The cryptocurrency industry’s communication surrounding the sanctions on Russia has been counterproductive and doesn’t really reflect the actual process of the firms in the space, says the head of crypto exchange FTX.
Most crypto exchanges, unlike a lot of payment companies, have outright rejected calls to cut off all Russian users, which has, in turn, sparked concerns amid U.S. lawmakers that digital assets could be used to evade Western sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, an exchange that was valued just recently at $32 billion, said ” I’m very frustrated with the messaging that our industry has had on this,” on Thursday.
“I think it has not been helpful. I think it has been basically anti-regulatory, is how it’s been perceived, and I think that’s how it sounds, and I think that has caused a pretty big perception issue,” he stated on the topic of the sidelines of a Futures Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Florida.
On Thursday, the Democratic U.S. senators introduced a new bill, one that’d allow the government to sanction foreign cryptocurrency firms that are doing business with sanctioned Russian entities, as well as prevent them from transacting with the U.S. customers.
The FTX, which is based in the Bahamas, was quick to cut off support to all sanctioned parties immediately, as it severed access to all Russian banks, even the ones that aren’t sanctioned, all to make sure that the exchange itself couldn’t be used as a gateway between the world at large and Russia, said Bankman-Fried.
Non-sanctioned Russian users are still allowed by the FTX to trade of course, but with anti-money laundering checks. They’re also in communication with the U.S. Treasury regarding what it’s doing in Russia, per the 30-year-old crypto billionaire Bankman-Fried.
Other exchanges like Kraken and Binance have instead stated that cutting off Russians goes against the libertarian values of the industry.
“I don’t think this is really about the content of the decisions,” Bankman-Fried said of such responses. “It’s about the way that they’ve been presented.”