Mastercard, one of the world’s largest credit card payment processors, has patented a method of linking blockchain based assets such as cryptocurrency e.g. Bitcoin, to accounts based in a fiat currency such as Dollars, Pound Sterling etc.
Mastercard Patent Details
The patent document outlines a method for storing fiat currency in a main account and associating that to a blockchain currency in a secondary account.
The document highlights the fact that consumers are reluctant to use crypto as a payment method due to the fact that there is a lack of understanding as to how the blockchain works. For example, people are generally accepting and used to major financial institutions holding their money. However, blockchain based currencies like Bitcoin, are decentralized with no single entity effectively in charge of it.
Cryptocurrencies are held in an electronic wallet and in theory can only be accessed by someone who has the electronic address details. The hidden and anonymous aspect of crypto means that if these credentials are lost, so is the amount of cryptocurrency held in that wallet. You cannot access the funds via normal, everyday identity methods.
It appears as though Mastercard, through the technology outlined in this patent, aims to change all that. Consumers may be more willing to use Bitcoin etc. if it is managed via a larger, more well-known financial institution like Mastercard.
By far the largest and most known about cryptocurrency is Bitcoin with an eye-watering market cap of around $125 billion. By now, everyone will have heard about its meteoric rise from pennies up to around $20,000 (about £15,000) in a matter of months. This was followed by the inevitable crash from its peak in December 2017 to less than $6,000 (£4,600) in June 2018, a fall of about 70% in just six months.
The people that got in on the ground floor when it was relatively unheard of made millions and possibly billions. However, the volatile nature of it has left ordinary consumers extremely wary.
This unease about wild price fluctuations together with the various stories of people losing coins, hacking issues and just the general complexity that is perceived around its use, has not led to mass adoption by retailers and consumers alike.
There are still a number of hurdles to get through. Cryptos such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and other so called alt coins are not regulated in the same way as regular currencies are, not backed up by any government guarantee and have a hidden nature about them.
These issues may, at some point, start to alarm governments and central banks if the use of them becomes more widespread. The introduction of regulation could cause further significant price fluctuations and put an end to the whole philosophy behind the crypto movement.
For now, the crypto craze seems confined to traders looking to make a quick profit by exchanging their cryptocurrency back into regular fiat money after playing the market.
However, the fact that a mammoth sized and accepted institution like Mastercard is now in the game, perhaps means that crypto is set to be more mainstream.