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The Morning After: Russia created a major test for the future of crypto

At a time when assets are being frozen elsewhere.

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Mat Smith
March 2, 2022 12:15 PM
In this article: themorningafter, gear, newsletter
The logo of Binance is seen on their exhibition stand at the Delta Summit, Malta's official Blockchain and Digital Innovation event promoting cryptocurrency, in Ta' Qali, Malta October 3, 2019.   REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Darrin Zammit Lupi / reuters

As countries and territories put the financial squeeze on Russia, it’s turned into a major test of cryptocurrencies and their exchanges. Many of the biggest cryptocoins, like bitcoin and Ethereum, have rallied in the past few days. Is this due to an influx of Russian money as the ruble tumbled in value? Or is this due to crypto investors and owners pushing that narrative to bump up values and reignite interest? I don’t know. I’m not an economist.

At the same time, Ukraine had raised over $13 million in cryptocurrency contributions as of February 28th. Reuters reported last week Binance had restricted crypto accounts affected by sanctions against Russia, while Kraken is warning Russians their accounts might be frozen if there's a "legal requirement" to do so.

Despite requests from Ukraine to go further, major crypto exchanges, including Coinbase and Binance, are saying that doing so would harm civilians and be counter to their ideals. "To unilaterally decide to ban people’s access to their crypto would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists,” a Binance spokesperson told CNBC.

For now, cryptocurrency continues to exist on the fringes of governmental influence.

— Mat Smith

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