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Canadian Bartering Hub Bunz Launches Cryptocurrency Amid Heavy Backlash

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM
Samantha Chang
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM

Bunz, a Canadian online bartering community, launched its own cryptocurrency on April 9, triggering backlash from critics who say the move goes against the company’s ethos of promoting a cash-free economy.

Bunz announced the roll-out of its BTZ cryptocurrency in a press release , saying it has partnered with more than 100 local food, beverage, and retail stores to accept BTZ in exchange for food, coffee, beer, clothing, beauty services, and other goods.

Bunz’s 200,000 members will each automatically get 1,000 units of BTZ (equal to about $10). “I went into a coffee shop today and bought a cup of coffee for 300 BTZ,” Bunz CEO Sascha Mojtahedi told Vice .

Social Media Backlash

Bunz, which was founded in 2013 as a Facebook bartering group, received funding from Fidelity and an angel investor in March 2018.

Many on social media slammed the company’s move to launch a digital currency, saying it’s selling out, the Financial Post  reported.

“So much for subverting capitalism,” one Facebook user wrote.

Another chimed in: “RIP Bunz spirit and integrity. Develop something to help poor people get around the financial constraints of capitalism. Capitalize the hell out of it. Develop your own currency for it (but don’t call it money lol). Stand back and watch something that was once beautiful die a protracted, awkward death.”

coffee shop
Bunz has partnered with local coffee shops and food stores to accept its BTZ cryptocurrency. (Photo: Pixabay)

But Bunz CEO Sascha Mojtahedi insisted the community isn’t steering away from its roots. “I actually see it as doubling down rather than diverging from the ethos Bunz represents,” he said.

Mojtahedi explained: “Because it’s a bartering community we’ve had a number of issues around value disparity. The divisibility of goods and all these problems can be solved by a cryptocurrency. I think this just gives our community more flexibilty.”

Jean-Paul Lam, an associate professor of economics at the University of Waterloo, disagrees. “It completely defeats the purpose of what it was in the first place, which was a cashless society that would exchange goods for goods,” Lam told the Financial Post.

As cryptocurrencies become more mainstream — led by Top Dog bitcoin — you can be sure more groups will launch their own digital currencies.

Last week, a mayoral candidate in Seoul proposed rolling out the “S-Coin,” a virtual currency for the capital city of South Korea. In October 2017, Dubai announced it was developing a blockchain-based crypto called “emCash.”