Ukraine has received nearly $100 million in donations through cryptocurrency, spending the money on resources that range from packed lunches to bulletproof vests to walkie talkies, the country announced last week.
The campaign for crypto donations includes UkraineDAO, a decentralized group organized on blockchain that raised more than $7 million in its first five days.
The large-scale digital philanthropy draws international attention to a mainstream use for cryptocurrency, an asset enabled by blockchain technology that some traditional market players like Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B) CEO Warren Buffett have criticized as largely speculative.
In a new interview, venture capitalist Adam Dell — the founder and CEO of a new investing platform called Domain Money — said the financial function of blockchain has grown significantly. That growth will drive a surge in income for firms that use the technology, he predicted.
"The growth of the financial utility of these underlying technologies is undeniable," says Dell, the brother of Dell (DELL) CEO Michael Dell.
"As they become more widely adopted in commercial use cases — again, unrelated to speculation — I think you're going to see significant growth in real revenue and real cash flow coming out of these technologies," he adds.
Dell, who departed Goldman Sachs last year after leading its online-only bank Marcus, noted the increase in use of digital currency compared with traditional transactions. In fiscal year 2021, Visa (V) processed roughly $10 trillion in transactions, which fell short of the $11.6 trillion moved on Ethereum (ETH-USD), Dell said.
Critics of cryptocurrency say the anonymity of digital currency lends itself to nefarious uses and the price of the asset is too volatile for everyday transactions. Buffett in 2018 described bitcoin as "rat poison," and a survey conducted by JPMorgan Chase (JPM) last year found that one-third of mainstream investment firms agreed with Buffett's characterization.
While prominent critics of bitcoin question its efficacy as a form of money, many bitcoin proponents say it can be used for transactions, and point to companies like Overstock.com (OSTK) and Starbucks (SBUX) that offer customers ways to pay in bitcoin (BTC-USD).
In early trading on Wednesday, bitcoin had spiked 4.8% and Ethereum had risen 6.7%. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, on Feb. 24, the price of bitcoin has leapt 7.9% and Ethereum has gone up 9.1%, as of Wednesday morning. Both have slightly outperformed — but largely traced — the performance of the S&P 500 (^GSPC).
Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Dell pointed to correlation between the performance of bitcoin and major stock indices as a sign of the asset's mainstream adoption.
"It is a reflection of the maturity that the crypto markets are going through," he says. "These assets are now more broadly held across a larger institutional base."
"So, downward pressure in the macro market invariably will impact crypto as well," he adds.