Social Experiment: Kiva & Bitcoin

Please do not send any more BTC to the donation address. The experiment has concluded.

Proposal: To fund individuals with $25 Kiva credits through the donations of Bitcoin - people giving to people so they can finance other people.

Goals: 1) To raise awareness of both Kiva.org and Bitcoin through a (hopefully exciting) social experiment, and 2) to serve as an example for why charitable and financial services may benefit from directly accepting cryptocurrency.

For those who are unfamiliar, Bitcoin is a digital cryptocurrency and payment network, and Kiva.org is a non-profit organization that works to alleviate poverty around the world through financing micro-loans. Both Bitcoin and Kiva have the potential to drastically reform economic disparity around the world through financially empowering individuals.

When you lend money to a group or individual on Kiva, you aren't donating, you're lending. You're empowering someone who has a business plan and needs the capital to get it started. It's a low interest rate loan for the receiver, and you will not receive any profit as a lender, but the small business pays it back without the burden of the level of interest that would normal be associated with the risk of that business. As the loans are repaid, your Kiva balance increases and you can lend your money again. Rather than a one-time donation to a charity (and there's nothing wrong with that), you are creating a positive feedback loop of financial empowerment.

The Challenge

Despite the harmonious potential of the disruptive forces of Bitcoin and Kiva, there is currently no simple way to participate in Kiva's online lending directly with the use of cryptocurrency.

I have been in communications with a representative at Kiva regarding the acceptance of Bitcoin as a payment option. Currently Kiva uses PayPal as their payment processor and I have been informed that PayPal is not charging Kiva for payment processing. My first argument for merchants to accept Bitcoin is to reduce the fees of payment processors, but as this is not a factor, there is understandably less of a motivation to adopt.

My most recent suggestion to Kiva was to add a donation button to the Kiva website for people who wanted to simply make a gesture and support the overhead of their company. The representative told me she would discuss it with their team, which I truly hope she will do.

But what if we could show Kiva the enormous potential of something as simple as a Bitcoin donation button? And what if we started today?

The Inspiration

As I am hugely enthusiastic about Kiva as an institution, I made a Facebook post earlier today saying that I would give $25 Kiva credit to the first 10 people who commented on it.  I was excited to share the power of Kiva with friends, but I found a different level of enthusiasm after reading two comments from people who were not looking to receive any Kiva credit. One person commented that she would match the donations and another couple offered to contribute $100 to keep it going.

That is very powerful. My little bit of excitement and effort is now worth more than twice as much as I had offered to share. In a few hours, $250 became $600... and that all goes to people who will now be able to engage in the this financial positive feedback loop.

The Experiment

I want to take that enthusiasm and altruism even further by offering to serve as a bridge between 1) people who want to use Bitcoin for the purpose of funding micro-loans with Kiva, and 2) people who are interested in trying Kiva for the first time and experiencing how important that actually is.

Bitcoiners who want to give to Kiva, you can donate to the following address:

1B4yoJ7e4DpBryCjHEtNz6NAU5K6SV8zYo

People who want to receive their first $25 Kiva credit, just post a comment on this Facebook thread and I will add you to the list. If your email or facebook email (@facebook.com address) is public, I will send the credit to that address. Otherwise, you will need to either post the address that you would like to have receive the credit, or send me a message.

Commenters will be credited in the order in which they comment, provided there are Bitcoin donations to fund the next person(s) on the list. I will send the Kiva credits once a day through the end of February, and then will most likely change to a weekly schedule (depending on how the experiment goes).

All the bitcoin transactions to the address can be easily verified and I will keep a public google spreadsheet of all credits that are being donated. I will use the 24 hour bitcoin average price when converting BTC to USD and withdraw the amount converted at that time.  You can click this link to view the Google Spreadsheet for the public record of the social experiment.

I would appreciate it if people confirm receipt of their Kiva credit, either on the Facebook post or in the comments of this post.  

If you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, etc., leave me a comment below, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.