A political aspirant vying for a seat in a local government in the city of Taipei has established a record being the first politician in the history of Taiwan politics to receive a campaign donation in Bitcoin (BTC) or any cryptocurrency.
The BTC donation was reportedly made to Hasiao Hsin-chen who is running for a seat in Taipei City Council being the flag bearer of the New Power Party. The candidate received a US$325 bitcoin donation after a month of openly declaring his intention to run for office and a particular announcement that he would be accepting donations in cryptocurrency.
Integration of Crypto into Taiwan Politics
This donation made to Hasiao Hsin-chen will have not only political effect on the country but also a technological implication as this would further integrate the cryptocurrency into Taiwan politics through donations which will, in turn, increase the transparency as expected of any political ecosystem. By nature, the blockchain technology which is the bedrock technology of Bitcoin is suitable to achieve the transparency needed. Hasiao said;
“Accepting bitcoins as a political donation is more symbolic than the act appears.”
Despite the fact that Taiwan lacks comprehensive cryptocurrency legal framework, donations made towards the course of political campaigns are categorized as non-political donations and donors are permitted to enjoy anonymity privileges once it is not more than US$325. Though Taiwan’s Justice Minister, Qiu Taisan made a call for crypto regulation in Q1 with a feasible deadline being latest Q4. According to the minister, this regulation will in no small way curb money laundering and other illicit financial activities.
The Justice Minister made this plea during an anti-money laundering conference which was held at that period might further touch this subject-matter in the Asia Pacific Anti-Money Laundering Organization meeting expected to be held in Taiwan in late November. The minister also had the opinion that the regulation of cryptocurrency in the country is not something an agency can single-handedly achieve, as agencies within the state would have to synergize, agencies such as Bureau of investigations, the ministry of the interior including the central bank.
Likely Rational Behind this Decision
Almost concurrently, Wellington Koo, the chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission of Taiwan reportedly stated that these efforts made by the Taiwan government are solely to ensure that bitcoin and other virtual currencies are not instruments of money laundering. Wellington Koo, therefore, assured the cryptocurrency community in the country that the government would not be following the lead of China in imposing stringent measures on cryptocurrency instead, an enabling environment would be created for the Taiwanese cryptocurrency sector.
After the consideration of the growing stature and relevance of virtual currencies in the world, Shih Jun-ji, Taiwan’s vice premier has earlier stated this year, calling for measures to be implemented so as to safeguard the island country’s financial health. It was also reported on several media platforms that the vice premier considered the market cap of Bitcoin (BTC) then which is about US$160,000 which is double of Taiwan’s budget.
Contrary legislation in Other Political Jurisdictions
It was reported that Californian watchdog, the Political Practices Commission, which is the commission that serves as the state’s campaign regulator, recently ruled that cryptocurrency donations are disallowed as political campaign donations for aspirants running for office in the state.
The vote ended on Thursday with 3-1 votes, the former being in favor of a ban, according to the press statement, the major concerns considered by the authorities was how to track the origin of cryptocurrency donations and their transparency in the political stratosphere.
Reportedly, the vote was triggered as a result of a staff report submitted to the commission sometimes this month where certain questions were posed to the commission as regards how it intends to ensure transparency with the knowledge that tracking a donation made in Bitcoin or any other virtual currency can be very difficult if not impossible.
Politics is no doubt a social science, the adoption of a country cannot be blindly imported into another political jurisdiction with varying characteristics; various society would consider different internal factors before arriving at a policy. This is evident in the above instance where we have witnessed some countries clamping down on cryptocurrencies, we have also seen government creating enabling an environment for its growth, and the individual government would have to stick to what suits it.