Ethereum co-founder donates over $1bn in cryptocurrencies to India’s Covid relief fund

The 27-year-old Vitalik Buterin donated Ether and SHIB coins

Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, became the world's youngest crypto billionaire after Ether breached the $3,000 level last week. Bloomberg
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Vitalik Buterin, billionaire co-founder of the cryptocurrency network Ethereum, donated more than $1 billion in digital currencies to the India Covid-Crypto Relief Fund, according to a report.

The 27-year-old Mr Buterin, who is the world's youngest known crypto billionaire, made the donation by offloading dog-themed meme tokens, Shiba Inu coins (SHIB), that were gifted to him.

Nearly 50.7 trillion SHIB coins – worth more than $1 billion on Wednesday – were sent to the relief fund from Mr Buterin’s account. He also sent $2 million worth of Ether, the in-house currency of the Ethereum network, to the fund that was set up by Indian technology entrepreneur Sandeep Nailwal.

"It was $1bn when he made the donation – in a cryptocurrency that few had heard of and whose value plunged right after news of the donation spread," Wall Street Journal reported.

The transaction sparked panic among investors and drove the SHIB price down by about 35 per cent in the past 24 hours, according to data on Uniswap, a decentralised finance platform on which it trades.

This could mean the amount donated could reduce depending on the crypto's value. However, SHIB's price has slightly improved since then.

Mr Buterin’s crypto wallet, which he made public in 2018, holds 333,521 Ether worth $1.13bn as of May 4. The second largest cryptocurrency was down by more than 11 per cent at $3,799 a coin at 02.19pm UAE time on Thursday.

However, Mr Nailwal rushed to reassure investors on Twitter, saying the funds will be used responsibly.

“One thing we have learnt from Ethereum and Vitalik Buterin is importance of community,” Mr Nailwal, who is also the co-founder and chief operating officer of blockchain start-up Polygon, said on Twitter.

"We will not do anything which hurts any community [e]specially the retail community involved with $SHIB … we will act responsibly! Plz dont worry $SHIB holders."

Last month, Mr Nailwal had appealed to the global crypto community to step up their donations to support Covid-19 relief efforts in India.

Asia's second-most populous nation has been grappling with a brutal second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. India has logged  362,727 new Covid-19 infections over the last 24 hours while deaths climbed by 4,120, taking the toll to 258,317, health ministry data showed on Thursday. The country currently has a total caseload of 23.7 million.

“Can't take this sitting down anymore, I am going to run a Covid relief campaign in lieu of what’s going on in India. Need help from the global crypto community. I will take full responsibility for transparency, funds usage and regulatory compliance,” Mr Nailwal said on Twitter last month.