Mastercard has tied up with digital asset marketplace Bakkt to expand access to cryptocurrency solutions and services for merchants, banks and fintechs in the US.

The move is also expected to boost consumers’ access to the digital asset ecosystem.

Under the tie-up, Bakkt will enable Crypto-as-a-Service for Mastercard’s ecosystem of cryptocurrency partners, allowing them to offer cryptocurrency capabilities.

This means that the consumers can buy, sell and hold digital assets via custodial wallets facilitated by the Bakkt platform.

Moreover, the partner in the Mastercard network will have the ability to streamline issuance of branded crypto debit and credit cards.

Mastercard also plans to integrate crypto into its loyalty solutions with the aim of helping its partners to offer cryptocurrency as rewards.

This will allow consumers to earn and spend rewards in cryptocurrency instead of traditional loyalty points.

Mastercard digital partnerships executive vice president Sherri Haymond said: “Together with Bakkt and grounded by our principled approach to innovation, we’ll not only empower our partners to offer a dynamic mix of digital assets options, but also deliver differentiated and relevant consumer experiences.”

Mastercard has been stepping up its presence in the digital asset space of late.

In July this year, the payment major partnered with digital currency firm Circle to enable individuals and businesses to utilise USD Coins for transactions.

The same month, the firm announced plans to enhance its card programme for cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges.

Commenting on the latest development, Bakkt Loyalty Rewards and Payments executive vice-president Nancy Gordon said: “As brands and merchants look to appeal to younger consumers and their transaction preferences, these new offerings represent a unique opportunity to satisfy increasing demand for crypto, payment and rewards flexibility.”

In a separate development, Fiserv signed a strategic alliance with Bakkt to enable its consumers to buy, sell, send and spend a range of digital assets.

Fiserv said it will leverage Bakkt’s digital asset platform to facilitate practical uses of crypto and emerging asset classes.