coindesk.com / September 9, 2015 at 10:30 BST
Cash and gifts-in-kind are the two main types of relief when it comes to assisting those who have suffered in the face of natural disasters, but bitcoin is becoming an ever more popular option.
In the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, over $14bn was pledged by the international community for the relief and recovery of the 14 countries affected by the natural disaster – one of the deadliest recorded in history.
Paul Currion, an independent consultant for humanitarian organisations, told CoinDesk this “huge outpour of public support” meant a lot of organisations had more funding than they could easily process and distribute.
Cash donations can be favoured over in-kind donations, with the latter having been criticised in the past for making it more difficult to match the needs of the recipients, and in doing so, disempowering them.
According to Currion, who is currently working with the Start Network to explore the potential of blockchain technology, one of the biggest downfalls in aid in the past has been using a “blueprint response” for every disaster. He said:
“That’s obviously done for reasons of ease – you don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time there’s a new disaster … on the other hand, what that means is our options are limited and that, in turn, has limited the options of the people who have been affected by the disaster.”