Until recently, Thomas Bohner was following all the familiar coronavirus procedures: work from home, social distance, worry about everything. Then, one night over after-work online drinks a couple of weeks ago, he started brainstorming with his team about how to raise money for the coronavirus support effort.
Bohner’s team at IntellectEU, a New York software startup, had the idea of a crowdfunding application for charity. They divided tasks among themselves and hacked it together in fewer than 10 days.
The result is the #SpreadLoveNotCorona web app, which digitally replicates the spreading of a virus. But instead of spreading illness, it scales its impact by encouraging donations to the U.N.’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization. Donations are recorded and their impact tracked using blockchain technology.
“As a blockchain-focused company, we wanted to prove how quickly you can develop and deploy a blockchain-based application (in this case Corda),” Thomas Bohner, vice president of IntellectEU, told CoinDesk in an email.
The idea is fairly straightforward. You sign up to donate, create a username and then donate before sharing a link with others to encourage them to do the same. You can click here to view a full mock-up of the app, and click through it.
The giving started with “patient zero;” with “every infection, the tree branches out and becomes wider and deeper. In the context of our application this means more donations to charity, so the more the merrier,” writes Robbert Coeckelbergh in a Medium post about the app’s technological construct.
On a leaderboard on the app you can see how much specific usernames have raised, and who has gotten involved. The leaderboard is updated every five minutes; currently IntellectEU tops it, having raised over $400 and “infected” or involved 77 people.
Donations are logged and verified on the Corda blockchain, increasing transparency in the donation process.
“We store the proof-of-payment (without personally identifiable information), making it possible to go back in the chain and verify every and each donation,” Bohner said. “People can go back and check their impact of sharing their personal link. This query checks the blockchain and all donations linked to that ID. The immutability and audibility of the blockchain are key characteristics here.”
Thus far, the project has raised almost $3,000. The impact can be tracked on the app.
Bohner said the application was built to support COVID-19 but could be repurposed if nonprofits want to leverage it for another good cause such as local crowdfunding or tracking and tracing for medical supplies.
“We believe blockchain as a disruptive technology definitely attracts more people to the application and brings trust in the payment flow,” he said. “Traceability and transparency are becoming more key in the charity industry and blockchain can help.”
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