Mastercard CEO cites ‘massive services opportunity’ following acquisition of crypto analytics firm


Mastercard bought the crypto analytics firm CipherTrace in September, a purchase the payments giant's chief executive framed as a “massive services opportunity” during a third-quarter earnings call Thursday.

Asked about Mastercard's strategy around crypto and digital assets, CEO Michael Miebach highlighted several areas, including preparations for central bank digital currencies as well as the purchase of CipherTrace. 

On the latter point, Miebach said:

“Now let me talk about CipherTrace for a moment, because this space is a really interesting space in so many ways. Questions on data privacy, question authentication. We just touched on that in the context of Europe and strong customer authentication. You have to expect the Europeans will say, well, strong customer authentication will of course play a role in crypto transactions as well, which is where we always lead with security and trust. I mean that is really synonymous with the name of MasterCard when it comes to payments, that we have to do the same role.”

“So it's massive services opportunity,” Miebach continued. “CipherTrace, 900 cryptocurrencies. What does CipherTrace actually do? They drive compliance and AML checks into crypto transactions. We can't run fast enough right now to get into the space, because a lot of other people are deep into crypto, and these questions are not resolved.”

On the CBDC front, Miebach reiterated past remarks in the sense that major governments in Europe or North America have yet to move beyond research and development. But should a digital dollar or euro become a reality, Mastercard is positioning itself to be a service provider — and capture a piece of the revenue potential as well.

“We're saying at this point in time, the most likely chance of this kind of technology to work for payments issued through a government in the form of central bank digital currency,” he remarked. “We've said that on a couple of calls before. And we said we will make our network ready to do that as and when a government is ready to put out a central bank digital currency.”

Earlier this week, Mastercard announced a deal with Bakkt aimed at expanding access to crypto purchase and investment tools. 

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