Crypto Is a ‘Lifeline’ for Russian Citizens, Coinbase CEO Says

Crypto exchanges say they will comply with sanctions but refuse to impose a unilateral ban on Russian accounts

article-image

Blockworks exclusive art by axel rangel

share

key takeaways

  • More users are turning to crypto in Russia as the war in Ukraine intensifies, data show
  • The notion that crypto is being used to avoid sanctions is unfounded, the CEO said

Cryptocurrency exchanges are standing their ground on refusing to unilaterally ban Russian users.

Demand for crypto is building from users in Russia, according to Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, a sign that digital assets are providing a safe haven to the country’s sinking ruble.

“Some ordinary Russians are using crypto as a lifeline now that their currency has collapsed,” Armstrong said in a tweet Friday. “Many of them likely oppose what their country is doing, and a ban would hurt them, too.” 

Jesse Powell, the CEO of Kraken, said in a tweet the California-based exchange “cannot freeze the accounts of our Russian clients without a legal requirement to do so.”

The argument that Russian entities would use crypto to sidestep sanctions is unfounded given the open-ledger nature of cryptocurrencies, Armstrong said. Should the US government issue new bans, Coinbase would comply, he added.

Trading volumes between bitcoin and the Russian ruble hit a nine-month high last week, according to data from cryptocurrency research firm Kaiko. Volume on the most popular BTC/RUB trading pair, which trades on Binance, shows the most significant surge since May 2021.

Source: TradingView

Non-US based exchanges have taken a similar stance as Coinbase. Binance, which currently has no official headquarters, will not “unilaterally freeze millions of innocent users’ accounts,” a spokesperson said.

Bahamas-based FTX “plans to continue complying with the laws related to sanctioned countries,” a spokesperson said.


Start your day with top crypto insights from David Canellis and Katherine Ross. Subscribe to the Empire newsletter.

The Lightspeed newsletter is all things Solana, in your inbox, every day. Subscribe to daily Solana news from Jack Kubinec and Jeff Albus.

Tags

Upcoming Events

Salt Lake City, UT

MON - TUES, OCT. 7 - 8, 2023

Blockworks and Bankless in collaboration with buidlbox are excited to announce the second installment of the Permissionless Hackathon – taking place October 7-8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ve partnered with buidlbox to bring together the brightest minds in crypto for […]

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research

Research Report Cover Vertex.jpg

Research

The proliferation of new perp DEXs has led to fragmented liquidity across various DEXs and chains. Vertex, known for its vertically-integrated DEX that includes spot, perpetual, and integrated money markets, is now tackling cross-chain liquidity fragmentation through horizontal integration with the launch of new Edge instances. Vertex's integrated offerings and cross-margined account structure amplify the benefits of new instances: native cross-chain spot trading, optimized cross-chain basis trading, consistent interest rates, reduced bridging friction, and more.

article-image

Plus, a dive into crypto’s ever-expanding unicorn club

article-image

Also, tokenization continues to grab headlines and one bitcoin miner stock soars Tuesday after inking a big deal

article-image

Fifteen million daily failed transactions disappeared from Solana

article-image

FTX debtors will pay the IRS $200M, with an outstanding lower priority claim of $685M

article-image

I’ve come to the realization that more attention is needed to create and sculpt the digital spaces where we live

article-image

The NYSE went down yesterday after a glitch caused a string of erroneous trades. Does DeFi fix this?