International payment processing giant Mastercard is expanding its payment network for the non-fungible token (NFT) and Web3 markets.

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The financial services provider announced that it was working last year to expand its payment networks to NFTs. The firm has partnered with a number of leading NFT marketplaces to enable its 2.9 billion cardholders to directly purchase NFTs without first purchasing cryptocurrencies.

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Currently, users need to buy cryptocurrencies in order to bet and buy NFTs. However, thanks to the latest partnership with Mastercard, billions of cardholders can now bypass the process of buying cryptocurrency with transfer to NFT marketplaces. The firm said:

“These integrations are designed to make cryptocurrency more accessible and help the NFT ecosystem continue to grow, innovate and attract more fans.”

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Mastercard said it has partnered with several NFT marketplaces, namely Immutable X, Candy Digital, The Sandbox, Mintable, Spring, Nifty Gateway, and Web3 infrastructure provider MoonPay.

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The NFT card buying service was first launched in January this year in partnership with Coinbase, allowing users to buy NFTs directly with credit cards.

The decision to expand its payment network for the rapidly growing NFT ecosystem was also based on the company’s latest survey of 35,000 respondents in 40 countries, which found that 45% of consumers have either bought NFTs or are considering doing so. 50% of consumers surveyed also showed interest in more flexible shopping options.

The firm said they are also working to provide world-class security for customers with their latest payment method, similar to “when making in-store or online transactions with a Mastercard.”

The payment processing giant has shown a lot of interest in the crypto and NFT markets over the past couple of years. Earlier this April, Mastercard applied for 15 trademarks related to the metaverse and NFTs.

The two leading payment processing companies, Visa and Mastercard, have come a long way since the early days of blocking cryptocurrency transactions on their network and are currently competing to become the top financial service providers in the decentralized space. Visa launched the immersion program back in March to allow creators to build their business with NFTs.