How Blockchains Could Revolutionize International Aid
Friday, June 30, 2017
A year after completing a 156-mile, six-day race in the Sahara Desert for charity, Joseph Thompson wondered what had happened to the money he raised from his supporters. Naturally, he thought his $122,000–and 52 and a half hours of sweaty effort–would pay for a lot of good. But when he checked with the charity in Ethiopia he had decided on donating to, one that was supposed to be funding surgery for kids, he was told the money had been transferred to a “sister charity.” That organization was said to be building a school for doctors. But, as far as he could tell, no building had begun. Today, Thompson–a bearded and ebullient Irishman–suspects the donation simply disappeared, destination unknown. The experience “drove me insane for a while,” he says, like someone had robbed him in the middle of the Moroccan sand.
It’s this sort of problem–a lack of traceability in aid–that encouraged Thompson to develop a system to transfer and track international development payments. AID:Tech is one of several startups working with blockchain technology, trying to ensure more funds go where they’re supposed to go. “Transparency is really needed in aid and welfare payments because there’s not a functioning system that works globally,” he says.