UNICEF Launches Crypto-Mining Site to Aid Refugees

In late April 2018, UNICEF Australia’s home site began to invite visitors to a page called The Hopepage, where funds are raised for UNICEF through cryptocurrency mining. By opening the website and clicking, “Start Donating,” a visitor agrees to run a miner in their web browser and use their computer’s central processing unit or CPU to solve crypto-puzzles and earn digital currency for the international charity. The digital money mined is XMR of the Monero blockchain. It is converted into fiat and used to fund UNICEF’s humanitarian work with and for children, and specifically, refugees. The site text reads:

Give hope, just by being here … The cryptocurrency is automatically donated to UNICEF Australia and is turned into real funds that reach children through life-saving supplies like safe water, therapeutic food and vaccines … Mining is perfectly safe for your computer.

Crypto Mining to Help Young Refugees

Donors can choose how much of their processing power to commit to this process while leaving the browser window open – 60 percent is the default setting and the full range is 20 to 80 percent. While there is no further cost associated with participation, this use of significant computer power and energy does constitute a real donation.

UNICEF is using a JavaScript miner for XMR developed by Coinhive. Companies sometimes include this mining option in their browsers and offer users benefits like in-game currencies or ad-free media experiences in return. In this case, the funds raised will be used to support Rohingya youth. The Rohingya is an ethnic group, which is denied citizenship in Myanmar and has experienced decades of prosecution there. After surges of violence in 2017, many have fled to Bangladesh and there are about 400,000 children among the Rohingya refugees.

UNICEF, Blockchain and Charity Mining

UNICEF also turned to crypto-mining as a fundraising tool in February 2018. It asked gamers to install the mining software Claymore in order to send Ethereum to its electronic wallet. The charity’s other blockchain-related initiatives include funding blockchain projects like South Africa-based 9Needs, which uses distributed ledger technology to create digital identities for use in early childhood education programs. It also co-ran blockchain labs with U.N. Women and it led a blockchain hackathon in Kazakhstan. Similarly, the U.N. has used blockchain to launch an ID-project for refugees around the globe.

Other mining-for-charity projects exist in the cryptosphere. A group called Bail Bloc uses mining to pay people’s bail who are awaiting trial, much like a community bail fund. Charity Mine pools and donates browser-mining earnings to its community’s current charity of choice. Cudo Donate from Cudo Ventures aims to provide user-friendly mining-donation options to multiple charities.

Feature image from Hopepage.org.

Julia Travers

Julia Travers is a writer. Her work appears with NPR, Earth Island Journal, Discover Magazine, On Being and SciArt Magazine, among other publications. She's on Twitter @traversjul.

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