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IBM Partners with Global Citizen to Ensure Transparent Donations in Bid to Replace Trust in Charities

Technology giant IBM's blockchain arm and Global Citizen have created a challenge for blockchain developers to create a donation tracking application. Global Citizen is a charity aiming to solve extreme world poverty by 2030.

The challenge is: "Build a simple three-member network on IBM Blockchain Platform (Government, AID.org, Global Citizen) where cause-specific pledges and fund transfers are made by the government, registered with aid organizations and validated by Global Citizen."

The contest is running from May 15 - July 14 and the top five entries will win VIP tickets to their choice of Global Citizen Festival. The main purpose of using blockchain technology to track donations is it allows records to be entered into a publically accessible database without the ability to remove them. This ensures a new level of transparency that has not been seen in the charity sector before.

Furthermore, the winner will have their minimum viable product (MVP) featured on IBM blockchain's website, receive a workshop session with IBM, Global Citizen and industry leaders and their code will be publically available for others to use for similar purposes. The challenge begins on the day Consensus 2018 starts, which is CoinDesk's 4th annual blockchain technology summit.

The challenge comes after Oxfam was hit by a scandal involving sexual misconduct which led to the resignation of Oxfam's Deputy Chief Director. While this was not misappropriation of funds, it damaged trust in the charity sector. International aid in general has often been criticized as money tends to reach the richest more than the poorest.

Blockchain technology offers a solution to tracking donations because it provides an immutable record of the donations movements. This could go some way to restoring faith in the charity sector and international aid programs. In the announcement, it says: "If we are going to solve societal issues such as extreme poverty or infectious disease, we need to make sure that every cause is getting the money they were promised, especially from the world’s most impactful donor group: federal governments."

A similar program includes the World Food Programme which is using blockchain to organize the provision of food to refugees. Speaking at the Law Society in London, UK MP Matt Hancock said: "The World Food Programme is running a pilot in a Jordanian refugee camp, where over 10,000 Syrian refugees can buy food from local shops with merely a scan of their eye. There is no need for cash, credit cards or paper; the transactions are instead recorded on the blockchain."