Europe Paytech

Mastercard Accelerates Crypto Card Partner Program

  • Wirex Becomes First Cryptocurrency Native Platform to be Granted Principal Membership License

Consumer adoption of digital currencies is growing, with research showing that up to 20 percent of the population of some countries are holding cryptocurrencies, as an increasing number of merchants, digital players and financial institutions are exploring crypto payments.

Driving progress and innovation in the crypto space, Mastercard today announced the expansion of its cryptocurrency program, making it simpler and faster for partners to bring secure, compliant card products to market.

The move comes as leading payments platform, Wirex, becomes the first cryptocurrency-native platform to be granted a Mastercard principal membership and the ability to directly issue payments cards. Wirex had previously received an e-money license from the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority.

Supercharging the partnership experience, cryptocurrency and crypto-card partners are invited to join Mastercard’s Accelerate Program for emerging brands and fintechs, giving them access to everything they need to grow quickly. Offering a simple, single entry-point to the company’s wide portfolio of specialised programs, Mastercard Accelerate gives crypto partners and other fintechs support and assistance for every stage of their growth and transformation, from market entry to global expansion.

“The cryptocurrency market has continued to mature and offer additional functionality and support for consumers and businesses in today’s digital economy,” said Raj Dhamodharan, Executive Vice President, Channel Propositions & Partnerships, Mastercard. “Our work with Wirex and the wider crypto-ecosystem is accelerating innovation, and empowering consumers with more choice in the way they want to pay.”

Accepted at 54 Million Merchants Worldwide

Mastercard principal membership enables payment pioneers, Wirex, to issue payment cards directly to consumers, making it easier for people to instantly buy, hold, and exchange multiple traditional and cryptocurrencies in everyday life. Consumers can instantly convert their cryptocurrencies into traditional currency, which can be spent at any of the 54 million locations where Mastercard is accepted around the world. 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.

Pavel Matveev, CEO and co-founder of Wirex, said: “We are very excited for Wirex to be the first crypto-native company granted principal membership from Mastercard. It represents a growing interest and recognition in the acceptance of cryptocurrency by leading bodies and regulators, and will help us to realise our vision of empowering everyone to experience a world where all currencies, traditional and crypto, are equal.”

Wirex has been growing rapidly over the past 18 months, with a successful expansion into the Asia Pacific region, and the release of their 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, free international ATM withdrawals, sky-high limits and next-to-no fees. Wirex also plans to start issuing corporate cards for Wirex Business clients soon.

Simple, Fast, Compliant, Progressive

Through Mastercard’s Accelerate program, crypto partners can be onboarded to Mastercard in a matter of weeks and are provided a guided experience through everything the company can offer. Program participants are connected to relevant parts of the business, to integrate Mastercard’s proprietary technology, leverage its insights and cybersecurity services, engage new customers, and reach new markets and segments. In addition, Mastercard’s commitment to financial inclusion drives focused product development, helping co-create solutions that enable a more inclusive economy.

Enhancing the programme for crypto card partners, Mastercard has streamlined its approval processes to reduce the time to market for partner products, whilst maintaining its commitment to its principles for partnerships. Cryptocurrency partnerships must:

  • Provide strong consumer protection, including privacy and security of the consumers’ information and transactions;
  • Deliver a level playing field for all stakeholders, including but not limited to financial institutions, merchants, and mobile network operators; and
  • Operate in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including those applicable to anti-money laundering, and consistent with the economic systems of the countries the network operates in.

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


  • Editorial Director of the The Fintech Times

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