Ukraine

Nifty News: Grow-to-earn with Snoop, and is Dorsey’s tweet priceless or worthless?

The first tweet ever sent on Twitter was turned into an NFT and sold by founder Jack Dorsey for $2.9 million but is pulling about one percent of that in a current auction.

The nonfungible token (NFT) of the first-ever tweet made on Twitter by founder Jack Dorsey is currently struggling to attract a bid even 1% of its sale price last year.

The iconic genesis tweet was sold for 1,630 Ether (ETH), valued at $2.9 million about a year ago on March 22, 2021. The highest current bid for this attempt to auction it is 10.3 ETH, worth about $31,739 at the time of writing, on NFT marketplace OpenSea.

The nonfungible token of the first-ever tweet made on Twitter by founder Jack Dorsey is currently struggling to attract a bid even 1% of its auction price last year.

The genesis tweet made on Twitter by founder Jack Dorsey.

Its owner, Bridge Oracle founder Sina Estavi, hoped the tweet would generate at least $50 million dollars, half of which he said he would donate to charity after closing the auction in an April 7 tweet. 

Estavi appears to have grossly overestimated the amount of money the tweet would sell for. When he initially listed the item on OpenSea, the highest bid was valued at about $277. Currently, the average bid is about $8,731.

Low interest in this piece of social media history may be a symptom of a general decline in frothiness across the crypto industry. Although NFT trading volumes have been rising over the past month, they are still far from all-time highs. Volumes on Bitcoin (BTC), ETH and decentralized exchanges (DEXs) have also been dropping off.

Using NFT art to support Ukrainian refugees

Four Ukrainian artists living in Sydney are using the popularity of digital art in NFT form to generate funds to aid over five million refugees from the embattled nation.

The OpenYourHeart campaign hopes to collect at least $5 million from the sale of four limited-edition NFTs and from ETH donations to Habitat for Humanity, a house-building charitable organization. The art will be sold at a May 5 auction.

One of the artists in the quartet, Olena Vigovska, feels that this auction gives her a way to help her friends and family in her home country.

“My friends and relatives are still back in Ukraine and any opportunity to help them is precious.”

NFT art by Ukrainian refugee Tetiana Koludenko.

Among the four works of art will be three paintings and one photograph that heavily incorporate the colors blue and yellow, like the Ukrainian national flag. The auction will take place online, and the gallery is based in Australia.

First WNBA team to issue NFTs

The New York Liberty WNBA team will kick off its 26th season for the league with an NFT drop to commemorate its home opener against the Connecticut Sun on May 7.

The collection of 400 NFTs will be minted before game time and sold on Polygon for $50 each. Buying a ticket to the game and whitelisting your wallet address by May 1 will see you awarded the NFT for free. Ticket prices start at $55.

Each NFT depicts a spinning numbered nail polish bottle that says it is from the home opener for the team.

OKcoin to launch an NFT marketplace

Crypto exchange OKcoin is set to launch its own NFT marketplace, which it says will have zero fees and no limit on the royalties creators can earn on secondary purchases.

OKcoin CEO Hong Fan announced the marketplace on Tuesday and said the exchange would drop an exclusive NFT collection which members of the waitlist will get their first crack at.

By lifting the cap on creator royalties, Fong said that the marketplace will further “empower creators with NFTs in the same way that blockchain technology empowers financial freedom with cryptocurrency.”

Snoop to grow greener pastures

Crypto investor and marijuana connoisseur Snoop Dogg is combining two of his passions by partnering with the MOBLAND metaverse platform to cultivate weed farms.

MOBLAND plans on releasing a limited collection of digital weed farm NFTs along with content from NFT artist Champ Medici. The weed farms will introduce the concept of grow-to-earn to the platform as well, which offers special utility and benefits to owners of digital land.

Other Nifty News

American crypto exchange Coinbase has launched the beta version of its long-awaited NFT marketplace. The limited functionality will currently allow early testers to buy and sell NFTs and create online profiles.

Crypto exchange Kucoin’s venture capital division has committed $100 million to help artists and creators scale up their business operations to larger audiences. The funds will be tied in with the exchange’s own NFT marketplace, putting it in competition with OKcoin and Coinbase’s own similar marketplaces.

Ukrainian crypto and blockchain firms survive despite ongoing conflict

Executives at nonfungible token service provider Finch are planning to open an office in Miami, while many employees of blockchain firm NEAR have gathered in Lisbon.

