The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) is preparing through Unicef Ventures “for a change that may rival the shift brought on by the exponential increase in mobile phone ownership and access during the 2000s—the possibility of immutable, accessible, decentralized global networks of information and data.”
In an overview of their blockchain work, Christopher Fabian, who leads Unicef Ventures, says:
“An international organization like UNICEF moves a lot of money. In 2016, UNICEF procured $1.6 billion worth of vaccines, paid the salaries of 12,000 global staff and subcontractors, and in 2017 transferred $158 million in cash to more than 10 million people in need.
The more we can reduce friction in these transactions, the more of each dollar can reach its intended recipient.”
He highlights a number of events where cryptonians donated significant amounts to charities, and says the current approach is to convert the crypto straight into fiat, but “what if we could hold crypto-assets on our books without exchanging them for dollars?” – he asks.
In one of the first statements by an institution revealing they are looking to use cryptos as actual currency, Fabian says “to track where your Bitcoin donation went, it has to end up at the point of need still as Bitcoin.” He further adds:
“In initial analyses, crypto-donors’ expectations tend to differ from those of traditional donors. For example, early investors in or architects of various blockchain-related systems are comfortable with a higher level of experimentation, failure, and risk than traditional development donors (e.g., governments and foundations).
This may create opportunities to develop funding proposals or programs that present greater risks in the early stages but potentially lead to greater innovations.
The transparency of those technologies may also create new expectations about how accountable organizations can be. As more of our partners offer services that can be paid for in cryptocurrency, the number of ways to disburse Bitcoin, Ether, or similar currencies will increase.
One can imagine a world in which pharmaceutical companies or connectivity providers (e.g., mobile network operators) accept payments in Bitcoin, which would enable international organizations holding these assets to invest them directly—and to enable their donors to see exactly where their resources are being used and how.”
Fabian suggested the crypto donations can be sort of ring fenced and kept in crypto, with payments thus made in bitcoin, eth, or whatever crypto was donated, allowing crypto-donators to see where the funds are going and thus so providing greater transparency as well as an increased level of trust in the charity.
They further highlight the launch of the UNICEF Innovation Fund which “is looking to make $50-90K equity-free investments to provide early stage (seed) finance to for-profit technology start-ups that have the potential to benefit humanity.”
The charity found that, when trying to experiment with smart contracts specifically through organizing a hackathon, much of their time was spent teaching coders solidity.
“We suggest that efforts to build capacity in key markets begin immediately by teaching fundamental skills and concepts of distributed networks, as there will be a learning curve, even for programmers who are used to corporate software development,” they say.
Interestingly, they experimented with bitcoin’s blockchain as early as 2015 by trying to implement blockchenized digital identities, with the charity further seriously looking into utilizing smart contracts.
It is this idea of keeping crypto as crypto, however, that sounds more daring than even their venture into smart contracts tech.
That’s especially when one considers much of their work is in developing or very poor countries where bank accounts are not quite a thing.
As well as when one considers that a movement of sorts has begun to directly donate cryptos to Venezuelans in particular, but the crypto to food pipeline can arguably be utilized in many other countries.
Some cryptonians have raised concerns as to how one knows the donated money is actually spent on food, so established charities might have an opening especially if they engage with the crypto community.
In addition to a push by the charity itself to incentivize suppliers, such as perhaps farmers or food vendors as well as others to accept crypto, it might not be too difficult to see a potential leap where at least a localized community operates on global crypto money. In a way thus teaching them how to fish, while also giving them a little bit of fish to eat.