Chronicle of a crisis foretold: cryptocurrency

Now more than ever, protest movements and even armies can be self-funding. While we debate how the unidentified financial object that is cryptocurrency should be treated by markets, it’s increasingly becoming a form of power.

Ukraine is fundraising millions of dollars crowdsourced funds via Twitter and a crypto addresses.

“Ukraine’s official Twitter account made the appeal for cryptocurrency donations on Saturday following the country’s invasion by Russia, posting digital wallets addresses for tokens including bitcoin and ether.”

It’s also a way to self-fund movements.

For example, the Canadian Freedom trucker protest.

“The Ontario Provincial Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police ordered all regulated financial firms to cease facilitating any transactions from 34 crypto wallets tied to funding trucker-led protests in the country.”

And it’s also a way to shuffle funds from place to place, outside the view of state regulators, as say, Russian oligarchs flee to safety as their patron Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine.

“The effort comes as the Biden administration grapples with how to police the asset class amid concerns that tokens can be used to avoid the heavily-regulated traditional financial system.”

For now, these are disparate examples. But knowing where an organisation funds come from and go to now involves the sort of forensics we routinely see applied to researching social media misinformation, vast sets of data that are scrutinised for clues.

I imagine weaker states will struggle to understand the wealth flowing over their borders.

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