Binance Labels Restricted Russian Banks with ‘Yellow’ and ‘Green’ Cards Amid Platform Restrictions

Binance’s Peer-to-Peer (P2P) cryptocurrency exchange in Russia is finding ways to navigate the complex landscape of financial restrictions. While the platform recently denied any ties with sanctioned banks, it has continued to facilitate transactions involving such institutions, such as Rosbank and Tinkoff. Notably, the exchange has resorted to renaming these banks as “Yellow” and “Green” cards, a discreet approach that has caught the attention of observers.

The move follows reports from multiple local news sources on August 23, indicating that Binance’s P2P exchange was providing avenues for transactions involving sanctioned Russian banks. In response to queries, Binance confirmed that the platform replaced the names “Tinkoff” and “Rosbank” with the more enigmatic terms “Yellow” and “Green” cards.

At present, Binance P2P allows users to employ “local cards” for selling cryptocurrencies like Tether USDT for Russian rubles, with transactions routed through the aforementioned sanctioned banks. This strategic naming adjustment coincided with a report from The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on August 22, which claimed that Binance had offered several sanctioned Russian banks as payment options to its Russian clients.

In the WSJ report, Binance’s executives firmly denied any connections to these banks in relation to their P2P platform. They reiterated the exchange’s commitment to adhering to global sanctions rules and emphasized their efforts to prevent access to their platform by individuals, organizations, entities, and countries blacklisted by the international community.

This situation arises shortly after Binance’s services in Russia garnered significant attention through an advertisement on the YouTube channel of influential Russian YouTuber Yuri Dud. With over 10.3 million subscribers, Dud’s vDud channel featured Binance services, even offering 5 USDT in exchange for platform sign-ups. The promotion also highlighted Binance Earn, a feature allowing users to generate passive income through various crypto-related mechanisms.

However, the recent developments surrounding Binance and sanctioned Russian banks raise questions about their alignment with Western sanctions against Russia. In February 2023, the European Council imposed sanctions on banks like Tinkoff and Rosbank as part of its broader measures against Russia’s involvement in the conflict with Ukraine. The United States also placed sanctions on Tinkoff in May 2023.

This isn’t the first time Binance has faced regulatory scrutiny. The U.S. Department of Justice security division reportedly launched an investigation into Binance earlier, due to concerns that the exchange allowed Russian users to operate in defiance of U.S. sanctions.

Interestingly, Binance isn’t the only cryptocurrency exchange facilitating such transactions in Russia. Other major P2P crypto platforms, including Huobi and OKX, also enable transfers involving Tinkoff, Rosbank, and even Sberbank.

When approached for comment, Binance representatives refrained from elaborating further on their advertising activities or their ongoing services in Russia. Instead, they referred to their statements in the WSJ report. As for the rebranding of sanctioned banks as “Yellow” and “Green” cards, Binance has yet to provide an official comment on this specific matter.

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