Mastercard, Wirex to offer cryptocurrency card in Europe

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Mastercard is stepping up its involvement with cryptocurrencies by inviting digital payment operators to launch crypto cards through its platform, beginning with U.K.-based Wirex.

Wirex will be the first crypto provider to join the Mastercard Accelerate program, which has turnkey access to digital tools, APIs and partners needed to launch global payment programs, Mastercard said in a Monday press release.

The move follows the card networks’ first deliberate pushes into cryptocurrency card-issuing in the U.K. a little more than a year ago, when Coinbase launched a Visa debit card there.

Wirex plans to issue Mastercard-branded payment cards directly to consumers to buy, hold and exchange both traditional and cryptocurrencies. The card will offer rewards through Wirex’s Cryptoback loyalty program giving users up to 1.5% back in Bitcoin for every in-store purchase, the release said.

The card will be available this year for customers in Europe, offering free international ATM withdrawals, and a corporate card will come later.

Funds will always enter Mastercard’s network first as traditional currency, Mastercard said in the release.

“We are very excited for Wirex to be the first crypto-native company granted principal membership from Mastercard,” Pavel Matveev, Wirex’es CEO and co-founder, said in the release.

Through Mastercard’s Accelerate program, cryptocurrency companies can be onboarded to issue cards in a matter of weeks, the release said.

“Our work with Wirex and the wider crypto ecosystem is accelerating innovation and empowering consumers with more choice in the way they pay,” said Raj Dhamodharan, Mastercard’s executive vice president, digital asset and blockchain products and partnerships, in the release.

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