Kraken to give over $10m worth of BTC to Ukrainian clients

The announcement marks the first-ever international aid distribution by the crypto exchange

National flag of Ukraine with a red heart in the centre                                 
Kraken may announce further aid for Ukraine as the crisis continues – Photo: Alamy
                                

Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken is donating more than $10m (£7.59m) to Ukrainian clients who have been affected by the Russian invasion of the country.

Running from the 10 March to 1 July, Kraken clients who created an account prior to 9 March 2022 will be eligible to receive $1,000 in bitcoin (BTC).

Kraken will also donate an equivalent amount of the total trading fees paid by Russian-based clients in 2022 to the aid package.

The crypto exchange said that further additional aid may be announced as the crisis continues.

Kraken’s first-ever international aid distribution

This announcement marks the first-ever international aid distribution by the crypto exchange.

Kraken states this “represents our continuing effort to align our business with the values of the cryptocurrency community and its firm belief that all global citizens should have access to financial services. This includes our clients in Russia, who may be actively trying to protest the ongoing conflict.”

Kraken CEO Jesse Powell said: “We hope to continue being able to provide critical financial services in a time of need to both our clients in Ukraine and in Russia. Cryptocurrency remains an important humanitarian tool, especially at a time when many around the world can no longer rely on traditional banks and custodians.”

Powell also noted via Twitter his three favourite things about the aid package, saying: “We’re giving directly to the people in need. It’s enough to be helpful. And the more our Russia-based clients trade, the bigger the donation to our UA clients will be.”

Refusal of a request by Ukraine’s vice-prime minister  

This announcement follows Mykhailo Fedorov, vice-prime minister and minister of digital transformation of Ukraine, sending out a request via Twitter.

On 27 February, Fedorov asked all “major crypto exchanges” to block addresses of Russian users, following its invasion of Ukraine.

The vice-prime minister feels it is “crucial to freeze not only” addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians but also “ordinary users”.

Kraken, Binance and Coinbase have all so far refused Fedorov’s request.

Powell tweeted that he understands the rationale behind the request but despite his deep respect for the Ukrainian people, the crypto exchange “cannot freeze the accounts of our Russian clients without a legal requirement to do so”.

Powell did end his tweet with a warning that “such a requirement could be imminent”.

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