The Bitcoin network already processes more volume by dollar value than PayPal, and the largest decentralized cryptocurrency network in the world by market capitalization could outstrip Mastercard by as early as 2026.
A Thursday report from market intelligence platform Blockdata titled “When might the Bitcoin network process volumes like Mastercard & Visa?” points out that the Bitcoin network processed about $489 billion per quarter in 2021, which is greater than PayPal’s $302 billion. After just 12 years in existence, Bitcoin processes about 27% of Mastercard’s $1.8 trillion per quarter and 15% of Visa’s $3.2 trillion.
Three factors could see the Bitcoin network rise to the level of the two credit card giants in terms of total volume processed: the total number of transactions, the average amount of Bitcoin sent per transaction, and the rise of the price of Bitcoin (BTC).
The first factor — the total number of transactions — is the most variable-dependent. Theoretically, “if Bitcoin were to increase its value transferred per transaction today by ~260%, it would be processing an equivalent volume to Mastercard on a daily basis.”
However, the report could not find current data indicating that the average amount of Bitcoin sent per transaction is on an upswing. The trend could change in the future, but a rise in price to $245,000 at the current volume would also bring Bitcoin to match Mastercard. This price action is potentially more likely than an uptick in volume, according to some analysts.
Blockdata ultimately claims that it is unlikely for Bitcoin’s price to rise to the appropriate level to match Mastercard. If one considers the average yearly Bitcoin price, it might take until 2060. On the other hand, “taking the current growth rate in 2021 as a metric, it could happen as soon as 2026.”
The report noted that although it is relatively young, the decentralized Bitcoin network has managed to achieve high volumes compared to the two centralized credit card giants.
“It’s impressive how Bitcoin, as a 12-year-old decentralized network, is 27% of the way in terms of volume processed compared to Mastercard, a company founded in 1966.”