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Top Headlines for 7 March, 2022

Shake Shack Chain To Pay BTC Rewards

U.S.-based fast-food chain Shake Shack has announced that for every order paid with the Cash App in March 2022, the company will make a refund of 15% in BTC.

Chief Marketing Officer Jay Livingston called the scheme an easy way to test if crypto has any traction with the brand’s customers. He says, “You’re always trying to place your bets on things that will be meaningful and not waste resources on the ones that won’t.”

However, Shake Shack is not the first fast food joint to work with crypto; Burger King collaborated with Robinhood to pay customers one Dogecoin on every $5 purchase. McDonald’s has released its own Big Mac NFT collection.

Cash App, the backend facilitator of Shake Shack’s crypto scheme, has integrated Lightning Payments in its platform, allowing its users to send near-instant Bitcoin payments for zero cost. The firm is a subsidiary of Block (previously known as Square). Under the leadership of Jack Dorsey, Block has been actively promoting the adoption of Bitcoin.

The company previously released software development kits for Bitcoin and the Lightning Network, making the process of building new apps easier and faster. Block is also reportedly working on creating a decentralized exchange on Bitcoin.

Citadel Plans to Enter the Crypto Sector

Billionaire Ken Griffin, the founder of the Citadel hedge fund and market maker Citadel Securities, announced his company’s plans to enter the cryptocurrency sector.

“It is fair to assume that you will see us market-making in cryptocurrencies over the months to come,” Griffin told Bloomberg.

Griffin’s transformation from an extreme skeptic to a crypto believer is miraculous. The hedge fund founder had earlier compared the rush to adopt crypto with a “jihadist call.” Griffin also made headlines in the latter half of 2021 when he beat ConstitutionDAO in purchasing a rare copy of the United States Constitution at Sotheby’s for $43 million. ConstitutionDAO is a decentralized organization that at the time of the auction represented the largest attempted crowdfunding for a physical object.

Founded in 1990, Citadel is one of the largest hedge funds globally, with over $38 billion worth of assets under management. Griffin later established Citadel Securities in 2002 as a prominent market maker for traditional securities. The company reportedly manages nearly 40% of all stock trades in the United States.

Griffin called crypto one of the great stories in finance in the last decade. The founder confirmed that he still had some skepticism but acknowledged that millions of people already disagree with him.

OKX Exchange Sponsors Manchester City

OKX, the second-largest crypto exchange globally by trading volume, inked a sponsorship deal with storied football club Manchester City in March 2022.

OKX’s partnership with Manchester City will ensure the exchange’s visibility at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. The exchange is one of the last remaining large crypto players to pursue a sports marketing strategy, the most obvious exception being Binance. Interestingly, FTX and Crypto.com, two competing crypto exchanges, have already spent millions of dollars on sports-related marketing and collaborations. Both exchanges have bought and renamed popular sports venues in the last year.

Crypto companies also vied for spots during commercial breaks at the SuperBowl, one of the most-watched yearly events in the United States. Coinbase, in particular, appeared to have benefited from its campaign and its website crashed within 20 seconds of receiving traffic from the televised campaign.

Russian Banks Adopt Chinese UnionPay As Visa, Mastercard Suspend Operations

Reuters reports that several banks in Russia may start issuing cards using the Chinese UnionPay infrastructure coupled with the country’s own Mir network after Visa and MasterCard suspended operations following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Visa and Mastercard, two of the most extensive centralized payment networks, have halted operations in Russia. The two U.S.-based credit card companies announced that they will no longer facilitate transactions from their cards in Russia after 10 March 2022, and that cards issued outside of the sanctioned country would also not function at Russian ATMs and merchants. American Express is also following the lead of Visa and Mastercard by suspending its operations in Russia.

Sberbank, one of Russia’s most prominent financial institutions, is reportedly exploring the possibility of issuing cards supported by China’s largest payments infrastructure provider, UnionPay. The integration of UnionPay, owned by the People’s Bank of China, would allow Russian citizens to send payments to more than 180 countries supported by the network. Cards issued by banks in Russia will continue to work using the official MIR payments system.