Market Wrap: Bitcoin, ETH See Massive Pump as Russian Ruble Crumbles

A collapsing ruble and the threat of bank account seizures may be leading Russians to bitcoin to avoid financial ruin


Blockworks exclusive art by Axel Rangel


key takeaways

  • West-imposed sanctions on Russia have caused the ruble to collapse
  • Rising demand among Russians and Ukrainians likely played a part in bitcoin’s pump

Sanctions placed on Russia have caused the ruble to collapse, with its value against the US dollar dropping by nearly 20% over the past 24 hours. Nikolai Arefiev, vice-chairman of the Duma’s committee on economic policy, said last week the country may confiscate rubles from citizens in the event of an economic collapse.

The dramatic dip and the threat of money being seized from citizens' bank accounts has correlated with a huge pump in bitcoin's price, suggesting that Russians are seeking to shed rubles for bitcoins. Demand for the cryptocurrency could also be coming from Ukrainians seeking a digital solution to money as many flee the country or prepare for further disruption in the wake of the Russian invasion.

Some journalists in Ukraine have reported that ATMs were cleared out and that most credit card terminals were down, likely contributing to a rush to crypto.

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Equity markets were mostly down on the day, with the S&P 500 dropping 0.26%. The Dow followed suit, dropping 0.49% while the Nasdaq ended the day up by 0.34%, although it was in the red for most of trading.

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Bitcoin, ether and most crypto saw enormous gains. Bitcoin led the way with a daily surge of over 10%, and ether posted a 7.5% gain.

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Top stories

Story: FTX Launches Philanthropic Fund With Plans To Deploy at Least $100M

  • The fund will be a part of the FTX Foundation, a philanthropic organization funded primarily by FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried
  • “We’re particularly keen to launch massively scalable projects: projects that could grow to productively spend tens or hundreds of millions of dollars per year,” the company said

Story: JPMorgan Chase Strategically Invests in Blockchain-focused TRM Labs

  • This investment highlights the significance of financial institutions investing in crypto technology to mitigate associated risks, Esteban Castaño, co-founder and CEO of TRM, said to Blockworks
  • TRM’s vision aligns with JPMorgan’s ambitions to build compliant and secure blockchain products, Umar Farooq, CEO of Onyx by JPMorgan, said in a statement

Story: Crypto Exchanges Weigh Blocking Russian Accounts as Sanctions Intensify

  • Non-US-based cryptocurrency exchanges face pressure from lawmakers around the world to ensure compliance with sanctions against Russia
  • Blocking all accounts would go against the founding principles of cryptocurrency, Binance said

Story: Onboarding the Next Wave of Metamask Users Through NFTs

  • ConsenSys is building out its white-label NFT platform and is in talks with luxury and sports brands
  • The company’s executive director of strategic initiatives details a potential future of “non-fungible everything”

Going forward

Should the narrative of bitcoin's use case as a store of value make a full return, it's possible that it could once again decouple from risk-on assets and equities such as tech stocks. The rise of inflation and the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine are feeding directly into that, leading bitcoin out of its recent rut.

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