The largest bank in Belarus – the ASB Belarusbank – has reportedly launched a legal service enabling customers from the country and Russia to purchase cryptocurrencies.
Users will be able to exchange digital assets for Belarusian and Russian rubles, US dollars, and euros directly with their Visa payment cards.
Belarusbank To Allow Crypto Purchases
According to the Prime Press coverage, the largest bank in Belarus by volume of equity, assets, loans, and deposits has partnered with a cryptocurrency exchange called White Bird to launch the new service starting today – November 13th.
Initially, only citizens of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation will be able to interact with cryptocurrencies through the bank. However, the entity plans to expand the list of nations soon.
The bank started a larger program for digital transformation years ago, and the release of the cryptocurrency service is the first significant step.
It’s worth noting that the report hasn’t disclosed which cryptocurrency assets will be available for purchase through the bank. However, White Bird has promised that the list will be “extensive,” and the operator plans to include additional features to be combined with the traditional financial sector.
The Protests In Belarus
The launch of this service comes during times of uncertainty and political protests in the country. The Belarusian population has been on the streets protesting for the better part of 2020.
The first minor demonstrations began in the lead-up and during the presidential elections. However, they dramatically intensified once it was announced that President Alexander Lukashenko has won for the sixth time. He has been in office since 1994.
Lukashenko’s primary opponent, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, rejected the legitimacy of the outcome. Even the European Union followed suit, called for new elections, and condemned the repression and violence against the protesters.
The EU introduced sanctions against 40 Belarusian officials accused of political repression and vote-rigging, but Lukashenko was not part of that list. Interestingly, the government imposed symmetrical sanctions against an undisclosed number of EU officials in response.
What’s more, Lukashenko blamed the Union for trying to “harm Belarus” by destabilizing the current regime while supporting the opposition.
So far, Lukashenko has remained in power while the protests continue. Unfortunately, the authorities have been openly violent against the demonstrators with numerous cases of missing, injured, and even dead people.
Featured image courtesy of Finance