The ESSEC Philanthropy Chair is organizing a Lunch & Learn on October 14 on the theme "Blockchain & cryptocurrencies for philanthropy", with the participation of ESSEC Metalab.
Blockchain is a digital, decentralized storage technology. By extension, a blockchain refers to a database in which individual records, called blocks, are linked together in a single list, called a chain. Blockchain is the backbone technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as all transactions are stored securely and transparently in an incorruptible digital ledger. In recent years, initiatives such as The Giving Block, Give Track, GiveCrypto, AidCoin, and Cardano have brought blockchain technology to the field of philanthropy. Prominent charitable organizations like the Red Cross, UNICEF and Oxfam now accept crypto-donations and test blockchain-based solutions to deliver aid more effectively. Blockchain enthusiasts see many benefits for philanthropy: access to young, tech-savvy donors, faster, cheaper and hack-proof donations, support for NGOs or beneficiaries despite government bans or banking restrictions, ability to track donations or to condition them to the achievement of predefined goals… The potential to increase trust and to unlock new donations is tantalizing. However, critics have also warned against the rise of “surveillance philanthropy” in which transparency goals seem tailored to satisfy donors instead of beneficiaries. Other pitfalls may also limit the appeal of blockchain and cryptocurrencies to potential donors and recipients: lack of digital skills, absence of a trusted central authority, value volatility, high carbon footprint… One is left to wonder: are cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology game changers or overrated? Can they contribute to a better world, and if so, how and when?
- Dr Peter Howson, Senior Lecturer in International Development, Northumbria University Newcastle (UK)
- Eva Oberholzer, Chief Growth Officer, Cardano Foundation (Switzerland)
The discussion will be moderated by the Philanthropy Chair team, with the contribution of the ESSEC Metalab.