Mastercard forms CBDC partner program with Ripple, Consensys

Quick Take

  • Mastercard’s new program aims to bring together key industry players to explore CBDC innovation — with initial partners including Ripple, Consensys and Fireblocks.

Global payments giant Mastercard is forming a central bank digital currency program with initial partners, including Ripple and blockchain development firm Consensys.

Mastercard announced Thursday that it is convening a group of blockchain and payment services providers to participate in the program. The new CBDC program is designed to “foster collaboration with key players in the space,” Raj Dhamodharan, Mastercard’s head of digital assets and blockchain, said in the statement.

“We believe in payment choice and that interoperability across the different ways of making payments is an essential component of a flourishing economy,” Dhamodharan added.

The initial partners of the program include Ripple, Consensys, Fireblocks and Fluency, a tokenized assets service provider.

Mastercard's CBDC is still in its early stages

Dhamodharan told The Block in a podcast interview published this month that if a government wants to build a CBDC and wants it to be available to businesses and consumers to use, “you need to have day one flexibility built into it in terms of production, consumer protection and privacy.”

While Mastercard did not detail its plan for the new program, the payment giant noted that CBDCs shouldn’t be adopted in a vacuum, and the work of its CBDC Partner Program will “help central banks understand how to develop a CBDC that adds something new and valuable to the economy.”

As early as September 2020, Mastercard launched a testing platform for central banks to evaluate CBDC systems. In February 2021, the company started to issue prepaid cards in the Bahamas, allowing users to convert the Sand Dollar, the country’s CBDC.

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