Highlights of the Week: Bitcoin and Ethereum Slide as Mastercard Expands Cryptocurrency

Charlie Taylor

A slight crash sent Bitcoin price down to $39,638 on Friday, according to CoinMarketCap. The world’s favorite cryptocurrency, at the time of writing, was trading near $38,319.73, down 4.13% in 24 hours — about 10% cheaper than last weekend. Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency, was trading at $2,641.85 — 3.79% lower than a day ago, and 9.9% lower than a week ago. Most of the top 30 cryptocurrencies have fallen in the past week, but few have seen significant price movements other than Crypto.com Coin — down 6% to $0.40 — and Litecoin — down around 5% to $110. Avalanche grew 2% over the week and briefly hit a high of $97 on Wednesday, but has dropped to around $78 at the time of writing.

This week’s news

Mastercard announced on Tuesday that it would add advisory services focused on cryptocurrency payments that would allow banks and merchants to gain strategic insights into cryptocurrencies and NFTs, cryptocurrency cards and loyalty programs.

The financial services company previously developed cryptographic credit cards for Wirex and BitPay.

The Russian Dilemma

The government and the central bank of Russia are at odds over the best way to move forward with cryptocurrency legislation, with the central bank originally calling for a complete ban on tokens. Last week, the government and central bank agreed on a new bill to regulate cryptocurrencies using the same framework that exists for foreign currencies — banks would operate as intermediaries between users and trading platforms. Cryptocurrency exchanges would also have to register as legal entities and meet all the requirements of traditional financial institutions. On Tuesday, the two sides talked. Bloomberg reported that they were unable to overcome their differences. That same day, Russian news agency Izvestia reported that Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development has proposed recognizing and taxing Bitcoin mining as a “commercial activity” in regions where there is surplus electricity. The Bank of Russia is currently testing a digital ruble among a dozen participating banks.

Action against money laundering

On Wednesday, Coinbase, Circle, Anchorage and Robinhood were among the companies that announced their intention to comply with new rules issued by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international organization that fights financial crime. The FATF “travel rule” requires financial institutions to collect information about senders (and sometimes recipients) of transactions in excess of US$3,000. The FATF stressed that the travel rule applies to cryptocurrency companies. The above companies announced compliance within a framework called TRUST: “Travel Rule Universal Solution Technology”.

US Senators versus El Salvador

U.S. senators introduced legislation on Wednesday requiring the State Department to write a review of El Salvador’s Bitcoin law and develop a plan to “mitigate potential risks to the U.S. financial system.” Jim Risch of Idaho said in a statement: “El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin as a legal tender raises significant concerns about the economic stability and financial integrity of a vulnerable US trading partner in Central America. […] This new policy has the potential to weaken US sanctions policy, empowering evil actors like China and organized criminal organizations.”

On Thursday, the FBI established a new crypto crimes unit under the Department of Justice called the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET). It will be directed by Eun Young Choi.

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