Category Archives: WFP

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Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain, New Movie Out This Week

The first film to be fully funded by and distributed on blockchain is on release this week and the subject is blockchain itself.

Documentary filmmaker Alex Winter, known to some for his role in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, has moved from the frivolous to the relevant in the years following his appearances in a handful of popular teen movies in the 1980s.

His latest offering, ‘Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain’, is out on general release in the US on 26 October and puts DLT under the microscope. This is not Winter’s first foray into the world of the internet following his 2015 documentary Deep Web about the dark web marketplace Silk Road, which focused on cryptocurrency use on black markets. It is also the subject of a play, ‘Silk Road: How to Buy Drugs Online’, by English playwright Alex Oates which has been playing at theaters in the UK this year.

Trust Machine is reviewed as being an honest appraisal of where blockchain is today, focusing at one point on current UN action to integrate blockchain into the food program supporting Syrian refugees in refugee camps.  Kenya and Venezuela, two countries seriously suffering from fraud and mismanagement at a governmental level, also get coverage in Winter’s evaluation of blockchain and its broad sphere of use.

Since last year, the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed cryptocurrency-based food vouchers to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan, bypassing bureaucracy and getting aid to where it’s needed. The new project initiated by the WFP and UN Women was announced last month and will support the UN Women’s “cash for work” program currently running at both camps.

In a fight against rampant voting fraud in Kenya, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman has now tabled a detailed potential blockchain solution as providing security for all presidential candidates, allowing them to access and verify the results of elections.

Winter takes a positive approach to his subject, stating:

“Naysayers have two groups: one says all of it is BS, and a scam, and a fraud, and then a slightly more nuanced group says a lot of it is scams, but the verifiable ledgers are a natural evolution of the internet. Some folks believe blockchain will save the universe. I don’t agree with the group that thinks it’s bullshit. They are uneducated.”

The film’s primary focus is to feature both the trials of developing nations, particularly where blockchain is changing the lives of the disadvantaged, and to measure the overall impact that DLT could have on the financial sector and on food supply chains. As for the future, Winter maintains:

“If it happens, it will be slow. Some will be blunt and disruptive like Uber, I don’t see a revolution imminent that will compensate artists, or mirror banks and governments. Too much of that is based on greed and power dynamics that aren’t going to change overnight.”

It is interesting that Winter has chosen Trust Machine as a title for his latest film. Many users at every level from multinational to the individual have cited the element of “trust” as blockchain’s greatest attribute, because of its transparency and reliability in creating irrefutable records of transactions.

 

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China Tracks Charity Donations with Blockchain

The Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) in China has commented that the government is planning to implement blockchain technology in order to track charitable donations.

The Chinese plan is very much in line with many governments and NGOs around the globe, many of whom are already utilizing the technology in the sector.

While technological innovations have been boosting capital in practically every other industry, the charity sector has fallen behind. Millennials especially just don’t seem to have confidence in an industry that has had scathing media coverage of improper practice, damaging commercial partnerships and a lack of transparency when it comes down to seeing how donations are distributed.

MCA has just released its four-year blockchain plan for charities, principally to enhance supply chain transparency in the sector, promising to integrate blockchain into charitable institutions systems by the end of the year. The ministry appears to be moving very quickly on this, suggesting that online charities will be connected to government charity databases in the oncoming months, promising to build:

“… a tamper-proof charity organization information query system and enhance the authority, transparency and public trust of information publishing and search services.”

A report conducted by independent think tank Charity Futures concluded that charities have yet to engage with blockchain with the kind of urgency required to keep up with technological advances. The study, ‘Nothing to Lose (But Your Chains)‘, was clear in pointing out that the charity sector had as yet failed to tap significantly into available blockchain technologies.

The report recommends the use of DLT by creating a transparent, end-to-end supply chain for each project. This means that all those involved – government departments, NGOs, funders, charities, local offices, delivery partners, and the individuals receiving the benefit have access up to the moment information regarding the funds or supplies donated.

Some charities and NGOs are getting it right, however. Along with IBM, both the UN and the World Food Programme (WFP) are now proactively using blockchain to record transactions.

The Chinese government has announced that it also intends to integrate blockchain into a range of social services programs.

 

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Charities Must Embrace Blockchain to Make Genuine Impact, Report Says

A report conducted by independent think tank Charity Futures concluded that charities have yet to engage with blockchain with the kind of urgency required to keep up with technological advances, writes Live Bitcoin News.

The study, ‘Nothing to Lose (But Your Chains)’, was clear in pointing out that the charity sector had as yet failed to tap significantly into available blockchain technologies.

Asheem Singh, former interim chief executive of the charity’s lead body Acevo, who commissioned the report, said that blockchain held great potential for charity organizations. “Blockchain could herald the sort of seismic changes in the charity sector as the digital revolution before it,” he wrote.

