A quick look at any major news portal or financial website and you will see it is hard to miss the situation that is unfolding in Russia at the moment. A surprise interest rate hike initiated by policymakers has had the opposite effect of a hike in a more stable environment – and the ruble is plunging versus the majority of its major fiat counterparts.
One curious side-effect of this is a sharp increase in the amount of BTC/RUB transactions taking place on well-known exchange BTC-e – but don’t let mainstream media get you too excited. In an ironic turn of events, the aforementioned has gotten probably more excited about a spike in bitcoin activity than the bitcoin community itself, illustrated through this CNBC article released earlier today.
CNBC looks to be suggesting that we are about to see a digital currency revolution in Russia, going with the subtitle “Start of a Russian shift to cryptocurrency?” as an introduction to the statistics involved. On further inspection, however, we can see that action yesterday in the BTC/RUB across the exchange went from 230 trades to 819 – admittedly a nearly 250% increase in transactions but far from representative of a nationwide Russian shift to digital currency. Akif Khan – VP of the solution strategy at Bitnet – had this to say:
I’d be surprised if Russians were turning to bitcoin in any meaningful way given the uncertainty over whether they could use it or store it without penalties in the future.
All said – and especially in light of the suggestions that bitcoin could become very difficult to transact in Russia over the next few months – it is unlikely that this is the start of the digital currency revolution we are all waiting for. Sure, it may help is on its way – just don’t get too excited yet.