Bitcoin donations are pouring into Ukraine. 3 experts have broken down the effectiveness of crypto in humanitarian crises.

  • Ukrainian NGOs and humanitarian groups have received a flood of crypto donations since the Russian invasion.

  • A single donor sent $3 million worth of bitcoins.

  • Three experts explained the impact of crypto on aid in humanitarian crises.

Since Russian forces invaded Ukraine early Thursday morning, bitcoin donations for Ukrainian defenders and aid groups have poured in.

A Ukrainian NGO, Come Back Alive, collected nearly $700,000 on Thursday. As of Friday morning, he had received an additional $3.4 million in bitcoins, including $3 million from a single donor, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic.

“It’s potentially a new factor in complex situations — the idea of ​​fundraising and crowdfunding for advocacy efforts,” Jess Symington, head of research at Elliptic, told Insider last week.

According to experts, two factors make cryptocurrencies attractive as a form of donation in times of conflict.

First, they are decentralized, which means they are accessible even when banks are in trouble and the value of traditional currency fluctuates.

Since the start of the conflict, citizens of Ukraine have had limited access to currencies and cash withdrawals, which makes crypto an attractive option due to its decentralized nature.

“Cryptocurrency is designed to be decentralized, borderless money, so it’s definitely finding another moment of great use amid the crisis in Ukraine,” Republic Crypto chief Andrew Durgee told Insider.

Durgee compared the current wave of donations to 2017, when the United Nations distributed crypto vouchers to thousands of Syrian refugees, and he expects to see more “cross-border transfers of value.”

“It’s an incredibly powerful technology in a time of geopolitical uncertainty, especially when banking systems are under extreme stress,” Durgee said.

Junior Theomou, founder and CEO of MinersDeFi, echoed Durgee’s sentiment. For him, crypto is another tool that can provide financial support in times of crisis.

“In the worst case, a bank can be taken over by the opposition, like in this case with the Russian military,” Theomou wrote to Insider in an email. “[But] decentralized digital currency cannot be deleted.

The second factor that makes crypto a potentially valuable tool for sending aid is that it is, by design, difficult to hack.

Themou said that because the crypto is stored and secured on the blockchain, these donations are safer than fiat currency donations, which are not as flexible and can be easily targeted by scammers.

Chris Kline, co-founder and COO of Bitcoin IRA, noted that crypto donations are nothing new. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be a testing ground for the effectiveness of using crypto to channel aid to defenders and aid groups.

“This is the first time crypto will be around for a geopolitical event of this magnitude,” Kline said. “We are in uncharted territory…[but] when there is a concentrated group of people trying to help others financially, the most effective way to do so is through crypto.

Bitcoin, for Kline, should be the go-to option for donations given that it is still the dominant cryptocurrency. Litecoin and cardano, however, could also be used.

Ethereum and solana, on the other hand, serve a different purpose and “don’t seem to serve much purpose” for this particular event, Kline said.

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