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Mastercard Convenes Key Industry Players for CBDC Partner Program

The payment processor has brought together a group of leading blockchain technology and payment service providers, including Ripple, Consensys and Fireblocks, to drive innovation and efficiencies in the CBDC space.

Payments processing giant Mastercard has gathered together some of the brightest and best names in blockchain and payment services to form its new CBDC Partner Program. The idea is that fostering collaboration between key players in the space can drive innovation and efficiency.

Partners at launch include Ripple, which the press release describes as a central bank digital currency (CBDC) platform, Web3 developer Consensys, CBDC and tokenized asset solution Fluency, specialists in the digital identity field, Idemia and Consult Hyperion, technology security group Giesecke+Devrient and operations platform Fireblocks.

All of the inaugural members have direct involvement in one or more currently active CBDC programs, pilots or investigations. For example, Fluency has been working on interoperability between different CBDCs, Consult Hyperion has been working with central banks and stakeholders to define CBDC requirements, and Ripple has its hand in several ongoing CBDC projects, including a tokenized real estate solution for Hong Kong.

German company Giesecke+Devrient has been involved in the public currency sphere for over 170 years as a printer of banknotes and securities, and has recently expanded its remit to include the safeguarding of digital assets. It currently offers a CBDC solution called G+D Filia, which can be used for online and offline payments using multiple wallet types and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Explaining the thinking behind the program, Mastercard’s head of digital assets and blockchain, Raj Dharmodharan, stated:

“We believe in payment choice and that interoperability across the different ways of making payments is an essential component of a flourishing economy. As we look ahead toward a digitally driven future, it will be essential that the value held as a CBDC is as easy to use as other forms of money.”

While it may seem a little disingenuous for Mastercard to profess a belief in payment choice (rather than wanting to force the entire world’s population to swallow the eye-wateringly high fees charged to use the Mastercard network for every purchase, for example), the company’s commitment to blockchain initiatives should be applauded.

Whether dishing out free NFTs, or introducing traditional banks to crypto trading, Mastercard has been forging partnerships in the space since 2021. Which of course, makes complete sense given that blockchain and cryptocurrency could completely shake-up the company’s core retail payments business.

Quite how Mastercard intends to position itself to benefit from CBDC payment platforms remains to be Observed.