The world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, is renowned for its charitable initiatives. Recently, Binance announced that it would distribute BNB tokens, valued at up to $100 each, to support earthquake victims in Morocco. This initiative aims to benefit up to 70,000 of its current users, with a total estimated value of up to $3 million. Following its recent announcements, many praised the exchange for its move, but it also faced substantial criticism.
The catastrophe that occurred on Sept. 8, 2023, in Morocco claimed the lives of over 2,900 individuals and left over 1,200 others wounded. Noting a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale, resulting in extensive devastation.
Binance’s donations have raised concerns among numerous relief professionals due to the scale of the earthquake and its consequences. Instead, they were urged to offer readily usable resources like cash, food, and blankets that survivors require. Furthermore, others reiterated their objections to the fact that the assistance is only directed towards existing Binance customers, rather than assisting all the disaster’s victims. Iain Overton, executive director of the charity Action on Armed Violence, said:
“Those affected by the catastrophe will never hear of it, and those unaffected by the catastrophe may come away with a positive notion of [Binance’s] brand. It’s cynical at best.”
According to the survey conducted by Binance Charity, it was observed that 43% of respondents still prefer traditional methods such as cash, checks, and bank transfers. Additionally, about 33% expressed a preference for donating digital assets, reflecting the growing popularity of crypto in philanthropy.
The 2023 Crypto Philanthropy Annual Report revealed that the majority of contributions were directed toward Ukraine. While 9.1% of crypto donations were allocated to disaster relief.
Although there has been a growing acknowledgment of charitable efforts within the crypto industry, the timing is somewhat unfavorable. Speaking about Binance’s move, Overton added,
“In post-disaster environments, most people are seeking the familiar. This isn’t a space for digital innovation and new financial tools. What people want is food, shelter, medical aid, and space to grieve. They’re not looking for crypto.”
An official from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies emphasized the importance of providing aid that enables people to meet their basic requirements promptly. A Manager at one major aid agency said: ,
“I get that they’re trying to do a good thing, but ultimately it [appears to be] a bit of a PR stunt.”
Binance is currently determining the eligibility of users residing in the Marrakech-Safi province to receive the funds. They are using a proof of address mechanism that needed to be completed by Sept. 9. Binance, however, said:
“Crypto transfers can be used to deliver urgent financial aid to disaster victims as they provide fast, low-cost, borderless, and transparent transactions. As needed, they can also be converted to local fiat currencies around the world.”