Digital Assets: Belarusbank Trying To Tiptoe Around Sanctions With New Crypto Exchange Service

November 13, 2020 | Digital Assets, News
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The state-owned bank is co-launching the product with White Bird.

Belarus is joining the ranks of countries such as Venezuela, Iran, and Turkey that are facing economic pressures, from sanctions or otherwise, and taking recourse to cryptocurrencies. Belarus is burdened by EU sanctions against its officials and president Alexander Lukashenko. The country’s biggest bank, state-owned Belarusbank is offering to transact cryptocurrencies using Visa payment cards. (CryptoNews)

Co-launch with White Bird

According to a news item in Prime Press, with effect from November 13, the bank will allow customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using Visa payment cards in the USD, EUR, and Belarusian Ruble currencies.

At present, the service, co-launched with whitebird.io  is restricted to citizens of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation. The bank may extend the service to other currencies.

According to Cryptonews, Belarusbank is a partner in White Bird since 2018. The latter is based in the Hi-Tech Park, the hub of Belarus’ crypto and blockchain business activities.

It is said to be the first and only legal cryptocurrency exchange operator in the CIS countries, as well as in Georgia and Ukraine.

State crackdown and sanctions

Meanwhile, Dmitry Strotsev (Dzmitry Strocaŭ), poet and member of the Union of Belarusian Writers and PEN Belarus, was detained and received a 13-day sentence for participating in protests against the presidential election results in Belarus.

According to FREEMUSE, the poet said in an interview: “I was walking home from Belarusbank, but a few steps from the entrance they put a bag on my head, loaded me into a minibus and, as I later realized, took me to the KGB on Komsomolskaya Street”.

Earlier today, Bloomberg reported that the EU may add sanctions against Belarus following the death of a 31-year old man in the custody of the police in Minsk.

“This is an outrageous and shameful result of the actions by the Belarusian authorities,” the European Union’s diplomatic service said in a statement today. “The European Union has already imposed sanctions on 55 individuals responsible for violent repression and intimidation, and stands ready to impose additional sanctions.”

However, according to one analyst, considering the magnitude of the economic problems of Belarus it is unlikely that its adoption of crypto could make a major impact.

Related Story: High Inflation And Plunging Lira Push Bitcoin Adoption In Turkey

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