How Can Blockchain Technology Be Used For Social Good

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

What is social good? The definition probably differs between individuals and their personal experiences. The actual definition (according to Wikipedia) is what is shared and beneficial for all or most members of a given community, or alternatively, what is achieved by citizenship, collective action, and active participation in the realm of politics and public service.”

Our mission in LIFE is to make blockchain a technology that can be accessed and utilised by everyone, which is why our slogan is “Simply for Everyone”. We feel this ties in perfectly with our philanthropic goals, where we want to demystify the use of this technology and help it become something that can be used for ‘social good’. LIFE fans will already be aware, we allocate 30% of our total circulating supply of our digital currency, LIFEtoken to philanthropic causes and this has been a value of ours since our conception.

We don’t only get involved in philanthropic causes by enabling users to donate tokens, but we get actively involved in the projects of our charitable partners. Since very early on we have been in talks with an array of charities with all kinds of goals and missions. One of our first major philanthropic projects took place back in April 2018, where we sponsored a charity concert in Hidden Hills, Calabasas, L.A. All proceeds from the concert went to the L.A. Heart Foundation. Since then we have been involved in an array of big and small projects, including joining the Chain of Hope team who worked with several other charities on a week-long mission to Jordan to give life-saving surgery to refugee children from Iraq, Palestine, Yemen and Syria with serious and life-threatening heart defects.

So of course, as a company, social good is something we are very passionate about, but how can the entire industry get involved? The technology is readily available to everyone, it’s just a case of figuring out how to best utilise it. The idea of adapting to any new technology can be a daunting experience, that many shy away from, but considering the benefits, is it really worth holding back from? If you refer to our recent blog post “The Benefits Of Blockchain In Business” you will see an array of benefits, that only touch the surface of blockchain user cases. Most of which are applicable to non-profit organisations.

Let’s start with the biggie, Trust – In November 2018 we asked our Twitter followers:

“Would you #donate more often to your favourite charities if they used #Blockchain technology so you could track where your donation goes and how your money is having an impact? Let us know your thoughts”
Of all the votes received, 87% agreed that they would be more likely to donate if they could track their donation to see where their money was having an impact. Of course, we may have a slightly biased audience, being a blockchain tech and cryptocurrency company, so we decided to look into this a little further. In a survey of over 12,000 people conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation, only 50% of people agreed that charities are trustworthy. A higher percentage of distrust was found in men.

The statistics alone are staggering, but is it possible that the wider population will exhibit more trust towards a charity that has technology allowing users to transparently track where their donation is going? This is one of the many things blockchain technology can do for non-profits, enabling trust is a vital factor in encouraging future donations. A trust factor is important in any business environment, however, in non-profits, it’s one of the most vital elements they can have when asking people to give their hard earned money and trust that is going towards the cause itself.

The reason blockchain can enable trust is because it is a decentralised ledger system, the data that is held on the blockchain is tamper-proof, which is why this is the most secure solution to solving the issue of trust in charitable giving. It creates a distributed, shared system of records amongst network members that eliminates the need for different ledgers. If donors of any kind are able to donate, say £50 to a dog rescue centre, they can check in later down the line and see “The £50 I donated has gone towards a vital heart operation on Spot the Dalmatian”. The usage of this data has endless possibilities, which has the potential to invoke brand trust and loyalty on a global scale.

The immutable, tamper-proof records are another way to invoke trust with a wider population, as not even system administrators on the blockchain are able to amend or remove any records. Once a donation has been made via the blockchain, it stays there.

Blockchain technology is usually associated with funds and finances, it can, also be used purely for the sake of data. We recently shared a Forbes video on our Twitter, where they had a “Blockchain Dinner Party”, what they meant by this was all the food that they served had been tracked through the blockchain right back to when it had been initially planted/farmed.

All the food packaging contained a QR code, which could be scanned and you could view the origin dating back to the conception. For example, let’s say you bought a bag of apples from the supermarket and on the packaging, you spot a QR code, if you were to scan this it would give you all of the information on the history of these apples. You could see the entire history of what you were eating using blockchain technology. Provided it was recorded you could see when/where the tree was planted, the seed planter, the farmer and location right down to the arrival at the supermarket where you bought it from and everywhere it had been in-between.

This kind of technology not only allows consumers to get a full history of the products they are purchasing, but it also allows them to see the environmental and social impacts of the products too. Let us ask you this, if you had two apples in front of you, both of which had the full history of the apple written on a board above.

  • One had been shipped from abroad, picked by labourers who were low paid and the rest of the proceeds would go to a large global corporation.
  • The other was locally sourced and all proceeds would go to John the farmer that invested the profits back into the sustainable business.

Which apple would you purchase? We would like to think anyone reading this post would, of course, choose farmer John’s apple. However, at the moment we don’t have a lot of choices to make ethical decisions in our purchasing decisions. Perhaps in this day and age, where a world of information is available at the tip of your fingers, you could spend a full day at the supermarket researching each individual product you wished to purchase, but who has the time? The use of blockchain technology in this sense has not been widely adopted, but if more manufacturing and farming companies are able to adopt the technology, they would be more conscious of the impact their products are having on the world due to consumers having this information openly available.

As I wrote this I remembered a recent episode of “The Good Place”, a Netflix show about the afterlife, where they are trying to make a case of how everything in our modern society has been made, so that it’s too complicated for anyone to be traditionally “good” anymore. In this episode they use the example of how simply buying a tomato can have huge consequences that you aren’t even aware of, based on the production of this tomato. You can see the clip I am referring to here. The reason I refer to this is that they are discussing what is essentially a global issue, that not many people are aware of or fully understand the long-term repercussions. We can, however, change this by utilising blockchain technology, if a few of the biggest production lines in the world got on board with this, it’s likely all of the smaller ones would follow.

In recent years we have seen phenomenal growth in ethical and environmentally aware consumer behaviour. This grew even further with the release of English broadcaster and natural historian, Sir David Attenborough’s documentary “Blue Planet”. The wider population, not just the UK, are finally becoming aware of the environmental consequences to our own actions, but we are still very limited on what we can do to really make a change.

Allowing for greater visibility to the public can be another factor of invoking trust between the consumer and brands. It allows consumers to see the origins of the purchased goods and builds brand loyalty as a result. If you had a chance to make your purchasing patterns more ethical, would you?

In conclusion, the uses of blockchain for social good are almost endless with a new possibility popping up every single day. We can use blockchain to track donations made to philanthropic causes, to have greater public visibility (allowing for ethical purchasing decisions), to reduce our carbon footprint globally (as individuals and as corporations) and to generally be more aware of our social and environmental impact in the world.

Blockchain is an ever-growing, ever-changing piece of innovative technology, which has new user cases each and every day. Many of these examples can be adapted to support a social good cause. LIFElabs.io, as a company that strongly believes that social good sits at the very heart of the blockchain. We’ll do everything we can to ensure this happens…

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to follow us on social media to keep up-to-date with the LIFE team’s mission to make a difference and see the philanthropic causes we’re currently supporting. @LIFElabsHQ

Thanks for reading – Cara and the LIFE team

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