Mastercard announced that it is preparing so that the thousands of banks and millions of merchants in its payment network can soon integrate cryptocurrencies into their products. The announcement includes bitcoin wallets , credit and debit cards that earn rewards in crypto and allow spending digital assets, and loyalty programs in which airline or hotel points can be converted into bitcoin .

To do this, the payments network is partnering with Bakkt , which will be the custodial service provider behind the network.

Sherri Haymond, Executive Vice President of Digital Partnerships at Mastercard said: “We want to offer all of our partners the ability to more easily add crypto services to whatever they are doing. Whether they are banks, fintechs or merchants, they will be able to offer their clients the capability to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrencies through an integration with the Baktt platform. ”

According to Haymond, the recent rise in the price of bitcoin and the approval of futures ETFs have increased inquiries to offer crypto services within the company’s network. The ad is a response to these inquiries and demands from your customers.

In this way, the integration of bitcoin services into the Mastercard network could introduce billions of people to the crypto ecosystem, providing them access through the fiat channels they already use with ease. According to Mastercard , there are currently 2.8 billion cards in use .

Furthermore, the partnership with Bakkt means that even merchants and restaurants will be able to start offering rewards in bitcoin instead of traditional points.

As Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael explained , “Existing points can be converted to crypto at the rates set by participating companies, giving customers the ability to earn a return.”

“We are lowering the barriers to entry, allowing people to take something like their reward points and switch them to crypto,” Michael said in an interview. “It’s an easy way to get going because you are not using cash, you are putting something that is an idle asset sitting on your balance sheet, and we are allowing you to put it to work.”

The announcement could lead to a significant expansion in the ways Americans earn and spend on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and a massive new gateway to the ecosystem to millions of new users.

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