Binance has taken the next step in its exit from Russia as it gets ready to terminate the country’s local currency deposits.
Starting from 15 November, the exchange will stop accepting deposits in Russian rubles. Users have been advised to withdraw RUB from the platform as these withdrawals are expected to be terminated fully on 31 January 2024.
The Friday announcement also revealed that Binance users can transfer their funds to CommEX, a newly-launched crypto exchange business that acquired Binance’s Russian division in late September 2023. The RUB withdrawals on CommEX will be made zero-fee too.
Users have also been given other withdrawal options like through Binance’s fiat partners. Here, they can convert RUB to cryptocurrency using the “Convert” tool or just exchange on the Binance Spot Market. However, the exchange has not specified the fees for other withdrawal methods.
Back when Binance had revealed sunsetting all of its Russia business, its chief compliance officer, Noah Perlman, commented saying: “As we look toward the future, we recognise that operating in Russia is not compatible with Binance’s compliance strategy”.
It had noted that the off-boarding process to CommEX would take up to one year. It also assured that the assets of existing Russian users are safe and securely protected and said it would ensure a smooth process for them.
Binance also added: “There will be an orderly process for the migration of users. Binance and CommEX will partner to inform users how to migrate their assets to CommEX. A portion of Russian KYC’d new user registration will immediately be redirected to CommEX and will scale up over time. Over the next several months, Binance will sunset all exchange services and business lines in Russia. Every effort will be made to maintain a smooth user experience during this transition.”
This move came in after the exchange denied media reports that it had helped customers move funds held in sanctioned Russian banks out of the country following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Despite the sanctions placed on Russia by western countries, Binance placed only a small number of restrictions for its clients there. This included banning direct deals exchanging the ruble for dollars or euros. However, Russian users were allowed to use the exchange freely.
This was also a time when crypto exchanges like Binance became one of the primary means for a large number of Russians, who left the country following the invasion, to move money back and forth. Many Russian banks were cut off from international payment systems as a result of sanctions.
The selling of Binance arm in Russia to CommEX came along with a number of rumours too. Many speculated that CommEX was just a new name and face for Binance in order to continue its operations in the country so that it could avoid the western sanctions against Russia.
Recently, Binance CEO, Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao, also denied that he is the owner of CommEX. The exchange announced that it was leaving Russia after reports of a US Department of Justice investigation into violations of sanctions.