Brian Armstrong, co-founder and chief executive of digital currency exchange Coinbase, has launched a charitable fund for distributing cryptocurrency to people in need around the world.
In a Medium post, Armstrong said the GiveCrypto fund, established with Rose Broome, co-founder and chief executive of personal donations startup HandUp.org, is intended to “financially empower people by distributing cryptocurrency globally”.
Cryptocurrency holders will be able to donate to the fund, which will distribute coins to people in need, with an initial focus on those in emerging markets.
The fund has an initial target of $US10 million ($13.6 million), and has already raised donations of $US3.5 million ($4.77 million), including $US1 million ($1.36 million) from Armstrong himself.
Funds will be distributed by trusted local volunteers, and Armstrong says the team will also look into alternative methods of distribution in the future.
“From our initial tests, we’ll be able to get a deeper sense of whether recipients find the payments useful, how they exchange it to their local currency, and how they utilise the funds,” he said.
“Once there is a demonstrated track record, our longer term goal is to reach a $US1 billion [AUD$1.36 billion] fund size in the next two years.”
The charity is intended to make cryptocurrency more accessible, while also benefiting people who are “locked out” of traditional financial structures and creating new use cases for cryptocurrrency.
“With distribution of aid to foreign countries, high fees and corruption are unfortunately common; cryptocurrency is a way of circumventing both,” said Armstrong.
In the post, he noted that billions of people globally have smartphones, but “over 1.7 billion adults do not have an account at a financial institution”, meaning they find themselves “locked in a cycle of poverty”.
He suggested that GiveCrypto.org poses an opportunity to open up “the power of crypto” for those who need it the most.
“This is my call to action to the crypto community: let’s pool our collective resources and try this new form of philanthropy, so people all over the world can start benefiting from a more equitable and open global financial system,” he said.
The launch of GiveCrypto follows a previous post Armstrong published in January, in which he detailed the potential of cryptocurrency for charitable giving.
“There are so many early holders of cryptocurrency who’ve become wealthy, I’m excited to see them begin to engage in philanthropy. If it helps further cryptocurrency adoption at the same time, that’s a win-win,” he said at the time.
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He also floated rough ideas for distributing funds fairly, including having local people sign up to be recipients, allowing people to endorse others in need, and Pokemon Go-style drops of coins for people to ‘collect’ on a first-come-first-served basis.
However funds are distributed, Armstrong said that over time people may stop converting their cryptocurrency into fiat currency.
“People may start to transact in crypto itself, sparking a local crypto economy,” he suggested.