In an interview with Fortune, published on Tuesday (29), Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao revealed that only one person sanctioned, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, had an account on the exchange. Going further, Zhao also claimed that the cryptocurrency market is too small to be used by Russian oligarchs to avoid sanctions. Furthermore, he highlighted that blockchain transparency is another barrier to this use as transactions are traceable. Finally, Binance’s CEO also stated that the exchange will never ban Russians on its own. As a comparison, he said that Russians, who live outside their country, are able to use foreign banks normally.
Fine comb looking for sanctioned Russians on Binance
When asked what his actions were towards internationally sanctioned people, Changpeng Zhao revealed that his team did a search through all the people on the sanctions list, finding only one who had ever used the platform.
“We searched for all the people on the sanctions list and only one person had ever used the platform. This person is the son of one of the people on the sanctions list.”
Next, Zhao commented on refusing to block all Russians from accessing Binance, following a request from Ukraine. According to the billionaire, the brokerage does not have the power to do this, however it is ready to follow sanctions lists issued by governments.
“I think, basically, we don’t have the power to freeze the assets of a population on our own. I believe that decision-making power should come from high levels of government.”
Next, Zhao makes a comparison between cryptocurrency exchanges and banks. As an example, he cited that a Russian may be living in London, have a bank account in a national bank, yet the CEO of this bank could not block his own decision.
Russia is against Bitcoin, says Zhao
Despite Russia being open to using Bitcoin in international trades, the founder of Binance stated that the country has no interest in allowing its citizens to use it. After all, this would have even more negative consequences for the ruble by helping to increase its supply. Regarding Russia, in its entirety, Zhao says that cryptocurrencies are still too small to imagine that a country of this size could use them to save its economy. “I think cryptocurrencies can play a role, but I think people are exaggerating. As I said before, based on my calculations, cryptocurrencies probably represent less than 0.3% of the world’s wealth, probably the same percentage in Russia.” said Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance. “Cryptocurrencies are so small you can’t move Russia’s $1.5 trillion GDP, cryptocurrencies aren’t big enough to support that.”
“The Russian government does not want people to convert rubles to cryptocurrencies. This weakens the ruble, which is already falling.”
Finally, his statement can be interpreted as a positive point for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. After all, if they are still too small for large countries to base their economies on, it means that we are still far from reaching the true peak.