Class 4 Readings - Blockchains

At the end of the first reading, The Death of Charities: Bitcoin & Blockchain Technology To Replace Them?, there is a quote that mentions the following: "...the danger of radical transparency is that without further efforts to educate donors about the way charities operate, it could simply lead to people making unreasonable demands about the way that their own donations are used."  I'm curious to find out more on what the charities are doing to solve this problem and if it has been effective. M-Pesa And The Rise of the Global Mobile Money Market.

This reading is in direct relation to the midterm assignment for this class. M-Pesa allows micro-financing through its mobile platform. This service has shown that in 2011, 72% of Kenyans that make less than $1.25/day use this service since they don't have access to formal financial services. This could be a great system to build our idea off of which is one of the key points when developing new project ideas -- reuse and build on previous infrastructures.

The struggle for this type of service:

  • having banks work with the telecom on this service
  • only able to transfer small amounts of money
  • does not replace a bank account (but could work well for those that don't have access to banks in rural areas)

With that said, it is helpful that there are already companies in place that are doing this concept.  And with the growing adoption as a use case in some countries, this could be used as a means to entice new business in new countries where this could be impactful.

From shore to plate: Tracking tuna on the blockchain

I really like this example use case for blockchain implementation. The last step in the process where they worked to inform the consumer on the ethical status of the product is not something that I contemplated before and think it's a fantastic idea.  Blockchain as a form or paper trail can help to educate the consumer which then provides a feedback loop for the producer as to what the consumers values are in regards to the products they want to buy.

How Bitcoin Brought Electricity to a South African School

Interesting points from this reading:

  1. "Rather than paying for electricity after it is received at a home or business, end users are instead paying for this electricity upfront. You can now have a smart meter, a bitcoin blockchain-enabled meter, and foreign donors can send money directly to the meter without having to send it to an organization that will take or re-distribute the funds."
  2. "the project involves two components – the smart meter programmed to accept digital currency and positioned at the building set to receive power, and the crowdfunding platform through which donors can contribute bitcoin."

This is very encouraging.  I would like to hear a little bit more about the barriers/limitations that once faces when using the blockchain process however. Is this initiative solely run by donations? What happens when the funds get low and how would the individuals that donate the money know if the funds are low? What sort of sustainability approaches are these companies putting into place for this project.