Also today, a Swiss city is making Bitcoin "de facto legal tender" — and OpenSea is banning users in Iran.
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Bitcoin plunged 5% in the early hours of Friday morning following a dramatic development in the Ukraine invasion. The world's biggest cryptocurrency sank to lows of $41,000 after Europe's largest nuclear power plant, which is based in Ukraine, came under heavy shelling from Russian forces. This subsequently led to a fire in a training building, and sparked fears that one of the site's nuclear reactors was damaged. BTC's sell-offs coincided with a sharp drop on Asian stock exchanges, indicating that a decoupling between equities and cryptocurrencies may have been short lived.
A city in Switzerland has announced that it is making Bitcoin "de facto" legal tender — alongside the Tether stablecoin and its own native token. Lugano says the move is designed to ensure the region becomes "a major hub for European blockchain adoption" — and unlock compelling use cases for local communities. Proposed measures include allowing citizens and companies to pay tax bills in crypto — as well as purchase everyday goods and services. "Lugano is a vibrant city, filled with innovators and future-forward thinkers," Tether's Paolo Ardoino said.
The world's biggest NFT marketplace has suddenly started to block users in Iran — because the country is subject to U.S. sanctions. NFT enthusiasts with OpenSea accounts allege they were given no notice that their access would be withdrawn. Confirming that the bans are taking place, OpenSea said people and territories who appear on America's sanction list cannot buy, sell or transfer NFTs through its platform. In other developments, Infura has cut off users who are based in separatist areas of Ukraine including Donetsk and Luhansk — but efforts to block IP addresses in these locations inadvertently ended up having an effect on users in Venezuela.
Shake Shack is starting to offer Bitcoin rewards in the hope that free cryptocurrency will lure younger diners to visit the burger chain, according to The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper reports that customers will receive 15% of the value of their purchase back in BTC — however, their transaction must be completed using Cash App's debit card. The experiment is going to take place between now and in the middle of March — and if successful, Shake Shack says it may prolong the rewards program or accept crypto as a payment method.