Mastercard to Buy CipherTrace in Crypto Bet

CipherTrace's blockchain analytics tools will be combined with Mastercard's cybersecurity solutions to help businesses identify crypto risks.
Matthew HellerSeptember 9, 2021

Mastercard said Thursday it has agreed to acquire blockchain analytics startup CipherTrace in a move to expand its push into digital assets.

CipherTrace’s solutions enable banks, exchanges and other financial customers to screen blockchain transactions for fraud and money laundering.

“The ability to hold most cryptocurrencies anonymously has made them attractive to criminals that are looking to launder dirty funds,” the Financial Times said. “However, every transaction is typically recorded on an immutable blockchain, leaving a visible trail for researchers” such as CipherTrace.

Mastercard said its integrated offering “will build on CipherTrace’s suite of digital assets and Mastercard’s cyber security solutions to provide businesses with greater transparency to help identify and understand their risks and to help manage their digital asset regulatory and compliance obligations.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“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. Ajay Bhalla, president of Cyber & Intelligence at Mastercard, said in a news release. “With the rapid growth of the digital asset ecosystem comes the need to ensure it is trusted and safe.”

As CNBC reports, major corporations are showing increased interest in the crypto market, with Mastercard itself announcing in February that it would start supporting selected cryptocurrencies directly on its network this year, following in the footsteps of fintech rivals PayPal and Square.

Visa recently disclosed that more than $1 billion worth of crypto was spent by consumers using its crypto-linked payment cards.

“These new technologies will require new solutions and more powerful intelligence to ensure that the crypto economy is instilled with the same trust and peace of mind that consumers currently experience with more traditional payment methods,” Mastercard said.

According to its website, CipherTrace has 150 customers, including banks, crypto exchanges, agencies and regulators. Its competitors include Chainalysis and Elliptic.

“We help companies … to keep the crypto economy safe,” said CipherTrace CEO Dave Jevans. “[Mastercard and CipherTrace] share this vision to provide security and trust throughout the ecosystem.”