Ruble-Denominated Bitcoin Volume Surges to 9-Month High

The increase comes as the West's sanctions on Russia trigger a flight from the ruble.

Feb 28, 2022 at 6:28 a.m. UTC
Updated Mar 1, 2022 at 11:17 a.m. UTC

Omkar Godbole is the senior reporter on CoinDesk's Markets team.

Trading volumes between the Russian ruble and bitcoin increased to a nine-month high as the country's fiat currency plunged to record lows due to the fallout from the invasion of Ukraine.

Data tracked by Kaiko, a Paris-based cryptocurrency research provider, shows that ruble (RUB)-denominated bitcoin volume surged to nearly 1.5 billion RUB on Thursday, hitting its highest level since May.

"The activity was concentrated on Binance," Kaiko research analyst Clara Medalie told CoinDesk in an email. "Bitcoin-Ukrainian hryvnia volume has also spiked, but not as high as October levels. BTC-UAH only trades on 2 exchanges – Binance and LocalBitcoin."

Similar trends were observed in tether-ruble and tether-hryvnia trading volumes, Medalie added. Tether (USDT), the world's largest stablecoin by market value, offers price stability in the often volatile world of cryptocurrencies by maintaining a 1:1 peg with the U.S. dollar.

Kaiko data shows USDT/RUB trading volume also rose to an eight-month high of 1.3 billion RUB on Thursday.

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Tether-ruble daily trading volume

The spike in the ruble-based crypto trading volumes came as investors scrambled to move out of the ruble, fearing stricter sanctions from the West.

The Russian currency plunged over 8% to 90 per U.S. dollar last week and extended the slide by another 28% early today, reaching a record low of 118 per dollar, according to Bloomberg data. Gold, U.S. Treasurys, the U.S. dollar and the Swiss franc have been the beneficiaries of the flight to safety.

Over the weekend, the U.S. and its allies stepped up punitive measures against Russia, intending to stop its banks from accessing SWIFT, the messaging network underpinning global financial transactions. The European Union banned all transactions with the Russian central bank in a bid to prevent it from selling overseas assets to support its banks.

Early Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the country's nuclear deterrence force to be on high alert. According to reports, the Russian central bank has asked brokers to ban nonresident investors from selling securities.

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Omkar Godbole is the senior reporter on CoinDesk's Markets team.

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Omkar Godbole is the senior reporter on CoinDesk's Markets team.

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