“Mastercard’s role is to provide choice regarding means of payment, including cryptocurrencies”

Le Journal du Net is a partner of the Mastercard Innovation Forum 2022, scheduled for December 8 in Paris. Mastercard Senior Vice President Martin Etheridge details Mastercard’s cryptocurrency and NFT strategy outlines in JDN.

Martin Etheridge, senior vice president of Mastercard. © Mastercard

JDN. Raj Dhamodharan, Executive Vice President of Mastercard, recently released a article titled “How to turn cryptocurrencies into an everyday means of payment?” How does Mastercard invest in this crypto ecosystem?

Martin Etheridge. I think we should start with our role, which is to offer customers choice in terms of means of payment, safely. A Mastercard crypto payment card allows users to use their available balance in their wallet cryptocurrencies using our secure real-time network. Likewise, if they want to use a Mastercard issued by a bank and make a purchase on a cryptocurrency exchange platform, it’s their choice and they can do that. It is the bank’s responsibility to know its customer and we have a number of tools available to our card issuers to analyze user activity and behavior in relation to cryptocurrencies.

Mastercard is now a partner of many cryptocurrency payment platforms. Do you see a growing consumer appetite for the use of these active ingredients?

We are indeed seeing a significant increase in consumer interest: our New Global Mastercard Payments Index points out that a third of users worldwide have already made an investment in crypto-assets. In Europe the figure is slightly lower, but what is interesting is the percentage of the population that intends to increase the use of cryptocurrencies in the future, and this is a higher rate than the number of current users. What we have seen is a desire by users to enter this type of market with a reliable infrastructure, which is why we announced on October 18th a partnership with Paxos to allow banks to make certain purchases and holdings of crypto-assets for their users, using the functions Mastercard is able to provide.

In 2018, when you were head of fintech and digital currencies at the Bank of England, you stood before the House of Commons with a clear distinction between technology and crypto-assets. Is that still a line you share today, now that you’re on Mastercard?

Indeed, it is absolutely necessary in my opinion to understand the different types of cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets available. Over the past two years, we have seen a significant increase in the use of technology blockchain, for example with NFTs, which are inherently very different from most cryptocurrencies, in that they are fungible in nature. In fact, I still agree with what I said before: it is very important to understand the different characteristics of the different assets that are supported by these technologies and how they are used in the markets.

“We are closely following the topic of the digital euro”

What about CBDCs (central bank digital currencies)? Do you think Europe is lagging behind on this topic?

No, I don’t think so. We have seen many documents, research from European institutions such as the European Parliament and the European Commission: there is a real desire to analyze the topic of the digital euro and this is something that we are following closely.

Can we imagine a non-private solution from Mastercard in the future?

I can’t list all the products that will be coming to Mastercard, but I can mention our head Cyber ​​security who regularly says: “Trust is the heart of our business”. We want to support our customers as they look for new ways to pay using the trust and security provided by our payment network.

How does Mastercard design the metaverse?

It is now possible to make payments with a Mastercard at metaverse ; many metaverse applications such as buying NFTs can be done with a Mastercard. We also organized events in the metaverse and we are very proud of them, I am thinking in particular the diversity celebrations (the Youre True Self campaign is invaluable in Decentraland and Horizon Worlds in June 2022, editor’s note). It’s hard to predict how far it will go, but we’re very curious and excited to explore. different ways to support the payment infrastructure there securely.

Graduated in Economics from the University of Bristol, Martin Etheridge began his professional career as an executive at the Financial Conduct Authority, the British equivalent of the AMF, in 2001. In 2011, he joined the Bank of England where he took charge of the regulatory department before taking the reins of the digital currency department until 2020, the year of his departure for Mastercard. In January 2022, he became vice president in charge of product development, blockchain and digital currencies.

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