The Big Interview

Binance Charity Foundation: Harnessing blockchain tech for social good

Athena Yu, Executive Director of Binance's philanthropic arm, Binance Charity Foundation, talks to Coin Rivet about winning over doubters, notching up milestones and addressing social problems that traditional charities can't touch

Coin Rivet: What motivated Binance to set up Binance Charity Foundation and what is the overriding vision?

AY: Binance CEO Changpeng (CZ) Zhao first had the idea for a blockchain-enabled charity as early as 2014. Then in 2018, he had a discussion with Helen Hai and they both agreed that for Binance to grow from successful to significant, it needed to have a vision and a purpose.

So they decided to set up Binance Charity Foundation (BCF), which is dedicated to supporting global sustainable development by unlocking the power of blockchain. Binance also hopes to encourage industry players to think about the value they can bring to society by offering the platform free of charge for everyone.

Coin Rivet: Like all blockchain powered ‘social good’ ventures, BCF has been viewed with scepticism in some parts of the crypto/blockchain world. How do you respond to your critics?

AY: Currently one year old and only nine months after launching the transparent donation platform, BCF has already reached over 40,000 end beneficiaries with donations collected from more than 1,000 donors and many key industry players. All of this can be tracked and monitored on the platform.

It is normal for people to have questions or even misconceptions when a new concept is introduced. We think scepticism indicates that the public care about our work. We welcome all forms of questions and queries that in a sense can help us optimise our work process and that can make the whole system more transparent and efficient.

Coin Rivet: What have been the highlights thus far?

AY: BCF established the world’s first 100% transparent donation system that enables fully traceable donation

The Binance for Children programme has benefited 40,000+ children in Africa so far, who have received free meals, solar panels, stationery etc. since launching in February 2019.

The Pink Care Token programme: we formed an alliance of 47 companies and organisations to launch a new value-stable token, Pink Care Token, which is pegged with one year’s supply of sanitary pads for one girl. 1,100 girls have already received reusable sanitary pads in Uganda.

“It is normal for people to have questions or even misconceptions when a new concept is introduced. We think scepticism indicates that the public care about our work”

Coin Rivet: Who else is BCF currently helping and where?

AY: We help to address the most pressing social problems that traditional charity cannot penetrate. Our targeted end beneficiaries are mainly the unbanked or underbanked population living at the bottom of pyramids that have been excluded from normal financial and social services.

We aim to help these people in need globally; currently our end beneficiaries are across Japan, Malta, Uganda etc. but mainly focus on Uganda because Binance Uganda provides the necessary crypto to fiat gateway to the people who supply charity goods.

Coin Rivet: What are the main challenges, issues etc in setting up an initiative like BCF?

AY: Blockchain and cryptocurrency are still very new to many communities we serve. Our end beneficiaries have very limited access to advanced technologies. Currently we still need support from local organisations and volunteers to help our end beneficiaries understand the concepts and engage in the process.

Education takes time, but we believe this is an essential first step for people in underdeveloped regions who are usually excluded from technology innovations.

Coin Rivet: What systems are in place to ensure that everything is transparent regarding donors, implementation partners etc?

AY: The technology itself provides full transparency along the process: donors can track their donations and know exactly where their money goes, and we can also track the use of funds of our end beneficiaries and implementation partners, all on our donation platform:

We encourage everyone to use this platform to monitor the donations. We also have local NGO partners to help with implementation on the ground. Our colleagues are also there to monitor the process and get first-hand feedback to continuously improve our model.

Coin Rivet: What else can we expect from BCF in 2019?

AY: We will continuously expand our projects to benefit more people in need. We expect to reach 170 schools and 100,000 kids under the Binance for Children initiative. For the Pink Care Token project, we will provide 50,000 girls with access to sanitary pads in Uganda by the end of the year. We are also exploring new models for the charity foundation to make the process more efficient and scalable.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.

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