How do for-profit enterprises and charity organizations come together to promote bitcoin?
Recently, a series of bitcoin charitable projects unveiled in Africa. In both developed and developing countries, many charity organizations have begun to accept bitcoin as donations.
However, the following projects have a hidden motive: to educate bitcoin technology to the recipients and the people around these organizations, and to teach them how to use bitcoin in daily life. Each local charity organization is implementing this in their own unique way.
Public Awareness of Bitcoin
When bitcoin was created, some international media corporations and governmental regulatory authorities have pointed out that bitcoin could be a tool for money laundering and drug dealing.
Such viewpoints have left some people with prejudice about bitcoin as they don’t really understand bitcoin’s true functions.
In Africa, lots of people are not familiar with the concept of bitcoin. Bitcoin supporters hope to ensure positive first impression to African residents through these programs.
ICE3X is not a charity organization, but a South African major bitcoin trading platform. Its major trading currencies include Bitcoin, Litecoin, and the local currency (Rand). It’s compatible with KYC policies (anti-corruption and anti-money laundering policy). User are required to be South African residents, and have a registered account with a local bank.
ICE3X hoped to raise bitcoin awareness through its trading platform. It’s doing this by organizing charity events and introducing bitcoin as donation.
ICE3X first chose Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) as its charity organization, which was founded in a small town called Stilfontein. The leader of the organization is Suzette Kotze, with the title of “Animal Warrior”.
Kotze had limited understanding about bitcoin. And when she heard about ICE3X’s local bitcoin charity events, she contacted ICE3X. She became a bitcoin enthusiast instantly: bitcoin allows people to make small amount in donations from anywhere in the world, and the low cost of using it is appealing.
To organize an international charity event through traditional payment channel such as PayPal is very difficult. Although PayPal is willing to eliminate fees for charity cause, each country has its own way in organizing the events.
Similarly, bitcoin can also be used in large projects to raise funds for business purpose, and enjoys the low cost transaction fees. ICE3X now observes other local communities’ charity projects. It plans to support 5 other charity projects using bitcoin. ICE3X doesn’t charge commission or fees for these projects.
ICE3X’s representative Tristan Winters said that it’s important to leave a good impression about bitcoin, especially in Africa. Bitcoin’s biggest disadvantage is that people misunderstand its uses.
Bitcoin is unknown in most parts in Africa: this is a good chance to promote bitcoin. Many have spoken about bitcoin’s opportunity in Africa, and there are challenges to overcome to promote bitcoin in Africa. And the first thing to do is to cast a good impression of bitcoin to African people.
He added: “We aim to provide support in using bitcoin for local charity organizations and events, and bitcoin will undoubtedly reach its full potential in Africa.”
Right now, Richard Boase(one of Coindesk’s founders) is in Kenya with a big ambition. He and his team are working on a joint bitcoin charity project called “Bitcoin Tablet” and a Kenyan bitcoin payment processing system called BitPessa. Its goal is clear: to send bitcoin as quickly and efficiently to as many people as possible. They’re also showcasing bitcoin’s functions to local enterprises. Boase’s team also provides technical support for a local bitcoin educational activity.
In Kenya, PayPal cannot be used for money transfer. And when people try to transfer money through banks, they are charged with high transaction fees.
Bitcoin Tablet’s ultimate goal includes: through offering digital bitcoin wallet in Android tablet computers, and educating people how to use the program, and enhancing local people and charity organizations’ operation with bitcoin.
Boase would stay with a local charity organization for over 6 weeks, and then traveled across Kenya to 4 different regions. The team would survey whether the area has enough technical capability to apply bitcoin’s application. They are also working closely with local residents to overcome technical difficulties such as internet access.
Survey for Bitcoin Application
Through the Kenyan trip, the team discovered some interesting facts. The Bitcoin Tablet team understood that teaching new technology to these developing regions have other consequences too. Problems such as theft or outdated computer equipments were never thought of before.
Boase also organized a bitcoin seminar with Tomer Kantor, who’s from iamsatoshi.com. Tunapanda is an organization whose goal is to bring technology to rural regions. It’ll also bring some bitcoin educational programs to some local schools.
Some factors such as infrastructure and network availability have important role in local acceptance of bitcoin. Other factors include complex concept of bitcoin, the ability to protect bitcoin wallet and existing digital payment system, such as M-Pesa’s functions.
BitPesa has promised to provide free exchange service to bitcoin charity events, and provide continuing support to the Nairobi bitcoin seminar.
Dr. Michael Meegan has worked at ICROSS International in Rift Valley, Kenya for over 30 years. He thinks bitcoin and its related network technology can be the real game changer, with valuable work of organizations like ICROSS International.
He added:” There’s a myriad of evidence indicating that bitcoin can help fund advanced medical resources for the entire region, and help sharing resources among different medical institutions.”
Kantor started a bitcoin survey in March in Kenya, to evaluate the progress of different bitcoin projects.