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Blockchain Technology in Protecting Children’s Rights

Humanitarian Blockchain

a BitcoinNews.com series

   Part 2: Blockchain Technology in Protecting Children’s Rights

Welcome to the second instalment of the Bitcoin News Humanitarian Blockchain Series. According to Human Rights Watch, over 70 million children around the world work in hazardous conditions in agriculture, mining, domestic labor and other sectors.  We look at how blockchain is impacting upon these statistics to make the world a safer place for children.

A project is set to be launched this year, using blockchain, in order to provide manufacturers of devices such as iPhones genuine information that guarantees that the cobalt in their lithium-ion batteries is not mined by children. The tracking of cobalt in the Congo is an enormous problem due to numerous informal mining sites, many of them being worked by children. The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), devastated by a protracted war which has caused the death of 5.4 million people, is listed as the world’s poorest nation.

The US Department of Labor identifies 148 different consumer goods produced by child or forced labor around the world including beef, sugar, bricks, coffee and other products originating from 76 countries. With gold at the top of this consumer list, the report cites 21 countries in which “children help mine gold, climbing into unstable shafts, carrying and crushing heavy loads of ore, and often using toxic mercury to process the gold”.

Blockchain will offer much-increased supply chain transparency until a solution to finding an alternative source to cobalt can be found by phone companies and car manufacturers. Amnesty International is currently exploring the possibility of implementing blockchain technology to address the problem of child labor by enabling consumers to register a specific mine to make their purchase. Unregistered illegal mines would, therefore, be easily identifiable through blockchain.

This year, UNICEF published a website enabling crypto mining through donors’ computer power called “The Hope Page”. It mined Monero through Coinhive, a crypto-mining service. This was the second time that UNICEF had used cryptocurrency to fund its overseas projects. In February, it launched a similar program to support children in Syria, affected by the lengthy civil war in that country, using donors’ computers to mine Ether.

The donated funds went to UNICEF Australia’s current mission in Bangladesh for the Rohingya crisis, providing humanitarian relief for both children and their mothers, ensuring that they receive life-saving supplies such as safe drinking water, food, and vaccines.

Director of UNICEF France, Sébastien Lyon, commented on its current focus on using blockchain technology and accepting cryptocurrency donations to implement some of its projects around the world to support children’s well- being:

“Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology used for charitable purposes offers a new opportunity to appeal to the generosity of the public and continue to develop our operations with children in the countries of intervention.”

This year, the Global Bank raised USD 73 million for the two-year bond called “bondi”, due to the involvement of one of Australia’s “Big 4” banks. The funds were raised via the Global Bank’s funding arm, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The target was originally between USD 50 million and USD 100 million, aimed at supporting a range of sustainability projects in developing countries around the globe.

One of the World Bank’s main priorities is that children have access to health care, education, water and sanitation, and energy. Recent projects funded by the World Bank include improving agricultural research in Afghanistan, fighting hunger in Afghan villages, and improving infrastructure in the Palestine territories.

In many parts of the world, conditions for children are appalling, often requiring that they work for long hours in dangerous locations with little pay. In the jewelry retail sector, children working at source have often been injured and killed when working in small-scale gold or diamond mining pits.

This industry is clearly one that would benefit from blockchain in terms of addressing children’s vulnerability as they are forced to work for disreputable employers with little regard for the health or safety of their often under-aged workers. For the customer at point-of-sale, it is currently very difficult to know exactly the origins of the gold or diamonds in an item of jewelry, or whether it has been tainted by human rights abuses involving children. With more consumers beginning to demand responsible sourcing, retailers now have a supply chain solution at their fingertips by utilizing DLT. Retailers are able to take the emerging technology path and change their ways of conducting business, putting pressure on those at source to extract minerals using a much-improved code of ethics.

The missing element is education, and the dissemination of information, which are both badly needed to encourage industry to adopt this vital tool to change children’s lives and protect children’s rights around the globe.

 

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World Bank Raises $73 Million From First Blockchain Bond

The World Bank has printed a public blockchain bond, its first significant foray into blockchain technology.

The humanitarian global bank has raised USD 73 million for the two-year bond, called “bondi”, in typically Australian style, through its funding arm, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The target was originally between USD 50 million and USD 100 million aimed at supporting a range of sustainability projects in developing countries around the globe.

