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Uphold exchange exits Venezuela, blames tough US sanctions

Uphold digital currency exchange has announced its departure from Venezuela, blaming the tough U.S. sanctions on the Latin American country.

In an update on its website, the exchange stated, “Uphold has decided to withdraw from Venezuela owing to the increasing complexity of complying with U.S. sanctions. Venezuela was one of the first countries to embrace Uphold and we love serving our customers there. We are taking this step very reluctantly.”

Since 2009, the U.S. government has imposed 431 designations on Venezuelan individuals and entities, according to the Center for a New American Security. These sanctions were accelerated by the Trump administration, which in its first year imposed more than double the total of all Obama-era sanctions. The Venezuelans have widely felt the effect for years, and now, it’s seeping into the country’s thriving digital asset industry.

As the London-based exchange revealed, it’s advising all its Venezuelan users to withdraw their funds as soon as possible.

“The ability to trade will be halted on July 31st, and all accounts fully restricted from September 30th. After this date, the process to withdraw assets will be slower since you’ll have to go through our customer service team,” it stated.

For those without a balance on the platform, their accounts will be shut down by the Uphold team in due time, the notice stated.

The Biden administration has been easing the sanctions that its predecessor worked to put in place, with Politico reporting that the move is meant to encourage negotiations between Washington and Caracas. It’s unclear if Uphold intends to resume operations in the Latin American country in the future should the U.S. continue easing the sanctions.

However, this isn’t the first time Venezuelans have had an issue with Uphold. In 2019, the exchange shut down a bunch of accounts following the expansion of sanctions by the Trump administration.

Venezuela continues to be Latin America’s leading digital asset hub. The country, ravaged by inflation, economic and political instability, and high unemployment, has turned to digital assets as the country’s currency, the bolívar, faced extreme pressure in the last decade.

Watch: The BSV Global Blockchain Convention panel, Law & Order: Regulatory Compliance for Blockchain & Digital Assets

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