Charity initiatives are fine, but there is the little problem that charities need us to give them money, any kind of money, as they’re not in the business of being that fussy, and getting people to give them money is not easy. I may have a solution, and I’m going to thank that great man, Benjamin M. Lawsky, the New York Superintendent of Financial Services, for giving me the idea. This idea potentially would allow the Bitcoin community to benefit from good publicity and, to be fair, we badly need that.
For many years, there have been concerns about the existence of ‘dormant’ or’ lost’ bitcoins. I have lost a few myself. Cold storage wallets are great from a security perspective, but computers do crash, get stolen, etc. On the other account, online exchanges have a habit of going belly up and taking bitcoins with them. But luckily enough Ben Lawsky, seeing our dilemma, has selflessly proposed a workable solution. The solution he proposes is that all funds not touched for a period of five years will become the property of the state. It’s going to become a bit like “Storage Wars.” Now, brilliant as this proposal is, I have a counter proposal. I propose that we apply the following logic to the problem. If the account is idle for five years then it’s gone, out of our control, so why don’t we nominate a good cause that the bitcoins will go to if they are dormant for, say, four years?
Here is the proposal. Let’s take the wind out of Lawsky’s proposal by adding a clause into our accounts with Xapo, Coinbase and other online wallets, that our bitcoins will go to a registered charity after four years of non-use. I am aware we can set up small micro transfers to keep the account alive but in the real world, people get sick, cars crash, planes crash and people suffer from memory loss. Some accounts are merely a dollar or two from click sites; some are just small flirtations with obscure cryptocurrencies. I, for instance, have 65,000 Nobelcoins… somewhere… I may not know where they are, but I sure don’t want to give them to the State of New York! If we were to put this clause in place then in four years we would be benefiting good causes by donating money to charities that would otherwise be lost. We could nominate a body to administer the funds. A body that would hold the respect of all of our community, so that fairly rules out the Bitcoin Foundation.
I am not saying that this is a brilliant idea, but it is a proposed first step. In theory Lawsky’s people will seek out the owners and return the coins. I have significant doubts. If the account is dormant, the owner may well be gone, and some people’s accounts will not have sufficient information to facilitate their owners being found.
If we, as a community, step up, then charities can benefit others worse off than ourselves. We can bring bitcoins that are lost back into circulation and take them out of the hands of unknown bureaucrats.
What do you think? Will this work? Please join the brainstorm talk group here for further discussion.
Featured image by Shutterstock.