Binance Faces Criticism Over Token Donations in Wake of Morocco Earthquake

Critics argue that Binance should have provided readily usable resources like cash, food, and blankets, which are essential for the survivors.

By Anna B Kiwanuka

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Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has been known for its philanthropic endeavors. In a recent announcement, Binance pledged to distribute BNB tokens, each valued at up to $100, to aid the victims of the devastating earthquake in Morocco. The initiative’s goal is to assist around 70,000 of its current users, with an estimated total value of up to $3 million. While this move garnered praise, it also attracted significant criticism.

The earthquake that struck Morocco on September 8, 2023, resulted in the tragic loss of over 2,900 lives and left more than 1,200 individuals injured. With a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale, the earthquake caused extensive destruction.

Binance’s donations have raised concerns among many relief professionals due to the scale of the disaster and its aftermath. Critics argue that Binance should have provided readily usable resources like cash, food, and blankets, which are essential for the survivors. Additionally, some have expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the assistance is limited to existing Binance customers, rather than extending help to all victims of the disaster. Iain Overton, executive director of the charity Action on Armed Violence, commented, “Those affected by the catastrophe will never hear of it, and those unaffected by the catastrophe may come away with a positive notion of [Binance’s] brand. It’s cynical at best.”

According to a survey conducted by Binance Charity, 43% of respondents still prefer traditional methods such as cash, checks, and bank transfers for donations. Approximately 33% expressed a preference for donating digital assets, highlighting the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies in philanthropy.

The 2023 Crypto Philanthropy Annual Report revealed that the majority of crypto contributions were directed toward Ukraine, with only 9.1% allocated to disaster relief.

Critics have labeled Binance’s move a “PR stunt,” citing the unfavorable timing. Overton emphasized that in post-disaster environments, people seek familiarity and immediate necessities such as food, shelter, medical aid, and space to grieve, rather than innovative financial tools like cryptocurrencies. An official from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies stressed the importance of promptly providing aid that addresses people’s basic needs. A manager at a major aid agency remarked, “I get that they’re trying to do a good thing, but ultimately, it [appears to be] a bit of a PR stunt.”

In response to the criticism, Binance is currently verifying the eligibility of users residing in the Marrakech-Safi province to receive the funds. They have implemented a proof-of-address mechanism, which must be completed by September 9. Binance defended its approach, stating, “Crypto transfers can deliver urgent financial aid to disaster victims as they provide fast, low-cost, borderless, and transparent transactions. As needed, they can also be converted to local fiat currencies around the world.”

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