An industry colleague let me know that Escrow.com recently updated its list of countries and regions that are not supported by the company. Previously, the list of unsupported countries included “Belarus, Cuba, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Liberia, Libya, Moldova, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe.” The updated list now includes the Russian Federation, Panama, Ukraine, and even the US state of Alabama, among quite a few other countries. This means users in those regions can not buy or sell domain names (or other things) via Escrow.com.
I reached out to Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.com, the company that owns Escrow.com. I asked Matt if he could share more information about the list of excluded countries and what that means for clients. Here’s what Matt shared with me via email today:
“Unfortunately in today’s world we live in a heightened regulatory environment around financial services. Those countries are deemed high risk by the US banking system and incur heightened compliance costs and as such we have discontinued supporting them.
In the State of Alabama, Escrow.com has been in application for money transmission licensing for a number of years. Obtaining licensing is a rigorous and detailed process that doesn’t happen overnight. We have now moved into the final stages and the regulator has asked to pause transactions until they have completed processing our application. We expect this will only be temporary.
Escrow.com is the world’s oldest, largest and most licensed online escrow provider. Escrow.com has 47 U.S. financial services licenses granted or in-application. Four states do not require Escrow.com to hold licenses (Indiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Wisconsin). Additionally Ecrow.com holds an Australian Financial Services License. No other online escrow provider comes close to the level of licensing that Escrow.com has.
We are continually working to expand our regulatory footprint and supported regions and currencies. We will be imminently announcing that we have expanded support to a major new country and currency in the next few months. We are executing on a detailed program for expansion in many other jurisdictions.
We take licensing very seriously and it comes with significant operating costs. A strong regulatory environment not only protects buyers and sellers of domain names but enhances the standing of the domain name industry. This contrasts with a number of rogue operators in the space who are unlicensed or provide unlicensed escrow services through the smokescreen of a marketplace or registrar. “
Users who are not located in countries on the list will need to be more diligent about asking the counter party where they are located. If the other party is located in a country on the list (or Alabama), the deal will not be able to transact via Escrow.com.
US based businesses are typically prohibited from transacting with people and companies from several countries that are on the list, but this updated list goes beyond that. If you are doing a deal with a company based in one of the listed countries (or Alabama), you will need to use an alternative escrow service or an escrow-licensed attorney to transact.