It almost goes without saying that the spread of the coronavirus has completely turned the world upside-down. Down to the smallest detail, everyday life has changed considerably; interactions with family members, trips to the shop, and international business trips alike have been disrupted. Many companies and families have suddenly found themselves in a time of need.
However, this sudden and unprecedented global catastrophe has also caused many individuals and organizations alike to rise to the occasion with philanthropic efforts to help their communities. In the fintech world, one of the largest examples of this has come from cryptocurrency exchange Binance.
Last week, Binance announced the launch of Crypto Against Covid, an initiative that aims to unite the cryptocurrency industry against the spread of the coronavirus.
Earlier this week, Finance Magnates sat down with Jarred Winn, senior vice president of Binance Charity, to talk about the Crypto Against Covid campaign as well as the ethical responsibilities that companies have to the individuals and communities they serve during the coronavirus crisis, as well as other crises of human need that may arise in the future.
”Crypto Against Covid” aims to build a philanthropic bridge between the crypto industry and the rest of the world
Winn explained that “Crypto against Covid is intended to not only drive impact and awareness around what crypto can do, but it’s also intended to show what some of the benevolent capacities of cryptocurrency and the crypto community at large can do,” Winn said.
In short, the Crypto Against Covid is intended to act as a uniting force against the coronavirus outbreak: “it’s the unity of the crypto community against this Covid virus; we hope to unite the crypto community towards a social good, and we hope to band together with crypto companies, crypto investors, and individuals alike.”
On a practical level, the initiative is largely financial: Winn said that so far, Binance’s various entities have donated as much as $4 million to the cause. “We are rallying everybody to donate another million dollars, which [Binance] will match dollar-for-dollar.”
“Furthermore, we’re launching a social media campaign–#CryptoAgainstCovid, in which for anyone who re-Tweets the Tweet [announcing the project], we will donate a dollar towards the campaign,” Winn continued.
If we hit 1 million retweets within 7 days, @BinanceBCF will donate an extra $1,000,000 USD!
— Binance (@binance) March 25, 2020
Winn said that the reason for the social media campaign is that “we want people to see this–we want this to go far and wide. It’s something that we want people to be able to get exposure to and take part in themselves…we hope to continue to create awareness.”
This awareness applies to both the campaign against Covid-19 as well as the cryptocurrency industry. “Humans have a lot of friction when it comes to change–so, when it comes to wanting to adopt something new, it’s little seeds that get people to want to start something. When those seeds are planted, hopefully, they grow into something beautiful.”
In other words, by launching the Crypto Against Covid campaign, Binance is hoping that people outside of the cryptosphere “will have just one extra reason that maybe they should learn more about cryptocurrency.”
After all, “with everything that’s happening in the world right now, there are so many more use cases coming up that blockchain and crypto can solve–hopefully, we can be a little piece of that puzzle.”
Blockchain makes it possible for donors to see exactly how their money is being used
Additionally, the initiative could bring more awareness to blockchain-based donation platforms, which have the potential to be much more transparent than many traditional charitable donation models.
Winn explained that “when you’re trying to approach a problem [regarding] why people want to use something,” Winn said that it’s important to “try to put yourself in the shoes” of the users–or “donors, in this case.”
Therefore, “when somebody donates to a cause,” it’s important to consider what they are feeling afterward: for one thing, “they feel good, they feel positive, because they know they did something,” Winn said. However, “humans are inherently curious, and wonder: ‘what [kind of impact] did I make? Who did that affect and where did that money go?”
Don't forget, @BinanceBCF is also matching your donations up to $1,000,000 USD!
Your $10 donation, becomes $20!
Help fight #coronavirus worldwide, starting with Italy, the USA, Spain and Germany.
Join our effort in #CryptoAgainstCOVID.
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— Binance (@binance) March 26, 2020
And, because of blockchain, “for the first time, we have technology that can support and facilitate this,” Winn explained.
“Blockchain, to me, is the elimination of human trust–you don’t have to have that variable of trust as to whether or not something happened based on human behavior,” he said. Instead, on a digital ledger, “you’re able to see the exact transfer of funds.”
