In this post, we’ll take a look at Substratum’s CryptoPay partnerships with the National Christian Foundation and HurricAide. As a side note, I just want to say things get a bit weird in the end, so be sure to read the entire post.
National Christian Foundation
In August, Substratum CEO Justin Tabb
revealed the National Christian Foundation has “agreed to work with [Substratum] exclusively for their donations”. The National Christian Foundation is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the USA with over $1.9 billion in donation volume in 2017, and an exclusive partnership would send a tremendous amount of transaction volume through Substratum’s CryptoPay product.
For comparison’s sake, PayPal, one of the world’s leading payments processing company, handled approximately
$7.6 billion in transaction volume in 2017. By securing this exclusive partnership with the National Christian Foundation, Tabb is suggesting Substratum’s CryptoPay will soon be handling nearly 20% of PayPal’s yearly volume. This exclusive partnership is an incredible feat for a product that doesn’t exist yet, and really shows off Substratum’s exemplary business development skills.
With this in mind, the excitement behind this partnership has been strangely one-sided. Doing a search for “substratum national christian foundation” on Google yields the following results.
As you can see, the only Internet chatter taking place regarding Substratum’s CryptoPay partnership with the National Christian Foundation is on Reddit. In
this thread, a Substratum moderator responds to concerns about the legitimacy and extent of this partnership by saying…
Not sure why you have such a harsh view of Justin. I’m sure more will be released in due time.
In another thread, Reddit user AS_Empire shares a very well thought out
list of questions for an upcoming Substratum AMA.
Among the listed questions was this one…
How far is cryptopay development? How concrete are terms with National Christian Foundation in regards to a letter of intent? Is there any way the foundation will verify or announce this partnership?
Despite the clear effort put into compiling this set of questions, Substratum CMO Christian Pope conveniently skipped over AS_Empire’s concerns as he responded to other people’s questions
here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. It’s strange to see Substratum’s unwillingness to talk about the nature of this exclusive partnership.
Upon further digging, I came across a company called
Leadership Edge, Inc, which handles non-cash asset donations for the National Christian Foundation. Substratum’s whitepaper states that CryptoPay can be used “to process cryptocurrency transactions using any publicly traded coin,” so I was hoping to find some mention of CryptoPay on Leadership Edge’s website since Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are non-cash assets. Furthermore, a thorough search of the National Christian Foundation’s website revealed no mentions of Substratum or CryptoPay. Update (October 24, 2018) – I have received an email from the Senior Vice President of Donor Advised Fund Services National at the Christian Foundation with the information below. This statement confirms Justin Tabb’s announcement of CryptoPay being the exclusive provider, whether cryptocurrency or not, for National Christian Foundation donations is a lie.
However, NCF does not currently accept cryptocurrencies. Further, NCF does not have an exclusive agreement with any cryptocurrency provider. We are happy to discuss our available, creative giving solutions with you when you are ready to launch your generosity. Thank you for your interest in NCF and changing the world through generosity!
Update (October 25, 2018) – Since I have been accused of forging this email, here’s a link to a text file containing raw email headers. HurricAide
recent update video, Justin Tabb revealed a new CryptoPay partnership with HurricAide, a company focused on educating people about the impact of hurricanes. Once again, a thorough review of HurricAide’s website revealed no information regarding a partnership.
Okay, here’s where things get a little weird.
About Us page states that “Frog Pond Productions, a tax-exempt charity (est. 1999), will serve as the necessary partner required to conduct the business of fundraising. All funds donated to the HurricAide charity effort will go specifically to the efforts of the project.”
So, it seems like HurricAide is using Frog Pond Productions, a 501©(3) organization, to handle the financial services for donations. I think this is a little strange, but not
too strange. Next, I clicked on the “conveniently hard to see” link to visit Frog Pond Productions’ website.
Did you see this purple text? I didn’t at first.
Here’s the website of Frog Pond Productions, and HurricAide is listed as one of their projects on the homepage.
Clicking on the HurricAide link on the homepage brought me to
hurricaideproject.com, which is a different domain from hurricaide.com. Both websites have a similar logo, so hurricaideproject.com is probably just an older version of the website. While it’s strange that Frog Pond Productions did not update the HurricAide link to the correct domain, the stranger thing is the copyright text on hurricaideproject.com which reads “© 2023 by Ocean X. Proudly created with Wix.com”.
The copyright text on Frog Pond Productions’ website reads “© 2023 by Make A Change. Proudly created with Wix.com”. I find it quite coincidental that the web designers or webmasters of both websites decided to leave the Wix branding and chose 2023 for the copyright year. With this in mind, I wonder if HurricAide was actually formed just for Substratum to hype up a CryptoPay partnership. I suppose I’ll never know the answer to this question as I don’t know the true nature of the relationships between Substratum, HurricAide, and Frog Pond Productions.
I think it’s unprofessional for an established 501©(3) charity to have an unbranded Gmail address — email@example.com.
After looking into Frog Pond Productions a bit more, I found this statement on their About page — “Frog Pond Productions is an educational communications network that receives public support through cash donations, in-kind contributions and grant funding. To-date Frog Pond Productions has no employees.”
Next, I headed over to
Frog Pond Productions’ official YouTube channel to check out what kind of content this “educational communications network” with no employees was creating. What I found was very strange. Examples of videos on Frog Pond Productions’ YouTube channel include Be Aware of the Risks of Date Rape Drugs, Carmen’s Yoga 4 Everybody, Hiccup Problems, and Danceketball Tips — Dance Like a Crazy Freak.
That was a lot of information, so let me just summarize my thoughts. Substratum’s partnership with the National Christian Foundation is a very big deal. Once again, the National Christian Foundation processed over $1.9 billion in donations last year, so an exclusive partnership could potentially bring a lot of volume into the Substratum, Cryptopay, and Amplify Exchange ecosystem. Since I couldn’t find any information about Substratum or CryptoPay on the National Christian Foundation’s website, I have sent an email to them inquiring about this partnership, and will update this post if I receive a response.
On the other hand, the HurricAide partnership feels a little suspicious to me. Since HurricAide uses Frog Pond Productions for processing donations, is Substratum actually partnered with HurricAide or Frog Pond Productions? If Substratum is partnered with HurricAide, how is tax exemption handled since HurricAide doesn’t list themselves as a 501©(3) tax-exempt organization anywhere? If Substratum is partnered with Frog Pond Productions for payments processing, why didn’t they come out and say that? Why does Frog Pond Productions have extremely weird videos depicting basketball dancing tips and children doing yoga on their YouTube channel? What kind of charity work has Frog Pond Productions done in the past? Why are there striking similarities between the “alternate” HurricAide website and the Frog Pond Productions’ website?
Just a few questions to think about…
Update (October 25, 2018) – This post has been updated with an official statement from the National Christian Foundation.