Cryptocurrencies and penalties in the spotlight

The role of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin has been a major talking point during this Russia’s invasion of Ukraine The enactment of sanctions and the subsequent turmoil in the financial markets.

And it asks three big questions about how it will be used and what its future looks like.

Can Cryptocurrency Be Used to Avoid Sanctions?

After its invasion of Ukraine, Russia was subjected to a number of economic sanctions aimed at isolating the country from the global financial system.

The main Russian personalities and financial institutions were placed on US sanctions list That effectively prevents US companies from doing business with them. Meanwhile, the United States, European allies and Canada have removed major Russian banks from The interbank messaging system is called SWIFTimpeding their access to global financial markets.

penalties for her Caused the decline of the Russian ruble.

This has led to a debate about whether cryptocurrencies, especially bitcoin, could be a way for those on sanctions lists to evade restrictions.

This is because bitcoin and other digital currencies are often decentralized, meaning that they are not issued or controlled by a central entity such as a central bank. When encryption is sent to other users, it does not go through the traditional method of financial plumbing.

But there are a number of challenges.

First, the blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin, is the public ledger of activity. So it is possible to track the movements of funds from one account to another quite easily. This does not make it a good tool for avoiding penalties.

“The biggest misconception about cryptocurrency remains that it is untraceable and used primarily for nefarious purposes, which couldn’t be further from the truth,” Vijay Ayar, vice president of corporate and international development at crypto exchange Luno told CNBC.

Meanwhile, there is not enough liquidity for oligarchs and Russian companies to transfer their money.

“Liquidity in cryptocurrencies is still a small part of the global currency market, so it is difficult to move large amounts of money using cryptocurrency,” May said.

Cryptocurrency exchanges will also be on high alert.

“Exchanges with robust operations and codes of conduct will undoubtedly double the watch at the moment for funds with nefarious assets,” Charles Hayter, CEO of data firm CryptoCompare told CNBC.

On Thursday, Brian Armstrong, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange and wallet Coinbase, backed several of these points in the chain. He said that every American company should follow the law.

“It doesn’t matter if your company deals with dollars, cryptocurrency, gold, real estate, or even non-financial assets,” Armstrong said. “Sanction laws apply to all US people and companies.”

“So it would be a mistake to think that crypto companies like Coinbase will not follow the law. Of course we will. This is why we screen people who have signed up for our services against global watch lists, and block transactions from IP addresses that may belong to sanctioned individuals or entities, just as Like any regulated financial services company.”

However, there has been a significant rise in the volume of transactions from the ruble to bitcoin and the peg, the so-called stablecoin pegged to the US dollar, since Russia’s attack on Ukraine, according to CryptoCompare. This is “an escape to the dollar by any means possible as cryptocurrency is just another way to preserve wealth,” Haiter said, as the ruble plummeted.

“Some ordinary Russians are using cryptocurrency as a lifeline now that their currency has collapsed,” said Coinbase Armstrong.

Earlier this week, lawmakers, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, urged the Treasury to ensure they can ensure that crypto firms comply with sanctions against Russia. A US government official said it was unlikely that Russia would be able to evade sanctions by using cryptocurrencies.

During a webinar period on Wednesday, Carol House, director of cybersecurity at the National Security Council, said, Reuters reported.

Is Bitcoin Finally ‘Digital Gold’?

Many experts disagree.

“We have read in a few different publications that BTC is reclaiming its safe haven status. We totally disagree with that idea,” Lux Thiagarajah, head of trading and account management at crypto-financial services firm BCB Group, said in a note on Thursday.

“A safe haven is an asset that holds its value in times of market turmoil. Cryptocurrencies have sold off aggressively since it was clear that the Federal Reserve (the US Federal Reserve) would raise interest rates faster than expected which in turn sold off stocks. That is not a definition safe shelter “.

Luno’s Ayyar said last week that bitcoin “has decoupled a lot from stocks and gold, which is one positive indication about its safe-haven status.” He added that bitcoin will continue to mature, taking market share away from gold, but that this narrative “may take longer to emerge.”

Has blockchain technology proven useful?

Cryptocurrency proponents often promote . basic blockchain As a way to get more efficient and traceable transactions. One reason is that there is no intermediary to transfer funds other than traditional financial transactions.

But many cryptocurrencies still suffer from high fees and slow transaction speeds. They didn’t necessarily see mass adoption of things like payments.

However, during the war, Ukraine started accepting donations via cryptocurrency To fund its army, among other things. Ukraine has raised more than $50 million via cryptocurrency, according to analytics firm Elliptic.

It can be difficult to receive donations through traditional banking methods, due to the high cost of sending money abroad. Ukraine may also take a long time to receive funds.

This is where cryptocurrencies have an advantage, according to Garrick Hellman, a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics.

“When critical infrastructure is down or there are concerns about how quickly something can pass through the traditional banking system, as long as you have the internet and a computer that you can handle,” Hellman said. “That was one of the promises of cryptocurrency.”

Because the transactions are in the public ledger, Hellman said, you can to some extent see where the money you’re sending goes and how it’s distributed after you receive it.

“Some of the original value propositions for cryptocurrencies are undergoing validation,” he added.

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