Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has been criticized for pledging to help victims of Morocco’s devastating earthquake by airdropping its native crypto token. According to Action on Armed Violence’s Iain Overton, people affected by the earthquake are only interested in getting immediate assistance and not crypto.
Binance Accused of Using Devastation to Prop Up Its Image
Binance, one of the top cryptocurrency exchanges globally, has been criticized over its decision to donate its crypto token known as BNB to Moroccans in places most affected by the recent earthquake. Some critics accuse Binance of using the devastation caused by the earthquake to boost its image.
According to the red cross, Morocco’s 6.8 magnitude earthquake has killed more than 2,800 people and affected more than 300,000. In some places, like the isolated Atlas Mountains, entire villages were left almost completely destroyed. In response, well-wishers including Binance have pledged financial assistance.
In a statement, Binance, which claims to have over 70,000 users in Morocco, said it would airdrop BNB tokens worth $100 to users in the Marrakesh-Safi Province area who completed the so-called proof of address (POA) before Sept. 9.
For users yet to complete the POA, Binance has promised to airdrop BNB worth $25, while active users in less affected areas are expected to get $10 worth of BNB. The crypto exchange said this process will see BNB worth nearly $3 million being transferred to the accounts of Binance users in Morocco.
Earthquake Victims Not Interested in Crypto
However, in his reaction to Binance’s proposal, Iain Overton, the executive director of Action on Armed Violence, chastised the crypto exchange for seemingly choosing to prioritize its commercial interests.
“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,” Overton reportedly said.
The executive director added that the affected people are only interested in getting immediate assistance and not crypto. Similar sentiments were echoed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
However, despite Overton and others’ criticism of crypto donations in general, such donations have been credited with helping Ukraine when Russia invaded the country in February 2022. As the Ukraine conflict has shown, Binance is not the first crypto or blockchain platform to use the plight of affected people for marketing purposes.
When the Ukrainian government accepted Gavin Wood’s challenge to produce an address for DOT — the native token of Polkadot — the latter responded by donating digital tokens worth over $5 million. At around the same time, Justin Sun, the founder of Tron, pledged to donate $1 million if the Ukrainian government posted a TRX address. Soon afterwards, the Ukrainian government announced that it was accepting donations in the form of 70 different digital assets.
Meanwhile, in addition to the BNB airdrop, Binance revealed in its Sept. 11 statement that it had launched a public donation address for anyone to contribute. In addition to BNB, well-wishers can also donate via BTC, ETH, USDC, USDT, or BUSD.