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Mastercard Launches Digital Currency Testing Platform for Central Banks

Mastercard has launched a digital currency testing platform aimed at helping central banks test their digital currencies. The system will also demonstrate how consumers can use central bank digital currencies to pay for goods and services wherever Mastercard is accepted worldwide.

Mastercard’s Digital Currency Testing Platform

Global payments company Mastercard announced Wednesday the launch of its “proprietary virtual testing environment” for central banks to evaluate use cases of their central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). The company detailed:

The platform enables the simulation of issuance, distribution and exchange of CBDCs between banks, financial service providers and consumers.

“Central banks, commercial banks, and tech and advisory firms are invited to partner with Mastercard to assess CBDC tech designs, validate use cases and evaluate interoperability with existing payment rails available for consumers and businesses today,” the announcement continues.

Emphasizing the need for its new platform, Mastercard cited research by the Bank of International Settlement (BIS) highlighting that about 80% of central banks are researching CBDCs and about 40% have already progressed to the experimental stage.

“Central banks have accelerated their exploration of digital currencies with a variety of objectives, from fostering financial inclusion to modernizing the payments ecosystem,” Raj Dhamodharan, Mastercard’s Executive Vice President of Digital Asset and Blockchain Products and Partnerships, detailed. “This new platform supports central banks as they make decisions now and in the future about the path forward for local and regional economies.”

Sheila Warren, Head of Blockchain, Digital Assets and Data Policy at the World Economic Forum, believes that “Collaborations between the public and private sectors in the exploration of central bank digital currencies can help central banks better understand the range of technology possibilities and capabilities available with respect to CBDCs.”

The new platform can be customized for each central bank, allowing them to “Simulate a CBDC issuance, distribution and exchange ecosystem with banks and consumers.” This includes how a CBDC can interface with existing payment networks and infrastructures, including cards and real time payments, Mastercard described. The system can also be used to “Demonstrate how a CBDC can be used by a consumer to pay for goods and services anywhere Mastercard is accepted around the world.”

Mastercard has also been expanding its footprint in the crypto space. In July, the company announced the acceleration of its cryptocurrency card partner program aimed at making it “easier for consumers to hold and activate cryptocurrencies.” Wirex became the first native cryptocurrency platform to be granted the Mastercard principal membership that allows the company to directly issue payment cards. “The cryptocurrency market continues to mature,” Dhamodharan opined, adding that “Mastercard is driving it forward, creating safe and secure experiences for consumers and businesses in today’s digital economy.”

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