Mastercard is partnering with a number of platforms, including Immutable X, The Sandbox and MoonPay, to allow its 2.9 billion cardholders to buy NFTs without first purchasing cryptocurrencies.

NFT transactions took another step into the mainstream as payments giant Mastercard announced a few days ago that its cardholders can now buy NFTs on various marketplaces without needing to first purchase cryptocurrency. However, they will still need a digital wallet to keep the NFTs they have bought.

The financial services company has been concentrating on expanding its payment networks to accommodate NFTs over the last year. Mastercard recently surveyed a group of over 35,000 people in 40 countries and found that 45% had purchased an NFT or would consider buying one. In addition, Mastercard found that about half of those surveyed sought more flexibility and wanted to be able to pay with crypto for everyday purchases, or use a credit or debit card to buy an NFT.

Raj Dhamodharan, Mastercard’s executive vice president of digital asset and blockchain products and partnerships, commented on the news:

“With 2.9 billion Mastercard cards worldwide, this change could have a big impact on the NFT ecosystem.”

Mastercard also said it would focus on customer safety and protect user’s data throughout the process of purchasing an NFT.

The NFT card purchase service was first launched in January this year in a partnership with Coinbase, allowing users to buy NFTs directly by using credit cards. Additionally, earlier in April this year, Mastercard filed for 15 metaverse and NFT related trademarks, which shows the firm’s growing interest in the crypto and NFT markets. They include one for “provision of an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of downloadable digital goods and media authenticated by NFTs”, and another one for “online communities for digital assets, NFTs, metaverse and virtual worlds.”

For those who want to make their everyday purchases using crypto, Mastercard has partnered with crypto lender Nexo to launch the world’s first “crypto-backed” payment card. It allows users to spend without having to sell their digital assets such as Bitcoin, which are used as collateral to back the credit granted.

The top two payment processing companies, Visa and Mastercard, have come a long way from their early days of blocking crypto transactions on their network, and are currently competing to become leading financial services providers in Web3. Visa has already launched an immersion program back in March to allow creators to build their business with NFTs.

Other big payment processing companies have also taken an interest in crypto: American Express in collaboration with Abra, a premier digital asset financial services company, announced the first crypto rewards credit card that will transact in U.S. dollars and offer crypto back on any purchase category and amount; Japanese JCB is working with Datachain to explore blockchain operability; Chinese UnionPay, despite crypto having been banned in China, will launch a prepaid cryptocurrency card with Korea’s Danal.

There is no doubt that if the big players are riding the NFT train, they must see massive potential (and profits) in it. Let’s observe what their next moves are going to be!

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