Welcome to Nonfungible Tidbits. Our focus this week: Russia's war in Ukraine.
In addition to uprooting the lives of Ukrainians and throwing the international order into chaos, the Russian invasion has created a proving ground for some of the most ambitious -- and cynical -- use cases for cryptocurrency. On the one hand, crypto has become a tool for individuals and organizations to provide charitable support and donations to Ukrainians (as well as a new frontier for online scammers). But there are reports of Russian oligarchs using the technology to evade an increasingly aggressive bevy of financial sanctions. We'll also look at the sale of an NFT of the Ukrainian Flag to support Ukraine -- a project backed by a member of the Russian punk band PussyRiot.
Our other stories include scams trying to exploit donations to Ukraine, and how some cryptocurrency exchanges are handling the sanctions against Russia.
Cryptocurrency donations worth millions raised for Ukraine
More than $50 million in cryptocurrency has been raised for Ukraine in the time since Russia began military operations in the nation last week. Many of these donations have been made directly to the Ukraine government. Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's minister for digital transformation, tweeted wallet addresses for cryptocurrency donations, which was also tweeted by Ukraine's official twitter account. Over $47 million in cryptocurrency has been donated in this way, says Elliptic, a blockchain analysis firm.
Read CNET's full story on how Ukraine raised bver $55M in crypto to help resist Russia.
NFT backed by a member of Russian punk band PussyRiot raises $6.7 million for Ukraine
Aside from direct donations to the Ukrainian government, UkraineDAO, an online organization backed by a member of the Russian punk rock group PussyRiot, has raised millions by auctioning a Ukrainian flag sold as an NFT. Contributors were able to share ownership of the NFT, and 3,200 individual contributions took place in 72 hours for a total of $6.7 million in ether.
Scammers trying to exploit the war in Ukraine
If you want to donate to help Ukrainians, it's good to be aware of scams on social media that are using the war in Ukraine for illicit gain. These scams can take the form of fake charities and other organizations claiming to support Ukrainians. Especially when it comes to cryptocurrency, anyone who wants to donate should be careful, as cryptocurrency transactions are generally irreversible and difficult to track. If you're inclined to donate, check out CNET's list of charities and make sure you do your research first.
Read CNET's full story on how war in Ukraine brings out scammers trying to exploit donations.
Cryptocurrency exchanges don't want to bar users in Russia
While the White House hasn't yet commented on this directly, Bloomberg reports the Biden administration has asked cryptocurrency exchanges to prevent Russian people and organizations from using virtual currencies to circumvent Washington's sanctions. Bloomberg cites a White House official saying that American authorities are aggressively fighting any misuse of digital assets to avoid sanctions. Reuters reports that Binance, as well as US-based Coinbase and Kraken have agreed to screen users and block anyone targeted by sanctions, but the exchanges have stopped short of banning all Russian clients. Binance and Coinbase are the two largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world by market cap.