Nepal earthquake relief effort
The major earthquake happening in Nepal on April 25th and subsequent aftershock on May 12th killed 9,000 people. The earthquake also caused an avalanche on nearby Mt. Everest, fatally burying 19 travelers. The Nepalese army and volunteers quickly started the rescue effort. Many international governments and organizations have also donated money and supplies.
ChangeTip, who describe themselves as “The Love button for the Internet,” started a campaign to help the Nepalese earthquake victims. Bitcoin, received by ChangeTip on behalf of donors, would be sent to one of three charities. ChangeTip, as of May 11, has received 958 donations that totaled nearly 29 Bitcoin. Victoria van Eyk, a community director, says the average tip is 27,189 bits ($6.74). The majority of the tips are under $25.
Disaster relief funding via Bitcoin is becoming more popular. One reason is government corruption. The Nepal Rastra Bank (The Nepalese version of the Federal Reserve) stated they would seize funds intended for disaster victims. It cited a controversial law passed in 2002 as justification. The money would be rerouted to a government-sponsored relief fund. However, these government organizations are notorious for improper use of funds. Coupled with corruption, big government causes bureaucracy and slows progress – when speed is crucial.
A brief history of ChangeTip
When I asked Victoria van Eyk what she thought about Bitcoin micro-transactions, she said:
“I could go on at length about how I think microtransactions
are evolving the internet because that is a HUGE topic, but let me say
that for decades now we have been inhabiting this one place – the
internet – over 3.5 billion of us are on the Internet. “
ChangeTip was founded in 2013 by Changecoin in San Francisco. It has raised over $4 million in venture capital during three separate funding rounds. Their goal is to create a micropayment infrastructure for the web. They’ve spread their product to Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Tumblr, GitHub, and SoundCloud. Users need only mention “@Changetip” (without quotes) and an amount. ChangeTip will process the transaction by sending Bitcoin to the person being tipped.
ChangeTip does have its “haters,” however. In an article written December 17, 2014 by Emin Gün Sirer the service is described as “an information leak, a liability and a security hole.” He argues ChangeTip can track identities among multiple social media channels, threatening user privacy. This is potentially damaging information given the sensitivity of some topics. Earlier this year, Unobtanium developer Bryce Weiner made news after sending a $1 tip to an ISIS terrorist account using ChangeTip.
Earlier this week, ChangeTip announced tipping on SoundCloud using their public API. SoundCloud is a Swedish online audio distribution platform based in Berlin, Germany. The service attracts more than 175 million unique monthly listeners. This is a big audience for both Bitcoin and ChangeTip. User created content monetization is an evolution of the 21st century economy. ChangeTip is making this easier.
If you’d like to donate to Nepal relief using your ChangeTip account tweet the following:
“@ChangeTip send $xx to @RedCross for #NepalEarthquake.”