A few days ago, Coindesk reported on the first Bitcoin debit card being made by Bitcoin startup Xapo. In the article, it was rumored Xapo was tied to Mastercard in this venture. Soon after publishing, the article was updated with an official notice from Mastercard stating the credit card company had no ties to Xapo or Bitcoin whatsoever. It seems this story is not entirely true, at least not when it comes to the Bitcoin part.
As most of you will know, United States politics are full of lobbyists. These people are paid by political parties or big companies to help tip the scales in favor of a certain ‘need’. Mass example, the democrat party will probably have paid many lobbyists to help President Obama secure his Obamacare system. It’s not always very transparent, but many times there will be a lobbyist report filed. This report shows how much was paid to lobbyists and what that money was for. Lobbyists are usually hired through lobbying firms. Peck Madigan Jones is one of these firms and their quarterly report was interesting…
In this quarterly report, which was filed this month, Peck Madigan Jones said that five of its lobbyists were concentrating on “Bitcoin and mobile payments”, on behalf of Mastercard. This proves that MasterCard is actively paying lobbyists to focus on the virtual currency, making MasterCard the first company to officially lobby on Bitcoin, according to federal disclosure records.
Of course, MasterCard knew this was going to come out soon after the report was made public. In a statement regarding this news, the credit card giant said that it was “gathering information in connection with recent congressional hearings to better understand the policy issues around virtual and anonymous currencies.”A company like MasterCard will always remain vague about sensitive matters like this. However, the importance of this report does not lie in the fact that MasterCard is investigating Bitcoin opportunities. It would be naive to think that MasterCard (or Visa for that matter) have not been looking into virtual currencies before. If not to understand the advantages of Bitcoin, surely to know their ‘enemy’. The real deal about this is the fact that MasterCard knew this news would go public. A credit card company that publicly expresses its interest in virtual currencies, it’s a rather odd picture.
Does this mean we will see MasterCard credit cards with a Bitcoin logo on it soon? While some may rejoice upon reading this news and start planning their holiday on the moon, we tend to be a bit more careful when analyzing this. To me, this is a first step. MasterCard realizes virtual currencies will not be disappearing anytime soon (and believe me; that was what they were hoping for). Rather than ignoring their existence, they saw a potential market. This change in approach brings in a whole new world of fear. No longer are they just scared of Bitcoin. They are more afraid of other companies finding a way to embrace Bitcoin before them. That might be their biggest fear.
I can imagine Bitcoin giving credit card companies sleepless nights. The rise in popularity does not stop, even though authorities have been going out of their way to discredit the cryptocurrency. Which credit card company will be the first to embrace Bitcoin? Xapo already said it is working together with an undisclosed banking company to manufacture its Bitcoin debit cards. The hunt for Bitcoin adoption is open!
Mastercard logo and credit card pictures by Wikimedia Creative Commons.