Gamers raise money for Syria in 'first' blockchain fundraiser
UNICEF has launched "Game Chaingers" - software a computer user can install that can "mine" for Ethereum, the second highest-value online currency after the lucrative Bitcoin, and in turn raise funds for the humantiarian agency.
Mining for the cryptocurrency involves computations that validate transactions made with Ethereum. Each time a bundle of transactions is collected into a block, it is added to the blockchain, and whoever assembled the block is rewarded with units of the currency.
The two-month charity campaign, running until March 31, is aimed at gamers that use high-level graphics cards capable of cryptocurrency mining. By offering their computer's processing power to carry out the mining, gamers effectively turn the cards into "humanitarian tools".
"Today, humanitarian collections often solicit the same people with the same methods, but cryptocurrencies and their revolutionary approach are an opportunity to raise funds differently," UNICEF said. "Have you heard of Bitcoin? The Ethereum is the same, except that you can more easily 'mine' the Ethereum coins via your computer and that money will go directly into the UNICEF wallet."
When participating gamers take a break from their computers, they can turn on UNICEF's Ethereum mining program, thus donating without giving away anything but access to their computer's power.
In the first few days of the campaign, progress has been modest, with around $3,5000 raised by 796 contributors by time of publication, but the potential for cryptocurrency and its underlying blockchain technology in the humanitarian sector is high.
As well as changing the way money is raised, the digital currency has also increased transparency in charities' financial transactions by cutting out "the middle man", which in turn elimanates associated extra costs.
The World Food Programme last year used blockchain technology to deliver $1.4m in food vouchers to around 10,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, via the use of iris recognition scanners in camp supermarkets - a scheme it plans to expand to four camps.
After seven years of conflict, an estimated 13.5 million people need vital emergency help in Syria, one million of which are children.
Got a powerful computer? Get involved in the campaign here: chaingers.io
Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab