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Binance successor in Russia: Everything you need to know about CommEx, so far

The sale has sparked chatter among local crypto enthusiasts, who say the two sites appear so similar that CommEx could be a “Russian version” of Binance.US.



The sale has sparked chatter among local crypto enthusiasts, who say the two sites appear so similar that CommEx could be a “Russian version” of Binance.US.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has claimed that it will fully quit Russia by selling its local business to a completely new exchange known as CommEx. While promising its customers a “smooth” migration, Binance hasn’t provided much information about its successor in Russia.

At the time of the announcement, little is known about CommEx’s founders or background. The exchange was launched on Sept. 26, 2023, just one day before Binance announced the sale of its business to the newly created exchange for an undisclosed amount.

A spokesperson for CommEx didn’t respond to multiple questions from users about the company’s owners or executives in the official Telegram group. The person claimed that CommEx is registered in the Seychelles and will serve its customers as a global exchange focused on two main regions: the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Asia.

CommEx already on Binance-owned CoinMarketCap

At launch, CommEx supports only a browser version, with the firm promising to introduce a mobile app in the near future. Despite being launched just one day ago, CommEx is already listed on CoinMarketCap, a major crypto tracking website that Binance acquired in April 2020. On the other hand, rival market tracker CoinGecko doesn’t include any information about CommEx at the time of writing.

According to CoinMarketCap data, CommEx lists 25 trading pairs at launch, including stablecoins like Tether (USDT) and Binance’s BNB (BNB) cryptocurrency. “CommEx is a rapidly expanding cryptocurrency exchange, backed by top-tier crypto VCs,” the description of the new exchange on CoinMarketCap reads.

CommEx will initially support peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions in Russia, allowing users to exchange their crypto without using the platform’s fiat channels. The platform will launch spot trading of USDT against Russia’s fiat currency, the ruble, once fiat channels are live, according to a spokesperson in CommEx’s Telegram group.

A spokesperson for Binance told Cointelegraph that it will be “entirely optional” for Binance users to move over to CommEx. “You may also withdraw your funds to another platform if you'd like,” the person noted, adding that users would still be able migrate their assets to CommEx. The spokesperson noted:

“Russia KYC’d new users registration will immediately be redirected to CommEX. Then, over the next several months, Binance will sunset all exchange services and business lines in Russia.”

According to the CommEx representative, the platform’s users will be able to trade without completing Know Your Customer (KYC) checks for up to 2 Bitcoin (BTC) withdrawals. The firm will not allow account registration or services for locations including the United States, Belgium, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Singapore as well as sanctioned regions like Iran and Crimea, CommEx’s location restrictions page reads.

The spokesperson also said that it’s unlikely that Binance’s contactless payment tool Binance Pay will continue to work with CommEx.

Users question CommEx ownership

Binance's announcement has triggered some speculation in the local crypto community regarding the owners of Binance’s successor in Russia. Some users have found similarities in the layouts of Binance and CommEx’s websites, while others said that CommEx was a “full copy” of Binance’s website.

“They just changed the logo and colors but essentially it’s the same website. I wouldn’t be surprised if Russian tops who left banana [Binance] would be managing directors here,” one commenter wrote in a now-deleted comment on CommEx’s Telegram group.

Among some of the similarities, one may observe significant resemblances between Binance and CommEx’s privacy notices as well as other website pages like terms of use. For example, CommEx’s privacy notice essentially provides a reworded copy of Binance’s privacy notice, closely following its structure and many formulations.

An excerpt from CommEx’s privacy notice. Source: CommEx
An excerpt from Binance’s privacy notice. Source: Binance

Russia has been one of Binance's biggest markets, and the country is listed as the top market in terms of user visits for the website, accounting for 6.9% of total visits at the time of writing, according to data from SimilarWeb.

“I don’t think that CZ [Changpeng Zhao] is ready to abandon such a huge pie like Russia and leave just like that,” one local cryptocurrency observer told Cointelegraph. Some people in the community have drawn parallels between CommEx in Russia and Binance’s affiliate in the United States, Binance.US, which has been claiming to operate "independently" from Binance.

