Mastercard Says Customers Are Too Comfortable With Today's Money for Adoption of CBDCs: CNBC

The payments giant has a CBDC Partner Program that includes participants such as Ripple, Fireblocks and Consensys.

AccessTimeIconNov 17, 2023 at 11:19 a.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 5:17 p.m. UTC

Customers are so comfortable using today's money that there's no justification for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), Mastercard's lead for blockchain and digital assets for Asia-Pacific has told CNBC.

"The difficult part is adoption," Ashok Venkateshwaran said on the sidelines of the Singapore FinTech festival on Wednesday. "So if you have CBDCs in your wallet, you should have the ability for you to spend it anywhere you want – very similar to cash today."

The payments giant has a CBDC Partner Program that includes participants such as Ripple, Fireblocks and Consensys. The move was designed to encourage conversations among key players in the industry, but was seen as a way for Mastercard (MA) to deepen its involvement with CBDC developments as the number of nations exploring the technology grows. As many as 130 countries, representing 98% of global gross domestic product, are exploring a CBDC, according to the Atlantic Council. In May 2020, only 35 countries were considering one. Still, only 11 countries have so far introduced a digital currency.

For the time being, it's hard to justify the effort, he said. Building the necessary infrastructure "takes a lot of time and effort on a part of the country."

Last week, Mastercard completed Hong Kong's CBDC Pilot focused on demonstrating how CBDCs or tokenized deposits can be used for real-world asset transactions. "The pilot also showcased the potential for seamless funding and settlement in and out of Web3 marketplaces via a retail central bank digital currency (CBDC)."

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Amitoj Singh

Amitoj Singh is a CoinDesk reporter.