Mastercard’s MTN network is groundbreaking, but crypto connection is unclear
MTN will first be used with tokenized bank deposits even though it utilizes blockchain.
Mastercard announced its Multi-Token Network (MTN) on June 28.
The platform is specifically designed to handle transactions involving blockchain and digital assets, according to the company’s announcement.
Blockchain and bank deposits are a focus
Raj Dhamodharan, head of crypto and blockchain at Mastercard, wrote:
“Our vision for MTN is to provide a set of foundational capabilities designed to make transactions within the digital asset and blockchain ecosystems secure, scalable and interoperable — ultimately enabling more efficient payment and commerce applications.”
His announcement also notes that Mastercard is working on a project with certain partners that will allow transfers on public blockchains.
While that implies that MTN could support common cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), the current announcement does not indicate which cryptocurrencies, if any, might eventually be supported.
In fact, the earliest uses for MTN are not directly related to cryptocurrency. One section of the announcement says that the first phase of the beta, set to take place in the U.K. this summer, will be powered by “tokenized bank deposits.” Another section says that MTN will allow “regulated payment tokens” to be used in financial applications.
In context, these applications appear to refer to fiat bank deposits represented as blockchain tokens rather than standard cryptocurrency tokens.
Broader consumer access is also unclear
Dhamodharan separately discussed the MTN network with Fortune on June 28 and described uses for the network beyond working with bank deposits.
During that interview, Dhamodharan discussed MTN’s “app store” approach. He largely described tools for blockchain developers to use, and he did not indicate if or when a public app store featuring those apps might be available to general users.
Dhamodharan acknowledged that MTN could allow for consumer-to-consumer payments but said that the platform is intended for uses beyond this. He said MTN could handle payments for NFTs that in turn represent “any asset” — seemingly in reference to tokenized real-world items rather than popular crypto collectibles.
Dhamodharan also said that MTN will provide access to Mastercard’s private version of Ethereum. Fortune distinguished this from the public Ethereum chain.
And, considering MTN’s broader goals of trust and verification, it seems clear that the network is intended for use in semi-traditional finance — at least at first.