“It looks like some sort of Binance.US but just without the word ‘Binance’ in its name,” another local crypto enthusiast told Cointelegraph.

Related: Binance and CEO Changpeng Zhao ask court to dismiss SEC suit

A spokesperson for Binance declined to comment on whether the company is aware of CommEx’s founders or executives. CommEx’s spokesperson declined to comment immediately, stating that the firm is focused on "platform optimization and stability" as the CommEx website briefly went down amid Russian users rushing to the website after Binance made the announcement. CommEx's Russian Telegram group, which had just about 50 members before the announcement, now counts nearly 2,000 users.

“With this sale, Binance fully exits Russia. We have no plans to get back,” a spokesperson for Binance told Cointelegraph.

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Ferrari to accept crypto payments in the US

Ferrari’s decision to accept cryptocurrency payments was driven by market demand and dealer requests, with numerous clients investing in digital currencies.



Ferrari’s decision to accept cryptocurrency payments was driven by market demand and dealer requests, with numerous clients investing in digital currencies.

Ferrari will accept cryptocurrency payments for its luxury sports cars in the United States due to customer demand. The carmaker also plans to accept crypto payments in Europe.

According to an Oct. 14 report from Reuters, Ferrari’s chief marketing and commercial officer, Enrico Galliera, confirmed the intentions of the luxury car brand. Ferrari’s choice to accept cryptocurrency payments was driven by market demand and dealer requests, with numerous clients, including crypto-savvy young investors, having invested in digital currencies.

Although Galliera didn’t specify the number of cars Ferrari expects to sell via crypto payments, he reportedly stated that the carmaker’s strong order portfolio is fully booked until 2025. Ferrari aims to test this expanding market to connect with potential buyers beyond its usual clientele. The luxury automaker plans to introduce cryptocurrency payments in Europe by the first quarter of 2024 and expand to other crypto-friendly regions after.

For its initial phase in the U.S., Ferrari has reportedly partnered with major cryptocurrency payment processor, BitPay. This collaboration enables transactions in Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and USD Coin (USDC).

Galliera confirmed that there will be no additional fees or surcharges when using cryptocurrency, as BitPay will promptly convert cryptocurrency payments into conventional fiat currency for Ferrari’s dealers, ensuring they are shielded from cryptocurrency price fluctuations.

BitPay will also verify the legitimacy of the digital currency, ensuring it does not originate from illicit activities, money laundering or tax evasion.

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Many large corporations have hesitated to adopt cryptocurrencies due to their price volatility and associated transaction impracticality. Among these companies is Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer, which initially started accepting payments in Bitcoin in 2021. However, CEO Elon Musk suspended this payment method due to environmental concerns.

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Caroline Ellison wanted to step down but feared a bank run on FTX

Former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison recognized she wasn’t doing a good job months before the company filed for bankruptcy, but Sam Bankman-Fried persuaded…



Former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison recognized she wasn’t doing a good job months before the company filed for bankruptcy, but Sam Bankman-Fried persuaded her to stay.

Caroline Ellison wasn’t doing a good job leading Alameda Research in 2022, and she did not hide it. Excerpts from her personal notes shared as evidence by prosecutors in Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial revealed details about the trading firm’s struggles and its CEO’s desire to resign weeks and months before FTX collapsed.

Ellison spent over 10 hours testifying during Bankman-Fried’s trial this past week, notably entering through the front doors of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, joined by her attorneys. Ellison said she had not seen Bankman-Fried since the crypto empire failed in November 2022, but their communication had eroded months before.

In April 2022, their romantic relationship ended, and Caroline started avoiding meetings with Bankman-Fried even though they still lived in the same luxurious apartment in the Bahamas. Alameda’s growing liabilities with FTX and the breakup with Bankman-Fried made her consider leaving the company altogether.

