GiveCrypto Monthly Update — Feb 2019: Doubling-down on Venezuela

  • Funds Distributed — $9,498
  • People Impacted — 657
  • New Projects — 2

After experimenting with different project sizes and models, we’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons and identified a direction for GiveCrypto’s next phase.

Following our relatively small projects with 3rd parties in the previous months, GiveCrypto will be pivoting to focus on a single, large project in Venezuela (more details below). As a result, distribution and impact numbers will decrease until we launch the new project. But we’ll be including more granular reporting in future updates, including KPIs for impact, fraud, and crypto usage.

Team Growth

We’re very happy to report that Jake LeBoeuf joined GiveCrypto as a full stack developer. He’ll help us define and implement our software platform. Here’s an introductory note from Jake:

I couldn’t be more thrilled to be joining the GiveCrypto team! I’ve had the pleasure of working with some really nice people over the years, and some dream clients like Google, MailChimp, Etsy, Obey and Uber- solving problems, creating beautifully sane, alive and usable systems, and doing the hard work that makes complex things feel simple.
I’m excited to invest that same energy into tools and products for GiveCrypto — helping drive some lasting, tangible, measurable change in a world full of systems that are pretty broken (to say it nicely).

Focus on Venezuela

We spent the last quarter of 2018 conducting numerous small experiments around the world. Most of the execution work was handled by third parties. These experiments allowed us to test some basic assumptions around crypto donations and learn some valuable tactical lessons about running crypto denominated interventions.

While we are happy with the results of the previous work, it is time for us to manage our own execution. We want to focus efforts on one location and maximize recipient density. This begs the question: Where to conduct this project? We want to find a place where we can have the most impact; a big part of which is the willingness of residents to use crypto as a currency.

We did quite a bit of analysis on ideal locations; considering factors like smartphone penetration, banked percentages, poverty rates and general safety. However, we kept coming back to the fact that the most important indicator is inflation, as crypto has the potential to create economic opportunities for recipients by allowing them to purchase necessities outside of the broken monetary system. Using this as the primary indicator, it is pretty obvious where we should be operating: Venezuela.

Thanks to Steve Hanke for his inflation data.

Unfortunately, present day Venezuela is a very unstable place. To make matters more complicated, Venezuela recently broke off diplomatic relations with the U.S., preventing Americans from traveling to Venezuela. We’ll need to figure out how to manage this project from afar.

We believe that the ambassador model is well suited for this situation. The model leverages the local knowledge of the ambassadors to help us determine who is the most needy amongst the target population and relies on these on-the-ground contacts to coordinate with recipients directly.

The remote nature of this project will make combating fraud more complicated. Although we are incorporating a number of fraud prevention and detection mechanisms into the platform, we are not naive. We realize that people will get very creative in how they attempt to game the system. And, that it is impossible to anticipate all potential attack vectors. This will be an iterative effort and we will improve our fraud prevention and detection measures as we learn. The good news is that if we can make this model work, we will have a scalable and cost-effective way to launch in other geographies.

The Venezuela Ambassador Pilot will be rolled out in phases. Phase 1 will involve relatively small tests in three locations. We have chosen locations with different characteristics and are interviewing local contractors to manage each location. For phase 2, we will select the most attractive location and manually scale the number of ambassadors and recipients. In phase 3, we will leverage the software platform and network of ambassadors to scale recipients and merchants. Phase 4 will revolve around recruiting cash in/out partners for the recipients.

Ambassador App

To provide a bit of background, the ambassador app is a web application that will allow ambassadors to select recipients and facilitate the transfer of funds from GiveCrypto to recipients. We launched a closed beta of the ambassador app at the end of January. We have since conducted an initial round of user testing and are fixing the identified issues.

Future work on the app (and the broader GiveCrypto platform) is focused on supporting the pilot in Venezuela. This means localization, improved ambassador/recipient on-boarding as well as automated impact, fraud and crypto utility tracking.

We are excited about the potential of a dense network of ambassadors, merchants and cash in & out partners in a relatively small geography. We believe that this could provide the necessary financial primitives for more sophisticated services like interest bearing accounts, loans and insurance offerings; all using the blockchain and cryptocurrency as the underlying infrastructure. It will be a lot of fun to define and build the next level of services on top of this foundation.

Content Generation

Our content generation efforts are showing results. We are publishing 3–4 blog posts per month, mostly thanks to the great team at Animalz. We will soon launch our first video; which will describe the work we did in Bangladesh (helping Rohingya refugees), Venezuela (helping 100 families in Barquisimeto) and the U.S. (helping victims of domestic abuse to find a new place to live). We have also implemented v1 of a real time activity ticker; which will display sign-ups, transfers, and purchases from the Venezuela pilot on our website.