Many Ukraine-based businesses have had to shutter or suspend operations following the outbreak of the conflict with Russia on Feb. 24, but some in the cryptocurrency space have been able to keep running, albeit with many staff in bomb shelters, scattered across the world and facing an uncertain future. 

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Arsenii Hurtavtsov, a Ukrainian national and CEO of nonfungible token service provider Finch, said he managed to get on one of the last flights from Kyiv to Azerbaijan on Feb. 23 before the country began blocking many men from leaving, likely in anticipation of needing individuals for the country’s military. He joined his business partner, chief operating officer Alina Varakuta, in Dubai shortly after his escape. 

Both heard from friends and family abroad and were concerned about their own safety, but also considered how they might continue running Finch and getting money to employees in need.

“We were shocked because we couldn’t continue to work because our guys were in bomb shelters — it’s crazy,” said Varakuta.

“After the war started, I contacted all our clients and said that we had to suspend our work for one week at least,” said Hurtavtsov. “Fortunately, all of them understood the situation and they agreed. After that, we tried to contact all of our employees. We said that we would give them as much time as they needed and that we would not fire anyone, because we understood that maybe for two weeks or many months, they will not be able to work at all but they still would need to buy food and other things.”

Finch CEO Arsenii Hurtavtsov and COO Alina Varakuta speaking from Dubai

The Finch CEO said that all 50 of his employees managed to find places to stay and were safe as of the end of March, having received their full salaries. Some who were eligible to leave Ukraine — mostly women — relocated to Hungary, Moldova and other European countries, leaving 35 behind. Hurtavtsov and Varakuta said they were able to shoulder much of the burden from Dubai as well as expand the team with additional specialists in Ukraine: 

“Despite the fact that there is the war in Ukraine, we’re still growing month over month and, at the moment, we also attracted our first round of investment.”

From an employee perspective

Maria Yarotska, an employee of blockchain company NEAR, told Cointelegraph she wasn’t able to leave Ukraine until March 2, a full week after the invasion, when Russian military forces were advancing on Kyiv and many other cities. As of the end of March, she was staying in temporary accommodations in Lisbon as some of her colleagues gathered, considering opening a branch office in the Portuguese capital city. 

Related: ‘I’ve never paid with crypto before’: How digital assets make a difference amid a war

Like employees at Finch, many men working with NEAR were forced to stay in Ukraine due to a decree issued by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy preventing men aged 18–60 from leaving. Yarotska, previously based in the port city of Odesa and having worked for NEAR since November 2021, assessed the situation for a few days before driving with her child and dog across Europe to Portugal. 

“I explicitly told my team that I will be six days on the road, and I would need someone to take care of my projects,” said Yarotska. “They agreed because the company is founded by a Ukrainian, but I work in a developer relations department and I’m the only Ukrainian in the department and, for that matter, the only woman. All of them just supported me, waited for me and made it happen.”

She added:

“When the world is falling apart, it’s good to rely on your company, at least.”

Looking to the future

While Varakuta said Finch planned to open an office in Miami, the company would continue to build its “main team” in Ukraine despite the uncertain situation with Russia.

“Ukrainian designers and Ukrainian developers are incredibly valuable in the world with their actually reasonable price,” said Hurtavtsov. “At the moment, we’re considering relocating some people from our team from Ukraine to the United States.”

The Finch CEO added that Ukraine-based companies dealing with crypto and blockchain as well as others still needed outside support to stay in business:

“A lot of companies and a lot of investment funds are worried and scared working with Ukrainians because of this situation and because they don’t want to pay a project to be interrupted by some unpredictable occasion. I would say that a lot of Ukrainians still need to work, as they need to help their families.”

While some of Russia’s military operations seemed to have been briefly scaled back, news outlets are reporting that the bombing of cities and outlying areas continues. Many in Ukraine are still facing a lack of infrastructure necessary to run a company, including stable internet connectivity, food and water supply, electricity and medical care. 

Across the border, Russia-based firms may face different issues but have nonetheless been affected by the conflict with Ukraine. Many private businesses based outside of Russia including Visa and Mastercard have scaled back or entirely shuttered operations within the country. Since the war started, crypto exchange Currency.com has announced it will no longer serve Russia-based users. Meanwhile, London-based crypto exchange Exmo suspended its business in Russia and Belarus, hinting the invasion of Ukraine made both countries a “high-risk market.”

Related: Every Bitcoin helps: Crypto-fueled relief aid for Ukraine

Despite the active conflict, the Ukrainian government has moved forward with legislation aimed at establishing a regulated crypto market, with Zelenskyy signing a law into effect on March 16. According to Aid for Ukraine, a crypto donation platform set up by the country’s Ministry of Digital Transformation “to support people in their fight for freedom,” users have sent more than $60 million to government wallet addresses as of the time of publication in Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), Polkadot (DOT), Solana (SOL), Dogecoin (DOGE), Monero (XMR), Icon (ICX) and Neo (NEO). 


