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Crypto in, Rubles out? Not so fast

How Crypto can help ordinary Russians cope with a devastating devaluation, but won’t help government entities evade sanctions.

Never mind the odd Russian oligarch who’s able to move some of their money that wasn't tied to their identity out of the country, there are still 144 million Russians who aren't responsible for this crisis who are seeing their life savings evaporate as the ruble collapses. We've seen massive flows from the ruble into Bitcoin, stablecoin and crypto, demonstrating on a global stage the argument our industry has been making for years, that crypto and Bitcoin are a lifesaving tool that will prevent what could have been a massive refugee crisis as 144 million Russian lost all their money. Roundtable’s Rob Nelson sat down to discuss the role of Crypto finance with a slate of key players: Alex Gordon-Brander, co-founder of Codex Labs; Sani Hayatbakhsh, Head of Social Impact & Ethics at Orica; David Zell, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at BTC Inc.; Brittany Kaiser, co-founder of Own Your Data Foundation and a human rights lawyer; Nehemia Kramer, co-founder of Waterfall, and Vladimir Karishev, co-founder of Global Ledger in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

David Zell: We've seen a lot of attention being given to the idea that Bitcoin and crypto are helping Russia evade sanctions. I think that probably isn't true and it comes from a misunderstanding of what sanctions are and how they work. I think the TLDR is that Bitcoin and crypto probably do make it easier for capital to leave Russia. But they don't really make it easier for capital to get into Russia, because sanctions are enforced on the social layer, not the payment rails layer. There's not enough liquidity for Russia to be selling oil in Bitcoin.

Brittany Kaiser: “The repercussions for Russian people are going to be extraordinary and last for years, and their ability to move at least enough money around to protect themselves and their families, and to make sure that at least their basic needs are met is one of the most important tools that we can be giving to them as a community. It has nothing to do with evading sanctions.”

Roundtable Participants:

Alex Gordon-Brander, co-founder of Codex Labs

Sani Hayatbakhsh, Head of Social Impact & Ethics at Orica

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David Zell, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at BTC Inc.

Brittany Kaiser, co-founder of Own Your Data Foundation and a human rights lawyer

Nehemia Kramer, co-founder of Waterfall

Vladimir Karishev, co-founder of Global Ledger in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Watch the full discussion here: