Colorful Crypto Shifts: Binance, Tornado, and Shopify

Martin Walker
Aug 24, 2023 at 03:38 pm

Binance, in a surprising move, has labeled sanctioned Russian financial institutions on its platform with the monikers "Lemon" and "Lime" cards, contradicting its earlier denial of any connections with these banks. Meanwhile, the crypto advocacy group Coin Center has raised objections to specific aspects of the recently revealed charges against the co-founders of Tornado Cash, contending that the evidence presented fails to definitively establish breaches of money-transmission regulations. Additionally, merchants on the Shopify platform are on the verge of being able to embrace payments in USD Coin via the Solana Pay system.

Binance Adopts Colorful Naming Scheme for Restricted Russian Banks

Binance, a prominent peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange operating in Russia, has persisted in conducting transactions through sanctioned banks like Rosbank, despite their previous disavowal of any bank associations. Recent reports from local news outlets reveal that Binance P2P has rebranded certain problematic withdrawal and deposit options, specifically naming the sanctioned Russian banks, Tinkoff and Rosbank.

The exchange has eschewed the original bank names in favor of terms such as "Lemon" and "Lime" cards, as verified by Cointelegraph. Presently, Binance P2P enables customers to employ "local cards" to convert cryptocurrencies like Tether into Russian rubles, with transactions taking place via the restricted Tinkoff or Rosbank institutions. This renaming tactic followed closely after The Wall Street Journal's disclosure that Binance offered at least five Russian banks subject to sanctions, including Rosbank and Tinkoff, as alternatives for payment processing.

Contrary to these claims, Binance executives disavowed all bank affiliations, asserting strict adherence to global sanctions regulations. They stated that the company enforces sanctions against individuals, entities, organizations, and countries blacklisted by the international community, thereby denying access to the Binance platform. Interestingly, this news coincided with the endorsement of Binance services on the YouTube channel of the renowned Russian content creator, Yuri Dud. A recent video on Dud's vDud channel, boasting 10.3 million subscribers, featured an advertisement for Binance services, rewarding users with 5 USDT for platform registration.

The video also spotlighted Binance Earn, a feature facilitating passive cryptocurrency income through versatile products such as flexible savings, staking, locked savings, and liquidity mining.

The compatibility of these recent developments with Western sanctions against Russia remains ambiguous. Notably, the European Council sanctioned Russian banks like Tinkoff and Rosbank in February 2023 as part of punitive measures against Russia's actions concerning Ukraine. Similarly, Tinkoff faced U.S. sanctions in May 2023. These revelations come in the wake of reports that the U.S. Department of Justice's security division was investigating Binance for permitting Russian nationals to utilize the exchange in violation of U.S. sanctions.

Although Binance is not the solitary cryptocurrency exchange involved in such activities within Russia, other significant peer-to-peer crypto exchanges, including Huobi and OKX, have also allowed transactions involving Tinkoff, Rosbank, and Sberbank, as of the time of writing. Requests for comments from Huobi and OKX have yet to be addressed by Cointelegraph.

Coin Center Challenges Indictment of Tornado Cash Founders

Coin Center, a leading proponent of crypto-related matters, has cast doubt on the recent indictment of two former developers associated with Tornado Cash. The advocacy group contends that the facts presented in the indictment do not unequivocally substantiate claims of violating money-transmission regulations.

In a commentary, Peter Van Valkenburgh, Coin Center's research director, argued that the assertions in the indictment appear to conflict with guidance from the United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Van Valkenburgh maintained that Tornado Cash solely provides the software for transmitting money, rather than engaging in money transmission itself.

The indictment's allegations surrounding unlicensed money transmission only assert that the defendants "engaged in the business of transferring funds on behalf of the public" without registering with FinCEN, according to Valkenburgh. The question raised is whether the indictment presents any concrete evidence demonstrating that the defendants conducted activities qualifying as money transmission under relevant legislation.

Coin Center's initial opposition to the U.S. Treasury was voiced in October, culminating in a lawsuit against the agency due to its unprecedented and legally questionable sanctioning of Tornado Cash. The indictment by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) accused Storm and Semenov of operating an unlicensed money transmission service through fund transfers on behalf of the public. The enforcement agency contended that the developers should have registered with FinCEN.

Shopify Embraces USD Coin Payments through Solana

E-commerce giant Shopify is poised to introduce the acceptance of payments in USD Coin (USDC) through the Solana network, potentially propelling the adoption of stablecoins.

Reports confirm that Shopify will soon roll out the option to receive payments in USDC via Solana Pay, a peer-to-peer payment platform facilitating cryptocurrency transactions for merchants. According to Josh Fried from Solana Labs, the convergence of digital assets and payments represents the next groundbreaking application for cryptocurrencies. He asserted that Solana Pay could significantly slash transaction costs compared to credit card processing, with the Solana network currently charging an average of $0.00025 per transaction.

Shopify disclosed that nearly 10% of total e-commerce transactions in the United States transpire through its platform, equating to a staggering $444 billion in monetary terms. The company's foray into Web3 expansion is evidenced by the recent introduction of a suite of blockchain commerce tools.

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