The EU has announced an adaptation of the existing sanctions package against Russia. Among other things, this provides for a complete ban on crypto services for Russian companies, citizens, or residents. This ban will probably be critical for licensed or unlicensed Estonian crypto payment processors. We have repeatedly pointed out that FIU-licensed Estonian and some Lithuanian crypto platforms apparently do a significant part of their business with Russian merchants and consumers.
The EU Ban
The new package of economic and individual sanctions against Russia will have significant consequences for Russian crypto users and EU providers that render services to them. The EU Council informed that the package includes a “full ban of the provision of crypto-asset wallet, account or custody services to Russian persons and residents, regardless of the total value of those crypto-assets.”
The Top Crypto Processors in Russia
|Brand||Company & Jursidiction||Website data|
|Payeer||Payeer OÜ, Estonia|
Paycorp Limited, Vanuatu
|AdvCash||Advanced Cash Limited, Belize||1.3M visitors|
|Garantex||Kihonzi Buzhaga OÜ, Estonia||510k visitors|
|Itez||DataBridge OÜ, Estonia|
HYPERGATE LTD, UK
The Short Narrative
In the top 5 list above, we have listed those crypto payment processors that regularly stand out to us as scam facilitating payment processors. It is, therefore, a subjective selection. The strongest in the latest Similarweb statistics (Sept 2022) is Payeer, which has 4.7 million visitors on its website, of which just under a quarter, i.e. just under 1.2 million, came from Russia.
We also included Belize-registered AdvCash because it is controlled by Russians, offers crypto payments, and does a significant amount of its business in Europe and North America.
Garantex no longer has an FIU license since March 2022, in April 2022, the U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned Garantex for ransomware activities for Russian gangs and added it to the OFAC‘s SDN list. Unimpressed by these regulatory actions, Garantex continues its business. Officially, the Estonian entity is still the operator, but in fact most of the people are based in Russia.
It was no secret in the crypto scene that many Russian merchants and consumers have turned to crypto in light of the sanctions against the Russian financial industry. This is something that EU-based crypto exchanges, wallet providers, and payment processors should now stop. This, in turn, could cost them a lot of business in the already depressed environment of Crypto Winter.
If you have any information about payment processor activities in Russia, please let us know through our whistleblower system, Whistle42.