Mastercard Adds Crypto Startups to Engagement Program

New participants, including US firms Domain Money and Uphold, to help payment giant accelerate innovation around digital asset tech.

Mastercard has added seven startups to its engagement program focused on supporting fast-growing digital assets, blockchain and cryptocurrency firms as the payment company continues its push in the space.

The companies – GK8Domain MoneyMintableSupraOraclesSTACSTaurus, and Uphold – will work with Mastercard to make it safer and easier for people and institutions to buy, spend and hold cryptocurrencies, the firm said.

Founders of these startups will specifically aim to address asset tokenization, data accuracy, digital security and seamless access between the traditional and digital economy. 

​​More than 260 startups have participated in the Start Path program since 2014. Though portfolio companies in the program had spanned areas such as payments, financial inclusion, data and cybersecurity, Mastercard expanded to digital asset firms in order to co-create and build new products and services within the industry.

The startups will use Mastercard’s program to connect with its ecosystem of banks, merchants, partners and digital players to help scale their technologies.

“We expect this space to be very dynamic and new technologies will continue to emerge,” a Mastercard spokesperson told Blockworks. “We will not only continue to run up the patent numbers in this space, but announcements such as our recent Start Path crypto track bring these innovative companies together to offer new solutions to each other and to the traditional ecosystem.”

The representative added that Mastercard, which has been engaging in the digital currency ecosystem since 2015, has already launched solutions such as Mastercard Provenance Solution for supply chain tracking and cross border solutions. It also invested in Ethereum software company ConsenSys in April. 

Mastercard is also open to working with central banks in all regions where we operate, the spokesperson said, and are in talks around the world about public and private central bank digital currency partnerships.

“As a multi-rail company, we believe blockchain based infrastructure can power the future of commerce and has many use-cases,” the spokesperson said. “…We’re open to working with partners in the digital assets ecosystem that follows our foundational principles to enable choice for consumers and businesses around the world.”

The news comes about a week after Mastercard announced last week that it was looking to simplify for its partners the conversion from cryptocurrency to traditional fiat currency. It was working with Evolve Bank & Trust and Metropolitan Commercial Bank to issue cards, as well as Paxos Trust Company and Circle to facilitate the conversion through fiat-backed stablecoins, Mastercard revealed at the time.

Gemini announced in April that Mastercard would serve as the exclusive card network for its bitcoin-back credit card.

“Financial services companies like Mastercard have to keep up with the speed of innovation to best serve their customers,” Barry Finkelstein, head of business development at Algorand, previously told Blockworks. “It’s promising to see financial companies, many of which have been around for decades or centuries, evolve to meet the needs of a shifting and expanding global economy.” 

Rival company Visa has also been involved in the crypto space. It reported during its earnings call on Tuesday that it now has partnerships with more than 50 crypto wallets and platforms on card programs, which have driven more than $1 billion in payments volume.