(Reuters) – Utah-based cryptocurrency exchange CoinZoom is suspending applications for new accounts in Russia following escalating conflict in Ukraine, the company’s chief executive told Reuters.
Although CoinZoom is a lesser-known crypto exchange, it is one of the first to halt new business operations in Russia, with most exchanges so far resisting calls to block Russian users despite calls from the Ukrainian government.
Coinbase, Kraken and Binance said that while they would comply with Western sanctions, they would not block Russian users without a legal obligation to do so.
CoinZoom chief executive Todd Crosland said the company decided to suspend new accounts because it was unclear how customers would fund them given that major payment companies are pulling out of Russia.
“It’s a very fluid situation in Russia right now and it’s very fluid with the regulators, so being able to fund your account with wire transfer or debit card, Mastercard, Visa – all of those funding mechanisms are pretty much eliminated for Russian customers right now,” Crosland said in an interview.
CoinZoom does not block its existing Russian account holders, but does screen them against sanctions lists, Crosland said.
On Saturday, US payment companies Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc announced they were suspending operations in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
Crypto exchanges have drawn criticism for refusing to block Russian users, particularly after Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov last month asked crypto exchanges to block Russian users’ digital wallet addresses.
Kraken CEO Jesse Powell on Twitter cited the “libertarian values” of cryptocurrencies as one of the main reasons Kraken would continue to operate in Russia.
A Binance spokesperson said in a statement that banning access to crypto would “go against the very reason crypto exists.”
(Reporting by Hannah Lang in Washington; Editing by Michelle Price and Jonathan Oatis)
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