Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, along with ‘meme-coins’ such as Doge coin, while once underestimated have now rapidly caught the attention of millions. The founders of these coins have become overnight billionaires, as new cryptocurrencies are launched. An increasing number of people are holding cryptocurrency and they are gaining greater acceptance in transactions. One crypto king who has donated his billions to several causes is Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin.
Despite philanthropic intentions from billionaires such as Buterin, who have built their fortunes of cryptocurrency, there are still valid questions that are raised around these donations.
Russian-Canadian Buterin is a programmer, who co-founded Bitcoin magazine and the second-largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum. He was crowned the world’s youngest crypto billionaire earlier this year and, in a remarkable demonstration of generosity, has shared this wealth, donating over $1bn to the India Covid relief fund and numerous other charities. Buterin offloaded large amounts of Shiba Inu coins (‘meme themed’ tokens) which have risen in value after the success of Dogecoin. Buterin donated 50 trillion SHIB tokens, which are equivalent to $1.2bn to the Indian fund established by Sandeep Nailwal. In April, Buterin also donated $600,000 in ether and maker (MKR) tokens to help Covid victims in India. The billionaire has also donated ether, which converts to millions in US Dollars, to non-for-profit GiveWell, the Methuselah Foundation, and Machine Intelligence Research Institute. Buterin’s act of altruism, however, has sent the value of these coins down, with Shiba Inu falling 40%, Dogelon Mars plunging 67% and Akita Inu falling 52% at the time of writing. The devaluation of the coins means that the money received by the charities Buterin has donated to could also fall in value and the crypto donations have led to skepticism around whether the sizeable amounts transferred will retain value over time. A tweet from Nailwal’s fund has stated that they intend to convert the donation ‘slowly over a period of time.’
As cryptocurrencies begin to gain greater traction amongst the mainstream population, concerns around regulation and the stability of various coins remain. Despite philanthropic intentions from billionaires such as Buterin, who have built their fortunes through cryptocurrency, there are still valid questions that are raised around these donations, such as how organizations receiving the money can spend it and whether they should accept the risk that comes with receiving donations in cryptocurrency.