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Biden Turns to Coinbase for Crypto Donations as Trump Rallies Bitcoin Supporters

Last Updated June 13, 2024 11:13 AM
James Morales
Last Updated June 13, 2024 11:13 AM

Key Takeaways

  • The Biden campaign is considering accepting cryptocurrency donations.
  • Team Biden is reportedly in talks with Coinbase Commerce to facilitate payments.
  • Donald Trump said he would accept cryptocurrency donations in May.

With less than five months to go until the US presidential elections, Joe Biden and Donald Trump are courting pro-crypto voters and potential allies.

Just a day after Trump met with key players from the Bitcoin mining industry, on Wednesday, June 12, it was reported that the Biden camp is in discussions with Coinbase about accepting cryptocurrency donations.

Crypto Donations Gain Political Clout

Biden’s move to embrace crypto donations follows a similar one from the Trump campaign in May and reflects cryptocurrency’s rising prominence in the US economy.

The trend for crypto fundraising goes back a decade and was kickstarted by Republican New Hampshire Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Hemingway in 2014. But it wasn’t until the current election cycle that it went mainstream.

During the 2023 primaries, Republican candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Francis Suarez both accepted crypto donations, as did then-Democratic hopeful Robert Kennedy Jr. After repositioning himself as an independent, Kennedy went on to become the first presidential candidate in US history to accept campaign donations in Bitcoin.

With a growing amount of Americans holding cryptocurrency, there is an obvious financial incentive driving the trend. But it also reflects candidates’ wider efforts to win over pro-crypto voters. And, perhaps more importantly, the increasingly powerful crypto lobby.

Appeasing the Crypto Lobby

In the 2024 election cycle, Super PACs like Fairshake are flush with cash from the likes of Ripple, Coinbase, the Winklevoss twins and other crypto billionaires. Such groups have already spent tens of millions supporting their preferred Congressional candidates and attacking those deemed a threat. But they have yet to mobilize their capital in the all-important presidential race. 

Whether they ever will remains uncertain. But public comments from key figureheads, including Ripple’s Brad Garlinghouse and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, suggest Biden has few friends in the space. (To be clear, neither has offered a full-throated public endorsement of Trump, but they have both been critical of the current status quo, and by extension, the Biden administration.)

Trump Capitalizes on Frustration with Biden Crypto Policy

Biden’s move to accept cryptocurrency donations comes amid widespread condemnation of his administration’s approach to crypto policy.

Garry Gensler, the President’s appointee to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair, is currently the US crypto sector’s public enemy number one. And even when Republicans and Democrats in Congress joined forces to reign in the SEC’s crackdown, Biden intervened to veto the pro-crypto SAB 121 Repeal Bill.

Seizing on anti-Biden sentiment, Trump has promised to champion American Bitcoin miners if he becomes President. “Biden’s hatred of Bitcoin only helps China, Russia, and the Radical Communist Left,” he said on Tuesday. 

Biden’s Lukewarm Crypto Appeal: Too Little Too Late?

Having alienated large parts of the US crypto community and with his election rival positioning himself as the pro-crypto candidate, Biden has shifted his tone on the issue in recent weeks.

In May, the Biden campaign reportedly  started reaching out to crypto industry players in a bid to rewrite the hardline messaging he has espoused for most of his Presidency.

But despite the outreach efforts, Biden still vetoed the SAB 121 Repeal Bill. 

While the president’s rhetoric may have evolved somewhat, actions speak louder than words, and token gestures like accepting crypto donations still don’t engage with the industry’s concerns.

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