Buterin, Srinivasan Donate to COVID Relief Fund for India 'Shaken' by Second Wave

Buterin donated more than $600,000 in crypto while Srinivasan donated $50,000 and pledged up to $100,000 more.

Apr 25, 2021 at 4:19 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:46 p.m. UTC

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and fellow cryptocurrency legend Balaji Srinivasan are pitching into a fund set up by Indian tech entrepreneur Sandeep Nailwal to help provide relief to COVID-19-ravaged India.

It all started with this tweet by Nailwal, the founder of Polygon, an Ethereum scaling platform.

That prompted Srinivasan, a former Coinbase CTO and board partner at VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, to donate $50,000 in ETH and called on others to contribute as well.

Buterin then answered Nailwal's call by posting a proof of transfer of 100 ETH and 100 MKR, worth more than $600,000, on his Twitter feed.

In response to Buterin's generosity, Srinivasan then said that for those who can't afford to donate he'll contribute another $50, up to $100,000, for every retweet of his appeal.

There's a chance, however, this generosity might not be welcome. India's government is preparing legislation that could ban private cryptocurrencies.

"This is a gutsy, though risky campaign, especially because under Indian law, foreign funds for charitable purposes are very closely scrutinized," said Tanvi Ratna, founder and CEO of Policy 4.0, a research and advisory firm currently focused on digital currencies and blockchain.

"That is probably the most sensitive area of foreign capital to choose to route crypto into!" added Ratna, who is working with the donation campaign to address the regulatory challenge.

Given the current crisis, perhaps Nailwal and Ratna might find a receptive audience. Earlier Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the country had been "shaken" by a storm of COVID infections, according to a report in India Today.

Indian authorities announced 349,691 new cases on Sunday, a record for a single country, the Guardian reported. India also reported a daily death total of 2,767 deaths, also a record, the newspaper said.

Nations around the world are pitching in to help India deal with the latest wave. Late Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken promised in a tweet that the country would "rapidly deploy" added support to the people of India.

UPDATE (April 25, 17:11 UTC): Adds background on challenges facing crypto donations in India.

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