Mastercard will let partnered banks offer crypto-based debit cards and loyalty rewards

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What just happened? It's not just Bitcoin miners and well-known figures like Elon Musk that are embracing cryptocurrencies: entire countries and global financial institutions have followed suit. Mastercard announced today that it has partnered with digital wallet app Bakkt to make "innovative" crypto-based financial services available to banks and fintech companies around the world.

If we convert the marketing speak into plain English, this means that, through this partnership, banks could allow customers to use their platform to buy, hold, and trade various cryptos. Customers could also access bank-branded crypto debit and credit cards to spend their currencies.

All of this would be powered by Bakkt's under-the-hood wallet technology, though it's unclear how tightly integrated it will be from a UI/UX perspective. Will banks instruct users to download Bakkt's app, or will the tech essentially be white-labeled with their own branding and custom features? It's hard to say right now.

At any rate, beyond crypto trading and crypto cards, Mastercard's latest partnership also enables the use of crypto loyalty solutions for financial institutions. Put simply, loyalty points could be earned and spent in the form of cryptocurrency rather than the traditional, cash-oriented systems we see in most banks.

Whether that means end-users would get cryptocurrency directly in their wallets, or simply be able to spend points at locations that accept cryptocurrency (perhaps exclusively), again, we can't say just yet.