PayPal drops domain registrar Epik over its 'alternative' digital currency

Epik is accusing PayPal of political bias.

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Jon Fingas
October 25, 2020 2:20 PM
BERLIN, GERMANY - APRIL 22: The logo of online payment service PayPal is shown on the display of a smartphone on April 22, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)
Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

PayPal may be friendlier to digital currencies, but that doesn’t mean it’s giving everyone a free pass. Mashable reports the payments giant has terminated the account for domain registrar Epik, known for serving right-wing havens like Gab and the Proud Boys, over financial risk issues. It didn’t outline what those risks were, but a Mashable source understood it had to do with the legality of Epik’s Masterbucks “alternative currency.”

Epik reportedly hadn’t taken the appropriate steps to legally offer Masterbucks, which let you pay for services both within Epik’s network and from partners. Moreover, the company was allegedly promoting tax evasion by touting the “tax advantages” of pouring money into the digital format. PayPal told Epik about these issues “over a month ago” and tried to cooperate on a solution, according to the source, but the two don’t appear to have come to an agreement.

Epik is unsurprisingly angry. Senior strategy and communications VP Robert Davis claimed that PayPal asked about issues that were supposedly “outside of any knowledge or experience” of Epik’s position as a domain registrar, such as money transmission licenses. Davis also accused PayPal of trying to “silence conservative voices” just ahead of the 2020 presidential election, echoing longstanding (but often disputed) claims from right-wing politicians and activists.

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Not that Epik might have much recourse either way. If the leak is accurate, the company was offering an illegal currency despite warnings. That’s all the reason PayPal would need to sever ties, regardless of an account holder’s political leanings.

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