Belarus-born crypto platform halts operations for Russians in response to invasion of Ukraine

“In these circumstances we can no longer continue to serve our clients from Russia,” said Vitalii Kedyk, CEO of Currency.com’s Ukraine arm.

Crypto trading company Currency.com has announced it halted operations for clients based in Russia following the country’s “violence and disorder” imposed on the people of Ukraine.

In a Tuesday announcement, Currency.com said that Russian residents would no longer be able to access its services following the platform’s decision to stop Russia-based clients from opening new accounts. According to Currency.com’s website, the Gibraltar-based crypto trading platform has offices in Kyiv, London and Vilnius but was previously licensed and headquartered in Belarus.

“We condemn the Russian aggression in the strongest possible terms,” said Vitalii Kedyk, head of strategy for the platform’s London operations and CEO of Currency.com’s Ukraine arm. “In these circumstances we can no longer continue to serve our clients from Russia.”

A Currency.com spokesperson told Cointelegraph that the platform “can’t speak on behalf of those companies that continue to provide services in Russia,” but had no plans to resume operations. According to the spokesperson, business from Russia didn’t amount to more than 15% of the platform’s bottom line, and the company will expand in the U.K. and U.S. markets in 2022. 

Major crypto exchanges have responded to calls on social media to either freeze Russian digital assets or otherwise restrict access for residents amid the country’s military invading Ukraine. A Binance spokesperson told Cointelegraph in February that the exchange would not “unilaterally freeze millions of innocent users’ accounts,” while Kraken CEO Jesse Powell hinted that the only way it would cut off Russian users’ access to crypto would be in response to sanctions.

Related: How crypto became a major source of relief for embattled Ukraine

However, many private businesses including credit card companies Visa and Mastercard have announced following Feb. 24 that they will be scaling down or entirely stopping operations in Russia in response to the war. Ukraine’s government, in contrast, has utilized crypto platforms to solicit donations from around the world, raising more than $60 million at the time of publication.

‘I’ve never paid with crypto before’: How digital assets make a difference amid a war

For many Ukrainians and Russians, digital assets have become the means to support themselves and their loved ones during the crisis.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has become a stress test for crypto in many tangible ways. Digital assets have emerged as an effective means of directly supporting humanitarian efforts, and the crypto industry, despite enormous pressure, has largely proved itself a mature community — one ready to comply with international policies without compromising the core principles of decentralization.

But there is another vital role that crypto has filled during these tragic events: It is becoming more and more familiar to those who have found themselves cut off from the payment systems that had once seemed unfailing.

Traditional financial infrastructures don’t usually work well during military confrontations and humanitarian crises. From hyperinflation and cash shortages to the destruction of ATMs, crises can disrupt the banking system’s ability to function and threaten the money supply for millions of regular individuals.

Cointelegraph spoke with some of the people who experienced these disruptions firsthand during the first days and weeks of the war. Some of them didn’t know much about crypto and had to learn fast, while others were lucky to have had some experience with digital assets that they could fall back on.

Some of these people are from Ukraine and have directly experienced the struggles of war, while others are from Russia and had to leave the country as their ordinary lives collapsed overnight. Their stories reveal that when the world comes crashing down, it is ordinary people for whom crypto provides the last line of support, not the corrupt elites.

“Crypto was originally created so that no single government or individual could control it”

Viktoria Fox is a Ukrainian-American entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Polaris Capital, a cryptocurrency mining company. Her parents moved from Ukraine to the United States during the tumult of the post-Soviet Union 1990s. When the war broke out on Feb. 24, her U.S. family started receiving uneasy phone calls from their relatives in Ukraine. As Russian troops advanced into the country, the National Bank of Ukraine immediately stopped the circulation of all securities and limited cash withdrawals, creating a nationwide frenzy.

Although the central bank claimed that banking and financial systems remained “resilient” following the Russian invasion, Fox’s relatives told a different story from the ground:

“What I’ve been told is that banks are closed and all ATM machines have no more cash. After two weeks of war, my relatives, like most families, were completely out of cash.”

Since then, Fox has been sending them Bitcoin (BTC), which started to function as a cash substitute for vendors and fellow citizens — a means to pay for almost anything from food to taxis. Viktoria’s uncle used Bitcoin to compensate a driver who traveled six hours to get him from Kharkiv to the Western part of the country.

