Ukrainian Money Transfer Searches Increase by 173 percent as a result of Russian Tensions

Photo Credit: DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images (Business Insider)

Earlier this week, Russia unleashed the biggest attack on Ukraine, prompting tens of thousands of people to flee their homes and leaving many to wonder how the rest of the world might react. Explosions were heard in multiple major Ukrainian cities (Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and Ivano-Frankivsk) shortly after Putin announced Russia would launch “special military operations” in a speech broadcast on Russian television Thursday morning local time, which Ukrainian government officials later claimed were missile strikes on military headquarters and airports. 

Warning sirens wailed in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital and home to nearly three million people, as traffic queued to leave the city and crowds sought refuge in metro stations. “We don’t know what to do now,” Svetlana, one of the victims, told the BBC. “We’re now on our way to a safe location, and we’re hoping to leave safely.”

While search trends are not scientifically precise, they can be a useful indicator of how people are feeling. At times of crisis, people seem to know that more cash is needed. In this case, one may conclude that the Russian invasion has led to money being sought and transferred out of Ukraine. According to the data from MoneyTransfers.com, the figures show that visits to the site’s Ukraine page increased by 173% between 18 March 2021 and 31 August 2021, and 1 September 2021 to 14 February 2022. The website saw a significant increase in visitors in February 2022, with page views reaching an all-time high, amid warnings from US officials that an attack on Ukraine could be imminent.

When we first looked at the data, the general direction was similar to trends observed in the past. People were looking for a way out of their country and were not shy about taking it. In July of last year, more than a quarter of search traffic was on Ukranian Money Transfer, following Russian activity in Ukraine. Today, six months later, more than one in five searches are on Ukranian Money Transfer following Russia invading Ukraine. 

At the moment, it is unclear whether Ukrainians are concerned about being attacked or simply seeking a way out of their country. News events such as wars or political unrest are typically indicators that people will start looking for these types of things, and it’s the same scenario here.