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KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — The fate of Harapan Coin, which claims to be the world’s first political fundraising platform utilising cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, may now be decided by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Presidential Council.
Its co-founder Khalid Abdul Samad told Malay Mail that Harapan Coin was originally a personal project meant to raise funds for the then Opposition bloc to be used during the 14th general election.
“Since the election is over, there’s been no discussion regarding the status of Harapan Coin [and whether we will continue it or not]. At that time, it was a method to raise funds from cryptocurrency users.
“Now I think I need to bring the matter up to the PH Presidential Council’s next meeting because it was originally my personal project to find novel ways of obtaining donations for the coalition and for Parti Amanah Negara,” said the Shah Alam MP.
However, Khalid’s involvement in endorsing his own cryptocurrency has raised eyebrows among some in the public, even PH supporters, due to the unregulated and volatile nature of the industry.
On its website, Harapan Coin told its supporters that the currency — denoted as HRP — has the “potential to become an official currency if Harapan wins election”.
It sells a minimum of 100 HRP at the rate of US$45, or roughly RM182, making 1 HRP worth RM1.82 at the time of writing.
Khalid, who is the communications director of Amanah, has since been sworn in as the Federal Territories minister and is part of the Cabinet.
Asked whether the coin was legal due to restrictions placed on cryptocurrency trading by Bank Negara Malaysia, Khalid denied that any trading or speculation was involved.
In February, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) finalised its guidelines which outlined the reporting obligations for cryptocurrency exchanges. At least nine exchanges have registered.
Then BNM governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim stressed that the central bank still does not authorise nor endorse cryptocurrency-related activities. Cryptocurrencies are still not recognised as legal tender, he said.
However, Khalid explained that Harapan Coin only provided a platform for cryptocurrency users to donate to the cause using cryptocurrency that they already own.
The fund has collected over US$2,000 at the time of publication. It had targeted US$257,750,000 for election purposes.
Khalid said he used the monies to pay for the website’s[a] system administrator, and salary for a PH secretariat staff.
Harapan Coin was started in January 2017 by its team leader Aziz M. based in the US, along with Australia-based Yi Ling who handles its marketing and public relations, UK-based blockchain developer K. Pathmanathan, France-based web developer Anthony R., and Singapore-based graphic designer Awang Y.
In October that year, Aziz and his team met with Khalid and managed to convince the latter to hop on board.
The first day of 2018 saw the pre-sale launch while the Initial Coin Offering was held from April 4 to April 19 this year.
Unlike Khalid, the five team members had refused to identify themselves, fearing reprisals from then ruling Barisan Nasional.
However, they divulged that they are supporters of the PKR-linked data analysts Invoke Malaysia, the Anwar Ibrahim Club, election watchdog Bersih 2.0, and Rafizi Ramli’s Fan Club Australia.
In a Youtube video on the website, Khalid explained that any donation collected will be split into three: 30 per cent to the system administrator, 30 per cent to Khalid’s Parti Amanah Negara, and the remaining 40 per cent will be handed to the PH coalition.