Mastercard is aiming to help governments evaluate the utility of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) outside of just payments, CEO Michael Miebach said on the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call on Thursday. 

In the future, Mastercard will explore applications that can exist on top of CBDCs.

“This could be a smart trade contract,” Miebach said. “So smart contract technology is what we’re investing in.”

Several central banks, including the European Central Bank and Bank of England, have taken a “two-tier approach” in which central banks mint the CBDC while the private sector distributes it, Miebach said. 

Mastercard has already been engaging with governments on central bank digital currencies. In February, the Bahamas launched an option for citizens to load the country’s CBDC onto a prepaid Mastercard. 

The payments network also has “several new crypto partnerships approved for launch this quarter,” Miebach said. This week, Gemini disclosed that Mastercard would be the network behind its crypto rewards credit card coming later this year.

Last September, Mastercard announced it would offer central banks a virtual testing environment to see how CBDCs work in real life.

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