When you read the news that they put a baby on the blockchain, your reaction makes you one of two types of people. Either you think, Mon dieu, is there anything the magical fairy dust known as blockchain can't solve? Or you think: Surely, this is child abuse.
For the past few years, techies have frothed and proselytized over the potential salvation of blockchain, the tech behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. So it's hard to even know what babies and blockchain could even have to do with each other. Typically, outside of grifter circles, blockchain is associated with vaporware, shady fraudulent ICOs or solving things that aren't suited at all for blockchain's "distributed ledger" system. Oh, and largely solving things that aren't even problems.
Rather than try and part the foolish with their actual money, for once the crypto craze might be doing some useful good — which is how a baby ended up on the blockchain. In this instance, the international organization AID:Tech is using the technology as a way to get charitable donations to their destinations: as in, getting soon-to-be moms in need funds for things like vitamins and medical care.
Of course, we think, why not just give it to established care orgs — why make a whole blockchain mess of it? This is an extremely reasonable question, seldom asked in the presence of crypto-critters. AID:Tech is a medical-aid project positioned to combat the huge problem of fraud in the world of charitable donations, and to help at-risk women with their medical information. And on July 13th, a baby was added to a blockchain ledger (a first). This was followed by two more births on the 19th.
The idea of grafting blockchain to charity was to prevent fraud — which seems ironic given cryptocurrency's reputation. Founder Joseph Thompson told CIO in a March interview:
In 2009, I ran 151 miles in the Sahara Desert as part of the tough world marathon, the 6-day Marathon des Sables. For the race, I raised over $120k for a charity I trusted. But the funds did not go where they were intended to.
With this experience, I became a cynic and decided never to donate again. But I always wanted to solve this problem. In 2010, I then saw the potential of Blockchain for traceability, and then the United Nations included this goal as part of the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals].
And so in December 2015, hundreds of Syrian refugees at a camp in Lebanon took part in AID:Tech's pilot program. The org partnered with the Irish Red Cross to give 500 digital credit cards to the refugees for use in a supermarket, each preloaded with $20 — in total, $10K was distributed to 100 Syrian refugee families.
"A traditional paper-voucher system was simultaneously in place. These are problematic because fraudulent copies inevitably emerge," wrote Irish Times. "Within a matter of hours, the same thing was attempted with the AID:Tech cards -- perfect copies were being presented to shopkeepers but were useless once the QR code was scanned and showed the attempted transaction to be invalid." An estimated 20 fraudulent cards were made, and all of the fakes failed. The Irish Red Cross monitored the transactions in real time.