WaterAid raises funds worth 1,000 Swedish crowns via Bitcoins

Swedish startup BTCX, the first Bitcoin exchange service in Sweden, has helped WaterAid, an international non-profit organization, raise 1,000 Swedish crowns (about Rs 7800) via bitcoins.

Swedish startup BTCX struck a deal with WaterAid in May 2016, to raise funds in bitcoins for the NGO. ALEF, another NGO, is already raising funds in collaboration with BTCX. It has been dealing in bitcoin for quite some time.

“We have a simple agreement wherein BTCX helped us setup our own bitcoin address and wallet, and it exchanges all donations from bitcoin to kronor (the Swedish currency) for free, which means 100 percent of the donations will go to WaterAid,” Petter Gustafsson, communications manager of WaterAid said.

As of June 2016, BTCX has helped WaterAid raise 1,000 Swedish crowns (about Rs 7800) via bitcoins.

Besides setting up WaterAid's own wallet, BTCX also features the NGO on its own donation portal.

The perks of this initiative are countless. Joakim Herlin, the communications manager of BTCX told IDG India, “Any funds coming in via any donation wallet are exchanged by us at 0 percent fee. We charge nothing whatsoever.” It provides an opportunity to NGOs for seeking new donation channels.

As of now, no major funds have been received via Bitcoins. Herlin says that the biggest challenge is the attitude. Bitcoins are perceived as something that only criminals use. “Of course, it is a terrible thing if a criminal is using bitcoins, but that doesn’t mean bitcoin is a tool specially made for criminals,” he said.

According to coindesk.com, at present, out of the 21 million bitcoins, 15.7 million are in circulation as of July 2016.

When asked about spreading the idea to India, Herlin said, “There are no such plans at the moment. But as long as there is a proper way to exchange donations in bitcoin to local rupees, NGO can set this up by themselves.”

Gustafsson said that the money collected will fund programs and projects in countries where WaterAid works, bringing clean water, sanitation and hygiene to the poor. Apart from campaigning for the two NGOs, BTCX is still open to supporting other causes like refugee relief, Alzheimer’s, homelessness, cancer research, prevention of bullying and domestic violence.