- Donation processors like Democrats ‘ActBlue and Republicans’ WinRed don’t accept cryptocurrency.
- Some campaigns want this to change so they can have a single platform for all donors.
- “There is a great demand for this,” said one candidate.
Cryptocurrency enthusiasts coming to Congress want an easy way for donors to fill their campaign coffers with bitcoin and altcoins.
Major political payment processing platforms, including Democrats ‘ActBlue and Republicans’ WinRed, do not accept cryptocurrency. Some campaigns want that to change, and soon.
Campaign staff for Republican Representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina would prefer a single platform for traditional contributions via bank drafts or credit cards and crypto contributions, “instead of diversifying donors in different locations in based on their preferences, ”Austin Livingston, a spokesperson for Norman’s campaign, wrote in an email.
Matthew Diemer, a Democratic candidate for Congress from Ohio, in september tweeted that his team had been asking ActBlue since April to accept the cryptocurrency. He included a screenshot of a note from ActBlue indicating that the platform “will not be able to develop this capability in the near future”.
A representative from ActBlue emailed her in response to the tweet to let her know that she would forward her comments.
“There is a high demand for this,” he told ActBlue in an email he shared with Insider. “I wish I had a one-size-fits-all solution.”
The hurdle of payment processing has deterred some candidates from accepting cryptocurrency, with only a handful of political candidates and committees making the effort.
Asked if she accepts bitcoin, then congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in december 2017 tweeted: “Not until ActBlue does! Also, I’m not sure about the FEC laws regarding crypto.”
Ocasio-Cortez, now a Democratic representative from New York, uses ActBlue for donations.
Candidates such as Diemer are moving forward with cryptocurrency donations, using two payment service providers on their campaign websites – one for traditional contributions and another for bitcoin.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s first major national committee to accept cryptocurrency donations, uses both WinRed and BitPay – the latter is a service that converts crypto contributions into dollars before they reach the campaign account of a political committee.
The Congressional Democratic campaign committee declined to comment on ActBlue. The NRCC did not respond to a request for comment as to whether WinRed should accept cryptocurrency.
A representative for ActBlue declined to comment for this story. Representatives for WinRed and Anedot, another Republican-focused payment processor that does not yet accept political contributions in cryptocurrency, did not respond to requests for comment.
Change for 2022?
“As crypto becomes more and more of a standard, then all of these platforms – WinRed, Anedot, ActBlue – will all make adjustments to make cryptocurrency acceptable on their platforms, but the time is not right. still there, “said a senior Republican official who is familiar with political cryptocurrency donations but spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak with the press.
NGP VAN, which provides payment processing services to Democratic political committees, announced in 2014 it would create a bitcoin payment option for customers, but it has not been widely spread among politicians.
In Congress, members of the “Blockchain Caucus” from all political backgrounds are promoting a “hands-off regulatory approach” to blockchain technology, which is used by digital currencies.
A few members of this caucus – including Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican from Minnesota who co-chairs the caucus and heads the NRCC, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat – accept cryptocurrency contributions through their campaign committees. .
Aarika Rhodes, Democratic Congressional candidate from California, told Insider that the cryptocurrency community gave her campaign a “real big boost” in donations when she added a way to donate to her campaign. website.
It would be lucrative for ActBlue to accept bitcoin donations because they get a percentage, and it would be easier for applicants to have all of their donations in one place, said Rhodes, an elementary school teacher who challenges the Democratic representative. Brad Sherman. in a primary. She expects more applicants to prepare for bitcoin in 2024.
“Campaigning through different sources is good for candidates, and I think it’s more innovative and that’s the future,” she said.
Diemer said his campaign accepts cryptocurrency donations to support the crypto community, crypto technology and innovation in general. He wants ActBlue to accept cryptocurrency so that “people can go to a link and donate however they want,” he said.
Norman, a cryptocurrency supporter, does not yet accept crypto contributions, and his campaign has not made any crypto requests to WinRed. Livingston said he did not know of any of his donors who had asked to contribute in this way.
“But it’s definitely something we’re keeping an eye on, especially as cryptocurrencies gain popularity,” he wrote in an email.
Norman ultimately wants to comply with reporting requirements and ensure that his donors can contribute in the way that is right for them. Unless WinRed can integrate crypto into their platform, Norman’s campaign is unlikely to continue donating cryptocurrency in 2022. That’s more likely in 2024 if he decides to run again, Livingston said. .
“It probably won’t be too long before its donors start applying for crypto,” Livingston said. “So at the staff level, our hope is that the crypto can eventually be integrated into the WinRed platform, which Representative Norman’s campaign is already using.”
C. Ryan Barber contributed to this story.