In a U.S. patent filed last year but published on June 19, MasterCard apparently seeks to include bitcoin and other non-traditional forms of online payments in a new “interchange” that makes possible a planned “global shopping cart.”
The concept is not limited to bitcoin acceptance, but it recognizes that there are other ways to pay for goods
and services beyond traditional currencies.
MasterCard is lumping together alternative forms of payments that include “barter, virtual currency, bitcoin, social media credits, automated clearing house (ACH), and coupons”, the patent states. As long as the payment type is accessible through an API (Application Programming Interface) and can have an agreed-upon value, it can pass through this new interchange.
In a statement to CoinDesk, MasterCard seems to downplay any focus on cryptocurrencies, of which bitcoin holds the highest value (over $640 each as of this writing).
“The application was filed to protect our intellectual property and does not indicate a commitment to one idea or concept,” a MasterCard representative told CoinDesk.
There is an obvious paradox in MasterCard accepting bitcoin through a new “Payment Interchange for Use With Global Shopping Cart”, as the patent is entitled. Bitcoin is the anti-credit card. Bitcoin payments or transfers are mostly anonymous and irrevocable.
MasterCard transactions are subject to chargebacks, in which charges can be disputed by the buyer, and transactions are definitely not anonymous. This is the case with most major card networks, including MasterCard’s bigger competitor Visa.
In its patent, MasterCard details how it will seek a broad range of payments through a “flexible API framework sufficient to support the payment of interchange”.
The API would also be able to interface with bitcoin, and other digital wallets such as its own MasterPass, Google Wallet, PayPal and potentially those offered by bitcoin companies.