Crypto Firms Rush To Help Earthquake Victims

Binance, which has partnered with Ukrainian companies ANC and VARUS amid the war with Russia, to airdop BNB to aid earthquake victims

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Rescue workers during Turkey’s 2011 14.51 magnitude earthquake | hasanucarphotography/Shutterstock.com modified by Blockworks

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The world’s largest crypto exchange, which has stepped in to offer Ukrainians relief in recent months, is set to airdrop its BNB token to help the victims of the earthquake in Turkey, while other firms have also pledged support.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said in a Monday tweet that team members at the exchange had met several times over how to best help those affected by the earthquake felt in Turkey, Syria and elsewhere.  

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The exchange revealed Tuesday it would airdrop BNB worth $100, or 1,883 Turkish lira (TRY), to all Binance users in 10 cities impacted by the earthquake — identified by proof of address. Total donations are estimated to be roughly $5 million, or 94 million TRY.

The exchange’s charity arm also launched a public donation address, as donations to the Emergency Earthquake Appeal will be accepted in BNB, bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), Binance USD (BUSD) and ripple (XRP).

A Binance spokesperson did not immediately return a request for further comment.

While details on upcoming crypto-centric relief efforts are sparse, such initiatives have taken multiple forms in the past.

Amid the ongoing Russian-instigated war, Binance partnered with Ukrainian pharmaceutical company ANC last month to offer crypto payment services for Ukrainian citizens purchasing goods at ANC’s 1,000 stores across the country, through Binance Pay.

The crypto exchange has also partnered with Ukrainian supermarket chain VARUS to facilitate crypto payments in nine cities in the country and launched a cryptocurrency card for Ukrainian refugees last April. 

The Ukrainian government received assets worth up to $54 million up until August 2022 through donations to the nonprofit “Aid For Ukraine,” which is operated by Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation. The funds for this particular initiative came in bitcoin, ether, USDT, solana, polkadot and other tokens — and were largely spent on military equipment.  

Turkey banned crypto as a form of payment in April 2021. In December of that year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revealed that a long-awaited bill regulating digital assets was ready

Crypto ownership or usage in Turkey, a country with the 7th highest inflation rate, increased from 25% to 40% of the population, according to the 2022 Statista Global Consumer Survey.

More recently, Turkey’s central bank said the first payment transactions on the Digital Turkish Lira Network were executed successfully, as pilots are set to continue throughout this year. 

As Binance plans its next steps, others have pledged fiat funds

Bitfinex, Keet, Synonym and Tether pledged 5 million Turkish lira — worth about $270,000 — for relief and recovery efforts in Turkey. The companies “will seek ways to provide continued support towards helping [Turkey] rebuild for the future,” according to a blog post

Cryptocurrency exchange Bitget said Monday that it would send 1 million Turkish liras —  roughly $50,000 —  to similar causes. 

Crypto exchange Gate.io has started to prepare aid packages for those impacted by the earthquakes, the company tweeted Monday morning, noting it would “deliver them in coordination with the authorities.” 

And crypto charity platform The Giving Block noted several charities that accept donations in crypto, and that have pledged aid to the region.

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Updated on Feb. 7, 2023 at 10:13 am ET: Added details about Binance’s airdrop plans.


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