Russians are exchanging RUB. Source: a video screenshot, ITV News / YouTube
As Russia continues its invasion of neighbor Ukraine, the Russian markets are spiraling out of control, and an increasing share of the country’s population is seeking financial refuge in cryptoassets. This is reflected in the sky-high premiums for those who wish to exchange RUB into bitcoin (BTC) via peer-to-peer exchanges, as indicated by the latest market data.
Data obtained from crypto data firm Kaiko indicates that BTC is rapidly gaining traction in Russia and Ukraine’s local currencies, as BTC trading volumes using RUB have surged to the highest level since last May, and those based in Ukraine’s UAH have reached a level not reported since October 2021.
“The trend follows a wave of sanctions against Russia, which has disrupted forex markets and caused the ruble to sink to record lows against the dollar,” Clara Medalie, head of research at Kaiko, told Bloomberg.
As of 08:45 a.m. UTC, RUB 1 could buy you USD 0.01 in the aftermath of the Russian currency crash that started with Moscow’s February 24 military attack on Kyiv. With BTC trading at around USD 43,529 at the same time, per CoinMarketCap data, this should mean that BTC 1 should be available for around RUB 4.21m.
This said, such a deal would be far from happening at virtually any peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplaces or crypto exchanges that are widely used in Russia. At ProstoCash, BTC 1 was priced at some RUB 6.01m, a whopping 42.8% premium over the crypto’s price in dollars.
Over at Russian crypto exchange NiceChange, terms for RUB holders were hardly more favorable, with BTC 1 priced at about 7.62m. This translated into an 81% premium.
A slightly better deal could be found on another Russian crypto exchange Baksman, where BTC 1 would cost those willing to exchange their Russian fiat into the crypto some RUB 5.22m, a 24% premium over bitcoin’s price in USD.
Another crypto exchange that predominantly addresses its services to Russian-speaking crypto buyers, GrandExchange, prices BTC 1 between the two above-mentioned exchanges, at RUB 6.43m. This means that those willing to escape the sinking ruble in crypto’s favor must accept a premium of 52.7% compared to what they could buy with dollars.
This situation is developing ad we are yet to see the full effect of the sanctions imposed on Russia.