In Fox’s experience, most Ukrainians prefer to transact via established global exchanges such as Coinbase and Binance, though some rely on Ukrainian exchanges as well.

“I think it’s important to remember that crypto, particularly Bitcoin, was originally created so that no single government or individual could control it,” Fox noted. “While it would be tempting to punish the ‘bad’ Russians and reward innocent Ukrainian civilians, it defeats the whole purpose of a decentralized currency or asset.” She doesn’t believe that tightening government control over crypto would help ordinary people during this or any future war.

“For me, as an anarchist, it was a matter of ideological choice, not of comfort”

Until several weeks ago, “Andrey” lived in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg, where he was born. Andrey is a front-end developer and has some professional experience with blockchain platforms. “I probably couldn’t write a smart contract, but I sure know how to use crypto in daily financial operations,” he said. “I have experience withdrawing USDT here and there, and I never did it through bank cards. For me, as an anarchist, it was a matter of ideological choice, not of comfort.”

As Andrey headed for Berlin on the fourth day of the war, the entirety of his belongings consisted of a laptop, a pair of t-shirts and a hardware wallet holding some hard-earned stablecoins:

“I had to use them to buy plane tickets to travel inside Europe. The last thing I managed to do with my Visa card was to rent a flat on Airbnb for two weeks. I was lucky enough to have a bunch of friends in Europe, and now they help me to pay with cards when necessary. I just send them the coins.”

In the long run, Andrey admitted that he still needs fiat to buy groceries and other necessities. He has yet to learn the peer-to-peer withdrawal tools available in Europe. Still, he regards the decision to get a hardware wallet for crypto as one of the smartest moves in his life. “It’s not like I was preparing for something like this, but, you know, when living under authoritarianism, you’d better be independent of the local banks.”

Andrey admitted that withdrawing crypto in a new jurisdiction could pose a major problem as well. He said:

“Despite my overall knowledge of the industry, right now I’m in a difficult position. In Germany, very stringent requirements are applied to cash withdrawals, and I’m still researching the ways to do it.”

It is not only about personal needs. Andrey is a Russian citizen whose father was born and raised in the south of Ukraine. He doesn’t have a legal way to donate money to support the relief effort for Ukrainian civilians — such an act could be considered a criminal offense or even high treason by the government. Andrey noted:

“Like many others in Russia, I have friends in Ukraine. Some of them are in Kyiv now, sleeping in bomb shelters under artillery fire. My problems are nothing compared to theirs. To help them, I had to find someone on the ground who would agree to exchange my USDT for hryvnias [Ukraine’s currency]. After I made sure my friends’ banking cards worked, I used this opportunity. The sum wasn’t huge, but I hope it was at least some help.”

“We could not receive international transfers to Ukrainian accounts”

Anna Shakola, a native of Kyiv, began to work as an NFT project manager at Cointelegraph in November 2021, several months before the war broke out. She had not used crypto as a payment method until the crisis began: “Honestly, I had never paid by crypto, except for transacting in NFTs. I used these assets only as an investment tool.”

Shakola had to learn fast, as during the first three weeks of the war, the fiat financial system was partially frozen: “We could not receive international transfers to Ukrainian accounts and had some problems with domestic fiat transfers as well.” After becoming accustomed to performing everyday transactions using digital currencies, she learned about Unchain, a charitable project founded by Ukrainian blockchain activists.

Related: How crypto became a major source of relief for embattled Ukraine

Unchain began to channel donations to Ukrainian civilians on Feb. 27, after a network of local crypto-fiat exchanges supported the initiative. The next step was to issue virtual debit gift cards known as “Help Cards” in cooperation with Kyiv-based Unex Bank and Weld Money. The cards are designed to help families — mothers and children — who might not have the time to learn to use crypto in the middle of a war. Unchain accepts donations in crypto and converts them to hryvnias on the receiver’s end. It plans to finance up to 10,000 Help Cards.

The war has undoubtedly shattered the global economic order, and it has also become a profound stress test for the crypto industry. Despite suspicions that digital assets could undermine the international sanctions regime, they have emerged freshly branded as a resilient, flexible payments system with the potential to help millions of people on their hardest day.

It’s no accident that the Ukrainian government has championed measures that would develop its digital economy after the war. On March 16, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a law to build a legal framework for the country to establish a regulated crypto market. Given the need to rebuild the country once the hostilities are over, the nation’s hard-earned experience with crypto will likely be instrumental in developing a thriving digital economy.

