Ukraine Puts a Crypto Twist on War Bonds. It Can Do More.

Javelin and Stinger missiles, Molotov cocktails and now…crypto war bonds. To support its life-or-death struggle against Russia, Ukraine is seeking to tap the rapidly expanding potential of cryptocurrencies. If it succeeds, other nations facing dire circumstances may follow.

War bonds are a tried and tested concept. Used to finance military efforts, they were widely available in World War I (like the U.K.’s National War Bonds and U.S. Liberty Bonds) and World War II, when some 84 million Americans bought one of these debt instruments.

Last week, the Ukrainian government raised $277 million on a war bond with an 11% yield and one-year maturity, with plans for a second such offering March 8. While there is retail interest (read: Reddit) in the Ukrainian war bonds, the primary buyers are institutional investors.

The crypto equivalent of a war bond could become another weapon in the country’s financial arsenal, helping Ukraine to broaden its reach to more would-be funders. First, though, it must fix some of the flaws in its fledgling efforts to tap the market.

Two days after Russia’s invasion, the official Ukraine Twitter account tweeted out Bitcoin and Ethereum addresses to accept crypto donations. In the first week, Ukraine reportedly raised some $50 million; on March 4, Mykhailo Fedorov, the country’s vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation, said it was targeting another $100 million in the second week.

Historically, profit has not been a key motivating factor for war bonds. The rate of returns on WWI and WWII bonds were below market; patriotism and personal morality were clearly part of the calculus. Channeling those impulses into a crypto-native war bond might induce even more people to contribute.