What Can Charities Learn From UNICEF’s Cryptocurrency Mining Trial

Posted by Duncan Cook on July 16, 2018

A lady holding bitcoins to her eyes

Cryptocurrency and its distributed ledger, blockchain, are experiencing a significant cultural moment.

Whether they outlive the hype and entrench themselves into our day-to-day domestic and business operations is yet to be seen; but with high-profile charities like UNICEF adopting the technology to uplift their fundraising strategy, their potential seems more than promising.

UNICEF Australia have grabbed the cryptocurrency bull by the horns and launched The Hopepage, which allows website visitors to mine cryptocurrency, using only their spare computer power.

The result is a stream of donations, which didn’t require the user to part with any physical cash.

Cryptocurrency mining for charity is an innovative way to reach new supporters, while deepening connections with existing ones.

By simply clicking through to UNICEF’s desktop miner, users agree to give away some of their CPU’s power and generate cryptocurrency, which the charity then pools with the contributions of other supporters.

This particular trial is to provide relief to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar, where thousands of children are in need of clean water, food and medical care. Supporters are able to stay in control of how much computer power they lend by selecting a specific amount – anywhere been 20% and 80%.

The more computer power a user agrees to lend, the better the output – but with the hash rate (speed at which you’re mining cryptocurrency) visible in the top right corner, supporters can be sure that even small amounts of CPU power are making a difference.

In addition, the software reveals an average of how many people are mining on the Hopepage, at any one time; at the time of writing, there was a total of over 16,000. With numbers like these on the table, it’s easy to see that supporters are finding the method appealing.

Supporters can be confident that their personal details won’t be accessed during the mining process.

Blockchain technology has a unique security process in that it continuously monitors transactions to ensure they are genuine; however, this doesn’t involve using any sensitive information – just an exchange of tiny packets of data which only make sense to the blockchain.

Similarly, UNICEF’s specific software is engineered to mine Monero, a ‘private’ coin which doesn’t expose details of who’s mining, unlike some other cryptocurrencies. All in all, it’s an extremely safe strategy which doesn’t make a compromise on either side.

The early success of UNICEF’s cryptocurrency mining trial gives them great optimism for the potential of blockchain, especially in the charity sector.

Not only does cryptocurrency mining provide a new donation channel, but blockchain’s public ledger allows for greater transparency over fundraising and relief operations.

Cryptocurrency doesn’t rely on a centralised bank, so there’s no concern over exchange fees; payments can be sent directly to the desired recipient, without a cut being taken. Similarly, the blockchain will confirm delivery, so there’s no doubt that the cryptocurrency is being used as intended.

Cryptocurrency is a tool with which we can fight the corruption in humanitarian aid.

Many relief projects are initiated in countries where corruption is rife, often with perilous economies as a result.

In 2012, Ban Ki-Moon (former secretary-general of the UN), estimated that 30% of development aid was lost to corruption.

Blockchain could be the answer to this abhorrent injustice. When the UN trialled a project with Syrian refugees, they provided a food allowance in cryptocurrency; this allowed them to buy supplies from the camp supermarket, with their identity verified by iris scanners. Purchases were simply debited from the user’s allowance; no physical cash was needed, and no banks were needed to exchange the currency to local tender.

As a result, transaction fees were massively reduced, allowing the funds to go to the people who needed it, rather than the banks. In addition, theft and fraud became far less prevalent.

UNICEF isn’t the only charity that can benefit from fundraising with cryptocurrency.


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