Mastercard said Monday it had granted Wirex principal membership status, becoming the “first” native cryptocurrency outfit to do so.
The membership allows Wirex, a London-based digital payments firm, to issue payment cards directly to consumers, making it easier for people to buy, hold and exchange crypto into fiat money.
Raj Dhamodharan, Mastercard’s executive vice president on digital assets and blockchain, said the deal was part of an expansion of the company’s digital assets program, which has now been relaxed to enable other emerging crypto firms to become principal members.
“The cryptocurrency market continues to mature … our work with Wirex and the wider crypto ecosystem is accelerating innovation and empowering consumers with more choice in the way they pay,” Dhamodharan said in a statement.
Until now, Wirex’s crypto debit card had been with Visa, a competitor of Mastercard’s. The card was issued by German fintech group Wirecard, under license from Visa.
However, the recent demise of Wirecard following a $2.1 billion missing cash scandal badly affected the card services of entities like Wirex, forcing them to seek alternatives.
Pavel Matveev, chief executive officer and co-founder of Wirex, said the Mastercard principal membership “represents a growing interest and recognition in the acceptance of cryptocurrency by leading bodies and regulators…”
Wirex is regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and owns a license to issue cards in Europe.
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