In brief

  • Crypto exchange Gemini is launching a credit card with Mastercard.
  • Customers will receive a portion of cashback rewards from the card in the form of cryptocurrency.

If you trade on the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange, you’ll soon have a way to get crypto in your account without placing a buy order.

Gemini has partnered with Mastercard on its Gemini Credit Card, due out this summer. 

The company promises up to 3% cash back on just about every swipe. Although holders spend in dollars, they’ll get a portion of it back in Bitcoin or over 30 other cryptocurrencies on the exchange, including Ethereum, Dai stablecoin, and Uniswap's UNI token. Gemini says rewards will appear instantly in customers' accounts, not monthly.

Gemini first announced its Bitcoin rewards credit card in January after it bought crypto credit card market Blockrize, which was working on a crypto-back card without the annual fee. Anyone on the Blockrize waitlist was transferred to the Gemini waitlist. The exchange says that list now numbers 140,000 people.

Gemini COO Noah Perlman shared with Decrypt that the company felt hotel points, airline miles, and cash-back rewards were losing their cachet during the pandemic. "The Gemini Credit Card offers people the opportunity to earn Bitcoin on purchases," he said in January, "which is one of the best-performing asset classes in recent years."

Since the acquisition, Gemini has firmed up details about its crypto-back rewards and selected the credit card network.

Gemini CEO Tyler Winklevoss said of the choice, “Mastercard continues to evolve and meet both industry and consumer demands and commit to the crypto space.”

Mastercard’s North America president, Linda Kirkpatrick, said in a press release, “Consumer choice is at the center of Mastercard’s strategy—giving people flexibility in how they pay and anticipating their evolving preferences.”

Mastercard has long lent its name to cryptocurrency payment firms with debit cards, such as Wirex and BitPay. In such instances, dollars move through the payment network, not cryptocurrency; Mastercard’s partners are responsible for converting any dollars into cryptocurrency.

In February, however, the credit card company announced that it would start “supporting digital assets directly” in 2021 to minimize the inefficiencies caused by converting funds back and forth. That didn’t mean Bitcoin would suddenly start pumping through Mastercard’s veins, however. “Bitcoin doesn’t behave like a payment instrument,” Mastercard Executive Vice Chair Ann Cairns stated that month. “It’s too volatile and it takes too long to transact.” Instead, Mastercard had its eye on stablecoins for its network.

Today’s Gemini-Mastercard partnership is similar to Mastercard’s traditional arrangements, though it could evolve. Gemini, after all, has its own stablecoin, GUSD, with a modest market cap of $128 million. (Gemini has not yet responded to a request for comment.)

Regardless of whether Gemini and Mastercard take their relationship further, the exchange’s users should be fairly pleased with the promised rewards of up to 3% back at restaurants, 2% back on groceries, and 1% for everything else. They can also earn interest on their cashback via the Gemini Earn program.