One to watch: The UNICEF Crypto Fund

Christina Comben

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) wants to use cryptocurrency to help children and young people worldwide. The organisation has recently launched the UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund, a trust fund that will support open source technology that could benefit children. The UNICEF crypto fund supports both Bitcoin and Ether.  

It’s an important milestone for the global cryptocurrency ecosystem, as UNICEF becomes the first UN organisation to hold digital assets. It’s also the first to make transactions in cryptocurrency. 

Digital currencies can shape the lives of coming generations

An international team of developers and blockchain experts helped UNICEF to implement blockchain technology to accept cryptocurrency donations. The organisation plans to use all these funds to invest directly into other blockchain startups; under one condition. All projects funded through the UNICEF crypto fund should help children and young people worldwide. 

In a press release, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore underlined the importance of the digital economy for the coming generations. Moreover, she stated that the blockchain-based initiative had the potential to boost the agency’s efforts: 

“If digital economies and currencies have the potential to shape the lives of coming generations, it is important that we explore the opportunities they offer. That’s why the creation of our Cryptocurrency Fund is a significant and welcome step forward in humanitarian and development work”.

How the UNICEF crypto fund works

UNICEF is trying to keep things simple and transparent for its donors. For now, the cryptocurrency fund will only receive Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), and the agency will also allocate the funds in the same digital currency form.

To safeguard against volatility and sudden price fluctuations, initial projects that will benefit from the funds will be short-term. This, according to the Principal adviser at UNICEF Innovation Christopher Fabian explained, is an effective way of making sure that start-ups make the most of the donations. 

The UNICEF crypto fund eliminates some of the friction in moving money globally. It will enable the organisation to make international transfers with lower fees, as it removes intermediaries from the process. At the same time, by moving its operations to the blockchain, UNICEF will increase financial transparency. 

When donating cryptocurrencies, donors can easily track their money to see what projects benefit from their funds. It’s fast, effective, and builds trust in what charities can do for children in impoverished areas or suffering from medical conditions. 

It also attracts a new type of donor, making it easy for tech-savvy younger generations to send donations in crypto. Millennials give an average of $580 per year to charities and they’re also the most active when it comes to using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. 

UNICEF is also planning to upgrade protocols for online donations. Online donors will need to go through a rigorous verification process before making any deposit to the UNICEF crypto fund.

As part of the project, UNICEF national committees of France, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand will all accept cryptocurrency contributions. 

The Ethereum Foundation made the first donation

UNICEF has already made the name of the first cryptocurrency donor public. The Ethereum Foundation will provide support for three recipients of the UNICEF Innovation Fund through the new cryptocurrency fund.  

The money from the Ethereum Foundation will contribute, among other things, to connecting multiple schools to the internet. The end beneficiaries will be teachers and children from around the globe who will get access to information. In doing this, the organisation plans to create more opportunities for young people to learn and develop new skills. The project will be headed by GIGA initiative.

The initial donation of 100 ETH (valued at around $18,000) was made through the French National Committee for UNICEF. 

Executive Director of the Ethereum Foundation, Aya Miyaguchi said: 

“The Ethereum Foundation is excited to demonstrate the power of what Ethereum and blockchain technology can do for communities around the world. Together with UNICEF, we’re taking action with the Crypto fund to improve access to basic needs, rights, and resources”.

UNICEF has already donated $100,000 to blockchain projects

It’s no longer a secret that UNICEF believes in the potential of blockchain technology. Last year, in December, the organisation committed to donating $100,000 to open-source prototypes of blockchain applications. 

The money from the UNICEF Innovation Fund went to six blockchain start-ups: Onesmart, Atix Labs, Utopixar, Prescrypto, Statwig, and W3 Engineers. The companies are planning to use blockchain technology to solve global issues such as the lack of mobile phone connectivity or little or no transparency in how children benefit from health-care services. Another problem UNICEF is hoping to solve with these donations is the inefficiency of resource management in social-impact projects. 

In Apri 2018, UNICEF also launched The Hopepage. It’s a website that enables visitors to donate their processing power to generate funds for UNICEF Australia. Almost 31,000 people agreed to use their computers to mine cryptocurrency and help children.

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