asset startups scale.