Mastercard wants to make crypto purchases less risky

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Crypto is still loaded with uncertainty, but Mastercard is betting that it can assuage buyers' minds. The credit card giant has introduced a Crypto Secure service meant to boost trust in crypto purchases. The offering uses AI from CipherTrace (a blockchain security firm Mastercard bought in 2021) to create a "risk profile" for digital asset providers and help card issuers decide whether or not to approve a transaction. Your bank might block a purchase if a merchant has significant fraud problems.

The system shows color-coded risk ratings that vary from green (safe) to red (dangerous). Mastercard also offers a "benchmark" rating to compare with a peer financial group, and helps issuers track the volume of approved and declined transactions. The company already uses a similar method for conventional currency — it's just shifting the concept to the crypto realm.

The service might not thrill you if a seemingly innocuous crypto buy falls apart. As Mastercard's Ajay Bhalla explains to CNBC, though, this is as much about helping companies as it is customers. Crypto Secure ideally helps card providers navigate the current regulatory maze for virtual assets. They shouldn't run into trouble by approving a shady deal that leaves people stranded.

As it is, Mastercard has a vested interest in improving the reliability of crypto transactions. It started supporting some cryptocurrency payments in 2021, letting more retailers adopt the technology. The more trustworthy those payments are, the more Mastercard can profit from them. Regardless of the motivations, you might not mind if you find more places to spend your Bitcoin or Ethereum.