The creator of bitcoin appealed to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange not to use the cryptocurrency to receive donations due to fears that government attention would “destroy” it. The revelations surfaced from Assange’s latest book that comes out this week, When Google Met WikiLeaks. In a
The United Way Worldwide has long offered several ways for supporters to donate, such as workplace campaigns, planned giving and donating stock. A new option was added this week — bitcoin. The move makes United Way Worldwide the largest charity to accept a virtual currency.
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The creator of bitcoin appealed to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange not to use the cryptocurrency to receive donations due to fears that government attention would “destroy” it.
The revelations surfaced from Assange’s latest book that comes out this week, When Google Met WikiLeaks.
In a footnote, the WikiLeaks founder said he spoke with the pseudonymous inventor of bitcoin after Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and other financial companies pulled their services from his organisation in 2010.
When a member of a bitcoin forum suggested Wikileaks could accept bitcoin, Nakamoto apparently claimed such integration would “provoke unwanted government interest” in the nascent cryptocurrency.
“The project needs to grow gradually so the software can be strengthened along the way,” Nakamoto said. “I make this appeal to WikiLeaks not to try to use bitcoin.
“Bitcoin is a small beta community in its infancy. You would not stand to get more than pocket change and the heat you would bring would likely destroy us at this stage.”
The original post can still be viewed on an archived version of the bitcoin forum. Six days later, Nakamoto disappeared from the bitcoin community and has remained an evasive figure ever since.
His final post read: “It would have been nice to get this attention in any other context. WikiLeaks has kicked the hornet’s nest and the swarm is headed towards us.”
As a result, Wikileaks did not launch a bitcoin donation channel on its site, instead waiting until the cryptocurrency’s first major boom on 14 June 2011.
To date, WikiLeaks has received close to 4,000 bitcoins in donations, according to its public bitcoin address, the equivalent to around $1.8m (£1.1m, €1.4m) Assange recently recognised the significance of bitcoin in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit.
During the Q&A, Assange referred to bitcoin as “an extremely important innovation” that uses technology that breaks George Orwell’s dictum “he who controls the present controls the past and he who controls the past controls the future”.
The United Way Worldwide has long offered several ways for supporters to donate, such as workplace campaigns, planned giving and donating stock. A new option was added this week — bitcoin.
The move makes United Way Worldwide the largest charity to accept a virtual currency. Such currencies don’t exist in paper or coin form but are downloaded from a virtual wallet, often on the owner’s cellphone, to the charity’s website, which converts it to cash.
The currencies, which are not backed by a bank, are slowly gaining acceptance by charities.
“United Way Worldwide embraces the opportunity to make it easier for donors to support the causes that matter most to them, and this means innovating to evolve with the donor landscape,” said Brian A. Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide. “Achieving United Way’s vision for the world — where all individuals and families achieve their human potential — requires innovation powered by new technology and outreach methods,” he said.
In announcing the move Monday, United Way Worldwide said it recognizes bitcoin as an emerging technology that reduces costs for making online donations. There are no transaction fees.
It’s also an opportunity to reach a new pool of donors, the organization said.
For now, bitcoin will be accepted only for United Way’s Innovation Fund, the charity said. That fund is designed to “transform United Way and the social sector through technology, relationships and efficiency,” according to the agency.
United Way has partnered with Coinbase, a leading bitcoin platform used by 1.6 million users and 36,000 merchants worldwide, United Way reports.
The move is a significant boon to cryptocurrency supporters, who are trying to expand the pool of businesses, charities and other groups that accept the currency.
United Way Worldwide is the world’s largest privately funded nonprofit. It has 9.7 million donors and raises more than $5 billion a year.