Russia Could Use Cryptocurrency to Blunt the Force of U.S. Sanctions
On Tuesday, the Biden administration enacted fresh sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, aiming to thwart its access to foreign capital. But Russian entities are preparing to blunt some of the worst effects by making deals with anyone around the world willing to work with them (using cryptocurrencies).
When US and Western European countries imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014 over the country's invasion of Crimea, it cost the country $50 billion a year.
The Russian government is developing its own central bank digital currency, a so-called digital ruble that it hopes to use to trade directly with other countries willing to accept it without first converting it into dollars. Hacking techniques like ransomware could help Russian actors steal digital currencies and make up revenue lost to sanctions.
Russia is at the center of the growing ransomware industry. Last year, about 74 percent of global ransomware revenue, or more than $400 million worth of cryptocurrency, went to entities that are probably affiliated with Russia in some way, according to a Feb. 14 report by the blockchain-tracking firm Chainalysis.
Why Ukraine's Crisis is Killing Your Portfolio by Ming Zhao
- Russia supplies a third of EU gas, and 66% of it passes via Ukraine. If Russia cuts off energy to the EU, soon oil and gas prices in the EU will skyrocket. Arbitrage traders will spread contagion to US energy markets, leading to higher energy prices in the US. As a result, prices of other things will go up, causing higher inflation, creating pressure on the Fed to increase interest rates. (Energy goods and services account for roughly 7.5% of the overall CPI in the US).
- Russia and Ukraine also supply 25% of the global wheat exports. If Russia cuts off wheat supply, wheat prices will skyrocket, adding pressure to the Chicago wheat futures market. Therefore, more hawkish pressure on the Fed. The wheat price is now at a 9-year high. Global warming also adds pressure on wheat prices.
- The US (and EU) has threatened to "cut off Russia from SWIFT", which is a cross-border payment system connecting 11,000 banks from 200+ countries. While SWIFT charges ridiculously high fees, it is an excuse to protect USD as the global reserve currency because everything over SWIFT settles in USD, so every member bank needs to hold USD. Russia has an alternative system, which is SPFS. As of March 2018, SPFS has over 400 institutions (mostly banks). Russia can also turn to CIPS ((China's alternative). Transactions will be settled over RMB. Countries who want to do business with Russia and China will onboard CIPS. Alternatives to SWIFT threaten its monopoly powers, and thus weaken the power (and demand) for USD.
- Bitcoin rallies back. Cryptocurrencies become safe assets for refugees in other countries.
OpenSea’s Phishing Attack
A phishing attack has occurred on OpenSea. NFT collectors have been losing NFTs and Ethereum from their wallets. OpenSea has officially confirmed that the incident resulted from a phishing assault, with over $1.7 million in assets sent to the malicious wallet, now known as Fake Phishing5169.
28 days ago the hacker uploads a new smart contract, then he starts sending emails with phishing websites. They tell you to sign a message to login/migrate to the new Opensea smart contract. Today he executes the smart contract function to steal the NFTs before their listings expire.
China’s Supreme Court Rules Fund Raising in Crypto Illegal
While the crypto market has suffered from the Russia-Ukraine crisis, China’s Supreme Court ruled that virtual asset transactions constitute ‘illegal fundraising.’ Thus, further paving the way for tightening laws around cryptos in the nation.
China’s supreme court announced powers to jail those found guilty of raising funds through token sales, expanding its crypto crackdown. The ruling further stated that suspects would be sentenced between three and 10 years and fines between $7,900 (RMB 50,000 ) and $79,000 (RMB 500,000) for crimes involving large sums of money. Less serious offenses will be prosecuted with under three years of prison and fines between $3,160 (RMB 20,000) to $31,600 (RMB 200,000).
Total stablecoin supply hits $180 billion
Despite a bearish backdrop for the overall crypto industry. Crypto research outlets Arcane Research and CryptoRank confirm that the stablecoin supply has hit the milestone amount of $180 billion.
The growth in stablecoins continues to outpace the rest of the market, up 6% in the past 30 days. In times of market volatility, stablecoins can offer price stability, backed by specific assets or algorithms.
Over the month of February, three stablecoins entered the top 10 coins by market capitalization as Binance USD (BUSD) briefly entered. According to Arcane Research, the three largest stablecoins, Tether (USDT), USD Coin (USDC) and BUSD now account for a total of “9% of the total crypto market cap.”
Plus, while volatility reigns proud, the stablecoin supply has grown by $9.5 billion over the past 30 days. Arcane Research stated that while the largest stablecoin, at 44% market share, USDT has stagnated over the course of last year, and USDC is notching it up a gear with “20% growth in 2022.”