Binance tries to mollify ZKsync users left out of airdrop with $2.4m distribution

Binance tries to mollify ZKsync users left out of airdrop with $2.4m distribution
ZKsync used an "unconventional" design for its airdrop in an attempt to exclude bots. Credit: Darren Joseph
  • ZKsync’s airdrop of ZK tokens began Monday.
  • The company behind ZKsync has accused bots of orchestrating a campaign to tar the design of the airdrop.
  • Binance said it would step in to appease angry users.

Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, will distribute crypto worth $2 million among 52,500 people to appease users frustrated with the launch of a new token, ZKsync Era’s ZK.

On social media, accounts that allegedly belong to longtime users of ZKsync Era have slammed the blockchain’s parent company, Matter Labs, for leaving them off a list of users who can claim some of the newly issued tokens.

The company has insisted the ZK airdrop was “unconventional,” but prioritised real users.

“There is a massive, coordinated, Sybil misinformation campaign against ZKsync on X,” Matter Labs said Wednesday via an affiliated social-media account. “Run by thousands of bots.”

Nevertheless, Binance said on Sunday it would give certain users who had been excluded from the ZK airdrop a total of 10.5 million ZK tokens beginning June 25. ZK was trading at $0.23 almost 12 hours after its Monday morning launch.

Those users had to meet certain criteria, which include initiating 50 transactions or more on ZKsync Era and between February 2023 and March 2024.

Binance said it would distribute the tokens “in light of the ongoing concerns from the community around ZK token distribution.”

ZKsync Era is one of the largest Ethereum-based blockchains known as “layer 2s.” Users have transferred more than $770 million in crypto to the blockchain, according to L2BEAT, and deposited about $128 million in its DeFi ecosystem, according to DefiLlama data.

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ZKsync isn’t the first project to get burned by an airdrop.

ZkSync Era is one of the largest layer 2 blockchains.

From the get-go, many crypto-based companies promise to eventually cede control of their product to its users. Tokens like ZK grant membership and voting power in these digital cooperatives.

But the distribution of these tokens can be fraught. Companies have been criticised for giving employees and investors an outsize tranche of tokens, leaving little for longtime users who expect a reward for having taken a gamble by putting their crypto into untested applications.

Moreover, companies can unintentionally exclude real users in their attempt to filter out the “bots” that mimic user behaviour in order to nab a slice of newly issued tokens.

When Matter Labs detailed the airdrop, the company boasted it had set aside 17.5% of ZK tokens for about 695,000 longtime users, “the largest distribution of tokens to users amongst major rollups.”

Airdrop complaints

But it was quickly forced to defend itself after a flurry of complaints from alleged users who were irate that they weren’t eligible for the airdrop or that they received a paltry number of ZK tokens when other, seemingly less committed users got more.

While acknowledging the “unconventional” design of its airdrop, Matter Labs said it was “proud” of the “reasonable tradeoffs” it had made to ensure that tokens went to real users.

“In 2024, airdrops are extremely challenging,” the company wrote on X. “Sophisticated industrial farms operate millions of bots indistinguishable from real people in behavioural patterns. This renders traditional activity-based airdrops completely useless for building resilient and sustainable communities.”

There are 21 billion ZK tokens, with one-third reserved for investors and employees of Matter Labs and the ZKsync Foundation.

Meanwhile, 19.9% of the tokens will go to the ZKsync Foundation and 29.3% have been set aside for the treasury of the ZKsync Token Assembly, the digital cooperative that will control ZKsync Era. The remaining 17.5% had been set aside for Monday’s airdrop.

As of Monday afternoon, almost three-fourths of the tokens in the airdrop had been claimed.

Aleks Gilbert is a DeFi Correspondent at DL News. Got a tip? Email him at

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