Tech and Crypto Communities Unite in the Fight Against COVID-19
Written by J Cameron & Manuel Gonzalez Alzuru in collaboration with Gitcoin
Edited by Andrea Ang and James Young.
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The COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent establishment of social distancing measures have forced isolation upon our friends, families, and communities. At the same time, we’ve seen communities across the globe come together to support each other during this difficult time. Many are using social media groups to actively build stronger bonds and to organize initiatives, while others have explored decentralized and remote collaboration to strategize their efforts.
A swath of prospective attendees of the 2020 Ethereum Community Conference (EthCC) in Paris opted to stay home in light of concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Europe. Many of those who did attend later fell ill with the virus.
When Founder and CEO of Maskbook Suji Yan discovered that Manuel Gonzalez Alzuru was sick after EthCC, and that Alzuru’s family members on the front line lacked proper personal protective equipment, he sent Alzuru 300 masks (which, frustratingly, were retained for more than two weeks by Spanish Customs). Yan later launched the Mask and Test Kit Mutual Aid Fund, to which the crypto community contributed over $16K via Gitcoin Grants that were matched by the Ethereum Foundation and Vitalik Buterin with a quadratic funding mechanism. This fund was used to send masks and tests to countries including the UK, Germany, Switzerland.
Members of the MetaCartel, Abridged and Aragon communities formed a Telegram group, Collab-19, where they brainstormed strategies to support those affected by COVID-19. Their first model took the form of a Uniswap pool designed to tie value to the governance of funds, but they quickly recognized the need for a more user-friendly and less plutocratic platform. In response, they created Collab19 using Abridged crypto bots, Aragon templates, and Wyre, which allows crypto-savvy and non-crypto-savvy users alike to easily join a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) and enter a token-permission-based chat group exclusive to DAO members without ever having to leave Telegram.
HelpDAO, an initiative supported by Aragon and Ramp, was the next concept to emerge. It allows trusted members (“Supervisors”) to raise money from “Donors” in their communities and distribute those funds to volunteers who will perform tasks within their communities.
FightPandemics is a community of volunteers with crypto and non-crypto backgrounds born out of ManuAlzuru’s vision of an altruistic platform that brings communities together by connecting individuals and organizations who need help with those who can provide it. Its more than 450 volunteers worldwide include doctors, researchers, students, recent graduates, venture capitalists, startup founders, employees and former employees of companies like Microsoft, Condé Nast, Google, Amazon, Qualcomm, Uber, and RedHat. FightPandemics has also received support from tech companies like Notion, Airtable, GitKraken, Auth0, Algolia, Sendgrid, Twilio, AWS, Leypal, Google Maps, Typeform, Sentry, Hackolade, and MongoDB. Additionally, from the likes of Aaron Wright, Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York and co-founder of OpenLaw and Scott Moore, Technical Growth Lead at Gitcoin.
Read on to discover 10 more ways the tech and crypto communities are coming together to fight COVID-19.
On March 21st The Giving Block made public the #cryptoCOVID19 Alliance, a partnership with industry leaders including CoinDesk, Ethereal Summit and Gitcoin which directs donations to a broad range of non-profits including Save the Children, The Water Project, and International Medical Corps.
On January 25th, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, pledged 1.5 million USD to support victims of COVID-19.
By March 27, Binance had reportedly delivered over 366,000 pairs of gloves, 56,800 masks, 20,000 testing kits, 20,000 pairs of goggles, 17,850 protective suits, 5,280 bottles of hand sanitizer, 388 oxygen concentrators, 173 barrels of disinfectant, and 9 sterilizers to over 300 hospitals and medical teams in Hubei, Sichuan, Guangxi, Shanghai, and Turkey through their Crypto Against COVID campaign. In a later move, Binance delivered 1000 germicidal lamps to 74 medical teams and health centres at Hubei General Hospital.
On March 25th CZ tweeted, “Every retweet of this post with #CryptoAgainstCOVID=$1 USD donation. #Binance Charity will donate up to $1,000,000 USD!” As of May 14th, his post has garnered 10.1K retweets.
