Australian bitcoin payments startup BitPOS is teaming up with the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) to help save Africa's endangered wildlife from hunters.
It's the latest campaign aiming to demonstrate how bitcoin companies can raise money for a cause and give digital currency a friendlier public face in the process.
A similar campaign by South African exchange iceCUBED, started last month, has already raised over 2.4 BTC for a Botswana children's charity, and is ongoing.
So far, the partnership between BitPOS and the IAPF has been a success,, with bitcoin payments making up around 10% of the total amount raised so far in the IAPF's current campaign.
Funds donated will help train Africa's anti-poaching teams.
Using an existing payment processor helps to ease charities into the world of bitcoin, where new sources of revenue might seem attractive, but technologically daunting to the uninitiated.
The IAPF's Managing Director in Australia, Ian Mackenzie-Ross, said it would help his organization focus on its mission rather than worrying about the technicalities of using bitcoin:
"The idea that we can tap into donations from around the world via one collection point is ideal, it couldn’t be simpler."
BitPOS founder Jason Williams said he got the idea to help out with the fundraising campaign after reading a story about the federation's work on reddit:
"I got in touch with Ian asking if there was some way BitPOS could help, and before I knew it, we were providing the means for bitcoin donations. The bitcoin community is known for its generosity and the IAPF is doing great work, it’s a natural fit."
He added that all donations would be forwarded to the IAPF's campaign and BitPOS would convert them into Australian dollars once it concluded.
"Bitcoin is a global currency and by setting up donations on the IAPF website, we’re enabling the global community to get involved in conserving Africa’s wildlife."
Bitcoin's charity advantages
The ability to transmit small or even micro payments anywhere in the world almost instantly showcases one of bitcoin's major benefits over traditional payment networks.
While Paypal has its own free-free charity option, it is not truly global – often the kinds of places who would benefit most from a large collection of small donations are not served.
The public blockchain can provide greater transparency for charities using a single address, allowing donors to check exactly how much money is being raised. Bitcoin also gives donors a greater degree of anonymity than a credit card payment.
Botswana bitcoin campaigner Alakanani Itireleng launched the campaign for the SOS Children's Villages in May, and says the demonstration of bitcoin as a charity helper has been great so far:
"It is a good intiative indeed 'cause for me it enabled me to show that it is easy to fundraise with bitcoin."
The campaign has so far raised over 2.4 BTC (and 8.1 LTC), with most donations in small amounts like 0.02 BTC. One generous donor contributed an entire bitcoin.
Donations are still coming in, and Itireleng said the campaign would continue to raise funds until its goal was met.