Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin donates over $1 billion worth of meme coins to India Covid relief


Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of the Ethereum crypto network and the world’s youngest known crypto billionaire, has donated over $1 billion worth of meme coins to India’s Covid-19 relief fund as well as a number of nonprofit organisations battling the country’s aggressive second wave.

A large portion of Buterin’s donation was made using massive amounts of dog-themed ‘meme coins’, which had been gifted to him for free by the creators of the Shiba Inu coin (SHIB), Dogelon (ELON) and Akita Inu (AKITA), Forbes reported. He donated 50 trillion SHIB tokens, worth around $1.2 billion to the India Covid Relief Fund, founded by entrepreneur Sandeep Naliwal.

Thanking Buterin for his contribution, Naliwal — co-founder of Polygon and creator of India’s crypto coronavirus relief fund — assured SHIB holders that his charity would act responsibly and not cause the value to tank further. But soon after Buterin disclosed his generous donation, worth around $1.2 dollars, the Shiba coin proceeded to plunge in value as sellers and buyers assumed the young crypto billionaire would soon liquidate his holdings.

In fact, soon after he made his donation public, holders of ‘meme coins’ began to panic and the prices of these currencies began to drop. According to Coinbase, Shiba Inu is down 36 per cent, Dogelon Mars is down 65 per cent and Akita Inu is down more than 50 per cent.

So the charities would in effect get much less than the original amount pledged.

Apart from this, Buterin also donated about $1.5 billion worth of coins to Indian charities, some of which came in his own cryptocurrency, Ether. According to Forbes, he donated millions of dollars to tech-focussed charities like GiveWell, Methuselah Foundation, as well as Machine Intelligence Research Institute.

In April, Buterin donated around $600,000 in ether and maker tokens to Nailwal’s Covid relief fund last month.

Meanwhile, the Indian government is planning a law to ban private digital currencies, in favour of a a digital currency backed by the Reserve Bank of India. The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, which will prohibit all private cryptocurrencies and lay down the regulatory framework for the launch of an “official digital currency”, was to be introduced in Parliament’s Budget session, but was held up as the government continues discussions with stakeholders.

A three to six month exit period prior to banning the trading, mining and issuing of cryptos has been discussed in inter-ministerial discussions for Indian investors, who according to unofficial estimates, hold around $1.5 billion (Rs 10,000 crore) in digital currencies.

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