Islamic Endowments to be Modernized by Blockchain

The potential applications for blockchain technology are seemingly endless. Every day a new startup applies distributed ledger technology and smart contracts that underlie cryptocurrencies to a different world scenario offering new and innovative ways to streamline existing systems. Islamic charitable endowments, called waqf, are the latest to get the blockchain treatment.

According to reports Singapore based fintech firm Finterra has developed a crowdfunding platform that uses blockchain to create smart contracts that would be linked to specific waqf projects. A waqf typically involves donating a building, plot of land, or other assets for Muslim religious or charitable purposes with no intention of reclaiming the assets. The concept dates back over a thousand years peaking during the Ottoman Empire.

Islamic financial markets

The company hopes to provide a more efficient way of raising funds and managing the transfer of waqf which receive donations from Muslims for social projects such as schools, mosques, and charitable organizations. CEO Hamid Rashid told media;

“We are trying to change the financial terrain in its approach to crowdfunding and development of waqf,”

The company is hoping to target core Islamic financial markets in the Middle East and Southeast Asia where pilot projects are already being studied in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. They hope to be up and running by June and will host a forum in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur in March. Waqf bodies in Brunei and India have already shown interest in the project.

Underused assets

Large portfolios of real estate, commercial businesses and other assets can be held in Islamic endowments. It has been estimated that as much as $1 trillion of assets is held in waqf globally.

Due to ineffective management, with some waqf requiring further donations to keep running, many assets are underutilized for the purpose for which they were donated. Blockchain could address this by tracking each contract electronically across the lifespan of the investment, increasing the efficiency of the potential of the asset.

The redevelopment of a school in Jakarta into a commercially viable property is one waqf project currently being studied according to Rashid. He hopes this will be the first of many to benefit from the blockchain revolution.

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The use of Bitcoin as a currency has increased across the world. The digital currency is slowly making its way to become one of the mainstream currencies. These developments make the digital currency as an ideal asset for not just regular economic transactions, but also for charitable donations. In order to facilitate such charitable transactions, an Italian startup has created the HelperBit platform.

HelperBit has also demonstrated its effectiveness by successfully concluding a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the victims of the recent earthquakes that hit Italy. The Central Italian region has been affected by earthquakes since the past six months. The serious one, registering a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale affected the country in August 2016 leading to loss of about 300 lives and billions of euros in damages.

Since the fateful day, the Central Italy has experienced a series of earthquakes of varying magnitudes. Every tremor has resulted in the loss of life, property or both. The agricultural and tourism industry in the region have borne the brunt of nature’s wrath, affecting the livelihood of thousands of people.

HelperBit collaborated with Legambiente to support the affected raise funds for reconstruction. The platform offered the infrastructure to create a multi-signature Bitcoin wallet and helped the organization raise money in the form of cryptocurrency from across the world. HelperBit has also helped bring transparency into the whole fundraising and disbursement process by making use of the blockchain technology.

The blockchain-based notarization service offered by HelperBit is helping Legambiente verify the authenticity of the relief requests before reimbursing the amount. In its recent blog, HelperBit gives an example of two farmers Ilaria and Lorenzo – owners of Societa Agricola Etiche Terre S.S. who suffered damages during the earthquake. They were able to benefit from “The Rebirth has a Young Heart” charity campaign by claiming relief for the expenses they incurred during the reconstruction process.

According to the blog, the farmers uploaded their invoice on HelperBit, requesting a refund for the expenditure. The authenticity of the refund request forwarded to Legambiente was verified by the organization before approving the Bitcoin transaction for reimbursement. The use of blockchain as made it possible for anyone to verify the transactions and track the usage of funds to confirm the legitimacy of the fundraising campaign.

The use of Bitcoin, multi-signature wallet systems and blockchain technology in charitable sector is clearly displayed by this initiative of HelperBit and Legambiente. It also opens doors for other charitable institutions and relief agencies from across the world to adopt cryptocurrency and its underlying technology for their operations.

Ref: HelperBit | Charity Digital News | Image: NewsBTC

The Water Project is one of the many charitable organizations accepting Bitcoin payments. While there has been a good amount of donations from cryptocurrency enthusiasts so far, things have been taken to a new level. One – or multiple – anonymous donor(s) sent a whopping 38 Bitcoin to the organization last night. All of this money will be used to provide clean and safe water to an entire school in Africa.

