Russia’s crypto scene is experiencing a surge, as more investors are streaming in. Government officials suggest that the value of cryptocurrencies in the country could top $214 billion.
The staggering figure represents about 12% of the population.
The figures could be higher considering Russia’s use of VPNs and the ability of investors to set up multiple wallets using a single IP address.
A survey by Chainalysis ranked Russia's number two in crypto adoption in 2020. However, many people from emerging markets are driving adoption and surprising countries like Russia. Data from 2020 suggest that Russia was among the leading countries in crypto adoption.
A report by TrippleA, a Singapore research firm estimates that about 17.3 million Russians owned crypto in early 2021. The figure represents 12% of the population.
The report indicated that crypto ranked 5th among investment options in Russia, ahead of Gold and stocks.
A more recent survey that sought to check crypto ownership among internet users suggests that crypto adoption in Russia stands at 19.6%.
The survey indicated a stunning 12.9% increase in adoption levels from October 2021 to December 2021.
This puts Russia behind leading countries like Australia, Indonesia, and India, with levels just above 20%
Russia’s adoption level, however, trumps the global average, which stands at 15.4%.
Among those surveyed, crypto holders Bitcoin (BTC) were 30.8%. BTC adoption levels had dropped from highs of 66.7% as recorded in an October survey by the same survey firm.
The leading crypto in Russia is Ethereum. 32% of crypto owners in the country held the crypto. The numbers had jumped from 28.5% in October 2021.
Dogecoin ownership rates among crypto owners stood at 21.4%. This shows the great influence of this meme coin even outside the US.
Solana is another crypto that showed prominence in the country. The crypto saw surging numbers in 2021 and currently ranks 9th by market cap. Adoption levels stood at 19.3%. This is higher than countries such as the US and the UK.
Russia ranked third in Ripple ownership among the 27 countries in the survey. XRP adoption among crypto owners stood at 23.1%.
Russia’s positivity towards crypto investment was between 42.5% and 56.1%. The leading country, Nigeria, had a positivity rate of 81.4% to 87.1%. The global average was between 42.6% to 50.5%.
Russia was among the few countries where crypto ownership by women was higher than by men. The survey didn’t give absolute numbers.
Bitcoin ATMs (BATMs) also drive crypto adoption due to user experience with bank ATMs. There are about 59 BATMs in Russia, with five in the regions of Omsk and Rostov-On-Don, according to a BATM tracking website.
Russians' Dalliance with Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces
A leading peer-to-peer marketplace (P2P) released data in 2020 on crypto marketplaces in Russia. The report indicated a growing interest in such platforms. They are majorly used in purchasing Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The company saw a significant increase year on year (YoY), resulting in a jump in over 350% increase in usage of their platform. The number of users also increased drastically by 365%.
There was also a 40 million monthly trading volume on the marketplace. The survey suggested that the leading forms of crypto payment were gift cards, online wallets, and bank transfers.
Crypto Adoption by Age in Russia
According to data published in 2020, six out of ten respondents who owned crypto were either in the age groups of 24 to 34 or 35 to 44. The trend is dissimilar to most countries globally, where the 18 to 24 group dominates crypto adoption.
In Russia, the 18 to 24 years old owned contributed to 16% of crypto adoption by age. The 55-64 years old accounted for the lowest share at 9%. This survey was done in 2020, and the adoption levels by age drastically changed in 2021.
Research conducted by Finder in late 2021 found out that millennials had usurped the older generation in crypto ownership.
The survey put ownership levels for the 18 to 34 age group at 59.1%.
The 35 to 54 age group came in second with adoption levels at 21.7%, while those over 55+ recorded a 19.2% adoption rate.
Leading Crypto Exchanges in Russia
According to Coinmarket cap, despite many exchanges claiming that they serve the Russian market, most were found to not be localized.
The ranking of the top exchanges in the country is as follows:
Crypto Regulations in Russia
The Russian security agencies have been pushing the central bank and the government to shut down crypto trading and mining in the country, suggesting it would adversely affect the entire financial system. The Russian bank estimated that about $5 billion was traded in the country in 2020. They considered this a significant number; enough to affect the country’s economy or fund opposition parties.
However, as the crypto landscape changes and digital assets become more mainstream, the Russian central bank is set to reclassify crypto as a medium of exchange rather than an investable asset.
The law seeks to integrate crypto into the Russian financial system. Crypto will therefore be a standard medium of payment like the Ruble.
What to Expect in 2022
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen an uptick in crypto activity in both countries. After sanctions hit the country, Russians exchanged their Ruble for stablecoin, Tether (USDT).
The Ruble-USDT trading pair saw a significant increase, hitting $29.4 at the end of February 2022. This is seen as a move to shield themselves from the degradation of their currency and keep away from the volatility associated with Bitcoin.
Such reports suggest that stablecoins could lead in market dominance in 2022 if the conflict is prolonged. Crypto activity in the country continues to surge as people try to safeguard their money.
Major crypto exchanges have refused to place a ban on Russians while P2P marketplaces seem to have accelerated their incentives to potential crypto owners.
When and if the law establishes crypto as a payment medium like fiat currencies, Russians can expect more crypto-related products. Business opportunities, including derivatives products, are likely to enter the market.