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Mastercard to enable crypto services

Mastercard is preparing to announce that any of the thousands of banks and millions of merchants on its payments network can soon integrate crypto into their products, CNBC has reported.

That includes bitcoin wallets, credit and debit cards that earn rewards in crypto and enable digital assets to be spent, and loyalty programs where airline or hotel points can be converted into bitcoin.

To do so, the payments network is partnering with Bakkt, the crypto firm recently spun off by Intercontinental Exchange, which will be the behind-the-scenes provider of custodial services for those who sign up, executives at the two firms told CNBC.

“We want to offer all of our partners the ability to more easily add crypto services to whatever it is they’re doing,” Sherri Haymond, Mastercard’s executive vice president of digital partnerships, said in an interview. “Our partners, be they banks, fintechs or merchants, can offer their customers the ability to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency through an integration with the Baktt platform.”

The announcement could lead to a significant expansion in the ways regular Americans earn and spend bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Mastercard runs one of the dominant global payments networks along with Visa and has relationships with more than 20,000 financial institutions around the world. There are 2.8 billion Mastercards in use, according to the company.

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