European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde reiterated warnings that Russian individuals and companies are using cryptocurrencies to circumvent sanctions.
As of March 18, however, the daily trading volume of the ruble’s cryptocurrency was only $ 7.4 million, which is 50% less than the latest data and peaked at $ 70 million on March 7, according to Chainalysis.
This amount represents a small part of the total volume of the global cryptocurrency market, with the total daily volume of Bitcoin typically between $ 20 billion and $ 40 billion.
In a presentation at the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Summit on Tuesday, crypto-skeptic Lagarde said that European financial authorities said that “ruble volumes are in a stable state, in cryptocurrencies currently [are] at the highest level we have seen. Maybe from 2021. » .
Lagarde did not point the finger at the Russian government and emphasized that Russian individuals and companies are primarily resorting to cryptocurrency. However, she said that cryptocurrencies “are definitely being used as a way to circumvent sanctions”.
“So, is this a [crypto] threat? Yes. Was it […] a threat in the past? Yes, because if you look at the many shady transactions that are happening, the many payments of criminal activity that are going on, it is very common. to find a kind of cryptoactive ».
Lagarde’s comments appear to contradict data provided by Chainalysis and Kaiko, as well as expert opinions. Jake Chervinsky of the Blockchain Association stated that it is unlikely that Russia will use cryptocurrencies as a way to circumvent Western sanctions.
Trading volume in rubles on all cryptocurrency exchanges. Source: Bloomberg.
Data provided by crypto-analytics firm Kaiko shows that the volume of the ruble against Tether (USDT) has fallen by 86% from a peak of $ 38 million on March 7 to just under $ 5 million on March 22. Back to lower levels than those we saw in most of early February. This is before the imposition of sanctions.
Related: To wage economic war with a double-edged crypto sword
On the contrary, cryptocurrency is helping Ukrainian refugees flee the country. CNBC told the story of the Ukrainian refugee “Fadi” who fled the war-torn country with $ 2,000 bitcoin in a cold wallet, giving him easy access to cash assets after he came to safety in Poland.
It was very difficult to get money from Ukrainian banks in the weeks before the invasion, said Alex Gladstein, strategy director at the Human Rights Foundation, and highlighted the difficulties refugees now face when trying to access their money from countries such as Poland.
“How do you get into your Ukrainian bank account in Poland? Good luck.”
Donations to Ukraine through cryptocurrencies have increased over the past three months, and according to MerkelScience, daily donations to Ukraine now amount to $ 100.9 million.