Digital currencies on top of a surgical mask

Only $20M has been disbursed from Vitalik Buterin’s $1B India COVID-19 relief fund

In mid-May, Vitalik Buterin grabbed headlines when he donated $1 billion in meme coins to COVID-19 relief efforts in India. However, in the three months since the donation, only $20 million has been disbursed, with the charity that received the funds decrying regulatory hurdles and a drastic drop in the value of the meme coins.

The Ethereum founder donated about $1.5 billion in digital currencies to a number of charities in May. India’s COVID Crypto Relief Fund got the lion’s share of the donation, receiving about 500 ETH and 50 trillion Shiba Inu coins worth $1.1 billion at the time. Shiba Inu coin is a joke digital currency imitating Dogecoin, which itself was created as a joke coin.

Three months later, the bulk of the funds have yet to leave the digital currency wallets. According to a Bloomberg report, only $20 million has been disbursed thus far, with another $20 million in the pipeline.

Sandeep Nailwal, the founder of the India COVID Crypto Relief Fund, blames the slow disbursement of the funds on several reasons, one of which is regulatory hurdles. India, despite seeing unprecedented growth in digital currency ownership, continues to be hostile towards the industry.

Additionally, India has a law governing charitable donations that has made cashing out the digital currencies a bit more complex. According to Sandeep, the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act demands that he first converts the digital currencies to U.S. dollars, and then later to rupees, before he can disburse them. He revealed that 80% of the conversion is complete so far.

The meme coins donated by Buterin have also seen a drastic price plunge since the time of donation. The Canadian programmer donated 50 trillion Shiba Inu, which is 5% of the total coins in circulation. At the time of donation, they were worth close to $1 billion. However, the donation, which some viewed as a dump by Vitalik, led to an almost immediate 50% price crash.

Sandeep revealed in a recent interview that the Shiba Inu he holds is now worth about $400 million.

The New Delhi entrepreneur revealed that he has been trying to ensure that all the money gets to the grassroots level. To do this, he is working on hiring ‘a big-name audit firm’ for complete transparency. So far, he has been focusing on organizations that are distributing food in India, as well as the 10-BED ICU, an organization offering dire medical assistance to COVID-19 victims in rural India.

The Asian country has been grappling with a third wave of COVID-19 infections, with the daily infections exceeding 40,000. Over 31 million people have been infected overall, resulting in 425,000 deaths.

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