HWe would bristle at that term, but you could describe Dylan Schultz as a crypto brother. He runs Lavender.Five, a cryptographic validation service that authenticates transactions on the blockchain (imagine a deregulated arm of the Securities and Exchange Commission).
On February 25, he issued a advocacy to his 1,700 Twitter followers, “We will match any donation made to charity in support of Ukraine, up to a total of $1,000.” The next day, Schultz posted the fruits of his initiative; 0.028 bitcoin, equivalent to total donations of around $1,100, sent to a crypto wallet operated by a Ukrainian military NGO called Come Back Alive. He is a tiny part of a chorus of countless other crypto holders all over the world who ran to support the Ukrainians against an invading force. Reports claim that more than $30 million in cryptocurrency has been transported to the country since the beginning of the war. So has charity finally become decentralized?
“I decided early on that Lavender.Five would use their platform to make a positive difference, no matter how small,” says Schultz. “Crypto is inherently global. Donating in traditional currency often requires intermediaries. You cannot donate in USD directly, you have to convert it first somehow, or find an intermediary… Cryptocurrency solves this problem by simplifying the process. If you have the charity’s address, you can simply enter the address, enter the amount to donate, and click send.
Ukraine, like many former Soviet states, fought against corruption and a severe shortage of international funding since its independence in 1991. Perhaps that is why the Ukrainian government took the unusual step of tweeting crypto wallet codes for global funding via Bitcoin and Ethereum – both tokens most popular digital – from official accounts. . “Stand with the people of Ukraine by accepting cryptocurrency donations now,” wrote Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, on 26 February. Non-profit organizations and local businesses in the beleaguered country mirrored the government’s request. The Kyiv Independent, an English-language newspaper in the capital, accept sponsorship via bitcoin.
Come Back Alive, the NGO Schultz has contributed to, was previously active on Patreon – processing traditional currency donations – before being terminated from the platform because it violated an existing moratorium on military fundraisers. . Naturally, the company has found a second life thanks to a “crypto collective” called UkraineDAO which collects decentralized aid for various Ukrainian organizations. As the state is gradually drawn into brutal urban warfare, perhaps it makes sense for locals to demand untraceable currency – especially since donations can be anonymous and thus avoid retaliation from the Russian state.
“Blockchain allows us to expand our efforts in ways that were not possible for us before,” said Nadya Tolokonnikova, spokesperson for Ukraine DAO, in an interview with the New York Times. “Old fundraising methods are sometimes very slow and just clumsy.”
For the most ardent cryptocurrency die-hards, the Ukraine crisis perfectly encapsulates why they believe global economic hegemony must be broken. The people of Ukraine need help and argue that bitcoin’s ability to bypass bureaucracy is the best way to provide immediate service to a vulnerable population. “It’s simply the cheapest, fastest and safest way to transact money,” says Artemis, who declined to give his real name but says he’s from Canada and donated $280 in bitcoins at Come Back Alive. “They can store it safely without fear that the invading force will steal it or the banking system will collapse due to war.”
That said, donors still need to do their due diligence to avoid potential scams, especially in a chaotic active war zone. No one should trust a misplaced crypto wallet floating around social media without corroborating the details. Especially when there are organizations like The Giving Block, a charitable curator that opens up blockchain avenues for nonprofits, which requires a verification process to be presented on the platform. Even in the crypto wild west, it is possible for patrons to know that their alms are going to the right place – although not all Ukrainian groups currently accepting crypto donations have opened up to this kind of transparency.
There is also plenty of evidence that the crypto revolution could threaten Ukraine’s home front. Foreign policy experts warn that the Russian economy could become more and more dependent on the blockchain as crippling sanctions wreak havoc on Moscow. The ruble is worth less than a penny after a 30% slump after the US and Europe cut Russian banks from Swift. Crypto is much more resilient to punitive financial assaults, and this offers an escape route for a country that has been completely isolated from civic banking.
“It’s probably already happening. We know that Russia is already developing its own digital currency, the digital ruble, which it will use to trade globally. Sanctions aimed at hurting Putin will only hurt the Russian people. What is certain is that Putin has already thought of this before the conflict with Ukraine and has a plan that probably involves crypto”, says Mark Basa, Chief Commercial and Global Brand Officer of HOKK Finance.
War efforts, on both sides, can be funded in the inky black of the blockchain. Crypto is often both a force for good and a force for evil, but the stakes in this dichotomy have never been higher. For his part, Schultz intends to continue supporting the Ukrainians with his chips. “Ukraine didn’t want this and is fighting alone,” she said. “I wanted to help however I could, reaching as many people as possible.”