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Art history student uses bitcoin and peer-to-peer technology to let people donate directly to stricken refugees, earthquake victims and others in need
You are moved to help, but you don’t know where to start. When you open the newspaper or watch the news, you’re faced with human tragedy: The current refugee-crisis, natural catastrophes, war. But now things may have become easier. Together with her family, art history student Elisabeth Grothe-Møller of the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) has founded the online-platform CommonCollection to make it easier.
CommonCollection is the first social platform worldwide to connect peer-to-peer technology to aid relief for people without bank accounts. Those that otherwise are excluded from development aid. People in need can ask for help and people with the desire to help can browse, read individual testimonies, and donate.
“We realised that there is so much goodwill and human potential in the world and with the Internet we give people the option of connecting and giving,” says Elisabeth, Vice President of CommonCollection.
Millions of people don’t have access to a bank account. After seven years of development, CommonCollection has found a way around this problem with a combination of ‘Local Networkers’ and the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
Local Networkers seek help on behalf of one or more persons who are unable to ask for help themselves. They then facilitate contact between receivers and givers. He, or she, can connect, communicate and give feedback to givers on behalf of the receivers.
Bitcoin provides an alternative to existing payment solutions, which are costly (exchange rates and transaction fees), slow (processing time) and inaccessible to some (most other options require bank accounts). Bitcoins can be used by – nearly – everyone because there are no prerequisite limits – users don’t require a bank account and there are no age or geographical restrictions.
“With Bitcoin it is possible to help the poorest of the poor and that is one of our main goals”, explains Elisabeth, who spoke at the Texas Bitcoin Conference 2015, presenting the company. “People can easily pay over Internet without being dependent on a bank. They give directly – person-to-person. It is like giving a coin to a beggar. You immediately feel you did something good and both sides are happy.”
CommonCollection is not just a donation platform. It also helps establish partnerships. The most recent partnership was struck up with Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2011, and her peace-fund Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa in Liberia, the goal of which is to provide educational and leadership opportunities to sustain growth and development in Africa.
CommonCollection also wants to show people how important and rewarding helping others is. In its online magazine and on its YouTube-channel, CommonCollection shares interviews, stories and news from its community of givers and receivers.
As a student of art history Elizabeth is aware of the importance of a visual impression: “If we have enough resources and get sponsors for CommonCollection, I would like to do travel episodes and show people where help is needed, how we help, and also how people achieved their goals through the support of givers from the CommonCollection community.”
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