Vitalik Buterin quietly donates $5M ETH to aid Ukraine as total tracked crypto donations reach $133M

No official public announcement was made regarding the large sum donation.

As told by Aid for Ukraine, a joint initiative created by the Ukrainian government, FTX, Everstake and Kuna to rally crypto donations for the country, Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin made $5 million worth of ETH donations to Ukraine in early April. According to the entity, despite the large donation sum, Buterin did not make an announcement regarding the transaction. It was eventually linked to him via the Ethereum Name Service domain name “vitalik.eth,” which served as the origin of the transfer.

Half of the $5 million in donations went directly to Aid for Ukraine, while the other half went to Unchain Fund, a cryptocurrency charity initiative created by activists in the blockchain community to provide humanitarian relief for Ukrainians. Alex Bornyakov, deputy minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, publicly thanked Buterin’s contribution in a tweet, writing: 

“I couldn’t be more grateful for every crypto donation to our lifesaving initiative, Aid for Ukraine. It really helps to strengthen our country and protect its democratic values. Special thanks to Vitalik Buterin for standing with Ukraine.”

Based on data gathered by Cointelegraph, the amount of tracked crypto donations sent to the Ukrainian government, military and charities has surpassed $133 million. Unchain Fund has raised more than $10 million alone, with most of its contributions stemming from NEAR tokens and ETH. But overall, it appears the pace of donations has slowed down.

From Feb. 28 to March 9 alone, total tracked crypto donations to Ukraine skyrocketed from $37 million to $108 million. Some have pointed to a decline in enthusiasm for such initiatives, especially after the Ukrainian government made a U-turn on an anticipated airdrop.

UN agency accepts first stablecoin donations worth $2.5M to help Ukrainian refugees

Crypto donations have proven vital for Ukraine and its people, as the country has received over $100 million in crypto donations since the conflict broke out.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a UN agency for refugees, has accepted its first-ever crypto donations toward humanitarians aid for Ukrainians fleeing the war-torn nation.

UNHCR accepted $2.5 million in Binance USD (BUSD) stablecoin donations from Binance Charity that would be utilized to rehabilitate and support refugees fleeing to neighboring countries from Ukraine.

According to a report from the USA for UNHCR, more than 10 million people have been displaced from their homes in Ukraine, and the agency will use crypto stablecoin charity funds to provide legal and social assistance.

Marie Grey, executive director and CEO of USA for UNHCR, said that the crypto donation will prove vital in its efforts to help as many families as possible. Grey also lauded the global crypto community for helping Ukrainians at this time of crisis and said:

“This generous support will make a life-changing difference for families forced to flee, and more importantly, it shows families that a caring and committed global community is stepping forward to help during their darkest times.”

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has created a humanitarian crisis in the region. Cryptocurrencies have proven to be one of the biggest mediums of aid for the troubled nation as it has received over $100 million in tracked crypto donations since the war began.

Related: Amid conflict, NFT projects already seek to rebuild Ukraine

When Ukraine was pleading with other countries for assistance and had raised several calls for aid in any form, crypto donors from around the world came together to donate millions. These crypto funds have already proven vital for the country to support various evacuations and rehabilitation efforts to help and save as many lives as possible.

Ukraine has not just embraced crypto for donations; the country legalized digital assets and even launched its own nonfungible token collection to raise more funds.

‘The cryptocurrency world will help in this war’: Kuna CLO breaks down Ukraine’s digital asset law

According to Ganna Voievodina, Ukraine’s law on digital assets was adopted “just in time” for companies handling crypto and a government looking for tax revenue.

While many parts of Ukraine are still facing threats from Russia’s military, some residents, industry leaders and government officials are turning to digital assets for help in relocating people, funding humanitarian aid projects and getting supplies to its own soldiers.

On Feb. 17, exactly one week before Russian forces began their attack on Ukraine, the country’s legislature adopted the “On Virtual Assets” bill. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy later signed the bill into law, establishing a legal framework for Ukraine to operate a regulated crypto market.

Ganna Voievodina, chief legal officer of Ukraine-based crypto exchange Kuna and one of the bill’s authors, told Cointelegraph that the ramifications of the legislation came at a critical time when the country needed legal access to crypto.

“A lot of Ukrainian government [officials] have a lot of funds in their accounts, but according to the laws, they couldn’t invest in cryptocurrency,” said Voievodina. “Now they can exchange, they will have opportunity to take their funds to buy crypto, to invest and to buy some trades and some goods for the Ukrainian army, for Ukrainian people, because we understand that cryptocurrency is much easier to be invested in any legal goods.”