One of Australia’s big four banks, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, who had worked on the project with the World Bank prior to its launch, facilitated the bond issuance.

The 2.2% 28 August 2020 Kangaroo bond was priced at 99.901 for a yield of 2.251%, in line with asset swaps plus 23bp guidance. Pricing was in line with normal Kangaroo bond levels with Triple-A rated German government-guaranteed KfW having paid asset swaps plus 25bp for a AUD 200 million two-year Kangaroo on 10 August, according to Nasdaq.

With 189 member countries, staff from more than 170 countries and offices in over 130 locations, the World Bank Group is a unique global partnership: five institutions working for sustainable solutions that reduce poverty and build shared prosperity in developing countries.

The World Bank has three priorities in working with countries to end poverty and boost prosperity for the poorest people. It helps to create sustainable economic growth, the surest path out of poverty. It also invests in people, through access to health care, education, water and sanitation, and energy, building resilience to shocks and threats that can roll back decades of progress.

As Bitcoin News has previously reported, the World Bank supports its humanitarian programs through an annual USD 50-60 billion bond sale. According to Reuters, the Commonwealth Bank was selected because Australia is known for its established banking infrastructure and the widely-traded Australian dollar.

Recent 2018 projects funded by the World Bank include improving agricultural research in Afghanistan, fighting hunger in Afghan villages, and improving infrastructure in the Palestine territories.

 

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African Crypto Movement Learns from Past to Push Forward

An examination of Google Trends this year illustrates how the African continent is waking up to cryptocurrency-related products and exploring the sector for innovative opportunities.

The popularity of Bitcoin in Africa continues to grow, enabled by the presence of a greater number of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. There are benefits to cryptocurrency ownership unique to the continent of Africa, many devolving from the widespread unstable economic conditions.

Google searches reveal that Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa are frantically searching online when it comes down to cryptocurrency and Bitcoin.

The M-pesa mobile money platform that started over 10 years ago as a Vodaphone pilot scheme for Safaricom and Vodacom, the largest mobile network operators in Kenya and Tanzania, is now an African giant. It is convenience that has made a massive impact in these countries, allowing users to deposit, withdraw, transfer money and pay for goods and services from their mobile phone.

So big has the company become it has now reached South Africa and further afield in Afghanistan, India, Romania and Albania.

The mobile phone has become Africa’s most significant innovation, connecting people across the continent in remote regions, also providing a host of innovative apps, thereby making more conventional and expensive forms of communication obsolete. Africa’s early steps in the cryptocurrency space, with crypto users doing their business through P2P networks, avoiding the limitations of banks and exchanges, neither of which many people have access to, show that the mobile phone is key.

Michael Kimani, the chairperson of the Blockchain Association of Kenya, draws a comparison to the early days of M-pesa to the current movement towards crypto and P2P solutions as users innovate to circumnavigate the drawbacks of trading. In the pre-M-Pesa period, people would trade airtime between themselves to escape inflated telecoms charges. He feels similar is happening now with crypto trading. He argues:

“These informal networks, resemble the airtime currency informal networks of pre-2006 that powered remittance payment networks before M-Pesa became a thing.”

A further accelerant could be just around the corner with last month’s launch of an African-focused cryptocurrency exchange called Coindirect. Co-founder Stephen Young says that Africa has unique problems and these must be considered in any startup plan for cryptocurrency adoption on the continent. He feels that current exchanges don’t take these into consideration.

In terms of African fiat currencies, Young identifies their systemic volatility, insecurity and lack of governance as factors that the crypto space need to take on board: He argues:

“If Africans are to benefit from the cryptocurrency revolution we need make it easier to buy, store and trade cryptocurrencies. As Africans, it is our responsibility to help build the infrastructure and we need to be a part of the revolution.”

The South African exchange allows users to buy, convert, store, send or sell more than 40 cryptocurrencies, combining a peer-to-peer marketplace, wallets and an exchange to allow customers to access cryptocurrencies from their local currency.

 

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Nigeria’s Poor Turn to Crypto Bounty Hunting

Bounty hunting platforms are showing that cryptocurrencies are offering a way out of poverty for some, writes Coindesk.

