Mastercard buys Monero-tracing analytics unit to build trust in crypto

CipherTrace last month claimed it can identify when Monero transactions have likely criminal origins. Now, Mastercard has bought it.

Mastercard has agreed to purchase crypto analytics firm CipherTrace for an undisclosed amount.

The multinational payment giant said last Thursday the deal is a bid to move “deep into the field of digital assets.” 

Ajay Bhalla, Mastercard’s cyber & intelligence president, noted the crypto economy’s rapid growth requires investment to keep the ecosystem secure.

“Digital assets have the potential to reimagine commerce, from everyday acts like paying and getting paid to transforming economies, making them more inclusive and efficient.”

“Our aim is to build upon the complementary capabilities of Mastercard and CipherTrace to do just this,” said Bhalla.

A blog posted on both CipherTrace and Mastercard’s websites echoes that sentiment by pitching the acquisition as Mastercard’s way of building trust in crypto.

Mastercard’s latest crypto deal to close by end of 2021

Backed by the US Department of Homeland Security, CipherTrace currently tracks over 900 cryptocurrencies.

The Menlo Park-based unit supplies data to over 150 financial institutions and government agencies.

Last month, CipherTrace became the first to offer tracing of privacy-focused crypto Monero (XMR).

The company’s visualization tools — which it leases from $16,000 per year — promises banks and law enforcement the ability to identify when XMR transactions are likely to have come from criminals.

Mastercard’s acquisition of CipherTrace is expected to close by the end of 2021, pending certain conditions.

CipherTrace will then join Mastercard’s portfolio of crypto stakes alongside exchanges Uphold and Gemini, as well as payment processors BitPay and Wirex.

Mastercard has now invested in multiple crypto companies.

Read more: [Italian feds say Mafia pays cartels for cocaine with Bitcoin and Monero]

Wirex was the first cryptocurrency firm to receive a Mastercard principal membership last July.

This allowed the London-headquartered fintech firm to issue crypto debit cards across Europe and the UK.

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