Is supporting the Ukrainian resistance worth jettisoning one of crypto’s most sacred principles: financial sovereignty?

That question arose yesterday, when Ukraine’s deputy prime minister beseeched several major crypto exchanges—among them Binance and Coinbase—to unilaterally ban all Russian users from the platform and freeze their holdings. 

Though many non-crypto businesses and banks had already voluntarily severed ties with Russia’s citizens, the crypto companies appeared to be having none of it. After all, given that crypto’s entire value proposition is that it confers financial sovereignty, who could have faith in the exchanges if they said yes? (And worse still: Think of the shareholders!)

“Crypto is meant to provide greater financial freedom for people across the globe,” Binance, the world’s largest exchange by trading volume, told CNBC. “To unilaterally decide to ban people’s access to their crypto would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists.” 

Crypto investor Mike Alfred, meanwhile, wrote, “I am pulling my support for Ukraine based on these comments. This is evil, plain and simple.”

The problem

Shouldn’t we be doing all that we can to limit Russia’s ability to finance its war? While some argue that the right of Russians to control their wealth remains paramount, others are not so sure, arguing that the price of war unimpeded is higher than the flouting of some glib libertarian principle. What, pray tell, is the right position to take? 

As has been repeatedly pointed out, governments have not asked exchanges to ban…


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