One of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges has confirmed that it will not implement a blanket ban on Russians using its platform, unlike one of its major rivals.
The announcement from deVere Crypto, part of deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations, comes as a U.S.-based global exchange is currently blocking 25,000 cryptocurrency addresses linked to Russians. The move comes amid concerns that digital currencies will be used to bypass sanctions.
It follows news that American Express is joining Visa, Mastercard and PayPal in suspending operations in Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
Chief executive and founder of deVere Group, Nigel Green, comments: “A few hundred, named Russian individuals are on the international sanctions list and, of course, we strictly adhere to it.
“However, we’re not going to roll-out a blanket ban on ordinary, innocent Russian users, many of whom are already suffering due to the fallout of Putin’s war.
‘The situation is inevitably going to get worse, with potentially devastating consequences, as they’re frozen out of the financial system. We strongly believe that everyone should be allowed access to basic financial services.”
He continues: “We’ve seen countless examples in recent days of how cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, are helping ordinary families in Ukraine either flee or somehow better manage the tragic situation inside the country.
“We feel that ordinary Russians – also caught up in this nightmare – deserve borderless, permissionless, censorship-resistant and unconfiscatable monetary alternatives too.
“We’re against Putin’s war – and he should be punished – but not the Russian people. We should help, not abandon, the courageous people of conscience there.”
In addition, says Nigel Green, cryptocurrencies are not an effective way to dodge sanctions.
“While crypto wallets are anonymous, it must be remembered that transactions are on a decentralized ledger which is traceable, permanent, and public.
“It could be argued that those who are seeking to avoid sanctions would use different methods, such as cash or gold.”
He concludes: “There are countless examples globally where those who are dissenting against ruling authoritarian regimes have their accounts shuttered and/or funds stolen. This means they are then trapped, possibly forever.
“This is where Bitcoin and crypto can play a hugely beneficial role as they can receive and send it safely, securely, without censorship.
“Crypto has the potential to make a real difference by giving ordinary people enhanced financial and political freedoms when those fundamental freedoms are under threat.”