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Mastercard will open its network to cryptocurrencies this year

It’ll allow direct payment with a select group of cryptocurrencies, likely including Bitcoin and Ether.

Montreal, Canada – 28 February 2018: Stacked cryptocurrency coins (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoins)

Bitcoin holders scored a huge win earlier this week when Tesla invested $1.5 billion in the cryptocurrency, causing it to rocket to an all-time-high of over $48,000. In another sign that cryptocurrency is here to stay, MasterCard said Wednesday it’ll integrate cryptocurrencies into its network later this year.

Mastercard already offers cryptocurrency cards, but these are done in partnership with vendors who convert a cryptocurrency into traditional currency, which is then used to transact. Mastercard integrating a cryptocurrency onto its network means direct payment with that crypto, which should be quicker and cheaper.

“Whatever your opinions on cryptocurrencies — from a dyed-in-wool fanatic to utter skeptic — the fact remains that these digital assets are becoming a more important part of the payments world,” Raj Dhamodharan, Mastercard’s head of digital asset products, wrote a blog post. “Mastercard isn’t here to recommend you start using cryptocurrencies. But we are here to enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital value — traditional or crypto — however they want.”

Dhamodharan said Mastercard will accept only a select set of cryptocurrencies, ones that meets certain privacy, security, legal and efficiency standards. That means the overwhelming majority of altcoins won’t be accepted

It’s a good week for cryptocurrency enthusiasts, as Tesla’s investment into Bitcoin has sent the coin into yet another stratusphere of value. Mastercard follows PayPal, which last October announced a platform on which cryptocurrency can be bought, sold and used as payment.

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