Financial services giant Mastercard is in the middle of building out a team of blockchain and cryptocurrency experts to work at the “cutting-edge intersection of payments and crypto-currencies.”
That’s per the payments powerhouse’s dedicated jobs tracker portal, where the company has posted several high-level positions related to the cryptoeconomy in recent days.
The positions were varied, including a Blockchain Solutions Architect opening and a VP of Product Management vacancy in the company’s apparently fledging “Blockchain/Crypto” arm.
Some of the postings offered similar introductions. For example, several postings said the hires would work with several different Mastercard divisions to create new products and serve as point persons for all things crypto at the company, like so:
“The Director, Cryptocoin/Wallet Product Management will use his / her payment and crypto-currency expertise in identifying new opportunities, and work with a cross-functional team comprising of Franchise, Compliance, Regulation, Products, Labs, Regions and Technology to develop new products and solutions. He / She will be a “go-to” person for Crypto currency wallets and crypto-currencies for education, thought leadership, and product roadmap knowledge.”
Notably, Mastercard has been working on blockchain-centric patents since 2016, so it’s clear the company sees some kind of value in the tech. Of course, patents aren’t a public roadmap, so speculation has swirled as to how seriously Mastercard was approaching these applications.
The latest job postings suggest the company is, indeed, serious. That means we may be seeing a Mastercard blockchain in the coming years. Last year, the enterprise won a patent for a sort of blockchain of blockchains that could facilitate multiple kinds of transaction types and assets.
The payments company generates billions in dollars of revenue annually, so the fact that their blockchain and cryptocurrency plans seem to be picking up steam is yet another legitimizing milestone for the cryptoeconomy.
To Libra or Not to Libra?
This summer, social media titan Facebook unveiled plans for its Libra stablecoin, which would be backed by a basket of fiat currencies and an association of member firms.
Nearly 30 companies were revealed to be inaugural participants in the Libra Association. Two of those touted participants with the most mainstream clout were Mastercard and Visa.
Since the Libra’s reveal, regulators around the world have piled on the project with a long list of concerns. The ensuing pressure has made it so it’s not clear if Libra will actually ever launch.
Another wrinkle to consider is how the Libra Association actually doesn’t have some two dozen members, at least not yet.
In a recent earnings call, Visa chief executive officer Alfred Kelly Jr. noted that prospective Libra members had effectively just signed non-binding letters of intent, meaning Visa, Mastercard, and others could back down for now without breaching any contractsual terms.
To be sure, while things are still early on it’s far from clear whether these prospective backers will walk away. If Mastercard did, the company’s recent job postings show the firm would still generally have its hands in the cryptocurrency arena.
The same would be true for Visa. A few months ago, the company revealed its cross-border payments network Visa B2B Connect, which was built atop Hyperledger Fabric’s distributed ledger tech.
Lots of Upside
Mastercard doesn’t currently need blockchain or cryptocurrencies to make billions in dollars of revenue.
But with the chance these technologies can help the company make more revenue in the future, the firm will obviously do its homework. If it all works out, Mastercard will ensure that it thrived and wasn’t disrupted by insurgent tech.
If the company’s blockchain plans fall by the wayside, then it will have spent money it could afford to spend to fight possible disruption.