Ukrainians were paying a steep premium over the U.S. dollar for Tether's USDT stablecoin after Russia invaded the Eastern European country Thursday.
The price of USDT on the popular Ukrainian cryptocurrency exchange Kuna jumped Thursday by almost 5% in the past 24 hours to 32 Ukrainian hryvnia, the country’s national currency. The price works out to $1.10 per USDT, which is supposed to be worth $1.
As tensions between Russia and Ukraine tighten, some citizens are looking for a safe haven to keep their assets. With most traditional cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin or ether, very volatile, Ukrainians are choosing to put their money into stablecoins, specifically tether.
Across crypto markets more broadly, USDT was still holding fast to its $1 peg. As of press time, USDT was changing hands at 99.9727 cents, based on CoinDesk pricing that blends data feeds from many of the world's largest exchanges.
But there is a limited supply in Ukraine of USDT, the biggest stablecoin by market capitalization at about $80 billion. And that's becoming a problem, Kuna founder Michael Chobanian told CoinDesk TV in an interview on Wednesday.
“The majority of people have nothing else to choose apart from crypto,” he said. “We're talking about millions of dollars of cash that wants to go into crypto … but we can't find people who are willing to do the opposite, sell it.”
Kuna says it has around 40,000 active accounts, 90% of them belonging to Ukrainian residents.
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