”Blockchain is truly powerful, and can really revolutionize the way that we give.”
Therefore, “when somebody donates to a charitable cause through Binance Charity, they’re able to see the exact pass-through of those funds all the way through to the end beneficiaries with 100 percent certainty. There’s no question anymore; it’s completely transparent for anyone who wants to see.”
“And furthermore,” Winn continued, “there’s no overhead that’s associated with this. There are no transfer agents–the fewer hands that are in this process, the better. So, if $100 is donated, we anticipate that $100 will reach the end beneficiary. That’s where blockchain is truly powerful, and can really revolutionize the way that we give.”
These kinds of blockchain-based donation systems have been around for some time: “there have been elements of this at a much simpler scale” in the past, Winn said. “There have been different charitable organizations where you can give Bitcoin and things of that nature.” After all, “that’s the thing about Bitcoin–you can look at any transaction, and you can see that money has been transferred to the wallet that you intended.”
However, “we try to take that a step further,” Winn said. “We try to also attach different purchase orders or tracking orders add things of that [nature] to actually show that not only did the money reach this wallet, but the funds were used for the intent that was otherwise explained.”
“So, we try to leverage the technology to its maximum potential…and by putting Binance’s name and reputation behind this, [we add] even more credence and credibility.”
After all, “in any interaction, there’s always a matter of trust, and you can go to any charitable website that allows you to give Bitcoin to an organization, but it always leans back on how much you trust that organization.” Winn said that Binance, burgeoning as it is, one of the “forefront” organizations in crypto and “really has [a] strong reputation that people can trust and people can support.”
What are the responsibilities of companies to their communities?
Winn “with Binance, it’s about creating this alliance of crypto companies and individuals who really want to make an impact.”
Binance’s vision when it comes to charity is that “this is a unity of the crypto community–that it’s not just Binance. We are encouraging others to take part in this, and we are encouraging others to give a helping hand.”
Use #crypto to do good.
— CZ Binance 🔶🔶🔶 (@cz_binance) March 26, 2020
Winn said that philanthropy is becoming an increasingly important and regular part of the corporate world: “more prevalent now than ever is [the question of] what companies are doing to give back; what are companies doing to try to make the world a better place in this otherwise dire time?”
And indeed, what are the ethical responsibilities of corporations to the individuals and communities that they serve during times of need?
“Donations are the low-hanging fruit” for many companies, Winn said. “You can donate to these causes, and you can make [an] impact…donations are the least that a company could be doing in this situation–of course, this is a very difficult financial time for a lot of organizations, so I’m not saying that this is a mandate across the board.”
Charities, corporations, and ordinary Americans are stepping up to donating the medical safety gear that nurses and doctors desperately need amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you want to help, here's what you need to know. https://t.co/dnoWDxvQHS
— Nursing Management (@NurMgt_online) March 25, 2020
However, “beyond donations, the most powerful impact that any organization can make is its influential reach,” Winn said.
Indeed, it’s important to consider “how much of a social reach does an organization have, and how loyal are its users?”
“Binance has one of the largest communities in crypto–and very passionate users, very passionate members of this community. I feel that that’s really what assists us in driving these campaigns.”
Indeed, “I believe that it’s an asset of an organization to utilize its user base and compel them to take action against these causes. The companies that have the most loyal users are the ones that are going to make the most impact.”
Of course, using influential reach to spread awareness about causes that represent certain ideologies could be considered risky for companies who do not wish to alienate users who might disagree.
However, Winn hearkened back to the words of actor Jim Carrey, who often uses his own platform as a celebrity to speak about the things that he believes in: “he explained that when you have this influential capacity and the ability to drive others toward action, it’s a miss not to utilize that: if you’re not utilizing that for the things that you believe in, and the things that you think could make the better place,” it’s a massive missed opportunity.
“So, influential and social reach–for an organization to use that is imperative in these days.”
This is an excerpt. To hear the rest of Finance Magnates’ fascinating interview with Jarred Winn, Senior Vice President of Charity at Binance, visit us on SoundCloud or YouTube. Special thanks to Jarred and to the Binance team.