But what if crypto is the easiest way to get money in a crisis? Is it better than nothing at all? Right now, at least some Ukrainians escaping the country seem to be taking their crypto with them , which they hope to convert back into fiat currency once they arrive to safety. In the last week of February, trading on the Ukrainian crypto platform Kuna reached its highest level since May For one thing, you need an internet connection and a working device.
That means that for now, crypto might be most helpful to the people who already have it. That could account for millions of people in Ukraine, which has spent the last few years aggressively promoting its own domestic cryptocurrency industry. As the conflict continues, supporters of Ukraine are sending even more crypto into the country. One NGO supporting the Ukrainian military has reportedly raised several million in cryptocurrency, and groups are using crypto to buy a motley collection of military equipment, medical supplies, and even a facial recognition app.
Some of these fundraising efforts have been active for months, but picked up steam in early March. Notably, neither the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense nor the National Bank of Ukraine appear to be directly accepting cryptocurrency donations right now. People were initially promised a free digital token in exchange for their crypto, but officials now say that donors will receive an NFT in support of the Ukrainian army instead. The heroic version of crypto in crisis — one that paints it as an alternative for people in dire situations — obfuscates the darker side of the space.
Iran has used bitcoin mining to bypass trade embargoes, according to research from the blockchain analytics firm Elliptic. Multiple countries have hit Russia with heavy sanctions. As the New York Times outlines , the Russian government has been developing a digital ruble, and Russia has been building tools to help hide the origins of digital transactions.
Basically, if sanctions are meant to keep countries and businesses from dealing with Russia, crypto would be a way to get around them. Four senators, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Mark Warner, wrote to the Treasury Department earlier this month to ask how crypto is impacting sanctions enforcement. Crypto can also be used to fundraise for bad actors.
Just as pro-Ukrainian groups have been able to get funding via crypto, so have pro-Russian separatist groups in Ukraine , including in , when Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula , said Jess Symington, the head of research at Elliptic.
Russia has heavy ties to crypto-linked cybercrimes and illegal activity such as money laundering and ransomware. According to one analysis from Chainalysis, three-quarters of the money made through ransomware attacks in went to hackers linked to Russia. In January, the Ukrainian government was targeted by a series of cyberattacks that disguised themselves as ransomware that demanded bitcoin , before destroying data on government computers.
Coppi, from the Norwegian Refugee Council, warned that people putting their money in crypto may become unsuspecting victims in cyberwarfare, and not only in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Crypto has shown itself to be super volatile, and it often moves with stocks. Earlier this year, the Turkish lira became more volatile than bitcoin , which prompted some people in Turkey to cash in their fiat currency for bitcoin and Tether. What are they going to do? Put it in the Ukrainian stock market?
Are they going to put it in a house? Are they going to bring the house with them? The extent to which people in Russia are turning to crypto right now is unclear. But data from Chainalysis suggests that crypto activity in rubles in March is lower than what it was at the end of February, and is much lower than its record level. There could still be a lot of crypto in Russia overall, however.
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Other altcoins followed the suite and were trading with decent gains. New Delhi: Last week, Bitcoin managed to reverse its losses and gained up to 7 per cent, following the rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve, which had a very low overall impact on the market.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www. Also, ETMarkets.
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