In an extremely crowded field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, everyone is looking for a way to stand out—and to raise more money. California Rep. Eric Swalwell, 38, believes he has found a vehicle to achieve both: cryptocurrency.
Swalwell’s campaign announced on Thursday it will accept crypto donations.
To take crypto, Swalwell’s campaign is using The White Company, a blockchain payments firm that accepts bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), bitcoin SV (BSV), ether (ETH), stellar lumens (XLM), and its own stablecoin WSD that runs on the Stellar network.
“Blockchain can change the world—if we let it,” Swalwell says in a short video on the crypto donations page. “Is there a risk? Sure. That’s why we must test, re-test, and constantly monitor such systems for interference or abuses by using expert oversight. We can do that, with the transparency and accountability to ensure public trust... Government has to keep up with the times, and the times have changed. We must study, but ultimately embrace, these new frontiers.”
In accepting crypto, Swalwell joins fellow Democratic candidate Andrew Yang, founder of Venture For America.
Yang has been accepting crypto donations for nearly a year, and was the first candidate to formally call for clearer regulatory guidelines on cryptocurrency. All of this has led crypto news sites to christen him “the bitcoin candidate.” Among bitcoin believers on Twitter, #YangGang has become a popular hashtag.
Speaking at the annual CoinDesk Consensus conference in New York last week, Yang said, “I believe blockchain needs to be a big part of our future. If I’m in the White House, oh boy are we going to have some fun in terms of the cryptocurrency community.”
Swalwell, when asked about Yang’s already-established reputation as the crypto candidate, is a little cagey. He tells Yahoo Finance in an email: “I’m glad to see other candidates using innovative technologies in their campaigns. I’ve long supported integrating new technologies into the way we work.”
The White Company, in its communications to journalists about partnering with the Swalwell campaign, is more overt in calling out Yang’s campaign, touting that donating via the White Company is “much faster, does not need a 30-minute compliance call, and can accept a much wider range of cryptocurrencies.” (Yang’s campaign asks those who wish to donate in crypto to book a 15-minute phone call with a compliance representative, after which the campaign sends its wallet address via email; supporters can then send cryptocurrency donations from their own wallets using whatever exchange they choose.)
Swalwell also accepted crypto donations when he ran for Congress in 2012, though his campaign says he does not own any crypto. Branding himself as a friend to bitcoin believers may not give his candidacy a huge boost, but it could help the price of bitcoin, which is extremely reliant on day-to-day news headlines and sentiment swings.
Bitcoin is up 45% in the past month.
Daniel Roberts covers bitcoin and blockchain at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.