Everyone in the cryptocurrency world will know The Water Project. This charitable organization focuses on providing basic needs to communities in Africa. Access to clean and safe water is a major struggle in the region, especially where it comes to schools. By addressing these needs, the charitable organization has become world-renowned over the past few years.

A Big Bitcoin Surprise For The Water Project

The reason cryptocurrency enthusiasts should be familiar with this name is because The Water Project accepts Bitcoin donations. They were one of the first to embrace cryptocurrency and have seen a fair share of success so far. Accepting cryptocurrency payments also allows for anonymous donations, as not everyone wants to be in the spotlight for doing good.

Fast forward to today, and somebody has donated a shocking 38 Bitcoin – worth over US$23,000 – to The Water Project overnight. For now, it remains unknown who is behind this generous contribution. We do know two separate transactions were used to transfer the funds, which can be seen here, and here.

While it is possible this transaction was sent erroneously; it appears the donor intended to contribute to The Water Project. So far, no one has claimed these transactions to be sent by mistake. Although some people may want to find out who is behind this transfer, he, she, or they may decide to never reveal themselves.

The Water Project team will use this funds to identify the exact site for their next water well project shortly. Based on the information provided on Reddit, it appears the location will be somewhere in Sierra Leone. More details will be made available on the Bitcoin Donation Page over the coming weeks.

Source: Reddit

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

Doing something bad with good intentions don’t make it right! Maybe no one told this to the cybercriminals behind this new Bitcoin ransomware. CryptMix, the new ransomware doing rounds on the internet extorts money out of its victims, but forwards the ransom for charity.

Like any other ransomware, CryptMix encrypts the files on the victim’s computer making it unusable. According to Heimdal Security, a well-known anti-malware and cyber security software company, the new ransomware makes use of psychological manipulation to convince its victims of its ‘good’ intentions. Mostly built using the source code from other open source malware like CryptoWall 4.0 and CryptXXX, the malware once infected can’t be removed from the computer without an adequate key, which has to be obtained by paying the ransom. To make matters worse, the cybercriminals behind the ransomware adds a time limit, which doubles the ransom every 24 hours until the ransom is paid.

In the ransom note, the hackers behind CryptMix explain the requirement of a special software with a special unique private key to decrypt the files. They quote the price of this ‘special software’ to be 5 BTC and the software, apart from decrypting the encoded files will also offer protection to the system, making it invulnerable. That’s not all, this special software also comes with three years of free tech support.

In order to appeal to the altruistic side of their victims, the hackers claim that the ransom paid to unlock the computer will be spent on a children’s charity, providing the underprivileged children with presents and medical help. However, they fail to divulge any other information about the so-called charity and which part of the world they are going to spend the ill-gotten money in.

The ransomware is generally received over e-mails in the form of an attachment. Once the user downloads the attachment and tries to open it, the malware will spread throughout the computer, encrypting over 862 different file types. If the user has some important data stored on the infected computer without backing it up at any other location, he/she will be forced to pay the ransom in order to gain access to it.

Until now ransomware creators generally demanded anywhere between 1 to 2 bitcoin from individuals to provide them with the decryption key. But CryptMix takes it to a next level, and charges over $2,000 in bitcoin.

Now, it is highly unlikely that these hackers are going to pay even a single penny from the ransom towards charity, but for those at the receiving end of their wrath, at least the ransom note should sound comforting.

It is better to avoid being a victim of such ransomware attacks by following safe internet usage practices and regularly backing up data to ensure the safety of both, computer and priceless information the machine may contain.

Ref: Heimdal Security | The Tech News Header Image: NewsBTC

While the world looks to label Bitcoin for all of the things it isn’t–as a major financial mechanism of terrorism, or a smart way to perform money laundering–let’s take a look at one of the paths it does take. The charitable donation, for example. The charity industry has had their own public relations issues over the last several years for many fly-by-night organizations turning out to be full-on scams, like some alleged “Bitcoin exchanges” of days gone by. Bitcoin’s digital currency and its blockchain public ledger are seen as a way to improve not just the efficiency of corporate banking interests, but also smaller operations like charities.

greenpeaceCharities can grow quite large, too. Two of the largest, the United Way and Greenpeace, have been accepting Bitcoin for some time now. The attraction to Bitcoin by more and more charity organizations becomes clear when you consider the inherent advantages of Bitcoin over legacy economic models like debit cards. Transparency is one that is readily apparent.

