Use Bitcoin to Fight Ebola

November 25, 2014 08:47 UTC

Ebola, a deadly disease, has wreaked havoc in countries in Western Africa for almost a year. Thousands have died and continue to die. Bitcoin Against Ebola, a non-profit initiative created by Beam, allows people to send Bitcoins (that are converted to Sierra Leonean leones) to Sierra Leone to support the efforts to contain Ebola.

Bitcoin Against Ebola has a nice interface which lets you to choose from three charities to donate to: Build on Books, LunchBoxGift, and Sierra Leone Liberty Group. Here are descriptions of each from the Bitcoin Against Ebola website:

  • Build on Books: Children who have lost their parents to Ebola are alone, scared, isolated, confused and HUNGRY. The Build on Books team takes fresh food to the orphans of Ebola who are trapped under quarantine in their homes.
  • LunchBoxGift: LunchBoxGift provides freshly cooked meals to communities in crisis. They are currently focused on the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone where they provide meals for vulnerable communities affected by the outbreak.
  • Sierra Leone Liberty Group: SLLG is a youth group whose mission is to promote entrepreneurship amongst young Sierra Leonean men and women. Since the Ebola outbreak, SLLG has been involved in the effort to raise awareness about Ebola.

Also read: Bitcoin Funding Ebola Research and Open Access to Medical Research Papers

On the site, you can select a charity and enter how many US dollars you’d like to send. The site will tell you how many Sierra Leonean leones the charity will receive. Once confirming the number of dollars you would like to send, the dollar amount is converted to Bitcoin, and you are sent to a page with a form that gives you a bitcoin address where you should send your bitcoins to. My first time attempting to send a donation, the donation form gave me errors and I could not find a bitcoin address to send my bitcoins to. However, it worked every time afterwards.

In order to donate, you must register an account and give your full name, address, and date of birth, which takes away from Bitcoin’s feature of anonymity. Once you register, you can only send US$156 a day, unless you verify yourself (e.g. provide proof of identity or residence), in which case you can donate US$780 daily. This further takes away from Bitcoin’s anonymity, however this information is necessary for Bitcoin Against Ebola to operate legally. A similar project, “A Day Without Touch”, also helps combat Ebola; they too accept Bitcoin donations.

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Bitcoin & Charity

Bitcoin, compared to fiat currency, has the potential to provide many advantages to charities. Firstly, Bitcoin’s transaction fees are only a few cents, whereas for fiat, fees are often a few dollars or a high percentage of the amount you send. Many charities are exempt from these fees by payment processors because they’re charitable organizations, however, this is not always the case. Furthermore, Bitcoin allows people from any country to donate to charities; they don’t need to send the money through a service such as PayPal, which may be illegal or unavailable in their respective country. While Bitcoin could potentially be illegal in a few countries in the coming years, it will be incredibly difficult to stop people from using it; it would be similar to stopping them from using the internet. Therefore, they can continue to support charities using Bitcoin. Another benefit is that charities can receive their bitcoin donations in just seconds, while using a middleman such as a bank can take a few days, when the charity often needs the money immediately.

Also read: Bitcoin and Charity: Time to step up!

Bitcoin For Ebola allows people to use Bitcoin to support a good cause. Bitcoin’s features can be very beneficial to charities if used properly. Bitcoin already allows charities to give more money to the cause rather than the middleman.

What do you think about Bitcoin being used to help combat Ebola? Comment below!

Images from Wikimedia Commons and Shutterstock.

Last modified: November 25, 2014 20:25 UTC

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