Trading in bitcoin (BTC) and the stablecoin tether (USDT) is once again rising in Russia, with trading volume on both coins on Monday breaking their highs from the start of the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, price discounts have emerged on Russian ruble (RUB) trading pairs, while Ukrainians are forced to pay a premium to move their money into crypto.
On Monday this week, the BTC/RUB pair on Binance – the only major international crypto exchange that deals with both Russian rubles and Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH) – reached its highest trading volume so far since the war started, with BTC 506 (USD 19m) changing hands. That compares to the previous high from the day the war broke out of BTC 437.
The same was also the case for the USDT/RUB pair, which reached a 24-hour trading volume of USDT 37.314m yesterday, up from USDT 34.938m on the day the invasion started (February 24).
Meanwhile, today, Binance announced that the exchange had taken steps to comply with sanctions on Russia, saying that payment cards from MasterCard and Visa issued in Russia, or issued overseas and used inside Russia, will no longer work on the platform.
In addition, Tether’s Chief Technology Officer Paolo Ardoino earlier this month reiterated that the company’s stablecoin is centralized and that it “definitely has to comply with requirements of central authorities.”
“Tether is just a dollar using blockchain as transport layer,” Ardoino said on Twitter at the time.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, on Monday, volume in the BTC/UAH pair stood at 17 BTC, well below the 79 BTC that were traded on the day the invasion started. Similarly, trading in USDT also remained down from the war peak of USDT 8.696m, with USDT 6.149m traded as of Monday.
However, in Ukraine, multiple cities are being shelled by Russian forces and, per UN data, 2 million people have now fled the country.
On the local Ukrainian Kuna Exchange, the fall in trading volume is even more pronounced, with volume in both the BTC/UAH and USDT/UAH pairs seeing a consistent downtrend since the war started.
On Monday, USDT 435,317 were traded against UAH on the exchange, compared to USDT 1.257m on the day of the invasion. In the bitcoin market, BTC 4.15 were traded against UAH on Monday compared to the much more significant BTC 11.8 that changed hands on the day the war started, according to Kuna’s own data.
BTC/UAH price and volume on Ukraine’s Kuna Exchange:
Premiums in Ukraine, discounts in Russia
Despite trading volumes using the Ukrainian fiat currency now being lower, however, a premium on the price of USDT compared to the official exchange rate between USD and UAH still indicates that demand for the stablecoin still exists among Ukrainians.
On Binance, 1 USDT was trading at a price in UAH equivalent to USD 1.06 (UAH 31.96) at 16:50 UTC. Similarly, BTC is also trading at a premium, with Ukrainians having to pay USD 40,810 worth of UAH, more than USD 2,500 above the regular market price for bitcoin on Binance at the same time.
Notably, this is the opposite of the situation that Russians are facing at the moment, where USDT on Binance is trading at a discount to ‘real’ US dollars in the forex market.
At the time of writing, the price Russians had to pay for 1 USDT on Binance was just USD 0.93, while the price for BTC was just USD 35,398 worth of rubles – a significant discount to the international market price for bitcoin.
As of Tuesday at 16:50 UTC, BTC traded at USD 38,400 on Binance. The coin was down 1% for the past 24 hours and 11% for the past 7 days.
Meanwhile, RUB moved higher today.