MasterCard has said that it's not aware of plans to develop a credit or debit card based around Bitcoin virtual currency. Yesterday, it was rumored that transfer service BitInstant was partnering with two unnamed banks to release a Bitcoin MasterCard in the next two months. But according to MasterCard, it's never been approached by BitInstant. We've received the following statement:
MasterCard has no relationship with BitInstant. There are issuers who allow the conversion of Bitcoins to US dollars and other currencies, delivered on prepaid cards. However, we're not aware of this particular programme from BitInstant.
As a spokesperson told TechWeekEurope, that means any cards couldn't be in more than a preliminary stage, since "both the issuer and its banking partners need to go through a rigorous screening process" before they could release anything that would function as a MasterCard or use the logo. We've reached out to BitInstant to see if the company has any other plans for a Bitcoin card.
Update: BitInstant has shot back a refutation in turn, officially announcing what it calls the BitInstant Paycard and giving a launch date of eight weeks.