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Mastercard rolls out first crypto payment cards in Asia

The debit and credit cards allows for the instant conversion of cryptocurrencies to fiat

Payment processor Mastercard has struck an agreement with three cryptocurrency firms to bring crypto-linked credit and debit cards to the masses in the Asia Pacific region. 

The move is designed to capitalize on a wave of interest for payment solutions that toe the line between digital assets and fiat currencies as the global market cap for crypto recently surpassed $3 trillion. 

Mastercard is partnering on the cards with Amber Group of Hong Kong, Bitkub in Thailand and CoinJar in Australia. All three currently offer exchange and crypto purchasing services in their respective countries. 

According to a recent Mastercard survey, 45% of respondents in the Asia Pacific region said they are "likely" to consider using cryptocurrency in the next year. That's compared to 12% the year prior and represents an uptick over the global average of 40%, the company said. 

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“Cryptocurrencies are many things to people—an investment, a disruptive technology, or a unique financial tool. As interest and attention surges from all quarters, their real-world applications are now emerging beyond the speculative,” said Rama Sridhar, executive vice president for Mastercard, in a statement. 

The conversions on cards will allow currency to always enter the Mastercard network as fiat currency, the company said. That eliminates Mastercard having to delve into taking custody of customer's crypto. 

“Thailand is one of the most crypto-oriented markets in Asia Pacific, and so turning that broad asset ownership into something which is usable in an everyday context is a major step forward for Bitkub and our customers,” said Jirayut Srupsrisopa, Founder and Group CEO of Bitkub, in a statement.