Say the word Bitcoin and many may think of the “Dark Web” and envision a techno -sinister place where the trading of illegal weaponry, arms deals, human trafficking and other destructive things are all made available to willing buyers.
Read deeper online and you will find that Crypto currencies and Bitcoin in particular are fast becoming a legitimate form of currency, even though in some countries it is legally still strictly a commodity. Dell, Microsoft and several European airlines all now accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. ATMs are being established all over the world with 710 in the US and 149 in Canada according to the website coinatmradar (which actually gives Canadians more ATM’s per capita – go figure!) With each passing year since Bitcoin’s 2009 inception it seems to become more useful and accessible.
Which doesn’t mean there are not still problems and concerns. Bitcoin, despite past accusations of its affiliation with all webs dark, has also suffered from a litany of actual cases in which Bitcoins have been stolen from online exchanges in which they were stored, in some instances due to negligence or poor security. Such incidents not only resulted in a loss of funds for the victims, since it is very difficult to trace where stolen Bitcoins have been transferred, but also devalued the commodity. There is hope though, as some traders are now paying back their victims.
However Roger Ver – A self-proclaimed Bitcoin evangelist, stated in 2013 that Bitcoin is “one of the most important inventions ever created.”
“I will proudly continue to promote Bitcoin full time because I see it as the best chance the world has ever seen at creating a more peaceful society in which all human interactions are voluntary, and outside groups of people calling themselves the state are no longer able to violently interject themselves into the affairs of others,”
He also sees great potential in the currency in relation to its usefulness for NGOs. “Bitcoin’s ultimate philanthropic potential may lie in the developing world, where high exchange rates, bank fees and inflation can dilute the buying power of international donors”.
A few examples of how Bitcoin is being used to creatively support non-profits around the world are:
- During a response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the converting of aide donations to Bitcoins allowed the savings of thousands of PayPal fees and more money was sent directly to groups providing aide.
- In Afghanistan women bloggers are paid directly to their mobile phones with Bitcoin, to avoid detection and stigma.
- Other not for profits are adding Bitcoin to their list of donations that they can receive including agencies as diverse as Save the Children and the Sea Shepard Society.
As we witness technology challenging and taking down once steadfast institutions, like car rentals, hotels, and travel agents – can big banking be far behind?
And if technology allows us as non-profits to manage our donations, maintain autonomy, avoid fees and allow for international transactions and immediate purchases with ease, we might all consider adding it to our arsenal of financial tools that may well be required to do business in the future.
Just in case.