“The most important element of human life is to show compassion and help others as we can, without the limitation or restriction of borders. Blockchain technology enables this in greater capacities than ever before and Binance Charity wishes to bring this to the masses,” said Helen Hai, head of the foundation.
On March 26th, Ocean Protocol announced a partnership with SingularityNET to launch coVIDathon, a decentralized AI and blockchain hackathon. CoVIDathon brought together software developers and AI and medical researchers to create learning algorithms to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
4. Jack Dorsey
On April 7th, the CEO of Twitter took to his own platform to pledge 1 billion dollars of his Square equity, approximately 28 percent of his net wealth, to found the LLC Start Small.
In a move atypical for a Fortune 500 CEO, Dorsey made public a spreadsheet that details projected donations.
Read more: Dorsey’s #startsmall tracker Google Doc
5. Ripple Labs
On March 25th, just seven hours after CZ’s tweet, Ripple Labs Inc., a US-based technology company and the creator of Ripple, a real-time gross settlement system, currency exchange and remittance network, announced $200K in donations split between Tipping Point’s COVID Emergency Response Fund and Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s COVID Regional Response Fund.
In a subsequent tweet, Ripple encouraged those interested in contributing to the global response to visit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund page, found here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/donate.
6. Stellar Foundation
One week later, the Stellar Development Foundation announced a donation-matching program that would see up to 2.5M XLM matched and donated to select charities during the month of April.
In a May 8th tweet thanking donors, Stellar revealed that the target, 2.5M lumens, was reached, matched, and donated.
7. Algorand Coronavirus Survey
Proof-of-stake cryptocurrency platform Algorand is behind a new survey aimed to compile an open database documenting the spread, status, and symptoms of the virus responsible for COVID-19.
In their About section Algorand establishes four key areas that set their survey apart from others: global reach, anonymous self-reporting, decentralization, and permanent blockchain storage.
Global reach: Algorand urges users to complete its survey regardless of their symptom status. The app is available globally in more than ten languages.
Anonymous self-reporting: While there are multiple sources of information related to COVID-19, there is limited data coming directly from individuals in the community.
Decentralized, open, accessible-by-all data: Distributed ledgers promote transparency by allowing transactions to have public “witnesses”.
Permanent, unmodifiable storage: Data is preserved in its original form for the indefinite future, enabling future research on always-available and verifiable-by-all original data.
On April 20th, HDR Global Trading LTD., operator of the BitMEX cryptocurrency trading platform, announced its establishment of the HDR Global Trading COVID-19 Response Fund, pledging 2.5 million USD to support four key organizations fighting the pandemic.
“We are committed to thoughtful grantmaking and ensuring that our actions during the COVID-19 crisis can make the biggest impact now and in the future. We have therefore decided to make grants totalling US$2.5 million to four organisations that are making a tangible difference in tackling COVID-19 as well as mitigating global catastrophic biological risks.” — Arthur Hayes, CEO and Co-Founder.
HDR has confirmed that Gates Philanthropy Partners, Nuclear Threat Initiative, OpenMined, and Our World in Data will each receive grants priced between $300,000 and $1,000,000 USD.
Read more about BitMEX’s COVID-19 response link here.
Triffic is a free augmented reality app that’s gamifying the fight against COVID-19. It rewards users in GPS Tokens, Triffic’s cryptocurrency, for routine tasks like walking, driving, and shopping. In light of the pandemic, Triffic has repurposed its app to include a feature that enables users to raise funds for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Response.
The app sends Reward Beacons to a user’s location and donates GPS tokens on their behalf when they collect a beacon. Since March 27th, Triffic’s users have raised $2,154 for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Response Fund.
You could practically write an A to Z list of the initiatives the tech and crypto communities are taking to fight COVID-19. Even governments are getting on board. For example, the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Community Development has stopped receiving paper documents all together, and now exclusively verifies documents using digital identity to discourage the public from visiting service centres.