Bitcoin has been embraced by merchants from Overstock.com to neighborhood bars and pizzerias, and accepting the cryptographic currency is also proving to be a boon to some charities. Take the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. MAPS, a California nonprofit organization that promotes research into the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs, MDMA and marijuana, raised $21,000 in Bitcoin in less than two months.
I asked MAPS communication director Brad Burge and communication and marketing associate Brian Brown about their thoughts on why Bitcoin appealed to their donors.
MOTHERBOARD: How did you start to accept Bitcoin donations?
Burge: It was really a result of a couple of things happening. Somebody just walked in the door of our Santa Cruz office and said, “I have all of these Bitcoins.” People are actually walking in the door and offering these things to us.
And then the next day, [Dec. 3], we were doing an AMA on Reddit with almost 2,000 questions. Part of this online community is these Bitcoins, and people were asking us over and over, “Do you accept Bitcoins?” So we put up our Bitcoin portal later that day. We didn’t go out soliciting – we’ve been responding to the demand.
Why do you think Bitcoins are so popular with your audience?
Burge: I think there’s a lot of reasons. I think, one, the fact is Bitcoins did become popular as a result of an online drug trade so there are people who are already interested in drugs specifically and are interested also in experimenting with new forms of technology.
There's long been a connection between people who use psychedelics on their own and the network engineer community. The history of the Internet is tied in very closely with the history of psychedelics as a lot of publications have covered. So there's this interest in experimental forms of technology that applies to currency and to [chemical] compounds, like the kind you can acquire on Silk Road.
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