Read in the digest:
- Western allies kick select Russian banks out of SWIFT while cryptocurrency firms enforce their own sanctions.
- Cryptocurrency donations flow in for Ukraine, ramping up to over $10 million in under a week.
- South Korea advances foray into the metaverse with fund of almost 200 million.
- Bitcoin and Ethereum win as February winds down with respective spike in non-zero Bitcoin addresses and decrease in Gas Fees.
Russia Out of SWIFT, Ruble Collapses + Crypto Exchanges Enforce Sanctions on Russian Targets
Russia has been hit with a slew of economic sanctions in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Western allies blocked select Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system, intending to lay a heavy measure of economic discomfort and pressure upon the aggressors.
Following the imposition of the sanctions, the Russian Ruble fell to a record low of around 119 units per dollar. According to an Al Jazeera report, demand for the ruble is at an all-time low, and even the Central Bank of Russia itself is not keen on purchasing the currency.
Cryptocurrency exchanges are also tightening the noose around Russia through the imposition of their own sanctions. Binance led the way with the announcement that it would be assembling a task force to “take action” against those that have had sanctions levied against them, while other platforms have taken the measure of freezing accounts belonging to Russian users.
- In anticipation of these sanctions, the Bank of Russia has banned brokers from trading securities held by foreign investors and suspended stock trading.
Why You Should Care
Cryptocurrency has played a central role in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, so the decisions made here by exchanges and regulators could shape the future of the entire ecosystem.
The World Supports Ukraine – $10M in Donations As Binance, Polkadot’s Founder, Justin Sun + Musk & Starlink Join in,
Cryptocurrency executives and companies have rallied behind Ukraine in a massive show of support. Binance’s CEO announced the donation of $10 million to “help the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine,” while the charity arm of the exchange launched a crypto-first crowdfunding relief fund.
Justin Sun, founder of Tron, made a donation of $200,000 to the country, while Polkadot’s founder Gavin Wood intends to donate $5 million via DOT. Elon Musk reacted quickly to the demands of the Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister to provide the country with Starlink stations with “more terminals on route.”
Donations made the general public in cryptocurrency to Ukraine have spiked in the last week, with the figure exceeding $7 million. The country’s vice Prime Minister shared three crypto wallet addresses seeking donations in Bitcoin and Ethereum, a move which was met with extremely positive reception.
- Cryptocurrency has been utilized by both sides in the war, with rumors that Russia may pivot to crypto following the SWIFT ban.
- The President of the European Central Bank has made calls for countries to regulate the cryptocurrencies in order to chokehold Russia’s reliance on them.
Why You Should Care
The diverse use cases of crypto being put to the test in a high stakes global conflict for the first time is demonstrating the versatility of the underlying technology.
South Korea to Invest $187M in National Metaverse Project
South Korea’s Ministry of IT, Science and Future Planning has earmarked a sum of $186 million for the development of a vibrant metaverse ecosystem in the country. The statement released by the ministry disclosed a preference towards commercial expansion and industrial growth in the sector.
Education and media are key areas of the metaverse that the Ministry intends to stimulate growth in. Content creators will be included in the fund while events like metaverse developer contests and hackathons will be held to attract the best talent to build the ambitious project.
The project is expected to expand beyond the borders of South Korea an attain a global reach in the future. The move has been hailed as a “positive signal” by experts, and as a step in the right direction for the increased adoption of the metaverse.
- Jason Ye, co-founder of DeSpread, thinks that the amount of funding available to creators could attract a horde of opportunists who may attempt to “exploit it.”
Why You Should Care
The Metaverse has gained serious traction over the past few months with Meta, Microsoft, and other notable tech firms throwing their hats in the ring. According to Goldman Sachs, the Metaverse could balloon into an $8 trillion opportunity.
Non Zero BTC Addresses Hit ATH + ETH Gas Fees Decrease to 5 Month Lows
Non-Zero BTC addresses have seen a steep increase, painting out positive sentiment for Bitcoin in February. On-chain information provided by Glassnode shows that the number of non-zero addresses have reached an all-time high of 40,276,163, compared to the figures of less than 40 million recorded in 2021.
The reason for February spike is intricately linked to the Canadian trucker movement and the freeze of funds made by the governments both there and in Ukraine, in the latter case leading to the consequential switch to cryptocurrencies made by Ukrainian citizens to circumnavigate the restrictions of martial law. This increase in non-zero addresses holds a striking resemblance to the highs of the bull market that began in 2018.
Ethereum, on the other hand, has something to smile about following an 80% decrease in the price of its gas fees. The impressive decrease represents a 5 month low for the asset, whose gas fees had been as high as $52, and the decline has allowed users to more easily interact with the offerings of DeFi, dApps and NFT projects based on the network.
- Ethereum’s first mover advantage in DeFi is gradually being eroded by the strides made by Solana, Polkadot and Terra, each of which have made notable advancements in fees and scalability.
Why You Should Care
Bitcoin and Ethereum suffered a horrendous start to 2022 and are trading well below the impressive all-time highs they attained last year. Nonetheless, the recent metrics could be construed as a positive catalyst for both assets in both the long and short term.