While this donation is largely symbolic, blockchain does present an opportunity to make political donations more transparent
For the first time in Taiwan’s lively democracy, a political donation has been made in bitcoins.
Hsiao Hsin-chen, a candidate for Taipei City Council with the minority New Power Party, announced on his Facebook page that he had received a handful of anonymous donations in bitcoins with a total value of US$325 (NT$10,000.)
Hsiao, who announced on Facebook in August that he was open to accepting donations in this cryptocurrency, said the development had political as well as technological implications.
Bitcoin donations, he declared, could help keep Taiwan’s political system clean.
“Accepting bitcoins as a political donation is more symbolic than the act appears,” Hsiao said.
Bitcoin has a transparent nature. Each transaction is recorded publicly using blockchain technology, making it difficult to counterfeit. This could lead to more transparency when politicians accepted political donations, he said.
Generally in Taiwan if a political donation exceeds a government limit or the donor sets additional conditions on how the money will be used, it is considered a bribe.
In 2014, the U.S. Federal Elections Commission issued rules about how bitcoins could be used as political donations. Each U.S. citizen can donate bitcoins with value of no more than US$100. After these regulations were issued, many American political candidates have received donations in this cryptocurrency.
Taiwan is yet to formulate regulations on political donations in cryptocurrencies
Taiwan’s government, however, hasn’t formulated similar regulations. The Ministry of Interior currently classes bitcoins as non-cash political donations.
Taiwan’s recently-amended Political Donations Act, does state anonymous donors may give no more than US$325 (NT$10,000.) Even if an anonymous donation is in bitcoins, the value should be no more than this figure.
Bitcoin’s value, however, always floats. It could be 1 bitcoin to US$6,450 on one day and 1 bitcoin to US$7,230 the next day. This means that although a donation in bitcoins may not exceed the government limit of US$325 at the time of donation, a few days later, its value could soar much higher.
The Political Donations Act aims to pursue “transparency,” said the Control Yuan,a watchdog agency that monitors other branches of Taiwanese government, in a statement.
The Control Yuan, suggested, candidates should maintain full and accurate records of political donations.
If the value exceeds government limits, candidates should return the excess amount to the donor. If political candidates cannot find donors owing to anonymity, they should give the excess amount to the Control Yuan.
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