Mastercard is set to open its network to cryptocurrencies later this year.

The company already offers cryptocurrency cards, although these are in partnership with vendors who convert digital currency into a traditional form to then transact.

In a blog post, the company’s head of digital asset products Raj Dhamodharan said: “Whatever your opinions on cryptocurrencies – from a dyed-in-wool fanatic to utter sceptic – the fact remains that these digital assets are becoming a more important part of the payments world.

“Mastercard isn’t here to recommend you start using cryptocurrencies.

“But we are here to enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital value – traditional or crypto – however they want.”

Dhamodharan clarified that Mastercard will only be accepting a select set of cryptocurrencies which meet required standards of privacy, legal, security and efficiency.

Meanwhile, earlier this week it was revealed Tesla bought around $1.5 billion (£1.1 billion) of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin in January.

Elon Musk’s car company has confirmed the acquisition and revealed that, one day, the firm expects to accept it as a form of payment.

In a stock market statement, Tesla said: “We expect to begin accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment for our products in the near future, subject to applicable laws and initially on a limited basis.”

The announcement prompted a dramatic spike in the price of the cryptocurrency.

Indeed, at one point, the price rose by as much as 17 percent, to reach $44,220.

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