OpenSea is the largest NFT marketplace in the world. The platform now blocks Cuban artists from using its platform. Some are already denouncing what undoubtedly goes against the promise of economic freedom promised by the Web3. In accordance with US sanctions legislation, OpenSea is removing the accounts of Cuban artists and collectors from its platform. In addition, a recent statement from the company confirms the suspicions that previously weighed on its platform, namely discrimination against Cuban users.
A general ban on OpenSea in several countries
In an email received by Artnet News, an OpenSea spokesperson spoke out following the US sanctions. It specifies that the platform prohibits its access to sanctioned persons or persons in sanctioned jurisdictions. This applies to countries like Cuba, as well as Venezuela, Iran and Syria.
This confirmation is a blow for Cuban artists who took advantage of NFTs when the asset class exploded in 2021. This inflow of money made it possible to cover the shortfall following the travel restrictions linked to the pandemic. Earlier this year, NBC News interviewed Ernesto Cisneros, a Cuban musician who revived his music business by converting his music and videos into tokens and selling them on the Internet.
The restrictions even seem to extend to the Cuban diaspora. NFTCuba.ART is a website that promotes the NFT deposits of Cuban artists. The company says its OpenSea profile has been deactivated.
An attack on the principle of Web3?
One of the fundamental principles of Web3 is the extension of financial services to all. This principle is intended to be independent of nationality or geographical borders. Thus, some users have interpreted the OpenSea ban as going against these principles. This decision also came as a surprise given that the platform was encouraging Cuban artists not so long ago.
Others, however, expected this result. Cuban NFT artist Yordanis García Delgado told Artnet News he saw it coming. He adds that it is clear that it is very difficult to guarantee decentralization in view of the American sanctions. NFTs are difficult to monetize directly without some sort of centralized exchange or marketplace to facilitate transactions.
More than 100,000 Cubans have reportedly turned to cryptocurrencies to bypass centralized payment service providers. The reason is that these services have the disadvantage of having to comply with the law on sanctions.
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