Charities always face issues in terms of managing the trust,” said Rhodri Davies, head of the Giving Thought policy program at CAF. “With blockchain, you will be able to see where the money goes and track your donation as it goes through the charity.

Identity theft is virtually eliminated, maintaining a level of trust in the charity. For those who don’t want to reveal their donations publicly, personally-identifiable information is not tied to these transactions, directly. Also, there is no limit on the amount of the transaction, often brought on by a merchant processor. You could deliver $0.50 USD or $1 Million USD with the same amount of ease. If you want to donate $1 million USD via traditional channels, however, it immediately becomes both public, time-consuming, and subject to potential theft through a potential attack of the intermediaries that hold these transactions.

‘Nano-donations’—much smaller amounts of money—could become the way in which people donate in the future,” said Peter Smith, chief executive of Blockchain, told the Financial Times.

At the moment, you can’t really donate tiny amounts of money—and can’t send small amounts of money, as well. With Bitcoin and blockchain, you could now [donate money to] pay schoolchildren a dollar for every assignment that they complete or a cent for every page they read in a book: you can incentivize reading. There are lots of really cool models.

On top of that, for those companies that hold a portion of these donations for any length of time, they can also see a nice appreciation that can increase the value of their funds.

The value of using Bitcoin as a method of payment is very clear, for those who care to investigate what it has to offer, like the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. They have recently raised over 2,500 British pounds, or almost $4,000 USD, on 600 Bitcoin donations. Such small donations would be gobbled up by processing fees using a traditional debit or credit card, but Bitcoin users are spared these unnecessary third-party expenses.

We look at bitcoin as an online cash box,” said Luke Williams, project leader for bitcoin at the RNLI.

francesco rulliWe at NewsBTC are always looking for opportunities to introduce who’s who involved in the field of digital currency. One such personality whom we had the privilege to ask few questions is Francesco Rulli. Francesco is an Italian businessman, philanthropist and a black belt Judo practitioner. He is also the founder of bitLanders, bitCharities, Film Annex, Afghan Citadel and Mrs Mudd (a fashion and design consulting firm). Read further to know more about Francesco, his thoughts about bitcoin and his continued efforts to change the world.

NewsBTC: Can you tell us a bit more about bitLanders and bitCharities ?

Francesco Rulli: bitLanders is not a Social Media that uses Bitcoin as its underlying currency but its a Bitcoin company that uses Social Media and Gaming tasks to educate people about Bitcoin and how to become true Digital Citizens.

bitCharities uses Bitcoin and other crypto-assets to support charities by providing digital citizens of any income level a user-friendly means of supporting charities of their choice through micro donations of 1 Satoshi (about 1/5000th of a US cent).

NewsBTC: What made you start bitLanders and then the bitCharities initiative?

Francesco Rulli: BitLanders was the natural evolution of our previous platform Film Annex; dedicated to online film distribution and formed in July 2005; we decided to engage our users to the next level utilizing the BuzzScore algorithm as a system to reward our users based on the quality of their content, the user’s influence and reach; we introduced Avatars and Nicknames to protect the identity of our users and Bitcoin to allow our users to access financial independence independently of their location and circumstances (i.e. in Afghanistan is unthinkable that a young woman could have her own bank account and credit card. PayPal is available in a very limited number of countries)

NewsBTC: How were you introduced to Bitcoin?

Francesco Rulli: In 2013, I read about Bernanke’s consideration on Bitcoin and Marc Andreessen did the rest to convince me that it is a viable safe technology. But my thoughts were about a bottom up and not top down system. In the essence, I am a believer that Bitcoin and Blockchain are the ideal technology and currency for developing countries and all unbanked people around the World including the USA and Europe!

NewsBTC: What do you think about the current bitcoin regulation? How will it affect businesses?

Francesco Rulli: I haven’t developed an opinion on this matter. I see it as a Digital Currency for Digital Citizenship consequently I am not sure if the “regional” regulations are a real factor.

NewsBTC: How do charities come on-board your platform? Any minimum requirements?

