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Mastercard EVP Jess Turner on becoming a ‘crypto first’ company

Episode 75 of Season 3 of The Scoop was recorded remotely with The Block’s Frank Chaparro and Jess Turner, EVP New Digital Infrastructure and Fintech at Mastercard.

“It makes a lot of sense for us to be a crypto first firm”

That’s Jess Turner, Executive Vice President of New Digital Infrastructure and Fintech at Mastercard. On this episode of the Scoop, Turner joined host Frank Chaparro to discuss how Mastercard is continuing to lean into crypto.

More than ever, Mastercard and other traditional financial institutions are finding themselves involved with crypto, Turner said. “Whether traditional banks issue crypto in the way it’s defined today or not, they’re heavily involved today because many of their cards are being used to buy this cryptocurrency.”

Mastercard’s business includes providing companies with credit card infrastructure. But crypto has quickly become a strategic focus for the payments network giant. Take for instance its partnerships with Bakkt, Gemini and Voyager Digital.

Mastercard is also testing how it can add stablecoins to its payment rails as evident in the news that it would serve as a bridge between consumers spending with USDC and merchants.

CBDC and Stablecoins

Turner thinks that stablecoins will serve as one financial rail among others.

Said Turner: “If you think about what you’re getting back for, whatever payment mechanism or money movement mechanism you’re using, you want to use the one that’s giving you the best value for what you’re trying to do. And that’s why you need kind of this multi-rail choice… Do I believe stablecoin will be part of those choices and continue to grow? I do.”

Mastercard is also exploring how it can work with governments and central banks on launching central bank digital currencies. Turned explained how the firm recently worked with the government in the Bahamas to establish the Bahamas’ own digital currency.”But CBDCs is a quarter of our strategy and we’ll continue to lean in with the central banks and governments to move things forward on the digital assets space.”

NFTs

“It’s a big market.”

Mastercard is currently working adding partnerships with NFT companies, including with marketplaces such as Mintable.  The company is eyeing an opportunity in expanding consumer access to NFTs as they go mainstream.  

Turner went on to say that Mastercard is also exploring ways to work directly with the technology, focusing on how NFTs can better create provenance and validity as well as how they can be programmed for value exchange, such as for payment and receipt. However, at this time, Turner is uncertain if Mastercard will continue to mint NFTs as a service beyond promotions.”I think it’s a growing space. And I think we have a space to play in it.”

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