A new startup called Engage Raise will provide politicians the option to receive Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies for political campaign donations. The company is owned and operated by Engage Labs and will be launching the service in July across the U.S.
Campaign donations are a tool for citizens and corporations to convert wealth into political influence. Generally, corporate donations dwarf those of individual contributions. Companies are often criticized for undermining the democratic process and for maintaining a status quo for powerful industries with a lot at stake.
The arrival of already-disruptive technologies, like Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, to also be used for political campaign donations has the potential to fundamentally change the way politicians interface with the industry.
Engage Labs CEO Martin Dobelle explained that “Candidates can use our platform to connect with the crypto and blockchain community via fundraising, events, and messaging.” Dobelle added that campaigns will be able to process contributions in Bitcoin and all major cryptocurrencies through a web browser and by adding a widget to their campaign sites.
This new terrain comes with a few challenges for the platform. For instance, while there are methods to use Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies anonymously, donations through Engage Raise will need to be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission similar to traditional campaign contributions.
According to Dobelle, Engage Labs has already raised nearly $1 million in pre-seed investments, with a large portion of funds coming from business leaders. Allan Keen, chairman of real estate firm Keewin Real Property, said he invested in Engage Labs because he believes it will help bring “the Democratic process further into the digital age, by allowing the acceptance of cryptocurrencies for campaign donations.”
This week Bitcoin plunged to a new 18-month-low, and companies within the industry are feeling the pressure. Coinbase recently announced it was laying off about a fifth of its staff, and the industry is still re-assessing the situation after the sudden collapse of Terra Luna. The Terra debacle wiped out $200 billion worth of funds within the industry but Dobelle is confident in the long term outlook for the space.
“We’re optimistic that the broader market will recover, along with crypto, and that a major crypto up-cycle will lead into the crucially important election in 2024,” he said.