Francesco Rulli: We offer them the opportunity to present their mission and information to our 500,000 Bitcoin users and their extended network of 180 million people. We offer them to be part of a program that can generate up to 10,000 daily micro donations and a direct relationship with thousands of new donors and supporters. There are no minimums and the selection is made based on their will to elevate their message to the attention of Digital Citizens all over the World. These organizations can cash out in Bitcoin and USD dollars. We suggest Bitcoin to save costs and banking transactions. We are helping them to understand the Bitcoin technology and broaden their horizons.

NewsBTC: Your vision for the company? Would you mind telling us about the future plans for development and expansion?

Francesco Rulli: We are expanding our UI with more quests and tasks, we are linking our rewards to automatic donations for bitCharities. We are educating our users on bitcoin and the values of Social Good.  We might become known for the counter Silk Road site showing the World that Bitcoin is ideal for Social Good!

Our users are not necessarily Bitcoin believers but people who want to generate content, be rewarded and connect with new opportunities; If on one end Bill Gates can afford donating 20 billion dollars, our focus is to identify 2 billion people who can raise or donate 10 dollars each throughout their life time on social media, especially donors and supporters who are located in developing countries that are usually not part of major fund raising efforts.

NewsBTC: Please let our readers know about your philanthropic work

Francesco Rulli: I do believe that Philanthropy and Social Good are a great opportunity for all people in the world, regardless of their income and social status. I started when I was 18 years old, running fundraising events in Italy. When I moved to the USA, I continued my work. In 2011, I saw a video by NATO about a young woman who built internet classrooms in Afghanistan on behalf of NATO. I connected with her on LinkedIn to established a collaboration; since then, I have funded the construction of 11 classrooms and 2 IT centres giving internet access to 55,000 female high school students in Afghanistan. Together with Roya Mahboob, we formed Women’s Annex that is today called Digital Citizen Fund. The foundation is growing and additional supporters include Sheryl Sandberg, Craig Newmark and Biz Stone .

US Secretary of State – John Kerry explains well about what we did

I am also part of the advisory board of Global Medical Relief Fund , and organization that helps kids who lost their limbs or suffered incredible injuries due to War or Natural Disaster. I also started a new foundation in Long Island called Southampton Multimedia Centre which serves as an educational and a training facility in digital media, a distribution centre for internet content and HD television production, and a professional video production facility for local government, educational, social and cultural institutions.

NewsBTC: Anything else you would like to add?

Francesco Rulli: Yes, I like to look at the World from the bottom up and judge the quality of life based on what happens to the lower income citizens and not looking at the quality of life from the perspective of the top 1%. Knowing what is the income of the richest man in the country is not an index of success, knowing what are the opportunities for the lowest 5% are the base of my judgement. Bitcoin will succeed, thanks to its application to the masses and not because leading Investment Bankers figure out how to exploit it for further success. Paul Vigna and Michael Casey of the WSJ did a marvellous job in their book explaining the potential of this technology particularly for the unbanked and explaining that the Blockchain is an independent technology which doesn’t suffer from the “Company” time constrain to achieve profitability. This technology will not force its users to sell out in exchange of short term profits but will outlast private and governmental interests allowing the lower income population to finally take control of their finances and opportunities.
I invite you to read the first 5 chapters of Wisdom Tales, a blog/book written by Matthew Gudwin where I interact with him and explain why Bitcoin has a directly relationship to the Renaissance and the Medici Family and how my history develops, going back to the 14th Century….fiction or truth? is for you to judge.

Lastly I am a 4th degree black belt in Judo with 35 years of competitive experience, Judo is my school in life, this is why I take life 5 minutes at the time (the duration of a fight on the mat). You can succeed and pass to the next fight or loose and learn from your mistakes. This is why I do what I do!

The Bitcoin community’s political leanings are no secret: some of us lean to the left or to the right, but practically all of us lean libertarian. Regular readers probably agree that personal autonomy needs to be respected, and believe that cryptocurrency will help ensure that.

We’ve carried this message to some of the world’s poorest regions, and to volatile dictatorships like Russia, China, and even the United States. All jokes aside, few Bitcoin evangelists have risked their physical safety in the line of duty. The same can probably not be said about Liberty in North Korea.

