What are you to do if you are a Russian influencer?
By now, you’ve heard of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The “West” has put sanctions on Russian businesses. In today’s consumer culture, consumers look for companies to take a stand one way or the other. The companies have responded with businesses from Accenture to ZHA having suspended operations in Russia, severely crippling its economy.
Will this bring Putin to his knees? It’s hard to say, but in a matter of days, Russians have found it hard to do everything from taking payments (Visa and Mastercard have suspended operations) to watching the latest movies (Paramount, Netflix, Universal Pictures have all suspended operations) to getting packages delivered internationally (UPS, DHL, and Fedex have all suspended operations). The Russian ruble has dropped to an all time low. Sadly Russian citizens are paying for the actions of their political leaders. If you are a Russian influencer, what options are left for you?
After OnlyFans floated the idea of going public and cutting off all of their adult artists, those that were cut off petitioned to have OnlyFans reinstate their account, which were eventually restored. A similar thing has happened with the Russian performers on OnlyFans. It seems that the company has cut off both the adult and non-adult content creators. Despite this, it appears that OnlyFans has reinstated both Belarussian and Russian influencer accounts. Thus, while fragile, OnlyFans appears to be working.
Cryptocurrency has also been used to pay Russian influencers and vendors.
This is something that the Biden administration is investigating as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are not controlled by anyone. Cryptocurrency is also untraceable and has minimal transaction costs, thus for the sophisticated technologists preferred over other methods like money orders or wires. (Wires will no longer work as Russia has been knocked off the SWIFT network, a way to perform international wires).
Russians have turned to barter, especially if they are still in the country and have digital or even physical goods to provide. Depending on the goods needed, barter is difficult unless digital services are traded (i.e. legal help for accounting help). Thus, the Renminbi, or yuan, the currency of China is now being used in Russia as well as UnionPay, which is the Chinese credit card equivalent. This gives Russians a foothold back into the global economy as well as a currency that is not collapsing.
Merchandising is not going to work for Russians given that UPS, DHL, and FedEX have cut services to Russia. While there still are private carriers, the cost is prohibitive so unless you are creating an expensive one off piece or a digital asset like an NFT, you might be out of luck.
As retaliation for the western sanctions, the Kremlin has said they will cut off social media sites with US ties, like Facebook and Twitter. From the West, sites like YouTube have a questionable future as Putin wants to keep all the news in his favor. The Internet is slowly fracturing into the Chinese Internet and the “rest of the world.” Now Russia is on the Chinese Internet, and this severely curtails the traffic for most of the Russian influencers.
Will there be a World War? Will the splintering Internet lead to a new Cold War with China and Russia on one side and the United States and NATO countries on the other? For influencers this is a bad situation, we aren’t for this war, but we do want people to survive and be able to eat, pay rent, and live. Let’s hope that the war ends soon and people can continue to grow their businesses!