UNICEF launches new blockchain enabled Cryptocurrency Fund to prepare for digital financed future.

UNICEF Expands Use of Blockchain to Help Deliver for Children

With the launch of the new UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund, UNICEF seeks innovative ways to harness the advantages of blockchain for humanitarian work.

Since 2015, UNICEF has been exploring ways to leverage blockchain technology to support its global humanitarian efforts and accelerate results for children. Blockchain supports new systems of exchange that allow users to send value in the form of cryptocurrency — "crypto" for short — directly from one party to another, without the need for intermediaries. These exchanges are often referred to as smart contracts.

And now UNICEF has stepped up its use of blockchain, becoming the first international organization to use crypto to receive and distribute donations through a new UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund.

The new UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund offers new opportunities for UNICEF to improve resource sharing and other internal processes that are critical to the success of its programs.

The new Cryptofund, launched on Oct. 9, offers new opportunities for UNICEF to improve resource sharing and other internal processes that are critical to the success of its programs; to tap new funding streams and sources, and to develop new potentially more efficent ways to deliver support to children and families in need. 

"This is a new and exciting venture for UNICEF," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. "If digital economies and currencies have the potential to shape the lives of coming generations, it is important that we explore the opportunities they offer."

Using blockchain to move, manage and monitor assets increases transparency and accountability by making transactions easier to track and publicly visible. A key factor of blockchain is that the ledger is distributed, meaning the exact same copy of the ledger is stored on multiple computers, or “nodes,'' as opposed to a single database, increasing security and resiliency.

The UNICEF Cryptofund will accept donations and make disbursements exclusively denominated in the cryptocurrencies bitcoin or ether to finance early-stage, open-source technology benefiting children and young people. To start, four UNICEF national commitees — UNICEF USA, Australia, France and New Zealand — will be able to accept crypto donations, and apply the funds to specific UNICEF-supported projects set up to receive payments in this form, without having to first convert the crypto into dollars or euros.

The first contributions to the UNICEF Cryptofund will be received from the Ethereum Foundation and will benefit three startups already receiving support through UNICEF's Office of Innovation:

  • Prescrypto, currently developing an electronic prescription service in Mexico
  • Atix Labs, matching investors with grantees
  • Utopixar, creating community tokens and engagement

Another project to benefit is one coordinated by the GIGA initiative, aimed at improving Internet connectivity in schools.

UNICEF has been investigating a number of ways blockchain might accelerate impact of UNICEF programs in health, education and emergency relief, among others. 

To learn more about UNICEF's many blockchain projects and investments, visit unicef.org/innovation

For over 70 years, UNICEF has been putting children first, working to protect their rights and provide the assistance and services they need to survive and thrive. 


Top photo: Two Syrian refugees use a mobile phone at the Za'atari camp in Jordan. With the launch of its new Cryptofund, UNICEF aims to build institutional knowledge and prepare for a digitally financed future. © UNICEF/UN051306/Herwig