The president and CEO of Mastercard, Ajay Banga, has used the J-word again.
Speaking in New York, Banga termed cryptocurrencies ‘junk’ arguing that the factors that made them unqualified to be mediums of exchange included their anonymous nature and the wild fluctuations they experienced.
“I think cryptocurrency is junk….The idea of an anonymized currency produced by people who have to mine it, the value of which can fluctuate wildly - that to me is not the way that any medium of exchange deserves to be considered a medium of exchange,” CNBC TV 18 reported Banga as having said.
Banga was responding to a question on cryptocurrencies asked during the ‘New India Lecture’ that was organized by the Indian Consulate in the Big Apple.
During the same event, Banga rehashed the criticisms that are constantly being thrown at cryptocurrencies including the prevalent use of digital assets to conduct transactions on the dark web. The Mastercard chief executive also brought up the case of the 12 Russian military intelligence officers who were recently indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice over their efforts to meddle in the country’s elections, with Banga citing the use of bitcoin by the Russians.
This is not Banga’s first time to attack cryptocurrencies. Last year in October, as CCN reported, the India-born CEO of the US financial services giant said that all ‘non-government mandated’ digital currencies were ‘junk’.
At the same time, however, Banga expressed Mastercard’s willingness to accept a digital currency mandated or developed by a central bank saying that ‘government mandated digital currencies are interesting’.
"If the government creates digital currency, we will find a way to be in the game. We will provide rails for moving currency from customer to merchant. The government mandated digital currencies are interesting. Non-government mandated currency is junk," Banga was quoted as saying at the time.
Mastercard’s willingness to embrace digital currencies that are backed by the state and issued by central banks was also touted by the company’s Asia-Pacific co-president, Ari Sarker, earlier this year.
Despite the dismissive stance Mastercard has adopted against decentralized cryptocurrencies, the second-largest payments firm in the world is heavily involved in the research and development of blockchain technologies. From data that was collated from the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the Financial Times reported in March this year that Mastercard had emerged as the most active filer of blockchain patents in the period between 2012 and 2017 having filed 25 patents.
This year alone, some of the blockchain patents that Mastercard has filed or been awarded have included inventions such as a blockchain-based coupon authentication system and a travel itinerary bidding system. Just last week, Mastercard won a patent that would allow the linking of cryptocurrency with fiat currency accounts and thus potentially making it possible to use cryptocurrency to make everyday purchases, with the added convenience of debit and credit cards.
Featured image from Flickr/World Economic Forum.