Community makes voices heard and demands change, but is it too late?
The centralized crypto platform Crypto.com appears to be flip-flopping after a massive customer backlash when they announced cuts on staking and card rewards. Last week CEO Kris Marszalek of Crypto.com took to Twitter to announce major changes to the centralized exchanges’ earn features, but customers weren’t happy. The native CRO token lost more than 25% of its value in the aftermath.
- Crypto.com announced on April 30 that they would be overhauling their reward and staking services, effectively reducing and capping customer rewards
- Customer backlash led to crypto.com CEO making some revisions to the changes
- CRO price dropped more than 25% in the aftermath of the April 30 announcement
- CRO price recovered slightly as crypto.com CEO tweeted a revised version
- Allegations of insider trading amidst price manipulation accusations on Reddit
Crypto.com is perhaps one of the most well-known centralized exchanges on earth. It’s hard to miss the giant hoarding advert boards everywhere, Hollywood celebrities advocating the platform, or the legendary Staples Center now called the Crypto.com Arena. As Matt Damon says, “fortune favors the brave”, and Crypto.com has undoubtedly been brave since morphing from its seedling days as Monaco back in 2017.
One major attraction for users to Crypto.com, alongside easy onboarding, KYC, and safety, has been their debit card tiers. Through these cards, consumers get cashback deals paid in CRO, while also earning staking rewards on CRO staked to gain a debit card. The real kicker here is that one day you can collect a few CRO tokens as cashback and rewards, and a few days, weeks, or months later, that might be worth more.
Debit cards require an active stake on Crypto.com for a user to receive the highest rewards, i.e, each tier requires a user to stake a certain amount of fiat in CRO to access the card. Before the announced changes, there were five paid card tiers starting with Midnight Blue through to Obsidian Black.
How cashback changed
Now, under the newly proposed reward system, card cashback would be removed from the blue card altogether and significantly decreased on lower-tiered cards, and cashback limits introduced. Moreover, the benefits for Ruby and Jade cardholders have become almost insignificant with the limitations imposed. Additionally, the new proposal outlined that cardholders would no longer receive staking rewards for the amount of CRO they stake to secure a card, no matter which tier. This was the community’s most significant sticking point, and the backlash started here.
The above graphic depicts the correct cashback percentages moving forward but staking rewards were revised again. The original proposal wanted to remove all staking rewards from cardholders despite their tier. Crypto.com now says instead of eliminating card staking earn rates completely, they will offer a more balanced approach: 8% APY for Obsidian, Icy White, and Frosted Rose Gold cardholders, and 4% APY for Royal Indigo and Jade Green cardholders.
To quickly recap what happened: CRO staking rewards on the four tiers of cards went from 12%, 12%, 10%, and 0%. Down to 0% on all four, then back up to 8%, 8%, 4%, and 0% on the blue card. However, the cashback limits on the two lower-tiered cards remain, and cashback on the four cards went from 8%, 5%, 3%, 1% down to 5%, 3%,1.5%, 0.5% going forward.
Fortune used to favor the brave
On a positive note, those who got involved with Crypto.com or even as far back as its Monaco days could have already made a tidy profit. Initially, they had to stake a specific amount of CRO, not a fiat amount in CRO to secure a card. CRO has appreciated a lot in those few years, so early adopters shouldn’t be feeling too hard done by. The new users lured in over the last 12 months with the promise of high percentage rewards on staking and cashback will have the loudest voices in this debate. Luckily they made their voices heard, or as one commentator on Reddit puts it:
Tinfoil hat time
Some onlookers in the crypto world are not convinced by Crypto.com or Kris Marszalek and have taken to Reddit to start a conversation around insider trading of CRO. Kris Marszalek, CEO, and co-founder of Crypto.com left his previous job amid accusations from customers and business partners that they had been ripped off. The Australia-based company called Ensogo offered online deals similar to Groupon. It abruptly ceased its operations in Southeast Asia in June 2016, just as Marsazlek stepped out the door to join Crypto.com.
According to a report by the Hong Kong newspaper published the day after he resigned, buyers and sellers on Ensogo’s platform were blindsided by the shutdown and left “with hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.” Several merchants reportedly told police they had been defrauded. One business owner said that she was owed two months of payments from Beecrazy, an Ensogo subsidiary that Marszalek had founded. She claimed the platform had issued promotions to boost its revenue just before shutting down—deals that were then left worthless. Sound familiar? Lots of ramping up on advertising and user acquisition before making severe changes that would affect the users. One Reddit user takes it further.
Diving into CRO activity since the announcement can reveal more information. Additionally, it’s important to state that while the above industry spectator has made their feelings clear, we are simply laying out all the findings for our readers to determine.
What we know
We know that the price of CRO tanked after the original announcement came out with massive alterations to Crypto.com’s customers’ earning potential. CRO ended last week at about $0.38. Then, by Monday night, the same time the community was making their voices heard, it had dropped to a low of $0.27. Once it hit the low, news started to circulate about a possible flip flop and alteration to the new card terms and staking rewards, leading us to today and the Tweets from Kris Marszalek and the price of CRO moving north again.
We also see that trading volume was trickling for most of April and May at a constant level but suddenly leaped on May 1. This can indicate token sales due to a falling price and people wanting to cash out or into a stablecoin to retain some value. It can also represent buys, as those wanting more CRO took the low price point opportunity. Likewise, it can mean investors were jumping ship and clearing out their CRO, either entirely or to another platform, as the announcements left a bad taste. Further investigation via Etherscan and the CRO contract reveals more.
The original announcement was made on April 30, and we can see that more than 161 million CRO, that’s more than $48 million, through 2,227 transfers was transferred on that day, eclipsing the previous day’s 18 million CRO through 1,255 transfers. What’s strange is that the value of transfers in CRO lept by more than five times, but the transfer count less than doubled, indicating some whales were moving large amounts of CRO on April 30. Backtracking to the comments on Reddit, the onlooker went much further in their damning of Crypto.com, its CEO, and what they could be doing.
Another thing we know for sure is that several suitors are lining up to replace Crypto.com and deliver the types of rewards to customers they want. Nexo has been building its brand for years and offers the same features as Crypto.com with more lucrative rewards. In addition, Plutus offers sound card cashback rates and operates within the EU and UK. Ironically the PLU token has tripled in value in the last few days.
Crypto.com may have inadvertently pushed its once-loyal user base right into the arms of its biggest competitors. Or has that been the plan all along? Arguably, most platforms lure users in with introductory offers and most crypto exchanges have slashed their rates lately but most didn’t make users invest in a super volatile asset like CRO to redeem services. We will endeavor to keep our readers up-to-date on this story as it develops further.
The above does not constitute investment advice. The information given here is purely for informational purposes only. Please exercise due diligence and do your research. The writer holds positions in various cryptocurrencies, including BTC, ETH, and RADAR.