For parents, the few weeks leading up to Christmas are often easier than the rest of the year. Children across the globe suddenly start doing their chores without complaints, hoping that their last-minute obedience is going to land them on Santa’s “nice” list by making up for their mischief earlier in the year.
As we grow older, the charm of Santa’s existence grows dimmer, but the concept of good and bad is an integral part of human existence. And it’s no different in the cryptocurrency and blockchain realm.
Using crypto for charitable causes or leveraging it to battle financial inequality is clearly good. And stealing crypto or scamming others is undoubtedly bad. But not all cases are black and white — purely good or purely bad. Some cases are a blurry gray with a mix of good and bad, just like every human.
So who’s going to feature on Santa’s list of “nice” and who’s going to wake up to find nothing under their Christmas tree this year? While Santa has the final say, here are some suggestions to make his decision easier.
The ones who have been ‘nice‘
- Jack Dorsey
Former Twitter CEO and current CEO of Block, previously known as Square Inc., sold his first-ever tweet as an NFT for US$2.9 million. The tweet simply read, “just setting up my twttr” and was published on March 21, 2006.
Dorsey said that he would convert the Ether in which the NFT was sold to Bitcoin and donate the proceeds to GiveDirectly’s Africa Response fund. US$2.9 million may not be a big sum for the man whose net worth is pegged at US$10.5 billion, but it’s the thought that counts for Santa.
Besides, Dorsey has always been generous and philanthropic. Last year, he promised to donate US$1 billion in Block equity — about 28% of his net worth at the time — to Covid-19 relief and other causes.
- Jack Butcher
Afghan families have had a tough time this year. With the Taliban taking over, 3.5 million people were forced to leave their homes within the nation while 2.2 million Afghans took refuge in neighboring countries.
Butcher, founder of New York-based graphic design agency Visualize Value, along with the Cooperative for American Remittances (CARE) launched a non-fungible token fund in August to provide care packages to displaced Afghan families. Each NFT was designed to support one Afghan family for a month, providing food, water and shelter, according to Butcher. The proceeds were sent directly to CARE to provide support for the families.
The individual care package NFTs were sold out in 10 days from launch, raising over US$145,000. Butcher is, therefore, not only going to feature on Santa’s list of “nice” but also earn the gratitude of the over 2,000 Afghan families that have benefited from the fund so far. Hopefully Santa will also remember the donors who also deserve credit.
True to its name, Metagood is an NFT platform where a portion of each NFT drop goes towards a charitable cause chosen by the creators. Metagood was launched by venture capitalist and crypto enthusiast Bill Tai, the first investor in Zoom, an early backer of Twitter and an investor in Dapper Labs, the company behind NBA Top Shots NFTs.
But Metagood is not the only NFT platform that will win a place in Santa’s “nice” list. A number of other NFT platforms have also launched this year that are testing the potential of NFTs for charity. For instance, Switzerland-based NFT platform DoinGud launched last month to incentivize NFT projects to donate and align themselves with charitable causes.
It can be safely assumed that trying to protect the planet against climate change is a good deed in Santa’s books. SavePlanetEarth is a U.K.-based global environmental initiative that is developing certified carbon-credit NFTs, a green blockchain fully powered by renewable energy and a carbon credit exchange that will use native $SPE token. SavePlanetEarth’s carbon credits can be purchased by individuals or organizations trying to offset their carbon footprint.
Concerns around the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies and blockchain have skyrocketed this year. Tesla even stopped accepting Bitcoin for payments citing the carbon footprint left by miners. Tesla CEO Elon Musk later said that the company will start accepting Bitcoin again when at least 50% of miners use renewable energy.
Therefore, with the discussion around climate change heating up, SavePlanetEarth is just one of the environmentally-conscious crypto projects that have come up this year. Others that also deserve a place in Santa’s “nice” list include Aquari, an environmental conservation organization powered by cryptocurrency that operates with the objective of cleaning up our lakes, rivers and beaches, and AquaGoat, a yield-generating social cryptocurrency where 1% of the transaction fee is sent to charities that help with ocean conservation.
The ‘naughty’ ones
- Mr. White Hat — Poly Network hacker
This entry on Santa’s naughty list is admittedly ambiguous. On Aug. 10, Chinese decentralized finance platform Poly Network suffered the largest DeFi hack in history, in which over US$600 million worth of tokens were stolen. Curiously though, the hacker, who came to be known as Mr. White Hat claimed that he only intended to expose a flaw in the Poly’s code.
