Coronavirus: Amsterdam-based founders start a COVID -19 Blockchain Fund to help communities affected by the pandemic

Rishabh Kapoor and Nischal Arvind Singh – both blockchain enthusiasts – have launched a COVID 19 Blockchain Fund to support people who’ve taken a substantial economic hit due to the coronavirus outbreak. In conversation with YourStory, Nischal gives us details on the fund and its workings.

The number of coronavirus cases globally have now crossed 3 million, with over 200,000 people succumbing to the virus. While governments around the world are working to “flatten the curve”, corporate houses, startups, investors, and philanthropists are doing their bit by mobilising funds for frontline healthcare professionals, migrant workers, the impoverished sections of the society, and basically anyone who has been deeply impacted by the virus.

Nischal Arvind Singh and Rishabh Kapoor – two Amsterdam-based entrepreneurs – started their new blockchain-based donation fund - COVID 19 Blockchain Fund to help with these efforts too.

The aim of the fund is to develop innovative techniques to encourage solidarity and donations, says Rishabh, who has worked with multiple startups that focus on decentralised networks.

The duo realised there was an urgent need for a global, decentralised platform to support philanthropy during the COVID-19 pandemic, which, according to their estimates, could have extreme economic impacts for multiple years. 

The fund currently accepts donations from eight locations, including the U.S., South Korea, the European Union, UK (NHS supported), India, Lebanon, Syria, and African regions, among others, and will expand to more geographies soon.

In a conversation with YourStory, Nischal – a lawyer and an advocate of blockchain and cryptocurrency – explains the workings of the COVID-19 Blockchain Fund.

Rishabh and Nischal

Edited excerpts of the interview: 

YourStory (YS): How does the fund work and is there a reason you chose to do this using blockchain? 

Nischal Arvind Singh (NS): Donations for the fund in all our eight locations are accepted only in blockchain assets – like bitcoin, ethereum, tether, etc. We chose blockchain mainly because it helps in establishing trust by recording a trail of funds, and gives people an opportunity to hedge their investments for the larger good.

Blockchain also enables global payments from anywhere, to any location.

We want to encourage people to understand the advantage of the technology, and, by solving real-world problem through crypto, encourage mass adaption of blockchain in real life. We’re hoping people take the initiative to learn about this technology and own these crypto assets for themselves.

We’re also looking to add a fun, educational video series, and gamification layers to increase engagement and issue unique NFT (non-fungible tokens)-based paintings – to be couriered in due time – in return for supporting the fund. Donors will essentially be able to buy paintings using cryptocurrency.

Finally, with more support and learning, we hope to offer universal basic incomes (UBI) on the blockchain, in the near future.

YS: What does the fund aim to do? 

NS: The aim is to serve everyone who has been economically-impacted by COVID-19. There are seamless, instant, international payments options available on the blockchain, with the choice and freedom to support multiple organisations. 

By collecting donations from blockchain enthusiasts, we hope to be a trusted global intermediary platform (between those who donate and those who need those donations). As in the ‘Great Depression’ of 1929, there are estimations of massive unemployment and supply shortages in our near future. For this, an experience in transparent, decentralised technologies could be extremely helpful for crisis management. 

Also, financially supporting (owning) different blockchain assets – thereby gaining some form of passive income – could be an economic boon, due to their rising demand and usage.

YS: Are you collaborating with other funds?

NS: Yes, we are. We’re looking forward to collaborating with corporate sponsors within the blockchain community and outside, along with those who are keen to explore the possibilities of global, and targeted, philanthropy. We have a list of organisations on our website where we wish to send the donations collected. 

We hope to add more regional stakeholders and geographies in the future, on an as-needed basis. The decentralisation part of blockchain is a key vision here, and a global platform allowing diverse, legal funds to be listed, and be able to receive donations, without censorship, really helps. 

As current intermediaries, we hope to decentralise it as much as possible. Further, we hope to educate people and also set a precedent for mass adoption (of blockchain), with active global tracking.

YS: What kind of impact are you looking to create with the fund?

NS: The purpose is simply to provide long-term economic support. We are also starting an educational video series, where we hope to answer briefly the pressing concerns regarding cryptocurrencies and blockchain as a major global phenomenon after the internet.

Exploring its possibilities across society, we’re encouraging artists to consider tokenising their artwork on the blockchain, and support the fund. Being blockchain-based, under a Netherlands-based company, helps us to easily accept and transfer funds globally, with trust. Finally, serving as a stream of passive income with enough support and testing really allows us to help take some pressure off traditional financial institutions during the economic recession.

YS: How does the fund work and how can one contribute?

NS: We are looking forward to getting the support of volunteers, globally, for last mile delivery and effective outreach, especially where blockchain assets can be most useful. Further, we encourage everyone to have a fresh look at them for professional and financial usage, enjoy some art-based tokens, and consider offering a donation. The possibilities with blockchain are endless, and this could be a first step to a concrete exposure in its working and effectiveness.

Edited by Aparajita Saxena