Crypto currency, a form of digital currency was first created well over a decade ago. Unlike digital currency, which is nothing but physical cash in an electronic form, a crypto-currency is self-created by a user by solving a complex puzzle. The first crypto-currency was Bitcoin and the entire technology works on a platform called “blockchain” which is a complex set of algorithms which are extremely tough to crack. Over time, other crypto-currencies worldwide have become popular, with the likes of Elon Musk of Tesla frequently conversing on the topic on his social media platforms. popular crypto-currencies include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple XRP, Litecoin, to name a few. If a user is unable to “mine” or self-create a crypto-currency, they can buy the same from exchanges, which have become extremely popular. globally, crypto-currencies are now being accepted across retail chains such as Starbucks, Burger King, KFC among many others.
While Banks see the crypto currency as direct competition to the business they are in, payment enhancers and providers such as Mastercard and Visa have been in the race to collaborate with crypto-currency platforms. The latest is Mastercard Asia, which has tied up with three exchanges in the region to power acceptance and payment of crypto-currency using their platform. The three digital asset service providers that Mastercard is partnering with are Amber Group, Bitkub in Thailand, and CoinJar in Australia, all of which offer cryptocurrency purchase and exchange services in their respective domestic markets. These companies are the first APAC-based cryptocurrency platforms to join Mastercard’s global Crypto Card Program which was designed to make it simpler and faster for crypto firms to bring secure, compliant payment cards to market, as consumers increasingly seek to fund everyday transactions securely and efficiently with digital currencies.
“Cryptocurrencies are many things to people—an investment, a disruptive technology, or a unique financial tool. As interest and attention surges from all quarters, their real-world applications are now emerging beyond the speculative,” said Rama Sridhar, Executive Vice President, Digital & Emerging Partnerships and New Payment Flows, Asia Pacific, Mastercard. “In collaboration with these partners that adhere to the same core principles that Mastercard does – that any digital currency must offer stability, regulatory compliance and consumer protection – Mastercard is expanding what’s possible with cryptocurrencies to give people even greater choice and flexibility in how they pay.”
Asians seem to be most enthusiastic to pay for transactions through crypto-currency according to a latest survey by Mastercard. 45% of those surveyed in the Asia Pacific region conveyed their likeliness compared to a mere 12% last year and higher than the global average of 40%. 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, said in an official statement.
Back in India, the concept of crypto-currency is hardly familiar, save for the elite few who have a global outlook or are well travelled. Lack of regulatory clarity is also a deterrent for Indians to take up the newer form of digital transaction, as the RBI or the Government has not clarified (or banned) the use of cryptos as a legal tender. For the record, 1 Bitcoin is valued at approximately Rs. 49, 50, 973 – yes, around Forty Nine Lakhs fifty Thousand. The prices fluctuate based on the current trading price of the BTC, the official symbol of the currency. But the concept is indeed gaining traction in India and it’s just a matter of time that this global innovation in the payment ecosystem could become mainstay in the country.