Turkish Nonprofits Raise Millions of Dollars in Crypto for Earthquake Response

Organizations are using cryptocurrencies – borderless by nature – to get international aid into Turkey.

AccessTimeIconFeb 7, 2023 at 4:27 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:07 a.m. UTC

Nonprofit organizations new to cryptocurrency are leading an effort to raise millions of dollars in crypto to aid victims of the region’s major earthquake.

Turkish singer Haluk Levent’s charity Ahbap is leading the response with roughly $2 million in crypto donations raised on the Avalanche, BSC and Ethereum blockchains in less than a day. Local exchange Paribu is also fundraising for two nonprofits assisting in the response.

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  • On Twitter, Levent claimed the addresses had been approved by Turkey’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) in spite of the ban of crypto payments by the nation's central bank in April 2021. MASAK did not immediately comment.

    Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, also pledged to airdrop $100 per Turkish user in BNB, Binance’s native token, a sum worth roughly $5 million.

    The effort is the latest example of crypto being used to crowdfund cross-border responses. Ukraine’s government raised millions of dollars for its war effort after Russia invaded in February last year.

    At press time, AVAX, Avalanche’s native token, makes up 55.56% of total donations sent to the Ahbap’s cryptocurrency addresses, worth some $1.1 million, per Nansen. The Avalanche foundation had pledged $1 million.

    Moreover, 42.65% of total donations come from a variety of stablecoins, a type of cryptocurrency whose value is tied to an asset such as the U.S. dollar. Crypto users have donated roughly $788,000 in USDT, USDC and BUSD.

    Serdar Turan and Alp Börü of CoinDesk Turkey contributed reporting.

    UPDATE (Feb. 7, 2023 20:59:31 UTC) Clarified Binance's pledge to airdrop BNB to its Turkish users.


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    Sage D. Young was a tech protocol reporter at CoinDesk. He owns a few NFTs, gold and silver, as well as BTC, ETH, LINK, AAVE, ARB, PEOPLE, DOGE, OS, and HTR.