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, crypto users from around the world have sent around $70 million in digital asset donations to government wallet addresses through a recently launched website. Michael Chobanian, founder of Kuna and president of the Blockchain Association of Ukraine, told U.S. lawmakers on March 17 that it only took “about 10 minutes” to set up crypto donations for the government, while arranging fiat transfers through the National Bank of Ukraine took roughly 10 days.

“The cryptocurrency community made a lot of donations to the government and people to support them in such bad times that we have faced, and never could imagine that we could face,” said Voievodina. “A lot of digital currency exchanges from all over the world, including Binance, including Kuna, including even Coinbase, […] they helped our country with donations.”

Related: Tracked crypto donations to Ukraine surge to $108M as Kraken, Bored Ape joins in

According to Voievodina, the Ukrainian law could seemingly be broken down into two laws applied to companies handling crypto and taxes around digital assets. She said the law would be akin to rules from the Financial Action Task Force, applied to virtual asset service providers, including digital wallet providers, exchanges, financial intermediaries and crypto transfer services in Ukraine. Firms providing crypto-related services have to register with the government and be in compliance with Anti-Money Laundering regulations.

In Ukraine, the National Securities and Stock Market Commission and the country’s central bank act as regulators for financial products, including digital assets. According to Voievodina, regulators coordinated with lawmakers to ensure that the digital asset tax law will be adopted before establishing the regulatory framework. She said a draft of the tax law suggested crypto traders be subject to lower taxes for five years following the adoption of the legislation — 5% of annual profit compared with 18% for many other cases. However, the law is subject to review by Ukraine’s parliament.

“It was very symbolic that [the law] was adopted right before the war,” added Voievodina.

Though Zelenskyy might have signed the bill into law quickly, even in the absence of the invasion of the Russian military, according to Voievodina, it was “just in time” to simplify the legal framework and allow people to supply goods for the army using digital assets. She said Chobanian was “responsible for all the funds” being donated to the government in crypto, which he uses to buy food, supplies or fiat in accordance with requests from the Ministry of Digital Transformation.

“The war didn’t change anything, just people with crypto became more visible because this business has more profit and opportunity to help the country,” said Voievodina. “These people are not enemies of financial systems — they are friends of Ukraine, and they can help it. Principally, the war didn’t change the cryptocurrency world; the cryptocurrency world will help in this war.”

Love it or hate it, crypto’s vibe shift is now imminent

Recent geopolitical developments have upended the ethics and self-image of crypto. What does that mean for its future?

Last month, cultural critic Alison P. Davis published an article in The Cut titled “A Vibe Shift is Coming. Will Any of Us Survive It?” The “vibe shift” Davis was referring to had nothing to do with crypto. She was referring to a sea change in pop culture and social trends, particularly in view of GenZ’s ongoing ascendance into trendsetting and cultural relevance. Nevertheless, her positioning caught my eye because she aptly put her finger on something crucial that I’ve also been feeling, particularly as it relates to crypto. The paradigm shift toward the next cultural moment — whatever it is — is perceptible, even if it’s not palpable. We can’t quite make it out, but we know it’s in the room. The concrete conditions haven’t shifted yet, but the vibe most certainly has.

In the days following its publication, “vibe shift” captured Twitter’s attention and, in many cases, its derision. However silly the term, it captures something real and similar happening in the crypto space. Ridiculous as it may initially sound, there’s a vibe shift happening in crypto.

I like the term “vibe shift” because it’s about exactly that: a feeling, a hunch, a mood, a tone, a vibe. Across its brief history, crypto’s vibe shifts have followed changes in the technology itself. Crypto’s initial wild west, anything-goes optimism stemmed from Bitcoin’s (BTC) transition from a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment solution to a store of value, then grew even more manic with the introduction of Ethereum, which demonstrated the potential of smart contracts. This half-manic optimism grew more serious and businesslike as decentralized finance (DeFi) expanded on the back of legitimate level-two networks. The development of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) brought artists and musicians into the fold, not the other way round.

Related: In defense of crypto: Why digital currencies deserve a better reputation

This isn’t a good or a bad thing, it’s just a fact. The technology determines the discourse in DeFi and crypto, meaning that it also dictates the culture. That “this is no longer the case” is an argument you could only make after the actual tech reached a certain level of sophistication and public legitimacy — which is what’s happened with crypto and DeFi. A crypto “vibe shift” is a necessarily new concept, and it’s happening in a particularly interesting way.

