The CEO of MasterCard has said that not only does he think cryptocurrencies are “junk”, but that it is mostly used to fund drugs, child prostitution, and fraud. His concern, however, comes following a disastrous marketing campaign which tied child hunger to World Cup goals.
Speaking as part of a ‘New India’ lecture series, held at the Indian consulate in Washington, Ajay Banga said that cryptocurrency’s anonymity and volatility meant it did not “deserve” to be used as a medium of exchange.
He also claimed that 95% of transactions using cryptocurrencies are illegal transactions taking place on the dark web that include the drugs trade, child prostitution, and credit card fraud. “Why civil society would like to put a snake in its backyard and think that somehow the snake will only bite my neighbor, I don’t get it”, Banga said
Arguing that cash was also a key means used by Pakistani terrorists and the international drugs trade, Banga was quick to point out that credit cards, like those supplied by Mastercard, were apparently not used by criminals.
“India is deeply impacted by terrorism as is this country,” said Banga. “Do you really believe that the drugs that flow through from Afghanistan to Pakistan to India and corrupt the youth in Punjab today, that the drugs in America’s campuses come in exchange for a credit card payment?”
Mastercard has been involved in a long-running lawsuit over the fees they charge merchants, and is now likely to pay a hefty restitution as part of a $6.5 billion fine levied on a variety of bad actors.
Mastercard crypto hypocrisy?
Mastercard was at the center of controversy during this year’s World Cup. The credit card company pledged to donate 10,000 meals to hungry children in Latin America and the Caribbean every time Messi or Neymar scored a goal, until 2020.
The ‘goals for meals’ campaign, launched at the beginning of June, quickly faced a public backlash, with many commentators criticising it for being in poor taste. One sports journalist for The Times accused Mastercard of “turning the World Cup into the hunger games”.
it's offensive on many levels, Wrighty. Imagine the keeper who saves from Messi/Neymar being told he's cost starving kids a meal. And as someone said on here "VAR disallows dinner". as everyone saying "you can't play games with hunger".
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) June 2, 2018
In 2017, an anonymous donor set up the Pineapple Fund to donate large portions of their Bitcoin holdings towards charitable causes. The fund, which closed back in May, donated $55m to a wide variety of causes.
Following a letter of apology ‘for any offense caused’, Mastercard quickly dropped the ‘goals for meals’ campaign and said they would donate 2m meals on top of the 40,000 they had already distributed.
It seems a little late for Mr. Banga, who has scored an own goal... twice… in the space of a month.
The author is invested in BTC, which is mentioned in this article.