With New Mastercard–Bakkt Partnership, Crypto Is About To Get Much Bigger

Before long, customers may be earning Bitcoin back after going shopping in their home communities. At least, that’s what’s being pitched by Mastercard, which recently announced a partnership with Intercontinental Exchange spin-off payments network Bakkt. Thanks to this collaboration, Mastercard claims, customers will be able to earn or exchange cryptocurrency as part of their normal rewards transactions with merchants all over the world.

As a tradable commodity, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have made a huge splash in the market; within five years, crypto has gone from a wonky, niche investment to a prized asset for fintech firms and traditional financial institutions alike. There have been significant obstacles blocking crypto adoption until now, and several organizations have pursued what has become the holy grail of cryptocurrency: easy, seamless integration into everyday financial transactions.

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On its face, Mastercard’s new partnership seems like it may finally be able to deliver on this promise. A titan in the financial world with nearly three billion cards currently in use, Mastercard’s network includes millions of vendors and over 20,000 financial institutions around the world. Given the enormity of full crypto integration with a network of this size, it’s unsurprising that the new partners are bright-eyed about the near future.

“We’re lowering the barriers to entry, allowing people to take something like your rewards points and trade them into crypto,” said Gavin Michael, Bakkt’s CEO.