Mastercard projects a web3-focused artist incubator with Polygon

One of the world’s biggest financial payments providers in the world, Mastercard, announced on Friday at CES 2023 that it will launch a web3-focused incubator to help artists connect with fans through a new medium.

“The core of this program is providing emerging artists with the web3 tools and skills they need to excel and advance their music careers in this digital economy,” Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard, said to TechCrunch. “By providing access to experts and innovators in the space, the artists will be guided on how to incorporate web3 into their work throughout the entire program and then beyond.”

Mastercard collaborated with Polygon, a scaling Ethereum-based blockchain that has recently made significant progress in the Web 2.0 ecosystem. Polygon has launched NFT projects through its blockchain in conjunction with a number of other major brands, including Starbucks for its Odyssey digital collectible rewards program and Disney for its accelerator program in the past year.

According to Rajamannar, participating artists should be able to mint NFTs, represent themselves in virtual worlds, and establish a community after joining the incubator. “We see that web3 holds tremendous promise for artists and creators to create, own and monetize their content, but only if they know how to leverage it.”

In addition to launching credit cards with a number of crypto-focused businesses and partnering with Coinbase to help expand the NFT ecosystem, this announcement hints at the company’s further expansion into the digital asset market.

“This past year was big for us, with experimental web3 activations around the world,” Rajamannar said.

For example, Mastercard collaborated with Roblox to host the first Grammy Week in the metaverse. During this time, it offered immersive activations, in-game branding, meet-and-greets with artists, red-carpet photo opportunities, and more.

High-ranking Mastercard employees have previously made it clear that they are bullish on the cryptocurrency industry.

“I feel like once you get the momentum for an institution up and running, it’s hard to get them to turn their head and pivot,” Grace Berkery, director of startup engagement at Mastercard, said at Benzinga’s Future of Crypto event in December. “So if [institutions are] going to enter, they’re going to stay in the space.”