LONDON: Bitcoin donations have soared to Ukrainian volunteer and hacking groups, some of which have supplied equipment to government forces, according to a report showing such groups received more than US$550,000 worth of cryptocurrency in 2021.The report, published on Tuesday by blockchain researcher Elliptic, suggests digital currencies are growing in importance as a funding method for volunteer groups backing Ukraine's government as fears of an attack by Russian troops massed near its border grow.
Moscow denies planning an attack.Cryptocurrency worth just $6,000 was raised by the groups in 2020, Elliptic said.Cryptocurrencies can be sent and received anonymously, allowing organisations to raise money even if financial firms do not allow - or impose strict checks on - transfers of funds."Cryptocurrency has proved to be a robust and growing alternative (to traditional currency) - especially when it comes to donations from other countries," Elliptic said.In 2020, Ukraine tightened checks to curb money laundering, demanding ID verification for some domestic cash transfers.
Cross-border transfers are also subject to mandatory monitoring, according to the Ukrainian National Bar Association.Elliptic tracks the movement of cryptocurrency on the blockchain for financial firms and government agencies.
It said one group, Kyiv-based Come Back Alive, began raising funds in crypto in 2018 and received crypto worth almost US$200,000 in the second half of 2021 alone.Come Back Alive says it provides materiel and medical supplies to Ukraine's army including drones, sniper-rifle scopes and mobile surveillance systems.The donations page of its website lists a bitcoin digital wallet address and details of its bank account, a crowdfunding