People turn to Bitcoin as Canadian authorities crack down on the Freedom Convoy protest
In attempt to defund the weeks-long protest - known as the Freedom Convoy - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergency Act that gave authorities the power to freeze and suspend bank accounts without a court order. This was the first time the law has been enforced since it was passed in 1988.
According to Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister, the government has also expanded anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules to cover crowdfunding platforms and payment providers.
Following government’s efforts to cut off protesters from the traditional financial system, supporters flocked to cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin became one of the major fundraising methods after crowd-funding website GoFundMe froze nearly $10 million raised for the cause on its platform and later refunded donors following a backlash.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has issued an order requiring all FINTRAC-regulated organizations in Canada to stop facilitating transactions coming from 34 crypto wallets associated with the demonstration.
The Canadian government started demanding cryptocurrency wallet developers to freeze funds involved in the Freedom Convoy movement. Nunchuk wallet developers made their official response public, explaining to authorities that self-custodial crypto assets cannot be frozen, adding at the end that “when the Canadian dollar becomes worthless, we will be here to server you, too”, which went viral on Twitter.
The Freedom Convoy began in late January as a protest against vaccine mandates for border crossing, but then turned into a broader demonstration against government-imposed pandemic restrictions. Hundreds of cars and trucks have arrived in Canada’s capital Ottawa and blocked the roads until police cleared the site.
Ironically, last year Justin Trudeau has been a vocal supporter of India’s farmer protests, during which farmers arrived on trucks to country’s capital New Delhi and blocked a major highway until the government withdrew controversial free-market-oriented bills after more than a year of negotiations with protesters.
El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele has pointed out that Canada is one of the top ranking countries in the “democracy index” and yet its government attempts to crackdown on opposing voices.
Since inception, Bitcoin has been often used by those who has been barred from the traditional financial system. Alongside with darknet marketplaces, WikiLeaks has been one of the early adopters of Bitcoin after it was censored from receiving donations via traditional payment methods.
More governments choose crypto legalization over a blanket ban
The Ukrainian parliament has voted to legalize cryptocurrencies in the country. The bill contains requirements for cryptocurrency service providers as well as fines for violating the new rules. Amid growing conflict with Russia, Ukrainian hacktivists have seen a significant increase in bitcoin donations.
It’s worth mentioning that unlike in El Salvador, cryptos didn’t become a legal tender in Ukraine.
On that note, El Salvador’s crypto-friendly President Nayib Bukele announced plans to introduce a series of legal reforms to reduce bureaucracy, create tax incentives, and offer citizenship to foreign investors.
Small developing countries are not the only ones trying to attract crypto investors and entrepreneurs with more US states jumping on the bandwagon.
In an interview with CNBC, the governor of US state Colorado announced plans to accept cryptocurrencies for state tax payments and other state-related fees by the end of this summer. The governor highlighted that cryptocurrencies will be converted into dollars upon receiving payments to protect the government from price volatility of digital assets.
Another bi-partisan bill has been introduced in California that could potentially allow residents to pay state tax in crypto.
In other news
Following an insider trading scandal, the US Federal Reserve has tightened the rules for its senior officials to purchase and hold various investments, including cryptocurrencies. Under the new rules, the purchasing and selling of securities will be permitted with a prior approval, 45 days’ notice, and an agreement to hold the asset for at least one year.
The largest decentralized exchange in the Binance Smart Chain (BSC) ecosystem PancakeSwap will reportedly start blocking access to its website from Belarus, Crimea, Cuba, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe. PancakeSwap won’t be the first DEX to restrict access to its website based on the IP address. For example, the 1inch DEX aggregator geoblocks users from the US.
Crypto exchange Binance has removed its name from its blockchain ecosystem, renaming the Binance Smart Chain (BSC) into BNB Chain and its native token BNB - previously known as Binance coin - into the “Build and Build” token.