Ukraine receives $34 million in cryptocurrency donations

Tom Robinson of Elliptic says most donations have been in Bitcoin and Ether, the two largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalisation

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A firm that tracks cryptocurrency transactions says $33.8 million in digital currency has been donated to Ukraine’s government and non-governmental organisations there since the start of Russia’s invasion.

Tom Robinson, co-founder and chief scientist at Elliptic, said most donations have been in Bitcoin and Ether, comprising nearly a third of the total on Tuesday, with the remainder spread over other digital currencies.

Some people are sending non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, to the Ukrainian government’s Ethereum account.

Ukraine issued a plea for contributions on Twitter last week. To date, it has received 30,000 donations, including $5.8 million from Gavin Wood, the British programmer who cofounded Ethereum. There have been several other donations worth more than $1 million.

Elliptic, among firms that help law enforcement track cryptocurrency to combat money laundering, also warned of scammers tricking unsuspecting cryptocurrency holders wanting to donate to Ukrainian causes.

After initially falling to around $34,000 following Russia’s advance into Ukraine last week, Bitcoin pushed about 10 per cent higher on Monday and is now up more than 25 per cent in the past week, to $43,900 on Wednesday afternoon. Other cryptocurrencies have also soared.

Meanwhile, Blockchain data and analytics firm Coin Metrics said trading volume in Bitcoin in exchange for both roubles and Ukrainian hryvna has spiked in recent days, but such trading still only represents a small fraction of the overall volume.

Investors at large are viewing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a good place to store assets again. Kyle Waters, a research analyst at Coin Metrics, said crypto trading data confirms that recent geopolitical events have “more generally” increased demand for cryptocurrency, which can be transferred anywhere and without the need for a third party.

“This could go for anyone, and certainly could include everyday Russian and Ukrainian citizens trying to escape a devaluing local currency,” Mr Waters said.

Updated: March 03, 2022, 11:30 AM