“I feel like neither [Sam] Trabucco nor I have been doing a great job of pushing on stuff,” she wrote in the document to Bankman-Fried, which was shared as evidence during her cross-examination by the former FTX CEO’s defense counsel.

Bankman-Fried asked her to stay on, saying that her departure could create rumors about Alameda’s financial health, thus harming FTX’s credibility, so Ellison remained CEO.

Ellison joined Alameda as a trader in 2018. By 2020, she handled most of the company’s operations, while Bankman-Fried focused on his newly launched crypto exchange, FTX. In August 2021, she became co-CEO alongside Sam Trabucco, who stepped down a few months later, leaving her in charge of the company. In August 2022, Trabucco officially resigned as co-CEO.

Ellison was against creating FTX, she revealed. “I didn’t think of myself as ambitious before I started at Alameda, but I believe I became more ambitious” under Bankman-Fried’s incentive, she said.

As CEO, Ellison was in charge of handling Alameda’s crypto lenders. In mid-2022, after the Terra ecosystem failed, the company’s open-term loans stood at $1.3 billion. The market downturn drained liquidity from crypto assets, prompting Alameda’s lenders to demand loan repayments.

According to Ellison, Bankman-Fried instructed her to keep repaying creditors via Alameda’s line of credit with FTX. In other words, Alameda would use FTX’s customer assets to repay crypto lenders. At the time, its line of credit with the exchange stood at $13 billion.

As lenders demanded loan repayments and Alameda’s balance sheets, Bankman-Fried suggested Ellison use “alternative means” for presenting the company’s financials. In the following months, Ellison would create many additional versions of a balance sheet to deceive creditors.

Early in November 2022, an alternative version of Alameda’s balance sheet was leaked. Ellison was on vacation in Japan at the time, but she had to travel to FTX Hong Kong’s office to deal with the company’s crisis.

While the balance sheet data didn’t reflect the company’s reality, it was enough to spread rumors and trigger a bank run on FTX a few days later, exposing an $8 billion gap between the companies.

Having cooperated with the U.S. Department of Justice since December 2022, Ellison will soon receive her sentence regarding the seven counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud she was charged with.

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ProShares prepares to launch unique Short Ether Strategy ETF

ProShares’ SETH ETF will start trading soon, following the first Ethereum futures ETFs by about two weeks.
ProShares introduced a trio…



ProShares' SETH ETF will start trading soon, following the first Ethereum futures ETFs by about two weeks.

ProShares introduced a trio of Ethereum futures ETFs in the recent weeks. Presently, the company is gearing up to provide a distinctive offering.

ProShares' Short Ether Strategy ETF (SETH) from the fund group is poised to commence trading shortly, following the debut of the initial Ethereum futures ETFs by about two weeks.

SETH, scheduled for listing on the NYSE Arca exchange, aims to achieve daily investment outcomes that mirror the inverse of the daily S&P CME Ether Futures Index performance, as indicated in a filing made on Friday, Oct. 13.

The fund does not engage in direct shorting of ether (ETH); rather, it seeks to capitalize on potential declines in the asset's value, as stated in the prospectus. On Friday, the price of ETH stood at approximately $1,540, reflecting a decrease of approximately 6% over the past week.

Screenshot of the ProShares SETH filing     Source: SEC

ProShares anticipates that the registration statement for SETH will become effective on Oct. 15 and plans to introduce the fund in early November, as reported by Blockworks.

However, the three existing ProShares ether futures funds — including two that invest in both ether and bitcoin futures contracts — debuted on Oct. 2 alongside similar products by VanEck and Bitwise.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission approved ether futures ETFs two years following the introduction of the initial bitcoin futures ETF, the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO), which entered the market in Oct. 2021.

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ProShares continued its release of bitcoin futures ETFs with the Short Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITI) in June 2022. As of now, BITO has accumulated around $850 million in assets, while BITI has approximately $75 million.

In August, Cointelegraph reported that Ether futures ETFs may be approved in October, causing an 11% spike in ETH prices at the time.

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