After years of languor in semi-darkness, crypto-currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are back in the news after recently breaking records. Now in the midst of the frenzy, some enthusiasts are finding creative ways to use cryptocurrencies to drive charitable donations.

As the value of popular digital currencies rises, it soon becomes impossible for the average person to exploit them. It now requires expensive, dedicated, energy-intensive hardware platforms built on Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) to extract bitcoins. Some of these equipments cost thousands of dollars which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the participation of casual hobbyists, says Hunter College’s activist and artist Grayson Earle .

Earle is one of the founders of Block Lease a new distributed cryptocurrency extraction operation that donates its proceeds to charitable endeavors. Block Lease gives all the funds generated by its users to Bronx Freedom Fund who pays a bond for people who can not afford it and could lose their jobs or custody of their children as a result of # 39, a term of imprisonment

In mid-December, after a month of operation, Bail Bloc had donated nearly $ 3,000 through about 1,000 volunteers who had agreed to use their personal computers to exploit a crypto coin called Monero


Block Lease runs in the background of a user’s computer, independently extracting a cryptocurrency that is automatically transferred to the organization. A typical computer almost never uses all the processing power, so Bail Block asks for a small piece of unused space and quietly produces Monero while the users go in their turn.

“It’s basically totally unobtrusive,” says Earle of Bail Bloc’s technical operating demands. “The only time you would recognize it is if you were doing a Pixar video or whatever, the impact on the system is pretty much like watching a YouTube video.”

However, this approach has raised some eyebrows-malware uses exactly the same technique, but without the consent of the user. Earle says that since the launch of his project, he has met several people who are wary of allowing a network to use their computer for financial matters.

“The question of trust is certainly our biggest problem,” says Earle. “And there is also this problem on a lot of Windows computers that have an antivirus: it is detected and marked.”

Internet is littered with tombs of failed charity crypto-currency projects. A similar group called Mining for Charity closed shop in 2013 after failing to raise enough to stay in business. A cryptocurrency called DonationCoin that was to be mined for charitable donations is about worthless .

Some of these organizations may have hesitated because they avoided Bitcoin before there were viable alternatives. Now that Bitcoin mining operations are too centralized to be accessible, Bail Bloc’s success may stem from its decision to use Monero, whose value is largely isolated from Bitcoin fluctuations.

By launching Bail Block, Earle wanted to offer a form of effortless crowdfunding, where people could create a change by using the untapped power of their devices. It was inspired by a 1999 initiative called ” SETI @ home “, where the Institute for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Research compensated for the lack of funding by creating a distributed supercomputer. People would receive some of the raw satellite data, encrypt it in a usable format, and send it back to headquarters. In this sense, everyone had an interest in the result.

Block Lease works the same way, but instead of looking for extraterrestrials, members undermine Monero. Each device donates the computing power to track the ledger of all Monero transactions in the story. Each transaction requires a lot of computing power to be verified and assimilated, hence the need for a large network of hard drives. From time to time, the data of a transaction is associated with a reward in the form of Monero.

This currency is a small incentive for minors to maintain the operational register. Once they’ve won, they send him to Bail Block, who trades against Bitcoin and sells him for US dollars, which he donates to the Bronx Freedom Fund.

The average bond, according to the Bronx Freedom Fund, is about $ 750. And since 98 percent of the people for whom the charity has paid bail have appeared in court, much of the money provided by Bail Block will turn in and out. 39 outside the system and will be used to pay several bonds.

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