How we talk about crypto is changing, in other words, but not in response to the tech itself. People are speaking as if they have more skin in the game and not just because they’ve sunk their own capital into investments. People are thinking bigger about crypto’s role within the wider world, and not just in self-serving terms related to profiting off mainstream adoption.

From profit to politics

Dare I say we’ve gone political? I first noticed it with the Canadian truckers’ protest against vaccine mandates. This issue lit up the crypto space and was not quite over agreement or disagreement with the actual convoy’s goals. Facing a government freeze of traditional assets and being locked out of standard fundraising platforms like GoFundMe, the truckers turned to Bitcoin and raised $900,000 in a matter of days. Subsequent attempts by the Canadian government to lock crypto assets associated with the convoy were only partially successful. After an Ontario Superior Court judge issued an injunction freezing millions of dollars in crypto to the convoy, the crypto community responded with a mix of protestation and bemusement. Multisignature wallet Nunchuck had to respond publicly that, politics aside, they couldn’t provide the subpoenaed information even if they wanted to: “We are a software provider, not a custodial financial intermediary,” and one with no way of seizing its users’ assets at that.

Discomfort with the political positions of the truckers aside, the crackdown nevertheless raised some shackles among our space. The idea (turned reality) that a federal government could seize crypto assets with a court order and on grounds related at least in part to ideology runs against everything this community prides itself on. The Russian invasion of Ukraine only underscored this feeling.

Related: Bitcoin at the barricades: Ottawa, Ukraine and beyond

The cryptonomics of war

A few interesting things happened in the initial days of the Russian invasion. The Ukrainian government requested donations in Bitcoin early (inevitably leading to scammers trying to clone the account for their own benefit), then called for crypto exchanges to freeze Russian accounts. Turning crypto into a safe financial haven and reliable store of value for a country at war was a game-changer, the effects of which we’ll feel for years. Many of these exchanges refused, claiming it would unjustifiably punish ordinary Russian citizens for the actions of their leaders. Some of the biggest names in the space seemed to come down on the side of neutrality, but not without qualification. Vitalik Buterin tweeted notably vaguely about crypto’s neutrality.

Beyond that, a land war in Europe has predictably made many of us lose our taste for the latest quirky NFT drop, at least for now — there’s more serious stuff to talk about. And, crypto is actually talking about it. That is the vibe shift, and it’s not happening in response to the technology. It’s happening in response to the real world, and it’s changing the contours of the crypto one. It’s prompting a moral reckoning that cuts to the bone of what crypto is supposed to do and who it’s supposed to be for. It’s about the price of neutrality and what exactly neutrality means.

Related: Every Bitcoin helps: Crypto-fueled relief aid for Ukraine

If crypto has penetrated the real world, the real world is now penetrating crypto. The myopic and divorced-from-reality perspective our detractors accuse us of is wearing off. This vibe shift is making it so difficult to predict what comes next, particularly now that we’re suddenly wrapped up in massive geopolitical stakes. The conversation has changed because the rules of engagement have changed. Crypto is all fun and games and apes until someone starts a war. Or, for that matter, a convoy.

The end of history or the future or crypto?

I remain confident in the future of crypto and DeFi, but it’s going to be a complicated future. The Canadian trucker convoy and the war in Ukraine have become unexpected reckonings with no easy answers and, in many cases, some very unsavory ones. Like most everyone heavily involved in this space, I still believe a huge element of crypto’s hard and soft power is related to its bankless decentralized status removed from the traditional mechanisms of global finance. But, these things are never so simple.

The point of a vibe shift is that what comes next is still opaque. We’re just now waking up to the power of crypto and the enormous implications of a legitimate, censorship-resistant financial infrastructure. What that means for the future and where we go from here is uncertain, and we have more on the line than the cultural denizens of New York City to which the term was originally applied. Self-sovereign money that exists outside of traditional finance’s control is untested in the contexts of geopolitical conflict and culture wars. Whatever happens next is going to change everything.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Dominik Schiener is a co-founder of the Iota Foundation, a nonprofit foundation based in Berlin. He oversees partnerships and the overall realization of the project’s vision. Iota is a distributed ledger technology for the Internet of Things and is a cryptocurrency. Additionally, he won the largest blockchain hackathon in Shanghai. For the past two years, he has been focused on enabling the machine economy through Iota.

Ukraine launches NFT museum ‘to keep the memory of war’

“While Russia uses tanks to destroy Ukraine, we rely on revolutionary blockchain tech,” said the country’s minister of digital transformation Mykhailo Fedorov.

The Ministry of Digital Transformation in Ukraine has started an online nonfungible token museum aimed at preserving the timeline of major events starting with the Russian military invading the country.