In the following two weeks, after humiliating Poly Network, the hacker finally returned all stolen assets and even the US$500,000 bounty offered by the company. Poly Network had also offered the top security job to the mischief-maker. It is not known whether Mr. White Hat accepted the offer.
On the one hand, Mr. White Hat caused extreme anguish to the victims of the hack whose assets had disappeared. He then extended the anguish by delaying the return of the assets. But on the other hand, he claimed that he only had benevolent intentions and wanted to expose the flaw and force Poly Network to fix it. He even showed that he wasn’t greedy by returning the bounty.
His intentions may have been pure, provided he didn’t cave and return the assets out of fear of getting caught. But his method was not unimpeachable. Does that mean this hacker should be put in on Santa’s “nice” list after all? We’ll let Santa take the final call on this one.
It is worth noting, however, that Poly Network was just one of the several DeFi hacks that took place this year. In fact, DeFi hacks and exploits surpassed non-DeFi related crypto hacks this year. The total loot of these DeFi exploits is pegged at US$12 billion as of November. Mr. White Hat’s entry into the “naughty” list may deserve the benefit of doubt, but the ones that got away with billions are definitely staying put in the “naughty” list.
- Scam artists and con coins
The Squid Game rug pull caused a furor in the global crypto community. The cryptocurrency, based on the popular eponymous South Korean Netflix Series, first appeared on Oct. 20. The cryptocurrency’s website promised a play-to-earn replica of the tournament in the Netflix show. The crypto token was supposed to be used as an entry fee and the winner was supposed to get 90% of the entry fee paid by eliminated players, according to its website, which is now defunct. The token’s price had surged from US$0.01 at launch to US$2,861, right before its collapse on Nov. 1.
The creators made off with over US$3 million. Quite a few rug pulls have taken place this year, where money was lost, but this was by far the most discussed since the wide media coverage of the token prior to the collapse had helped attract investors. A rug pull is where creators of the token abandon the project and run away with the funds raised.
Speaking of rug pulls, the perpetrators behind two major scams, who were also featured in our Halloween “horror stories” of the year article, also deserve a mention in this list. In April, the founder of a crypto exchange in Turkey stole nearly US$2 billion by duping around 300,000 users. In June, two South African brothers — Raees and Ameer Cajee — stole US$3.6 billion worth of Bitcoin and disappeared.
- Adin Ross
Ross is a popular Twitch streamer who promoted a cryptocurrency MILF in May. In June, however, in one of his streams, Ross said: “I got paid a bag to do that shit. Like, I don’t give a fuck. I hope none of you guys actually bought it.”
Ross was reportedly paid US$200,000 for the promotion and later denied being involved in any scam. According to Mashable, the token’s price is down by nearly 98% this month since Ross promoted it.
Influencers command the attention of thousands of viewers and are essentially called influencers because of the strong sway they exert over their followers’ decisions. This demands a certain level of honesty and responsibility. Ross failed at it terribly — he has undoubtedly been naughty this year to say the least.
- Ransomware ruffians
Technology has been progressing in leaps and bounds — and so have the hoodlums that want to profit out of it by illicit means. This year was filled with ransomware attacks — a tactic where hackers infect computer systems with malware that encrypts data and then demand ransom for the decryption key — that allowed hackers to make off with millions.
In May, German chemical distributor Brenntag paid US$4.4 million in Bitcoin to DarkSide, the criminal outfit behind its ransomware attack. DarkSide claimed to have stolen 150 GB of data from Brenntag’s U.S. division and initially demanded US$7.5 million in Bitcoin as ransom.
In July, IT service provider Kaseya was hacked. The attack affected nearly 1,500 organizations that used Kaseya. REvil, a criminal gang, claimed responsibility for the attack and demanded US$70 million in Bitcoin, but Kaseya decided to report the crime and cooperate with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency instead of paying the ransom.
REvil was also responsible for a May attack on JBS, one of the largest meat suppliers in the U.S. The firm had to shut down operations at five of its U.S.-based plants while its operations in Australia and the U.K was also disrupted. JBS paid US$11 million in Bitcoin to regain control and limit the impact of the attack.
REvil’s stockings might now be stuffed with Bitcoin — but there is no doubt it did not come from Santa!