These crypto firms are joining the fight against COVID-19. Will this move highlight the benefits of cryptocurrencies and establish the industry?
All over the world, doctors, nurses and medical resources are strained as the fight against the coronavirus continues. In response, many charitable organizations and philanthropists from various industries have come forward to offer their support.
In the cryptocurrency industry, companies such as BitMEX, Binance and the Stellar Foundation have been making headlines week after week for being at the forefront in an attempt to make sizable donations to COVID-19 relief funds. Here is a look at some of the biggest and most remarkable donations from crypto-related companies.
As early as Jan. 25, Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of a top-ranking crypto exchange Binance, announced in a tweet that his company has pledged to donate $1.5 million (10M RMB) to help the victims of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China. The funds are to be donated to the Chinese authorities to purchase medical supplies in the wake of the disastrous pandemic.
Through Binance Charity, a nonprofit blockchain-powered donation arm of the company, an initiative titled “Binance for Wuhan” that kicked off by supplying 20,000 testing kits, 366,000 pairs of gloves, 5,280 bottles of hand sanitizer and 388 oxygen concentrators among other kinds of supplies.
Binance Charity went further, announcing a new fundraising project that aimed to tackle the coronavirus globally. The company aims to raise $5 million in cryptocurrencies that would go toward buying medical supplies for countries most affected by COVID-19. Helen Hai, the head of Binance Charity, said that: “The most important element of human life is to show compassion and help others as we can, without the limitation or restriction of borders.”
At the beginning of April, the Stellar Development Foundation announced the launch of the XLM-donation-matching program powered by Stellar-based Lumentrhopy, a fundraiser that helps charitable organizations accept Stellar Lumens.
One of the nonprofits, with which the SDF plans to match donations, is with the Tor Project. Reports indicated that SDF is set to match donations to a total of $79,300, which adds up to about 1.9 million XLM tokens. The Stellar Development Fund will also match donations to Unicef France; Heifer International, an organization fighting hunger through offering support for small scale farmers; and Watsi, a nonprofit that streamlines health care financing through building technology. In a conversation with Cointelegraph, Lauren Thorbjornsen, the director of communications and public relations at SDF, said:
“The Stellar Development Foundation is fortunate to have XLM reserves and an active community. Combining the power of those two things, we’ve been able to work together to help organizations (UNICEF, The Tor Project, Heifer International, Watsi, Freedom of the Press and Women Who Code) that are creating vital change in the world.”
She also mentioned that SDF has “worked with Stellar network partner, Lumenthropy, to give back to this group of charities,” which they believe are relevant to some of the pressing challenges given the unfolding crisis.
The Giving Block
On March 23, The Giving Block, a company that helps nonprofit charitable organizations accept crypto donations, announced the start of the #cryptoCOVID19 alliance. The initiative wants to unite the crypto community in the fight against the coronavirus. Gitcoin, one of the partners in the campaign, kicked off the donation by matching $100,000 in Ether (ETH) on the Dai platform. The Giving Block has also partnered with the likes of Brave, Gemini and Axiom Finance to raise $500,000 in crypto donations.
In response to a question about how the company ensures transparency throughout the process, Alex Wilson, the co-founder of The Giving Block, responded by saying:
“We vet all of the nonprofits we work with to make sure they are legitimate and putting the funds to good use. All the crypto donations (BTC, ETH, LTC, BCH, ZEC, GUSD) all go directly to the nonprofit’s wallets and can be converted to USD so they can use the funds on the front lines immediately.”
He also added that “all registered nonprofits must report their cryptocurrency donations and include it in their annual filings.”
In a commitment to the global response by organizations and individuals concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, Ripple Labs announced its donation of $200,000 on March 25. The company has donated $100,000 to the Tipping Point Community, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, which later raised the total donation to $1.1 million for victims of the coronavirus in the U.S.
Besides, Ripple Lab’s donations will also go to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which is a dedicated regional fund in response to the coronavirus outbreak in Silicon Valley. While dwelling on the impact and transparency of donations during this period, Cointelegraph spoke to a Ripple spokesperson who said that: “Ripple is working with local Bay Area partners who are on the frontlines to help our communities who have been heavily impacted by COVID-19.” The spokesperson continued:
“Ripple and its co-founder, Chris Larsen, have together donated $5 million to local food banks and meal service providers to combat food scarcity, and $1.1 million to the COVID-19 emergency funds of Tipping Point, an organization leading the local crisis response.”
BitMEX, the derivatives exchange backed by Arthur Hayes, recently announced that it is donating a total of $2.5 million in support of the fight against the coronavirus. In an announcement, BitMEX stated that the funds will be directed to four organizations at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. These organizations include a biosecurity program called the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Gates Philanthropy Partners, Our World in Data and OpenMinded.
In a statement, Hayes said that the company is “committed to thoughtful grant-making and ensuring that” its “actions during the COVID-19 crisis can make the biggest impact now and in the future.”
Golem, a computing network, is another contributor from the crypto sector to join the fight against COVID-19 through the Folding@Homes project. Golem and blockchain platform Tezos have set aside hundreds of Tezos coins (XTZ) that will be given to the biggest F@H donor by the end of April.
Cointelegraph reported earlier that there were around 20 teams from Tezos that had donated different resources to the F@H initiative by March 12. Another major contributor to the initiative is Ether miner CoreWeave, which has donated computational power of about 6,000 GPUs. Nvidia has also contributed toward the project by urging gamers to donate unutilized GPU computing resources.
Notably, blockchain company Bitfury announced on March 31 that the Amsterdam-based firm had dedicated some of its GPU computer nodes to the “Folding@Home” research project to help organizations look into the coronavirus.
In a slightly different use of computing power, blockchain company Real Items announced that it would be working with microfiber manufacturer Tricol Group’s factories in Seattle and China to track the authenticity of their production of KN95 masks using blockchain technology.
The United States Food and Drug Administration had recently approved the use of KN95 masks for health care workers, which are manufactured in accordance with Chinese rather than American standards, as N95 masks are becoming increasingly hard to find.
On April 7, Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and the founder of Square payment solution, announced that he had moved $1 billion to his newly started company called Start Small LLC, which currently aims to fight COVID-19. Notably, the fund is around 28% of his wealth. Dorsey promised that the funds will be operated transparently with a #startsmall tracker.
Dorsey is also a well-known supporter of Bitcoin (BTC). Addressing the U.S. government, he proposed that they unite together to use existing technology such as Square’s Cash App to seamlessly help people during the pandemic — even the unbanked.
As more blockchain and crypto-related companies join the fight, it is becoming evident that blockchain technology can be used beyond solving the challenges of the financial world. According to some, such moments like these will push the dialogue forward on the subject of using cryptocurrencies daily.
For example, while Thorbjornsen believes that the dominance of paper cash is still strong, she agreed that the current pandemic will further increase talks about the use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. According to Wilson, the pandemic has shown that the crypto community can collaborate despite various disagreements:
“COVID-19 has shown that the cryptocurrency community is willing to put differences aside and come together to support those in need during difficult times.”