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MasterCard to Pull Plug on Crypto Card Program with Binance

MasterCard and Binance are discontinuing their joint crypto-card initiatives in Bahrain, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil starting on Sept. 22, 2023. The Binance cards enabled users to make payments using conventional currencies, facilitated by their crypto reserves within the Binance exchange.

While no explicit reason was provided for terminating the crypto-card partnership, it is widely speculated that Binance’s recent clashes with the U.S. SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission were contributing factors. Earlier this year, both regulatory bodies filed lawsuits against Binance, encompassing a variety of allegations, such as mingling user funds and operating without proper registration as a securities broker or exchange.

The SEC brought forward 13 charges against Binance and its CEO, Changpeng Zhao, asserting that the company combined billions of dollars of customer funds with its own resources, reminiscent of claims made against the now insolvent crypto exchange FTX. Binance has rebuffed these allegations. In fact, the company recently filed a protective order against the SEC, asserting that the regulator’s information requests were exceedingly extensive and burdensome.

In Brazil, one of the regions where MasterCard is concluding its association with Binance’s crypto card, authorities have also accused the company of engaging in a pyramid scheme.

Despite the cessation of their crypto-card collaboration, MasterCard has not abandoned its pursuit of crypto-related products and services or its exploration of digital assets via alternative avenues. It is actively involved in a central bank digital currency pilot, participating alongside crypto enterprises such as Fireblocks, ConsenSys and Ripple.

MasterCard’s website still enumerates its affiliations with various crypto exchanges, including Gemini, asserting that every initiative undergoes continuous monitoring and thorough due diligence. Visa has also severed ties with Binance. The company terminated its analogous card collaboration with Binance, discontinuing the issuance of cobranded cards in Europe in July, as communicated by a company spokesperson to Bloomberg.

Moreover, Checkout.com purportedly terminated its business association with Binance, citing regulatory actions, jurisdictional orders, partner inquiries and apprehensions concerning the company’s adherence to antimoney laundering, sanctions and compliance protocols.

These unfolding events underscore how conventional financial institutions are increasingly cautious about aligning with Binance given its ongoing regulatory scrutiny and broader apprehensions concerning financial compliance within the cryptocurrency domain.

Other crypto exchanges such as Coinbase Global Inc. (NASDAQ: COIN) are probably watching closely to see whether or not major institutional players will develop cold feet and roll back their involvement within the cryptocurrency and blockchain space.

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