The crypto market rose on Monday after the Treasury Department imposed new sanctions against Russia’s central bank.
Bitcoin jumped 8.9% to above $41,000, while ether rose 7.5% to about $2,800. U.S. equities were down sharply earlier in the day before recovering a big chunk of their losses.
The sanctions unveiled by the Biden administration would effectively prohibit Americans from doing business with the Russian central bank and freezes assets within the U.S.
The moves highlight the role crypto can have in military conflict. The young asset class has never had the opportunity to show its potential significance in that type of environment before.
Since Thursday, when the invasion by Russia began, transactions on centralized bitcoin exchanges in both the Russian ruble and the Ukrainian hryvnia surged to their highest levels in months, according to crypto data company Kaiko.
“Volume for both RUB and UAH trading pairs increased far more quickly than volume for other pairs, such as BTC-USD, which suggests the crisis is directly influencing trading behaviour,” according to Kaiko.
Michael Rinko, the venture associate at AscendEx, said $38,000 is the number to watch.
“This is one of the biggest accumulation phases,” he said. “You can tell the cost basis of every single holder. More people bought at $38,000 than at any other level above or below for a good margin. It’s a very key level because it could be supported on way down but also resistance on way up.”
He also agreed that the conflict is highlighting the importance of the borderless and censorship-resistant qualities of bitcoin, but said it isn’t why cryptocurrencies outperformed the broader markets Monday.
“This move up in crypto today may be reflecting rate hikes getting priced out,” Rinko said. “We’re increasingly sceptical about the Fed’s ability and willingness to aggressively hike amid this uncertain geopolitical backdrop.”
Still, he added, that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are still in an early phase where prices are driven primarily by narrative and not to underestimate the strength of the humanitarian case for bitcoin.
The Ukrainian government has raised more than $10 million in cryptocurrency donations as of Sunday, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic. Total donations made in crypto to the Ukrainian government and NGOs supporting the military stood at about $16.7 million as of Sunday.