In a Friday tweet, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said the government launched an initiative with nonfungible token, or NFT, artwork depicting key moments from the Ukrainian perspective from Feb. 24 onward. The NFTs feature events starting at 5:45 AM local time on the day of the conflict, when Russia announced a “special military operation” in the Donbas region of Ukraine.

According to the NFT museum website at the time of publication, 54 NFTs of key moments in the war between Feb. 24 and Feb. 26 will be available starting on March 30, with proceeds of the sales in Ether (ETH) used “to support army and civilians.” The artwork includes a variety of events and sources based on Twitter posts from government officials, photos from news outlets, and the response of world leaders “accompanied by personal reflections.”

“While Russia uses tanks to destroy Ukraine, we rely on revolutionary blockchain tech,” said Fedorov. “[The NFT museum is] the place to keep the memory of war. And the place to celebrate the Ukrainian identity and freedom.”

The NFT museum boldly states:

“We will never let any single day of this period disappear from the ledger of world history.”

Source: Meta History Museum of War

In addition to raising funds for Ukraine’s military, the NFT campaign seems to be targeted in opposition to Russian state media, which many around the world have criticized for spreading propaganda and misinformation, particularly in regards to the events in Ukraine following Feb. 24. The project said one of its goals was to “spread truthful information among the digital community in the world.” 

Ukraine’s government hinted at a NFT project after cancelling plans for an unspecified token airdrop on March 3. Deputy minister of digital transformation Alex Bornyakov later said in a report from U.K. news outlet The Guardian that it planned to release an NFT collection that would be “like a museum of the Russian-Ukrainian war.” The Ministry of Digital Transformation partnered with team members from NFT platform Fair.xyz for the blockchain infrastructure of the project.

Related: Amid conflict, NFT projects already seek to rebuild Ukraine

Ukraine’s government has accepted crypto donations directly through wallet addresses provided by the Ministry of Digital Transformation since Feb. 26. Cointelegraph reported that as of March 9, many charities, relief organizations and government wallets had received roughly $108 million in crypto toward humanitarian causes and military aid in Ukraine.

Ukraine launches NFT museum ‘to keep the memory of war’

“While Russia uses tanks to destroy Ukraine, we rely on revolutionary blockchain tech,” said the country‘s minister of digital transformation Mykhailo Fedorov.

The Ministry of Digital Transformation in Ukraine has started an online nonfungible token (NFT) museum aimed at preserving the timeline of major events starting with the Russian military invading the country.

In a Friday tweet, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said the government launched an initiative with NFT artwork depicting key moments from the Ukrainian perspective from Feb. 24 onward. The NFTs feature events starting at 5:45 am local time on the day of the conflict when Russia announced a “special military operation” in the Donbas region of Ukraine.

According to the NFT museum website at the time of publication, 54 NFTs of key moments in the war between Feb. 24 and Feb. 26 will be available starting on March 30, with proceeds of the sales in Ether (ETH) used “to support army and civilians.” The artwork includes a variety of events and sources based on Twitter posts from government officials, photos from news outlets and the response of world leaders “accompanied by personal reflections.”

“While Russia uses tanks to destroy Ukraine, we rely on revolutionary blockchain tech,” said Fedorov. “[The NFT museum is] the place to keep the memory of war. And the place to celebrate the Ukrainian identity and freedom.”

The NFT museum boldly states:

“We will never let any single day of this period disappear from the ledger of world history.”

Source: Meta History Museum of War

In addition to raising funds for Ukraine’s military, the NFT campaign seems to be targeted in opposition to Russian state media which many worldwide have criticized for spreading propaganda and misinformation, particularly in regard to the events in Ukraine following Feb. 24. The project said one of its goals was to “spread truthful information among the digital community in the world.” 

Ukraine’s government hinted at an NFT project after canceling plans for an unspecified token airdrop on March 3. Deputy minister of digital transformation Alex Bornyakov later said in a report from United Kingdom news outlet The Guardian that it planned to release an NFT collection that would be “like a museum of the Russian-Ukrainian war.” The Ministry of Digital Transformation partnered with team members from NFT platform Fair.xyz for the blockchain infrastructure of the project.

Related: Amid conflict, NFT projects already seek to rebuild Ukraine

Ukraine’s government has accepted crypto donations directly through wallet addresses provided by the Ministry of Digital Transformation since Feb. 26. Cointelegraph reported that as of March 9, many charities, relief organizations and government wallets had received roughly $108 million in crypto toward humanitarian causes and military aid in Ukraine.