A bounty is a simple task or job created by a coin developer that you carry out to earn coins or tokens, usually before and during an initial coin offering (ICO). The main areas are typically Tweeting about the project, posting on Facebook, creating blog posts, designing a logo for the coin, or participating in a forum with the logo signature. These are essential jobs for the coin developer to promote their coin during the ICO stage to fund their ambitions.

As Bitcoin News reported recently, such work is offering opportunities to some that wouldn’t have considered becoming involved in the cryptocurrency industry, illustrated by women in Afghanistan now learning to write code for a bounty posting network for Ether payments.

Such sites are becoming far more visible on the net and for some, in dire circumstances, the opportunity to work for these has become a lifeline, joining companies such as Bounty0x, which now has 30,000 active bounty hunters.

Nigerian ‘Crypto Shaolin’ is one of those who has profited from the opportunity to create a new life for himself through the cryptocurrency space. He claims his life has improved, despite the recent downturn in market prices.

Shaolin’s was a soft drink seller following tourists to Africa with his box of iced soft drinks until he came upon a tourist who suggested there might be a better way of getting ahead. The rest for him is history.

Bounty0x CMO Pascal Thellmann explains:

“People in low-income countries are often excluded from global freelancing marketplaces due to a lack of formal education and banking requirements… hunters… can complete micro-tasks like retweeting a tweet or writing a review for a product, in exchange for a couple dollars in crypto.”

However, opportunities are not simply limited to working for companies such as Bounty0x, as Nigerian writer Ayobami Abiola illustrates. He claims he’s making far more money now writing by completing “bounties like article writing, posting on Reddit, Facebook like and share, Bitcoin Talk [forum] comments and joining Telegram groups for many projects”.

Crypto Shaolin is happy. He claims he’s now made USD 1,000 by collecting bounties in 2018 alone, which may not sound like a significant sum, but it’s reported to be double what most Nigerians earn in a year, with the number of Nigerians in extreme poverty increased by six people every minute.

 

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Young Afghan Female Coders Earn ETH Promoting New Crypto Projects

A non-profit company in Afghanistan which teaches women to write code has partnered with a network which allows students to accept Ether (ETH) for fixing vulnerabilities for businesses or projects posting bounties, writes Coindesk.

The company, Code to Inspire (CTI), has partnered with The Bounties Network for this endeavor. According to Fereshteh Forough, the founder of CTI, the women are already earning Ether.

In May, the partnership was formed, setting up the women with MetaMask accounts and software wallets. Although Forough didn’t expand on details about the project, it claimed that earnings varied between USD 10 and USD 80 per completed bounty.

A bounty is a simple task or job created by a coin developer that you carry out to earn coins or tokens, usually before and during an initial coin offering (ICO). The main areas are typically Tweeting about the project, posting on Facebook, creating blog posts, designing a logo for the coin, or participating in a forum with the logo signature. These jobs are essential jobs for the coin developer to promote their coin during ICO stage to fund their ambitions, explains CryptoCoinDude.

Forough didn’t say how much had been collected by her new staff, but explained that this wasn’t her first enterprise of this type. In 2014, she collaborated with another fellow Afghan entrepreneur Roya Mahoob to teach women how to earn Bitcoin by blogging, although the program fell into problems due to a lack of a local crypto exchange. Also, most of the bloggers had no bank accounts.

“The challenge was how to exchange [Bitcoin] to the local fiat currency… Even now, when they are saving crypto in any form, there is still the same challenges of how we can exchange them with the local currency or dollars.”

Another Bitcoin enthusiast, Afghan-American Janey Gak, is less optimistic, explaining that Afghanis are still asking simple questions about cryptocurrency and she’d only ever had one question about Ether, implying there’s still a long way to go before cryptocurrencies reach any kind of acceptance in Afghanistan. However, she was positive about the inclusion of women, particularly working in the financial sector in a male-dominated society:

“I personally think it is good to have digital literacy or financial literacy, the knowledge, especially for women in Afghanistan that are limited from accessing a lot of financial resources, such as banks,” adding, “It’s an amazing technology, not only in case of financial aspects but also in terms of using blockchain technology to create different products that could tackle, maybe, one of these [local access] issues.”

It is thought that cryptocurrency could find real leverage in the county if local money-sellers, called safaris, were to start trading in digital currency. Afghans are generally untrusting of financial institutions and turn to safaris, who deal with numerous fiat currencies across Afghanistan.

 

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