Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange globally, has a well-established reputation for its philanthropic endeavors. In its most recent action, it unveiled a plan to provide approximately $100 worth of its BNB tokens to around 70,000 of its existing customers, amounting to a total contribution of up to $3 million, to aid the victims of the Morocco earthquake. While this gesture received applause from many quarters, it also encountered significant criticism.
The earthquake, which struck on September 8, 2023, in Morocco and registered a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale, resulted in widespread devastation. This catastrophic event claimed the lives of more than 2,900 individuals and left over 1,200 others injured. Given the enormity of the earthquake and its far-reaching repercussions, numerous experts in disaster relief have expressed reservations about Binance’s approach to donations. They argue that the focus should be on providing urgently needed resources like cash, food, and blankets to aid the survivors. Additionally, some have raised objections to the fact that the assistance is limited to existing Binance customers, rather than extending support to all the victims of the disaster.
Iain Overton, the executive director of the charity Action on Armed Violence, voiced these concerns, stating, “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.”
It’s important to highlight that Binance Charity conducted a recent survey involving over 1,100 participants to assess the growing trend of cryptocurrency usage in philanthropy. The findings showed that 43% of the respondents continue to prefer conventional methods such as cash, checks, and bank transfers, while approximately 33% indicated a preference for donating in the form of digital assets.
According to the 2023 Crypto Philanthropy Annual Report, a significant portion of these contributions was allocated to Ukraine, with 9.1% of crypto donations specifically designated for disaster relief efforts.
Despite the increasing recognition of charitable activities within the cryptocurrency sector, the timing of such initiatives is somewhat less than ideal. In reference to Binance’s action, Overton remarked, “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.”
Furthermore, a spokesperson from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies emphasized the importance of providing aid in a manner that allows individuals to promptly meet their basic requirements. A manager at a prominent humanitarian organization also commented, “I get that they’re trying to do a good thing, but ultimately it [appears to be] a bit of a PR stunt.”
Binance’s Take on the Matter
It’s important to mention that Binance is currently in the process of determining the qualification of users residing in the Marrakech-Safi province for these funds. They have introduced a proof of address verification procedure, which had a deadline of September 9. Binance, nevertheless, stated,
“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.”