PayPal Cuts Service to Crypto-Funded Domain Registrar Hosting Right-Wing Sites

A report suggests the action may be over the firm's digital currency, Masterbucks.

Oct 26, 2020 at 10:13 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:23 a.m. UTC

PayPal has stopped working with controversial domain registrar and hosting service Epik, a company providing services to far-right groups.

  • A report by Mashable on Saturday said Epik claimed in open letters that the PayPal block is due to "anti-conservative bias."
  • However, PayPal said it had ceased servicing the company over concerns about financial risk.
  • Epik provides hosting for sites run by far-right organizations including Gab and the Proud Boys, a violent group U.S. President Donald Trump recently refused to condemn (though he later changed his mind).
  • The firm has previously provided services for 8chan but eventually cut ties after it was used for posts by the perpetrator of a 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, the report said.
  • A Mashable source "close to the situation" suggested that PayPal's action may be over Epik's digital currency, Masterbucks, that is used to pay for domain services and can be exchanged for U.S. dollars.
  • The source said Epik had been touting the digital coin as a way to avoid certain taxes.
  • A previous version (archived here) of the Epik website said Masterbucks has "tax advantages" for people "planning to dispose of domains in order to fund the development of other domains."
  • PayPal reached out to Epik a month ago to remedy the situation, according to letters to the payment firm posted on the domain registrar's blog.
  • It asked questions about money transmission licenses, anti-money laundering, "offshore numbered accounts," "cross‐border activities and law enforcement."
  • Epik called the questions "absolutely absurd and well outside of any knowledge or experience we have as a domain registrar," and described the action as intended to "deplatform conservative voices."
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