The ruble plunged more than 11 percent against the greenback Tuesday — its steepest intraday fall since 1998 — as traders dumped a currency that has crumbled on the back of weaker oil prices and sanctions against Russia by the West.
Volatile trading continued on Wednesday, with the currency gaining over 10 percent against the dollar, although it remains down 13 percent on the week.
Other than the dollar, the beneficiaries of this flight from Russia appeared to be the euro, the yen, sterling -- and bitcoin. Data from bitcoincharts.com, which tracks financial and technical statistics for bitcoin, shows that transaction volumes with the ruble spiked on Tuesday spiked to 819 from an average of 230 trades for the last 30-day period. This was close to a 250 percent increase in transactions and was the highest volume seen since December 2013, according to the website.
"The news coming out of Russia is indeed unparalleled," Bobby Lee, the co-founder and CEO of prominent Chinese bitcoin exchange BTC China, told CNBC via email.
"The high trading volumes with the ruble is to be expected, given the flight away from this struggling currency. Bitcoin is therefore a natural destination, as well as other strong central bank currencies."