Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has defended continuing to serve Russian customers, calling crypto a "lifeline" for them. Even so, the crypto exchange will likely impose a blanket ban on all crypto transactions involving Russia, Wall Street analyst told Protocol.
“We believe Coinbase is going to have to do a blanket ban on Russia given increasing pressure from these horrific atrocities and for any executive with a moral compass,” Daniel Ives, managing director of Wedbush Securities, said Friday.
Refusing to do so, he added, could turn off investors: “The world has spoken and companies of all shapes and sizes are leaving Russia given the horrific actions of Russia. If Coinbase does not ban Russia, many on the Street will leave the name.”
Ives said he expects Coinbase to start with a “semi-ban followed by a full ban.” Sanctions issued by the U.S. and other Western companies have largely targeted large Russian banks and wealthy individuals, not ordinary citizens.
Coinbase has said it will comply with those sanctions targeted against specific individuals and entities. But like other major crypto companies, including Binance and Kraken, Coinbase has resisted calls for a blanket ban.
On Thursday, Armstrong tweeted that the company is “not preemptively banning all Russians from using Coinbase. We believe everyone deserves access to basic financial services unless the law says otherwise.”
Armstrong also said “some ordinary Russians are using crypto as a lifeline now that their currency has collapsed. Many of them likely oppose what their country is doing, and a ban would hurt them, too. That said, if the U.S. government decides to impose a ban, we will of course follow those laws.”
A Coinbase spokesperson said the company had no additional comment on the issue beyond Armstrong’s statements.