As if Coronavirus was not enough for the world to grapple with, some crypto developers have now created a cryptocurrency that will allow investors to reap from infections and fatalities from the pandemic. On its website, the token brazenly declares itself “the world’s first crypto-backed by proof of death.”
The strange cryptocurrency lets people bet on the pandemic by earning profits, the more the virus spreads, and the more people die from it. The more this happens, the more valuable the coin becomes, increasing its demand.
The cryptocurrency calls itself NCOV, and it’s an ERC20 token. Its total supply is 7,604,953,650 – a figure that chillingly represents the world’s total population. According to the website, the coins will be burnt every 48 hours according to how many new infections and deaths have occurred since the last burn. The coin hopes to be deflationary using this strategy. As per the website, 298, 308 tokens have been burned as of March 23, 2020.
According to Reuters, the coin is created by seven developers – a majority based in Europe, and still, more are to come on board.
Perhaps in a bid to redeem its image, the team is marketing the coin as “2019-nCoV relief effort.” On the website they claim that 20% of the supply will be donated monthly to the Red Cross. “We plan to gradually trade the 20% total supply for ETH over time and donate it. We also plan to increase the amount donated at once over time as trading starts to increase.” As proof that they are actually donating, the team provides the public address of the donation wallet on Etherscan.
With new Corona infections rising rapidly, the tokens are burning fast. “Some people speculate a large portion of the supply will be burned due to the spread of the virus, so they invest,” Sunny Kemp, a user who also identified himself as one of the developers, told Reuters. Responding to criticism that the project is a macabre gimmick, Kemp said, “There are currently active pandemic bonds issued by the World Health Organization. How is that different?”
The coin is being traded on the Saturn Network – an equally dubious platform, where it makes up nearly 60% of the exchange’s paltry volume. Decrypt, a crypto news and analysis website investigated the exchange and found that it falls short of common crypto exchange standards. Some of the grievances are that the exchange’s website is “stupidly slow,” with an “absolutely putrid user interface” and a “lamentable” user experience. Decrypt also casts doubt on how decentralized the exchange truly is.
For interested investors, you need to get a MetaMask wallet and sign up at Saturn Exchange.
According to Decrypt, Kemp claims that the project intends to create awareness of the pandemic. “We intend to launch tip bots so people can spread Coronavirus on social media. This will help build public awareness.” He also claimed that Coronatoken was “in talks with a biochemist who is working to develop drugs to fight the virus. These are the kinds of partnerships we want to build.”
Asked why build a cryptocurrency instead of regular fundraising, the team said they thought, “this would be a good way to raise awareness in a unique and interesting way.” About the probability of people falsely reporting new Corona incidences or encourage its spread, the team responded that they “recognize that aspect of the project. We would never advocate for anyone to do such a thing, obviously. It would be morally and probably legally wrong. We believe Corona token holders are responsible.”
On Reddit, where the coin was first announced, many users were not thrilled with the idea. Only one user was impressed, commenting, “Thanks for the airdrops. I hope you can bring awareness to the spread of the virus, so people are prepared. The media is covering up what is really going on.”
Other Redditors criticized the project.
“Frankly, this is amoral,” said one.
“Tasteless,” offered another.
“Disgusting,” commented one more.
“This is why we can’t have nice things,” submitted another.
“You should be ashamed. I feel sorry for you and the rest of the team who play on people’s lives,” rebuked another.
Coronavirus, now called COVID-19, is a novel type of virus that causes respiratory illness. As of March 23, 2020, at least 339, 000 people have contracted the infection, and more than 14,700 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, a city in China, in December 2019. The exact origin of the disease has not been identified, though it is suspected that it originated from a seafood market in the city.
The virus has spread to at least 177 countries and territories, prompting states to implement lockdowns to stem its spread.
Finance markets have taken a beating as a result of the virus, prompting fears of a global coronavirus recession.
What do you think of Coronacoin? Is it a creative way to raise awareness, or is it a brazen joke taken too far?