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Screenshot from UNICEF Gamechaingers website (https://www.chaingers.io/en/index.html)

Screenshot from UNICEF Gamechaingers website (https://www.chaingers.io/en/index.html)

UNICEF appeals to gamers to mine cryptocurrency for helping Syrian children

UNICEF, the UN program that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries, is exploring fundraising through cryptocurrency mining. It has issued an appeal to the esport community to use their computing hardware to mine Ether for UNICEF. Ether is the cryptocurrency generated on the open-source, public, distributed computing platform called Ethereum (Ether and Ethereum are sometimes used interchangeably in popular discourse).

The funds will be used to help Syrian children, who have been suffering in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises for the past 7 years. According to the 2017 year-end report from UNICEF, nearly 5.4 million Syrian refugees registered in the region and nearly half of them are children. Depleted resources, the high cost of living and restricted livelihood opportunities are making it difficult for vulnerable families to meet their children’s basic needs. Many Syrian refugee families are forced to resort to negative coping practices, including early marriage and child labour. However, the crisis is not receiving enough support and the financial needs are not being met.  

Gamers have computers with powerful graphics cards, which are also necessary for the resource-intensive activity of cryptocurrency mining. Miners use the computational power of their hardware to solve complex puzzles and validate transactions, so that they can be added to the public ledger known as the blockchain. The miners receive cryptocurrency as reward.

To participate in the operation, the gamers have to install a mining software (Claymore). They can start and stop mining whenever they want and generate Ethereum that will go directly to the UNICEF e-wallet.

The participants would be contributing their time, equipment and electricity. Mining utilises the full power of the graphics card and electricity consumption is similar to that of playing a new, resource-hungry video game.

Regulators in many countries have issued warnings about cryptocurrencies in recent months. Concerns have been raised over potential criminal uses. The acceptance of bitcoin, the cyrptocurrency with the largest market cap, for payments has been limited, while its price reached stratospheric heights last year. The volatility in price has drawn investors but reduced its attractiveness as medium of exchange. UNICEF also mentions the volatility of crypto-currencies on its project FAQ page, but says that this initiative’s focus is to create an opportunity to give for those who cannot give or have never had the opportunity to do so.

Last month, the UNICEF Innovation Fund announced that it is looking to invest in companies developing software solutions on open blockchain. Software solutions could be related to smart contracts, data analysis, crypto-tokens or crypto-currency mining. The examples given included the use of crypto tokens to incentivise or support behaviour that benefits humanity and the creation of passive distributed mining networks to create investment funding opportunities for the UNICEF Venture Fund. Blockchain-based smart contracts could also enable a transparent donation and fund-utilisation mechanism.

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