Ukrainian crypto and blockchain firms survive despite ongoing conflict

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Ukrainian crypto and blockchain firms survive despite ongoing conflict

Executives at nonfungible token service provider Finch are planning to open an office in Miami, while many employees of blockchain firm NEAR have gathered in Lisbon.

Ukrainian crypto and blockchain firms survive despite ongoing conflict

Many Ukraine-based businesses have had to shutter or suspend operations following the outbreak of the conflict with Russia on Feb. 24, but some in the cryptocurrency space have been able to keep running, albeit with many staff in bomb shelters, scattered across the world and facing an uncertain future. 

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Arsenii Hurtavtsov, a Ukrainian national and CEO of nonfungible token service provider Finch, said he managed to get on one of the last flights from Kyiv to Azerbaijan on Feb. 23 before the country began blocking many men from leaving, likely in anticipation of needing individuals for the country’s military. He joined his business partner, chief operating officer Alina Varakuta, in Dubai shortly after his escape. 

Both heard from friends and family abroad and were concerned about their own safety, but also considered how they might continue running Finch and getting money to employees in need.

“We were shocked because we couldn’t continue to work because our guys were in bomb shelters — it’s crazy,” said Varakuta.

“After the war started, I contacted all our clients and said that we had to suspend our work for one week at least,” said Hurtavtsov. “Fortunately, all of them understood the situation and they agreed. After that, we tried to contact all of our employees. We said that we would give them as much time as they needed and that we would not fire anyone, because we understood that maybe for two weeks or many months, they will not be able to work at all but they still would need to buy food and other things.”

Finch CEO Arsenii Hurtavtsov and COO Alina Varakuta speaking from Dubai

The Finch CEO said that all 50 of his employees managed to find places to stay and were safe as of the end of March, having received their full salaries. Some who were eligible to leave Ukraine — mostly women — relocated to Hungary, Moldova and other European countries, leaving 35 behind. Hurtavtsov and Varakuta said they were able to shoulder much of the burden from Dubai as well as expand the team with additional specialists in Ukraine: 

Despite the active conflict, the Ukrainian government has moved forward with legislation aimed at establishing a regulated crypto market, with Zelenskyy signing a law into effect on March 16. According to Aid for Ukraine, a crypto donation platform set up by the country’s Ministry of Digital Transformation “to support people in their fight for freedom,” users have sent more than $60 million to government wallet addresses as of the time of publication in Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), Polkadot (DOT), Solana (SOL), Dogecoin (DOGE), Monero (XMR), Icon (ICX) and Neo (NEO). 

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