Crypto News Headlines (08-March-2022)

Pizza take-out chain Papa John’s (PZZA) is planning to give away nearly 20,000 non-fungible tokens (NFT) to customers in the U.K., shrugging off a previous warning from the country’s advertising regulator about its dalliances in the crypto world.

The collection of 19,840 NFTs has been minted on Tezos and takes the form of nine different pizza delivery hot bag designs.

The NFTs will be dropped on several dates in early March.

This is not Papa John’s first foray into the world of crypto and blockchains. The take-out chain last year launched a promotion in which customers could win £10 ($13) worth of bitcoin (BTC) when they spent more than £30 ($39).

The campaign fell afoul of the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, who deemed it “irresponsible” as it “took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity and trivialized investment in cryptocurrency.” The pizza chain subsequently removed the ads for the campaign.

The trading platform will conduct transactions involving deposits and withdrawals through the SEPA payment network (SEPA) and Faster Payment Services (FPS).

The payments using these two mainstream fiat currencies will be made possible through the mobile app and the desktop platform. These payment options are open to all Binance users across Europe except for the Netherlands and Switzerland.

 “Binance retail users across Europe, with the exception of Netherlands and Switzerland, will be able to make EUR transfers directly via SEPA,” the announcement reads. “At the present time, support for corporate accounts is not available. However, Binance is actively collaborating with Paysafe to expand our scope of services.”

Binance Exchange, known as one of the largest exchanges in daily trading volume, is considered one of the most embattled trading platforms. Many European authorities cracked down on the exchange last year. Beginning with the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Binance was accused of illegally operating in the country through its Binance Markets Limited Subsidiary.

The U.S. has been strategically planning its Digital Dollar or central bank digital currency (CBDC) since last year. After the Federal Reserve issued a paper on CBDC in January end, President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order this week on crypto regulations and intensify the efforts regarding its digital currency.

Under the executive order, the Justice Department, Treasury, Commerce Department, and other government agencies are directed to study the legal and economic ramifications of creating a U.S. central bank digital currency.

Bad news continued flowing from the Ukraine on Monday, pushing investors away from cryptocurrency and other higher-risk assets.

At the time of publication, bitcoin was trading at about $38,300, off slightly over the past 24 hours. Ethereum was changing hands just above $2,500, down 1.7%. Most other major cryptos were firmly in the red. It was the third consecutive day of crypto declines, which started late on Friday as faint hopes for a ceasefire or targeted truce to allow civilians to evacuate besieged cities evaporated.

Ukrainian civilian casualties mounted as Russia continued to bomb non-military targets. Delegations from the Ukraine and Russia failed in their latest attempt to negotiate safe passage for citizens of the Black Sea port of Mariupol and other major Ukraine cities that are under bombardment.

Investors worried about rising energy prices that have already increased significantly over the last few months and wider inflationary pressures. The average price of gasoline rose to $4.009 per gallon on Sunday, according to the travel and other services organization, American Automobile Association (AAA). That was not far off the all-time high of $4.11 set in July 2008.

Financial services company Santander said it will offer a new type of loan in Argentina, backed by tokens based on agricultural commodities.

In a March 7 blog post, the Spanish multinational said it was partnering with startup Agrotoken to offer loans for the agricultural sector. The loans are backed by tokens tied to grains like soy, wheat and corn.

Agrotoken offers stablecoins that each represent a ton of stored grain. These include soy (SOYA), corn (CORA) and wheat (WHEA). Each token’s value is pegged to the price of each commodity in US dollars. The firm has already undergone a pilot project with producers in Argentina to validate the product, Santander said.

Agrotoken says it has a “multichain infrastructure,” with a platform built on Ethereum, Polygon and Algorand.

Following Mastercard and Visa suspension of Russian credit cards abroad based on international sanctions, Thailand is looking at accepting cryptocurrency payments to help Ukrainian, and Russian tourists transact, according to local outlet Thai Enquirer.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, the Phuket Tourist Association (PTA) President, confirmed that they were in talks with the Bank of Thailand to accept crypto as an alternative payment option for Ukrainian and Russian tourists.

He added:

 “Cryptocurrencies would serve as a backup while transactions could not proceed.”

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) also acknowledged that four proposals were being tabled to the cabinet on March 8. They included offering alternative payment channels, waiving visa extension fees, solving travel insurance problems, and tackling accommodation issues.

With nearly 7,000 stranded Ukrainian and Russian tourists spread across Pattaya, Krabi, Koh Samui, and Phuket, the crypto payment option will be instrumental when meeting their needs.

The Metaverse is a new buzzword that refers to an alternate world powered by augmented reality, representing the real world where people can: socialize, work, play games, buy/sell real estate, and earn money through various means. The Metaverse and Blockchain-Gaming are a perfect marriage that is reshaping the entire online gaming industry. Blockchain-based play-to-earn games are recognized as one of the most exciting innovations within the gaming ecosystem in recent years, and MetaBlaze is integrating high-quality in-game character NFTs within its Blockchain-based gaming Metaverse. Users can expect high-quality graphics and an immersive 3D environment where mystical creature NFTs battle across different worlds to gain control of the Metaverse.

Bitcoin (BTC) traded lower over the weekend after buyers were unable to break above the $40,000 price level. Immediate support is at $37,000, which could stabilize the pullback, although stronger support is seen at $35,000.

The cryptocurrency continues to trade in a tight price range and is down 2% over the past 24 hours to about $38,000.

Upside momentum is slowing on the daily chart, which points to further consolidation around the current price. Resistance is seen at $45,000.

The relative strength index (RSI) on the four-hour chart is rising from oversold levels, similar to what occurred during the last week of February, which preceded a price jump. Still, the RSI can remain in oversold territory for a few days before confirming an upswing (typically with a reading above 50).

President Joe Biden is reportedly preparing to sign an executive order on cryptocurrency policy this week, according to a report by Reuters on Monday, which cited a person familiar with the matter.

The order, which may seek to appoint an individual with regulatory authority to oversee the crypto market, could come as early as Wednesday, per the report.

Jurisdiction of digital asset market oversight continues to burn in the minds of regulators eager to close the gap on what they perceive as trading activity occurring outside their remit.

Last month, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chair Rostin Behnam told a Senate committee hearing his agency wanted to be charged with regulating the crypto spot market.

Following the service cut from American payment giants Mastercard and Visa, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) has informed its citizens that credit and debit cards issued by these service providers will stop functioning overseas from March 9.

In a bid to mitigate the strain on the users of these payment service providers, the Central Bank said some of its indigenous financial institutions are looking at integrating UnionPay, a Chinese-based payment services provider, as an alternative to Mastercard and Visa.

In reality, many fintech and payment firms have joined Mastercard and Visa in banning Russian users, a move many deem necessary as a form of compliance to the sanctions from Western governments on Russia for its role in the ongoing war on Ukrainian soil. The cards will still work for users still resident in Russia until their expiry dates.

While many Russian nationals have been stranded with the inability to make use of the cards abroad, the proactive move with UnionPay will help ease off further isolation and the ability to make digital payments.