Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, has removed sanctioned Russian banks from its peer-to-peer (P2P) trading service, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. 

See related article: Binance denies Russia sanctions violation reported by WSJ

Fast facts

  • Binance’s P2P service has reportedly ceased processing transactions involving five blacklisted Russian banks. Although the exchange began restricting certain Russian nationals from cryptocurrency trading and deposits in April 2022 and by March 2023 barred Russian users from P2P transactions in euros and U.S. dollars, the exchange still enabled ruble-based transactions via sanctioned institutions, notably Sberbank and Tinkoff Bank, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • On Binance’s P2P platform, payment options through Sberbank and Tinkoff Bank were labeled as “green” and “yellow” instead of the institutions’ names, according to Russian media outlet RBC. These coded designations have since been removed from the platform. 
  • P2P trading platforms, by design, enable users to transact directly, bypassing centralized crypto exchanges. This can complicate enforcement of sanctions, as P2P exchanges often capture fewer transaction details, as highlighted by the U.S. think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
  • The development came days after a separate Wall Street Journal report last week alleged the platform facilitated overseas money transfers for Russian entities. 
  • “As a matter of policy, Binance aims to diligently comply with the global sanctions rules and enforces sanctions on people, organizations, entities, and countries that have been blacklisted by the international community, denying such actors access to the Binance platform,” a Binance spokesperson told Forkast on Monday, referencing the exchange’s decision to drop sanctioned Russian banks from its P2P platform.
  • Binance faces mounting regulatory challenges, including in the U.S. where the Department of Justice is reportedly investigating whether the crypto exchange was illegally used to help Russian entities bypass the U.S. sanctions. The platform is also facing charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for alleged securities law violations.
  • Elsewhere, Dubai-based exchange Bybit has also halted ruble transactions through sanctioned Russian banks including Sberbank and Tinkoff Bank, as reported by Web3-focused news outlet BeInCrypto last Friday.

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