Crypto exchanges face ‘fork in the road’ over Russia, LSE Group chief says

Illustration shows representations of cryptocurrencies
A representations of cryptocurrencies in this illustration taken, January 24, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

March 17, 2022

By John McCrank

(Reuters) – Cryptocurrency exchanges are risking long-term damage to their industry for remaining in Russia as Western governments seek to isolate Moscow, the head of the London Stock Exchange Group said on Wednesday, calling it a “watershed moment.”

Unlike payment companies, most crypto exchanges have rejected calls to cut off all Russian users, sparking concerns among European officials and U.S. lawmakers that digital assets could be used to circumvent sanctions the United States and Europe have piled on Moscow in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

Crypto exchanges face a “fork in the road” in terms of either embracing an ideology of independence from regulation or aligning more closely with the global financial system, which stresses the need for regulation and transparent frameworks, said David Schwimmer, LSEG’s chief executive officer.

“If that industry is seen as a bad actor … on the implementation of, or the avoidance of, sanctions in terms with what’s going on with Russia, I think that would have a long-term impact in terms of how that industry is perceived,” he said at a conference hosted by the Futures Industry Association in Boca Raton, Florida.

(Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Tim Ahmann)