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Crypto-charity? UNICEF urges gamers to mine Ethereum for Syrian children

The potential of putting blockchain technologies to use for good is being explored by Unicef.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) has begun recruiting PC gamers to mine Ethereum and donate their earnings to support Syrian children.

Dubbed Game Chaingers, the two-month long charity campaign is aimed at gamers who use high-level graphics cards that are capable of mining cryptocurrencies.

‘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

The effort is part of a wider drive by the UN and Unicef to find uses for the fast-emerging blockchain technology in a way that could not only revolutionise how money is raised, but also increase transparency in financial transactions.

Last month, the Unicef Innovation Fund made a call for blockchain proposals from companies that use distributed ledger tech in new, groundbreaking ways that are scalable and globally applicable.

It is also working with start-ups such as the IXO Foundation in South Africa specifically around developing identity tools for early childhood education.

Gaming for good

At the time of writing (6 February), more than €1,000 had been donated by 468 players.

Blockchain underpins the majority of cryptocurrencies, most notably bitcoin and Ethereum.

These cryptocurrencies can be created or ‘mined’ by solving complex mathematical problems, and that’s where the high-end graphics cards used by PC gamers can be useful.

Ethereum, although dwarfed by bitcoin, nevertheless has a market value of $88bn. Its potential value is its use for enabling smart contracts for transparent transactions of goods, cutting out the middlemen.

It is understood that the World Food Programme (WFP) has used Ethereum to deliver $1.4m in food vouchers through use of iris recognition scanners in refugee camp supermarkets in Jordan.

On the Game Chaingers website, Unicef pointed out that an estimated 13.5m people in Syria are in need of life-saving assistance, including 6m children.

So, why cryptocurrencies?

“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 on the Game Chaingers website.

“Mining a cryptocurrency is exchanging the computing power of your PC for a monetary reward. The computing power provided allows the network (of this cryptocurrency) to work by validating transactions – this is the concept of the blockchain.

“Thanks to the solidarity of the community of PC players, Unicef Game Chaingers transforms your graphics cards into a humanitarian tool and carries out the first fundraiser by undermining the Ethereum,” Unicef said.

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