One of the biggest blockchain game developers has become the first crypto-related firm to block Russian users from accessing its services.
Animoca Brands‘ co-founder announced the decision following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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“The legal advice we’ve been receiving is we now have to impose some restrictions,” Yat Siu told Bloomberg.
“It’s a sanctioned country on par with North Korea. The moment we end up doing business in those areas, we might ourselves become excluded from the financial system.”
Animoca will also stop selling shares to Russian investors, Siu added. The decision will affect subsidiaries Gamee and Lympo but is unlikely to have a major impact on the businesses.
Gamee announced on Twitter on Feb. 24 the closure of its services to Russia, while Lympo said it would stop publishing Russian athlete non-fungible tokens and end negotiations with the nation’s athletes to join the Lympo NFT ecosystem.
While tech giants like Google and Meta, formerly Facebook, have complied with sanctions imposed on Russia, crypto exchanges have been more reluctant.
Kraken CEO Jesse Powell said in reply to the Ukrainian Prime Minister, “without a legal requirement to do so” they cannot restrict the accounts of ordinary Russians.
Crypto exchanges reluctant to act on Russia
To comply with sanctions, Meta has already put limitations on major Russian media companies. The largest crypto exchange, Binance, made it clear on Feb 28 that they will not freeze Russian users’ accounts.
“We are not going to unilaterally freeze millions of innocent users’ accounts… To unilaterally decide to ban people’s access to their crypto would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists,” a Binance spokesperson said.
Hillary Clinton, the former US Secretary of State, said in response to Kraken and Binance: “I was disappointed to see some of the so-called crypto exchanges, not all of them, but some of them are refusing to end transactions with Russia.”
Animoca’s decision comes as the EU, US, UK, and allies blocked Russia’s access to the SWIFT international money transfer service.
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