Mastercard has granted Wirex principal membership status within its accelerator program, making Wirex the first cryptocurrency business it allows to directly issue payment cards.
The payments company is now inviting cryptocurrency and crypto card partners to join its Accelerate program for emerging brands and fintechs, giving them access to everything they need to grow quickly.
The move reflects Mastercard’s observation that consumer interest and investment in digital currencies are growing, with research showing that up to 20% of the population of some countries are holding cryptocurrencies, and an increasing number of merchants, digital players and financial institutions are exploring crypto payments.
“The cryptocurrency market continues to mature, and Mastercard is driving it forward,” said Raj Dhamodharan, executive vice president for digital asset and blockchain products and partnerships. “Our work with Wirex and the wider crypto ecosystem is accelerating innovation and empowering consumers with more choice in the way they pay.”
Mastercard principal membership enables Wirex to issue payment cards directly to consumers, making it easier for people to buy, hold and exchange multiple traditional and cryptocurrencies. Consumers can instantly convert their cryptocurrencies into traditional fiat currency, which can be spent everywhere Mastercard is accepted around the world.
Currency will always enter Mastercard’s network as traditional fiat currency. Users will also benefit from Wirex’s Cryptoback rewards program, which automatically gives customers up to 1.5% back in Bitcoin for every purchase made in-store.
“We are very excited for Wirex to be the first crypto-native company granted principal membership from Mastercard,” said Pavel Matveev, its CEO and co-founder. “It represents a growing interest and recognition in the acceptance of cryptocurrency by leading bodies and regulators and will help us to realize our vision of empowering everyone to experience a world where all currencies, traditional and crypto, are equal.”
Regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority with a license to issue cards in Europe, Wirex has been growing rapidly over the past 18 months, with a successful expansion into the Asia Pacific region and the release of its native Wirex Token (WXT).
Later this year, the company plans to launch a next generation of Wirex card for customers in Europe, with features including additional currencies and free international ATM withdrawals. Wirex also plans to start issuing corporate cards.