There have been calls to freeze cryptocurrency exchange accounts belonging to Russians, but the CEOs within the industry are against the move.
The CEO of US-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, said ordinary Russians are using Bitcoin as a lifeline. As a result, he said Coinbase wouldn’t ban Russians from using its platform.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Armstrong said Coinbase would not freeze any accounts linked to Russians. However, it would be forced to comply if the United States government requested such a move.
The CEO said the exchange would block transactions from IP addresses that might belong to sanctioned entities and individuals. However, it wouldn't embark on a move to freeze all Russian-linked accounts. He said;
“Some ordinary Russians are using crypto as a lifeline now that their currency has collapsed. Many of them likely oppose what their country is doing, and a ban would hurt them, too.”
The cryptocurrency industry has gained massive adoption due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Digital Transformation, recently asked cryptocurrency exchanges to freeze Russian-linked accounts.
However, the CEOs of some major cryptocurrency entities are against banning Russian-linked accounts on their platforms.
Changpeng Zhao of Binance and Jesse Powell of Kraken said freezing Russian-linked accounts is not something the cryptocurrency space stands for. A Binance spokesperson also said;
“We are not going to unilaterally freeze millions of innocent users’ accounts. Crypto is meant to provide greater financial freedom for people across the globe. To unilaterally decide to ban people’s access to their crypto would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists.”
However, the cryptocurrency exchanges said they are taking the necessary steps to ensure that transactions initiated by sanctioned entities and individuals are blocked. As such, they are not willing to punish ordinary Russians by freezing their crypto exchanges accounts.
The Ukrainian government has received millions of dollars in aid from cryptocurrency investors over the past few days.