Humanitarian efforts is now high-tech, and the latter is a huge help to maximize the revolution to reach and cover the greater number of needy.
And Cryptocurrency is one of the great scheme or mechanism to these, as United Nations include this effort to to revolutionize aid with blockchain technology, increasing financial transparency.
The UN’s children’s agency, Unicef, has launched a futuristic pilot project to utilise the cryptocurrency Ethereum to raise money for Syrian children.
Furthermore, the scheme is part of wider efforts by Unicef and other UN agencies to find uses for the “blockchain” technology associated with the cryptocurrency – the world’s second largest after the controversial Bitcoin – to revolutionise not only how aid organizations raise money but also to increase transparency in their financial transactions.
As one of the emerging tech options for business or other purposes, blockchain – which emerged as one of the underpinnings of Bitcoin – is a shared record of transactions maintained by a network of computers.
It has become a key technology because of its ability to record and keep track of assets or transactions with no need for middlemen.
Although cryptocurrencies have accrued an often dubious reputation, the recent moves suggest their growing potential in the complex world of humanitarianism, with its huge budgets and requirement to raise and move cash quickly.
Unicef’s Game Changers scheme recruits gamers to use the processing power of their computers to “mine” the currency for Syrian children. It is still in its infancy, raising little more than €900 (£795) so far, but it follows increasingly high-profile efforts by the UN to find uses for the technology.
These include everything from helping to reduce the 30% of UN aid budgets lost to corruption to building online identity portfolios for refugees, reconciling everything from health and education records to entitlements.
According to Forbes magazine, with a valuation of some $88bn (£62bn), Ethereum – which launched in 2015 – has an equivalent market value to Starbucks.
But what is making Ethereum and its underlying way of operating particularly attractive to organisations like Unicef is that it can operate as a system for distributed computing.
In particular, say supporters, it is opening the way to “smart contracts”, allowing transparent, low-cost, automated contracts that are settled when those involved determine that the agreed conditions have been met.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has used Ethereum to deliver $1.4m in food vouchers, via the use of iris recognition scanners in camp supermarkets, to around 10,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, a scheme it plans to expand tenfold in four camps.
While beneficiaries see no difference in what they receive, WFP has already made savings from no longer paying financial servicing firms as middlemen, which typically incurs a charge of around 3.5%.
The Jordan project follows the launch of WFP’s own successful pilot scheme in Pakistan a year ago.
“We feel this is a starting point,” said WFP’s director of innovation, Robert Opp, last year.
“There are a number of potential uses of blockchain that could dramatically change the way we reach people in terms of our efficiency, effectiveness and security,” Opp added.
In the end, UNICEF sees three potential uses for blockchain technology: introducing new ways to donate money; creating greater transparency in internal processes; and potentially addressing issues like payments to partners of frontline workers, such as locally contracted lorry drivers.