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Mastercard opening network to cryptocurrencies later this year

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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