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In Canada, truck drivers are protesting against mandatory vaccinations. A GoFundMe campaign to support the protests has been canceled. Another fundraising campaign based on Bitcoin and the Lightning Network was then launched. With Tallycoin, a fundraiser of over 6 bitcoins, worth about $250,000 at the time of writing, is being run by more than 3,400 people from around the world. That comes with benefits — like privacy, censorship resistance, low transaction fees — and concerns.
What started as a relatively small convoy of Canadian truck drivers protesting mandatory vaccinations in their industry has grown into a week-long protest that has also blocked vital infrastructure. Truckers heading to Ottawa planned to block the streets of Canada’s capital, believing the government was not listening to their wishes regarding the right to free vaccination choices.
Given reports of similar movements across Europe, Ottawa residentswho struggle with the noise far-right sympathizers among the demonstrators and the fact that GoFundMe has now shut down a campaign to support the protests, which had raised around CA$10 million (US$7.8 million), has not lacked for controversy and headlines.
In a public statement on Friday, GoFundMe said they “now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has turned into an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity.” This is the reason for the suspension of the campaign. The majority of the funds are to be refunded or given to charities.
While GoFundMe’s move has been described by some as an attempt to censor and undermine support for an otherwise peaceful protest, some activists have taken it upon themselves to find alternative ways to raise funds. Such an attempt through the site GiveSendGo succeeded, despite difficult DDoS and bot attacks Raise over $1 million. Another attempt is made with Bitcoin and the decentralized crowdfunding platform tallycoin undertaken.
Tallycoin is a crowdfunding tool built on top of the Bitcoin network and tightly linked to the Lightning Network, which enables instant Bitcoin transfers with negligible fees. Unlike conventional crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe, Tallycoin does not take a portion of the funds raised, and the proceeds can be accessed directly by campaign organizers without the need for intermediaries such as payment processors or banks.
A campaign “Bitcoin For Truckers”which was started by a user using the alias Honkhonk Hodl, managed to collect more than 6 BTC, which is about $250,000 at the time of writing, from more than 3,400 people from around the world.
Many campaign supporters are showing their support for the protests, voicing their dissent, or just leaving humorous remarks in theirs Tip Notes. Posts with a lightning bolt icon were made through the Lightning Network (see Figure 2).
The censorship-resistant nature of bitcoin made it a useful tool for organizations outside the political mainstream early on, such as when it was used by Wikileaks to raise funds after Paypal froze their accounts. At the time PayPal stated: “[Paypal] may not be used for any activity that encourages, encourages, facilitates, or directs others to engage in illegal activities.” According to some, accepting donations in Bitcoin from WikiLeaks was a big step forward for Bitcoin acceptance.
However, Bitcoin has not been without controversy either. From BTC being used to buy illegal substances in the early days to ongoing concerns about the environmental impact. Bitcoin proponents argue, “Bitcoin is the currency of freedom, and freedom can be messy at times.” Bitcoin is not influenced by image, reputation and political pressure concerns. It’s a tool and it’s up to people how to use it. While the democratization of currencies and financial instruments is undoubtedly a good thing, in the case of Ottawa truckers, local government now has to deal with an influx of funds coming from an unspecified crowd in an unstoppable manner.
This campaign probably wouldn’t have been possible without the Lightning Network. The proliferation of bitcoin has led to a huge increase in transaction fees over the years, making it cumbersome to use and completely impractical for small transactions. The Lightning Network was created around 2017 as a solution to this problem. It acts as a mesh network built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain.
From 2017 to 2021, the Lightning Network struggled to catch on as few people used it. In September 2021, El Salvador voted to make Bitcoin legal tender and launched a Lightning Network-integrated wallet for its citizens. Could decentralized fundraising be the next step as one of the Lightning Network’s “killer apps”?
Some questions about this situation remain unanswered. In particular, Bitcoin’s pseudonymous nature could be seen as a double-edged sword, as no one can verify who launched a tallycoin campaign unless the pseudonymous creator is known in the community. Also: who can guarantee that the funds collected will be used for the stated purpose? Without guarantees or middlemen, this will be a difficult task. In addition, when this type of fundraising is successful, it can easily attract non-good faith fundraisers, such as scammers.
And how do the truckers want to spend their bitcoin? Converting crypto assets into fiat currency (traditional government-issued currency, such as the dollar) through a centralized exchange can also result in accounts being frozen. The ideal scenario for the Lightning Network to roll out is that companies sympathetic to the protesters’ cause allow them to pay directly with Bitcoin through the Lightning Network. Politics aside, this situation appears to be an interesting opportunity for grassroots acceptance of Bitcoin, but should be viewed with caution.
This guest article is in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner was created.
Cedric Heidt is a research associate at the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC) and a crypto enthusiast through and through. His main focus is currently on sustainability aspects of Bitcoin, play-to-earn gaming and decentralized finance in general. You can get him over LinkedIn or contact by email.
Prof. Dr. Phillip Sandner is head of the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC) at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. In 2018 he was recognized by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) as one of the “Top 30” economists in Germany. He is also one of the “Top 40 under 40” – a ranking of the German business magazine Capital. Prof. Sandner’s expertise includes in particular blockchain technology, crypto assets, distributed ledger technology (DLT), euro-on-ledgers, security tokens (STOs), digital transformation and entrepreneurship. You can email him or via LinkedIn contact him or on Twitter (@philipsandner).
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