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The Protocol: Blast’s $3B Airdrop and Bitcoin’s Mt. Gox Moment

FREE, FOR A FEE: Token airdrops are, after all, free money – one reason why project teams might be less sympathetic to users who complain that they didn’t get what they thought they were owed. Now, the blockchain interoperability project LayerZero has introduced a new twist to the process – what some observers are calling “pay to claim.” When LayerZero Foundation came out last week with the ZRO airdrop, it forced users to fork over a “proof-of-donation” before they could claim the new tokens. As detailed by CoinDesk’s Shaurya Malwa, users had to make a donation of 10 cents in USDC to Protocol Guild – a collective funding mechanism for Ethereum’s layer-1 research and development maintainers – for each ZRO token they hoped to claim. In a video address posted on X, LayerZero Labs co-founder Bryan Pellegrino said that “users need to do something in order to get something,” adding that the amount was “extremely small” and that “the easy path” would have been to “optimize for the least amount of criticism.” LayerZero Foundation said it would match all donations up to $10 million. The ostensible rationale? “By donating to Protocol Guild, eligible recipients show long-term alignment with the LayerZero protocol and a commitment to the future of crypto,” LayerZero said in an X post. It goes without saying that endorsement of the move was not universal: “If I’m at McDonald’s and they force me to donate to get my cheeseburger, do I really care about the kids or am I just hungry?” one frustrated poster wrote on X.

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