By Elizabeth Howcroft and Tom Wilson
LONDON (Reuters) – Ukraine started auctioning off a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on Friday in an expansion of a cryptocurrency fundraising push that Kyiv says has already collected more than $65 million for its war effort.
The ‘Meta History: Museum of War’ collection is a series of digital images – including silhouettes of warplanes, screengrabs of news reports and a cartoon-style image of an explosion – each one marking a different day in the conflict.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation started appealing for donations in digital tokens such as bitcoin and ether three days after Russia launched its invasion, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.
The new NFT series was meant “to spread truthful information among the digital community in the world and to collect donations for the support of Ukraine,” according to a message on the collection’s website.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a type of crypto asset that exploded in popularity last year. They use the technology behind bitcoin to record who owns a digital file from a image to video or piece of text.
Ukraine has so far bought supplies for its military with its crypto donations including bulletproof vests, helmets, lunches and medicines, Ukraine’s deputy minister of digital transformation, Alex Bornyakov, said on Twitter this month.
NFTs are usually bought with cryptocurrencies such as ether. Ukraine’s NFTs will initially cost 0.15 ether, or just over $475. The funds will go directly to Kyiv’s digital crypto wallets, according to the website.
The explosive rise in NFT sales left many observers baffled as to why so much money is spent on items that don’t physically exist.
Still, they have become a popular fundraising tool in recent months, with groups of people pooling their crypto funds to buy NFTs to raise awareness of a particular cause.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft and Tom Wilson; Editing by Andrew Heavens)