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Mastercard to open up network to select cryptocurrencies

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FILE PHOTO: Illustration photo of a Mastercard logo on a credit card
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(Reuters) - Mastercard Inc said on Wednesday it was planning to offer support for some cryptocurrencies on its network this year, joining a string of big-ticket firms that have pledged similar support.

The credit-card giant's announcement comes days after Elon Musk's Tesla Inc revealed it had purchased $1.5 billion of bitcoin and would soon accept it as a form of payment.

Asset manager BlackRock Inc and payments companies Square and PayPal have also recently backed cryptocurrencies.

Mastercard already offers customers cards that allow people to transact using their cryptocurrencies, although without going through its network.

"Doing this work will create a lot more possibilities for shoppers and merchants, allowing them to transact in an entirely new form of payment. This change may open merchants up to new customers who are already flocking to digital assets," Mastercard said. (https://mstr.cd/3tLaPZM)

Mastercard specified that not all cryptocurrencies will be supported on its network, adding that many of the hundreds of digital assets in circulation still need to tighten their compliance measures.

Many cryptocurrencies have struggled to win the trust of mainstream investors and the general public due to their speculative nature and potential for money laundering.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)