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Binance Ends Russian Account Limits as Country Uses Tech to Bypass Sanctions

2 mins
Updated by James Morales
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In Brief

  • Binance is allowing users to make payments with Russian bank cards for the first time since March.
  • Russia's payment infrastructure remains subject to international sanctions.
  • Seeking alternative means of moving money, the Central Bank of Russia is developing workarounds with crypto and CBDCs.
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Binance is reportedly allowing users to purchase crypto with Russian bank cards after curbing its service in the country following international sanctions.

As reported on BeInCrypto’s Russian language site, the exchange reintroduced compatibility with Russian bank-issued cards this week. 

EU Sanctions and Russia’s Crypto

Binance’s crackdown on Russian accounts began following international sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

The first move came in March when Binance blocked transactions with cards issued by banks located in the Russian Federation. That decision followed a major withdrawal of Visa and Mastercard, who both ceased providing network services in the country.

A month later, in response to EU sanctions, Binance deactivated the accounts of many of its major clients. Since then, Russian users that hold crypto worth over 10,000 euros have been banned from making new deposits or trading. Users with less than 10,000 euros in crypto remained active.

However, on the morning of April 18, messages appeared on Russian Telegram channels suggesting that Binance had lifted the 10,000 euro restriction.

Following an investigation by BeInCrypto, it seems as if yes, the limit has technically been repealed. And the Binance support team seemed to confirm its withdrawal when pressed by users.

On the other hand, Binance’s official stance remains unchanged. When asked, a representative of the trading platform noted that “all current restrictions related to sanctions against Russian citizens are fully applied by the platform and its legal entities in the European Union.”

Russia Turns to Alternative PayTech

Since the invasion of Ukraine Russia has found itself increasingly locked out of critical payments infrastructure like the Swift network. Accordingly, in the wake of sweeping sanctions imposed in 2022, building new cross-border payment channels has become imperative.

In a speech this month, CBR Governor Elvira Nabiullina outlined the approach taken so far.

She said that in recent years the country has invested in its domestic infrastructure. From the beginning, “we were building these systems in such a way as to ensure their interoperability with foreign partners,” she added. Moreover, she said that developing a system of international settlements is one of the CBR’s top priorities.

CBDCs and Crypto a Potential Solution

With many of the existing payment channels between Russia and its trading partners handicapped, the country has turned to alternative technologies.

For example, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) is developing payment gateways to integrate with foreign systems. It is working directly with its counterparts in Turkey in this area. Meanwhile, earlier this year, Russia and Iran began collaborating on an interbank payment network.

The CBR is also working on a bill that will introduce an “experimental legal regime” for cryptocurrencies to be used for international transactions.

The ongoing development of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) has also turned toward the challenge of cross-border payments. Speaking with lawmakers this week, CBR officials suggested that the digital ruble platform will be able to interoperate with other CBDCs.

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James Morales
James is a London-based editor, writer and explorer of the cryptosphere who started his journalistic career writing about digital art before honing his craft as a financial technology reporter. From the latest innovation in digital assets to the evolution of Web3, he is perpetually fascinated by the technologies of decentralization.
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