Famed CNBC personality Jim Cramer was mostly disappointed with Mastercard's crypto announcement, as Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga becomes the latest banking executive to flip on Bitcoin.
Last year, Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga said bitcoin is useless to the unbanked due to its volatility, despite the unbanked trading over $100 million per week on peer-to-peer exchanges. It appears Banga has changed its mind.
In a recent blog post, Mastercard offered vague crypto plans, failing to even commit to supporting Bitcoin (BTC) or mentioning Ethereum or any developments decentralized finance (defi) or P2P trading. They just mention intention to support "select cryptocurrencies" in the future.
"We are preparing right now for the future of crypto and payments, announcing that this year Mastercard will start supporting select cryptocurrencies directly on our network," they said, "This is a big change that will require a lot of work. We will be very thoughtful about which assets we support based on our principles for digital currencies, which focus on consumer protections and compliance."
Jim Cramer, who owns both Mastercard and bitcoin, went on The Street on Tuesday to discuss the bizarre announcement, "Even though I own the stock I was disappointed. I really think they have to come out and explain this, because it's such an important thing," he said, "I know bitcoin is an excellent store of value, I've been very pro bitcoin... it's a great hedge against what all the central banks are doing... and I believe in taking the house money."
Mastercard continued: "Our philosophy on cryptocurrencies is straightforward: It’s about choice. Mastercard isn’t here to recommend you start using cryptocurrencies. But we are here to enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital value, traditional or crypto, however they want. It’s your money."
Mastercard is already working to provide bitcoin prepaid cards with Wirex and BitPay as of last year to allow people to spend their crypto. They also are working with a small crypto exchange called LVL. "These relationships — with many more planned in the pipeline — build on our many years of crypto collaborations," they said, "Mastercard is actively engaging with several major central banks around the world, as they review plans to launch new digital currencies (CBDCs) to offer their citizens a new way to pay."
Mastercard came up again on Mad Money on Tuesday, “I noticed that Mastercard is doing work with crypto but they don’t talk about it as much as they should," said Cramer, "Do I think that Tesla did the right thing? Absolutely. I have always felt that companies should do more with their cash than just keep it in short term. I completely applaud Tesla. Once again they are at the forefront."
It's easy to be bullish on bitcoin, in the wake of Tesla’s $1.5 billion buy. "I think it's almost irresponsible not to include bitcoin on corporate balance sheets, Cramer said on CNBC, "every treasurer should be going to boards of directors and saying, 'Should we put a small portion of our cash in bitcoin?' It seems to be an interesting way to hedge against the rest of the environment."
Cramer had previously endorsed MicroStrategy's bitcoin treasury reserve play and called CEO Michael Saylor a "gunner" who he wouldn't bet against. Lately, it seems like Saylor and Elon Musk won't let anything stop them from getting people of the world to adopt and use bitcoin.
The Crypto Fear and Greed Index rose from 83 to 95 on Tuesday, suggesting a level of "Extreme Greed" in the crypto markets.