For approximately every $3,000 USD (or equivalent), one liberty-seeking North Korean gets to start a new life abroad. A safe route to freedom is secured, northwest into China, then down to southeast Asia where they reach safe asylum. Resettled in South Korea or elsewhere, they are given proper food, education, and employment opportunities for the future.

liberty in north korea bitcoin

These charitable acts are punishable with fines in China, and with far worse for the refugee in North Korea. Liberty in North Korea  (LiNK) does it, anyway, and is as close as you can get to fighting for freedom with official legal sanctions. It’s every young male libertarian’s dream-charity.

It should come as no surprise, then, that they’re starting to experiment with Bitcoin. I’d been bothering them about it for a couple years, but it wasn’t until recently that they started to take it more seriously. We can see why.

Bitcoin is a currency without borders, and it’s a border that LiNK is trying to erode. To pay the “fees” for providing this service, they need to be able to get money in restrictive Asian countries like China. Such countries will not be overly accommodating of LiNK’s banking needs, and tend to monitor the flow of money across state lines.

Sending bitcoins to be converted to cash locally could be a viable solution to this problem. To the extent that Bitcoin transactions can be made anonymous, they could also be a blessing to third parties who might face retribution. Pseudonymity is a double-edged sword, but we might as well wield it.

Liberty in North Korea is (to my knowledge) nowhere close to implementing these ideas. Bitcoin’s not integrated with their central accounting system, nor displayed on their website. They’re off to a good start, however, and can now accept Bitcoin donations via Coinbase–please check out their payment page, or send bitcoins directly to their wallet address at 1CmAr63TAKmxSx1BRGimGNyStA65vHoKPT.

They’re coming to visit the Bitcoin community in Vancouver, and will give a presentation at Decentral to teach us about the North Korean crises. We’ll also be teaching them all about cryptocurrency, and hopefully sell them on its utility. If we’re lucky, we might even get to send a recorded message into the Hermit Kingdom.

Vancouver’s first food or drink venue to accept Bitcoin–India Gate Restaurant and Bar–will also be giving 30% of all sales to the non-profit, and hosting a celebratory charity dinner. LiNK’s rescue team travels the world, so they’ll have plenty of opportunities to cooperate with the Bitcoin community again. Let’s make it worth their time.

It’s not only big companies like and DIRECTV accepting bitcoin. Nonprofit organizations are coming aboard, too.

The big news this morning is that the world’s largest privately held nonprofit organization, United Way Worldwide, is now accepting bitcoin donations in partnership with San Francisco-based Coinbase.

In a blog post published today, Coinbase wrote:

[blockquote style=”2″]We’re thrilled to enable the Bitcoin community to contribute to United Way’s longstanding mission of mobilizing the caring power of communities across the world to advance the common good. United Way seeks to improve education, help people achieve financial stability, and promote healthy lives through community initiatives and partnerships with major organizations such as General Electric, Exxon Mobile, and the NFL.[/blockquote]

With 2.8 million volunteers and 9.7 million donors, the organization raises over $5 billion annually that go to a variety of different causes.

Coinbase Bitcoin united way

Bitcoin donations, according to the United Way, will support the organization’s ‘Innovation Fund’, which the United Way says is “transforming United Way and the social sector through technology, relationships, and efficiency.”

For users who have used Coinbase’s “checkout” process before, the interface is familiar and easy.

Cryptocurrency users take comfort in knowing that 100 percent of their donation goes directly to the organization to which they donated, with third-party processors taking a cut.

It’s great news for the community, and will hopefully open the door to more charitable organizations accepting bitcoin donations.

You can view the United Way bitcoin donation page here.

Bitcoin-powered charity Sean’s Outpost has hit a heartwarming milestone.

According to founder Jason King, the organization has fed their 100,000th meal to those dealing with homelessness, primarily in the area of Pensacola, Florida.

Sean’s Outpost is one of the few charities out there that accept bitcoin as a primary form of funding. King and his team take their bitcoin donations and use them to buy food and other items for individuals without a place to go. Sean’s Outpost also provides some of the homeless a place to go.

Recently, Jason King ran 3,200 miles from Miami Beach, Florida to San Francisco, California, shedding 72 pounds along the way. The goal: raise awareness for homelessness. It’s an issue we encounter all too frequently, we see homeless people sitting by streets, tucked away to keep warm, but we often don’t think terribly much of it.

Overall, a very good job to Jason King and his effort in helping the less fortune among us.

If you would like to contribute to Sean’s Outpost, you can find more information on the organization’s homepage at