Mastercard plans beta for a blockchain ‘app store’ for ‘regulated’ financial apps

Institutional funding in the US has recently doubled on crypto. After BlackRock filed for a Bitcoin Spot ETF in mid-June, a slew of other asset managers followed suit, including WisdomTree and Invesco. Now Mastercard has joined the fray.

On Wednesday, in perhaps one of its most ambitious crypto-related announcements to date, the payments giant said it planned to launch a beta in the UK in the summer to test what it would call the multi-token network. calls, or an “App Store powered by Blockchain technologies for building regulated financial applications,” Raj Dhamodharan, a MasterCard Executive Vice President and the head of the Crypto and Blockchain company, told Fortune.

Like Apple’s App Store, which provides developers with tools to help them create applications to run, say, an iPhone, MasterCard’s Multi Token Network, or MTN, for months, including a private version of the Ethereum blockchain on which Mastercard will encourage developers to create new build applications.

“A lot of the things that people are covering and talking about in crypto these days are the regulatory aspects of it and all the technology and investments as an asset and so on,” Dhamodharan told me. Fortune. “We actually think the underlying technology that’s driven many of the innovations over the years is actually really useful.”

MasterCard’s unveiling of MTN follows its previous crypto announcements, including its forays into non-moldable tokens, crypto-linked credit and debit cards, and crypto infrastructure. (It recently released Crypto Credential, a developer tool that allows users of one crypto wallet to easily find users on another wallet, along with other pertinent information.)

“It’s a natural evolution that demonstrates MasterCard’s commitment to offering a broader range of payment solutions,” Dhamodharan wrote in a blog post announcing the beta.

An MTN of tools

As part of the Blockchain “App Store,” MasterCard unveiled a number of tools developers can use to build new “regulated” financial applications.

told Dhamodharan Fortune That programs on top of MasterCard’s private copy of the Ethereum blockchain can be written in solidity, the programming language native to Ethereum, or accessed through a programming language that can connect to an API, a gateway for developers to access data of an organization or individual.

Developers can connect to Crypto Credential to verify users’ identities and find out if their wallets can receive NFTs, for example. And Dhamodharan told it Fortune That MasterCard will let developers sign up for the beta — playing with tokenized commercial bank deposits, or records on the blockchain that list how much money someone has in their bank account.

Perhaps the simplest application a programmer can build, Dhamodharan said Fortune, is one that allows two consumers to send money to each other. “But we really hope it will be much more than that,” he added. “For example, you can build an application for making a payment for an NFT, and an NFT can represent any asset.”

While this looks a lot like existing applications, e.g. the public version of Ethereum, MasterCard’s intervention is that unlike the Wild West of Crypto where developers often pay little heed to existing laws and regulations, the payment company hopes to create a new financial network that plays by the rules. Ultimately, it wants to do what it has done for traditional payments, but for crypto.

“If the technology is promising,” Dhamodharan said Fortune, “We have to find a way to make that work.”

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