Welcome to Around the Blockchain, Huobi Learn’s daily rundown of the crypto markets.
Crypto policy experts have dismissed concerns that Russia would use crypto to evade economic sanctions as “totally unfounded”. The Blockchain Association’s US head of policy, Jake Chervinsky, believes Russia is unlikely to use crypto to evade US sanctions, as they are not limited to USD and US businesses and citizens have been prohibited from doing any business with Russia. Furthermore, the crypto markets are “too small, costly and transparent to be useful” to Russia, and while it has tried for many years to “sanctions-proof” itself, it has not managed to establish any significant crypto infrastructure or even finalize crypto regulations.
Russian citizens have been turning to crypto amid the conflict in Ukraine, with analytical data suggesting that the ruble (RUB) is the sixth most traded pair with USDT and USDT’s fourth most traded fiat-denominated pair internationally (excluding two crypto assets). Between 20 and 28 Feb, Bitcoin volume shot up by 243% from 522 BTC to around 1,792 BTC traded via Binance’s BTC/RUB pair. In 24 hours, Binance recorded $16,871,804 in USDT/RUB trades, $5,740,109 in BTC/RUB trades and $3,429,714 in ETH/RUB trades; CoinGecko metrics show Binance now has the most volume in RUB-dominated crypto trading pairs. Additionally, USDT, BTC and ETH are continuing to trade for a premium in hryvnia swaps on Kuna exchange.
CryptoPunk #5364 is the latest donation to Ukraine’s campaign (now worth over $33 million), having transferred to the country’s Ethereum wallet yesterday. Estimates of the NFT’s value vary somewhat — crypto tracer Elliptic’s Tom Robinson pegs it at $200,000 and rare NFT price estimation blog DeepNFTvalue places it at $233,000. The last time it was sold, in Feb 2021, it fetched a sales price of $31,300. Michael Chobanian, a Ukrainian crypto exchange founder helping the Ministry of Digital Transformation handle donations, has not responded to requests for comment on how the NFT will be used.
Uniswap has launched an interface that directly converts ERC-20 tokens like Aave, LINK and MANA to ETH, after which the coins are sent to the Ukrainian government’s official crypto wallet addresses in a single transaction. As these addresses are located on a centralized exchange and accept only ETH and USDT, Uniswap’s new platform simplifies the donation process for those holding ERC-20 tokens on its list and who want to donate by linking their wallets to the DEX.
Airbnb wants to provide housing for Ukrainian refugees while looking to support crypto, as some in Ukraine are now deferring to crypto payments. CEO Brian Chesky said he had “a team looking into” crypto “specific to this crisis”, though it was unlikely to be implemented “that quickly”. In the meantime, Airbnb has contacted “governments in Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania, and countries even west of them to offer assistance” by way of free temporary housing for Ukrainian refugees. Chesky said Airbnb has “secured funding” and as such, is “prepared to house up to 100,000 refugees” or “as many refugees as we have hosts”.
South American hacking group LAPSUS$, who breached Nvidia servers last month, is now trying to sell software that could unlock crypto mining hash rate limiters on the firm’s flagship graphics cards. The group claims to have stolen a terabyte of data from Nvidia servers, and the company said the hackers had started leaking “employee credentials and some Nvidia proprietary information” online. LAPSUS$ is now attempting to extort Nvidia via a Telegram channel, with demands that the firm remove the limiter from all its RTX 3000 series graphics cards and make drivers open-source. It has given Nvidia until 4 Mar to make a decision.
After five years at Blockstream, its chief strategy officer Samson Mow has announced his resignation, though he tweeted on Tuesday that he would continue to be a “#BlockstreamSpy” even after his departure. He explained that since Blockstream was now “in a very good place and well-capitalized after a successful B round, it was the right time to move on”. He added that he would stay on as CEO of game development company Pixelmatic but also intended to focus on “nation-state BTC adoption” in future, referring to his involvement in plans to build a Bitcoin City in El Salvador.
Show me the money
According to data from Huobi Global, BTC’s rose rapidly since yesterday, exceeding 45,000 this morning before encountering resistance. ETH’s price has been erratic, changing direction several times. In terms of contracts, Huobi Futures data showed increased open interest (OI) in both BTC and ETH futures, with volume remaining stable amid a relatively inactive contract market.