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Crypto News, March 7: Pressure Grows on Russia

5 months ago

Visa and Mastercard are suspending their services, Switzerland is freezing crypto held by Russians in the country, and Coinbase has blocked 25,000 addresses linked to illicit activity.

Crypto News, March 7: Pressure Grows on Russia

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Coinbase blocks 25,000 Russia-linked addresses

Coinbase has revealed that it has blocked more than 25,000 addresses that are connected to Russian individuals or entities that are suspected of being engaged in illicit activity. Chief legal officer Paul Grewal said the exchange is "committed to complying with sanctions" following Russia's invasion of Ukraine — and that they have a "vital role in promoting national security." The trading platform has faced criticism for refusing to block all Russian users, a request made by Ukraine's deputy prime minister. But the exchange is seeking to demonstrate that it already implements a "multi-layered, global sanctions program" — with CEO Brian Armstrong confirming Coinbase will impose further restrictions if asked to do so by the U.S. government.

Payment firms cut Russia ties 🇷🇺

A growing number of major payment companies announced they were suspending operations in Russia over the weekend. Visa and Mastercard — which collectively command 90% market share for credit and debit card transactions outside of China — confirmed their decision within minutes of each other on Saturday night. PayPal has done the same, as well as Circle, which issues the USDC stablecoin. Chainalysis co-head of public policy, Salman Banaei, believes all of this "makes it likely that cryptocurrency exchanges will follow suit" — despite them being reluctant to do so.

Swiss freeze Russian-owned crypto 🚨

Switzerland has announced that it is freezing all cryptocurrencies that are owned by Russians within its borders. The Financial Times reports that the move is designed to "protect the integrity" of the industry. Although the country has long been regarded as friendly toward digital assets, this new policy could attract ire for Bitcoiners. A senior official in the Swiss finance ministry acknowledged there will be challenges in enforcing these measures, telling the newspaper: "If someone holds their crypto key themselves then, wherever they are, it's going to be virtually impossible to identify them. But if they are using crypto services — funds, exchanges and so on — these service points we can target."

A terrifying armed robbery 😬

A businessman says he has lost $1 million after being targeted by an armed robber who stole his expensive watch and a cell phone that stored his crypto wallet. The victims claimed the thief had been parked outside his home, indicating that the attack was premeditated. Surveillance footage showed the attack unfold, with the gunman pointing the weapon at his face and ordering the victim to give him everything. He handed over a $400,000 Patek Philippe rose gold watch he was wearing at the time, along with a device that was storing hundreds of thousands of dollars in digital assets.

Andre Cronje is quitting DeFi 👋

One of the decentralized finance industry's best-known developers has announced that he's leaving the space — prompting the value of a number of tokens to fall substantially. Andre Cronje launched Yearn Finance and Keep3rV1, and had also played an instrumental role in the creation of countless other DeFi protocols. Some on Twitter have speculated he was "fed up" after a colleague's departure meant that he had to become the face of a newly launched project — a stark contrast to his usual work behind the scenes. YFI and KP3R both nursed double-digit losses on Sunday as investors came to terms with the news.

FTX announces expansion 🌎

FTX is branching out into Europe and the Middle East. The exchange, founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, has received approval from a regulator in Cyprus. Announcing the news, SBF said: "We'll be interacting with regulators in various countries across Europe to continue to provide a safe and secure environment for people to trade crypto." So far, FTX has primarily gained traction as an exchange targeted toward American users — and in January, its U.S. arm was valued at $8 billion following a $400 million funding round.

Papa John's drops NFTs 🍕

The Papa John's pizza chain has released a collection of NFTs in the U.K. Nine differently designed hot bags — that's right, the ones used to deliver pizza to hungry customers — are available, meaning "anyone can grab a slice of metaverse fashion." The company has long had ties to crypto. Two of its pizzas were snapped up for 10,000 BTC all the way back in May 2010 — a sum that would now be worth $386 million.
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