As India suffered from the second wave of Covid-19, we saw donations pouring into the country’s relief funds from around the world. And help came in all forms. One of the most glaring phenomena has been the deluge of donations via cryptocurrency, which, incidentally, has not yet been legalized in India. Big names in crypto trading and entrepreneurs announced monetary aid for India to overcome the crisis.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin donated dogecoins worth $1 billion (approximately Rs 7,000 crore) and later added more worth $3 million (approximately Rs 44 crore). Former Australian cricketer Bret Lee also donated a bitcoin (about Rs 45 lakh). Entrepreneur and angel investor Balaji Srinivasan donated $50,000 (about Rs 36.68 lakh) to Ether. He later planned to double his donations to $100,000.
Ethereum-linked Polygon (formerly Matic) co-founder Sandeep Nailwal launched Crypto Relief in April this year as a COVID-19 relief initiative for India. He set it up with the help of some volunteers. He also devised ways to collect the cryptocurrency in the UAE into crypto wallets, convert it into fiat currency and transfer it to India via the US in a way most appropriate for Indian law.
Nailwal’s emergency fund has collected donations worth about $6 million (approximately Rs 44 crore) across 10 different cryptocurrencies. Crypto Relief has reportedly already paid out more than $999,900 (approximately Rs 7.4 crore). This was done through United Way of Bengaluru to ACT Grants, which supports the demand for medical oxygen in India.
Crypto Relief also linked up with technology-enabled healthcare platforms such as Medikabazaar and Aknamed.
Cryptocurrency is still a gray area in India in terms of legislation. Cryptocurrency has not yet been brought under any legal regulation. The cryptocurrency and regulation of the official digital currency account, 2021 is underway. There are also reports that the government is planning to launch its own official Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), which will be backed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). In March 2020, the Supreme Court overturned the RBI ban on virtual currencies, but the bank has not yet clarified its position. The confusion could be a revolution in the Indian market, where cryptocurrency investments could be pegged at nearly $1.5 billion (approximately Rs 10,000 crore).