Mastercard: Bitcoin demand at ‘all-time high’ in Asia Pacific

SINGAPORE: Mastercard has released data showing demand for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies has reached an all-time high across the Asia Pacific.

The payments giant conducted a survey that found 45% of respondents are likely to consider using cryptocurrency in the next year – an enormous increase on the 12% who used the technology in the previous 12 months.

Mastercard Bitcoin
Source: Mastercard survey

Perhaps not surprisingly, the report found it’s the younger generation who are most comfortable using digital currencies, with 71% of millennials saying they are more open to using them than they were a year ago.

Mastercard Bitcoin
Source: Mastercard survey

The survey also found the people of Thailand are the most confident in cryptocurrencies, with 46% of people comfortable using them, compared to 46% in India and only 17% in Australia.

“Cryptocurrencies are many things to people — an investment, a disruptive technology, or a unique financial tool,” said Mastercard spokeswoman Rama Sridhar.

“As interest and attention surges from all quarters, their real-world applications are now emerging beyond the speculative.”

Mastercard to launch cryptocurrency payment cards

Mastercard has just announced news it was partnering with three leading cryptocurrency service providers in Asia Pacific to launch crypto-funded Mastercard payment cards.

It will allow consumers and business to apply for crypto-linked credit, debit or pre-paid cards that will instantly convert their cryptocurrencies into traditional fiat currency anywhere Mastercard is accepted around the world.

“Mastercard is expanding what’s possible with cryptocurrencies to give people even greater choice and flexibility in how they pay,” Ms Sridhar said.

Who are Mastercard’s cryptocurrency partners?

The three cryptocurrency service providers that Mastercard is partnering with are Amber GroupBitkub in Thailand, and CoinJar in Australia, all of which offer cryptocurrency purchase and exchange services in their respective domestic markets.

“By joining forces with Mastercard, we will leverage our combined technology, solutions, and expertise to offer users in applicable jurisdictions a more streamlined digital finance experience,” said Amber Group spokesman Michael Wu.

Jirayut Srupsrisopa, Founder and Group CEO of Bitkub, says his company is very pleased to create a “sophisticated card solution” that allows users to make payments by converting cryptocurrency to traditional fiat currency.

“I believe that our strong partnership will accelerate consumers’ use of crypto as a means of commerce, making payments more efficient and facilitating new economic activity for businesses worldwide,” Mr Srupsrisopa said.

Landmark moment for cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies are attracting significant attention, amid bold predictions about what the market could do in coming months.

Prominent analyst ‘Plan B’ predicts Bitcoin could reach $135,000 by the end of this year, while Bobby Lee, the founder of exchange BTC China, is also forecasting an enormous end-of-year rally.

However, despite all of the hype, Mastercard says the use of digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum for payments is not widerspread and believes its new cards will give customers and merchants more choice in how they move digital value.

“As part of the Crypto Card Program, Mastercard supports participating fintech companies by reducing barriers to entry, streamlining the onboarding process and offering access to dedicated fintech and digital asset experts,” a Mastercard spokesperson said.

“Mastercard is committed to applying its innovation, experience and scale to emerging cryptocurrency and digital currency partners, building global ecosystems to modernize payments and transform the way people and businesses transact.”