The report suggests that there is one area of significance where blockchain could make the most impact should it be employed. Foreign aid was singled out, noting that aid distributed by the UK government currently stands at 0.7% of GDP, which in 2016 was GBP 12.7 billion. International aid has been susceptible to corruption and bureaucracy in many receiving countries, which are exactly the kinds of problems that blockchain’s accountability can address.

Many charity organizations are dragging their heels regarding the new technology according to the report. “Despite the potential benefits, the charity sector is currently behind the curve on blockchain technology,” the study said.

The report recommends the use of DLT by creating a transparent, end-to-end supply chain for each project. This means that all those involved – government departments, NGOs, funders, charities, local offices, delivery partners, and the individuals receiving the benefit have access up to the moment information regarding the funds or supplies donated.

Some charities and NGOs are getting it right, however. Along with IBM, both the UN and the World Food Programme (WFP) are now proactively using blockchain to record transactions.

As previously covered by Bitcoin News, WFP has been employing the blockchain in a number of its projects and making a significant impact in the field as a result. In just one of its recent programs, the organization has distributed cryptocurrency-based food vouchers to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan, bypassing bureaucracy and getting aid to where it’s needed.

Singh feels that it is time charities came together with those actually creating the technology, in order to fully draw on its potential across the whole sector.

“It may be time for the sector to convene a high-level task force that brings together charity leaders and technologists… to articulate the contribution blockchain can and should make to the charity sector and the problems it is trying to address.”

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 18th to 24th May 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

South Africa

Public to face probes if they buy crypto from offshore exchanges: The South African Reserve Bank has issued latest guidance regarding buying and selling of cryptocurrencies in the country, according to latest instructions coming from the central bank. The bank doesn’t have a direct role in controlling cryptocurrencies in the country, but is issuing regulatory guidances on purchasing and selling of cryptocurrencies from foreign exchanges.

South African crypto investors are directed to purchase cryptocurrencies only from their discretionary allowance of  SAR 1 million or individual foreign investment of SAR 10 million per year. Companies are also banned from purchasing cryptocurrencies from the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) dispensation in the country.

The move will create further problems for cryptocurrency trading in the country but it is yet unclear how many South Africans actually use foreign exchange for buying cryptocurrencies.

First Bitcoin ATM opens in South Africa: The first Bitcoin ATM has been opened in South Africa by Northwold Spar in Johannesburg. While there have been other cryptocurrency ATMs in the country before, this one is the first fully functioning crypto ATM currently functional in the country.

George Neophytou, the GM of Northwold Spar said: “It is all awfully exciting. It will take away much the frustration of buying and selling cryptocurrency, and hopefully help make cryptocurrencies mainstream… It’s a different world there. Walking around in the streets of Germany you see signs with ‘Bitcoins accepted here’.”

Recent surveys in South Africa have shown that 25% of South Africans plan to invest in cryptocurrencies in the future and 15% said they would invest in mining equipment.

Kidnappers demand ransom in Bitcoin for abducted South African child: In a first, a 13-year old boy named Katlego Marite was abducted by kidnappers in Witbank, South Africa. The kidnappers left a note with a Bitcoin address at the scene and instructions to deposit the ransom if the parents wanted to see their child alive again.

The ransom was worth around USD 120,000 and is said to be the first known case of Bitcoin ransom in the country. It is unclear why the boy was specifically targeted. The parents had no idea what Bitcoin was and the case is currently under investigation by the police. The boy was recovered on 24 May.

Zimbabwe

Exchange sues Central Bank for banning crypto trading: In reaction to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe banning cryptocurrencies, cryptocurrency exchange Golix has challenged the ban in the country’s top court citing the ban was illegal.

Golix is one of the three cryptocurrency exchanges active in the country and the lawsuit argues that the reserve bank has no authority to ban cryptocurrency since it requires legislation from the parliament to do so. The lawsuit goes on to claim that the bank has failed to manage its own currency and thus, it shouldn’t be forcing anybody else in trading.

Zimbabwe’s triple-digit inflation is believed to be caused by the currency mismanagement from the Reserve Bank and it will be interesting to see how the court responds to this request. Banks were prohibited in dealing with cryptocurrency exchange accounts although a 60-day grace period is still going on.

Ethiopia

Government signs deal with Cardano to introduce blockchain in agriculture: Ethiopia has become the latest African nation joining the blockchain revolution with the ministry of science and technology signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the CEO of Cardano Charles Hoskinson. The partnership will allow Cardano’s platform to be used for improving the domestic agriculture in the country.

While MOUs don’t have any obligatory standing, it is deemed as a positive development in the country.

Syria

WFP blockchain food vouchers reach 100,000 Syrian refugees: