How cryptocurrency helps Ukraine

Cryptocurrency logos are displayed on an ATM in Madrid on March 17.


Angel Navarrete/Bloomberg News

Critics have claimed that the cryptocurrency will help Russia evade sanctions, or at best, that it will do Ukrainians no good. In fact, it turns out to be a powerful tool to help them.

I’ve been working in the blockchain industry for four years and I’m Ukrainian. I grew up and studied in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine and one of the cities hardest hit by Russian bombs. I am one of several organizers of Unchain Fund, a crypto fundraising project dedicated to aid in Ukraine which has raised more than $6.9 million so far, and Away from Ukraine, an information network for displaced Ukrainians .

Crypto Donations to Ukraine Since Invasion Nearly $100M Blockchain networks are global and process transactions in minutes, while the legacy banking system takes three days to process a cross-border transaction. Many crypto donations went directly to Ukrainian government wallets through the Ministry of Digital Transformation. Deputy Minister Alex Bornyakov said last week that 40% of vendors Kyiv works with have accepted cryptocurrency payments and crypto donations are “essential.” He noted that since “the national bank doesn’t actually operate, crypto helps make fast transfers to make it very fast and get results almost instantly.”

Crypto donations are also making a difference for Ukrainians, both inside and outside the country. Ukraine’s banking system is barely operational, but major crypto exchanges are accessible 24/7 from a phone or computer.

Crypto-based collaborations like Unchain Fund and UkraineDAO (an acronym for Decentralized Autonomous Organization) began to take shape in the early days of the crisis. Unchain has raised more than $6.9 million across 10 cryptocurrencies for relocation assistance, transportation, groceries and medicine since February 25. Three million Ukrainians in other countries need money for housing, livelihood, psychological and professional support. Crypto has proven useful for displaced people who need access to stable funds and the ability to flexibly convert crypto into fiat currency. We’re also distributing the Unchain Help Card, a crypto-to-consumer debit card to help moms with young children buy supplies.

Now we turn to longer-term solutions. Groups like Away from Ukraine bring displaced Ukrainians together to share support, news, job opportunities, resources to manage immigration, medical care and other challenges of living in a new country.

Empowering individuals and lowering barriers to entry is a key reason why I co-founded NEAR Protocol and why I believe in crypto and Web3, the collective term for the blockchain-based open internet. Our vision is to empower everyone to own their data, assets and governance. This war illustrates why this vision is so important: current global power systems do not offer this opportunity to everyone and can quickly collapse under stress. We have the tools to build fairer, more resilient systems that work for everyone.

Mr. Polosukhin is co-founder of NEAR Protocol and Unchain Fund.

Joe Biden labels Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” as allegations by Russia against civilians in cities like Kyiv, Mariupol, Irpin and Melitopol mount. Images: Mariupol City Council/Azov Battalion/AP/Sputnik/Reuters Composite: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the print edition of March 24, 2022 as “How Crypto Is Helping Ukraine”. How cryptocurrency helps Ukraine

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