Mastercard says it will support 'select cryptocurrencies directly on our network' this year

Mastercard said Wednesday that it will begin supporting cryptocurrencies on its network later this year.

In a blog post, the payments giant stated that "[w]hatever 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."

"We are preparing right now for the future of crypto and payments, announcing that this year Mastercard will start supporting select cryptocurrencies directly on our network. This is a big change that will require a lot of work," the firm went on to say. CoinDesk first reported the news.

It's unclear which cryptocurrencies Mastercard will support, with the card giant noting that "we will be very thoughtful about which assets we support based on our principles for digital currencies, which focus on consumer protections and compliance." 

Still, the statement indicated that stablecoins will be among those selected, with Mastercard explaining:

"To be completely clear, not all of today’s cryptocurrencies will be supported on our network. While stablecoins are more regulated and reliable than in the recent past, many of the hundreds of digital assets in circulation still need to tighten their compliance measures, so they won’t meet our requirements. We expect consumers and the ecosystem as a whole will start to rally around the crypto assets that offer reliability and security. It’s those very same stablecoins that we expect to bring into our network."

Prior to today's announcement, Mastercard's crypto efforts were primarily focused on its card efforts, through which consumers could effectively pay with their cryptocurrencies at the point of sale. But in those instances, merchants were receiving government-issued currencies rather than cryptocurrencies directly. 

"Our philosophy on cryptocurrencies is straightforward: It’s about choice. Mastercard isn’t here to recommend you start using cryptocurrencies. But we are here to enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital value," the company said.