It has been more than three months since the novel coronavirus struck China which quickly spread all over the globe. The speed by which the virus propagated caught many governments off-guard and began their frantic effort to contain and control this vicious disease that has already claimed more than 53,000 lives in more than 181 jurisdictions. With more than 1 million confirmed cases some countries are asking help from the international community as they do not have the infrastructure, capabilities, and capacity to deal with COVID-19.

Many are willing to help especially those countries that are better equipped to handle the pandemic. Given the gravity of the situation, even non-government organizations are willing to give their assistance. Many donations will come in the form of medical supplies and equipment that will help health workers fight the fast-moving virus and it is of utmost importance that the people who needed it most will receive the assistance first. More importantly, due to the dangerous nature of the pandemic, these donations should be effective or else it may cause further damage than help.

Challenges in Donations

Unfortunately, traditional donation channels and their monitoring systems are not equipped to ensure proper accounting and left donors to trust third-party intermediaries to ensure the donations are delivered to those in need. On the other hand, recipients are not sure if the donations they are receiving are the intended help they should be receiving. The lack of transparency in the whole process of charity giving makes it a very complicated, inefficient and difficult matter. However, through the use of blockchain technology, this can all change.

AIOU Charity Information Disclosure Platform

AIOU, an IOST-based blockchain project developed a charity information disclosure platform that will enable charitable organizations to have a more transparent system via smart contracts.  According to IOST, organizations who want to leverage AIOU will just need to register on the platform and then they will be able to see the entire donations details, including materials reception and distribution. Moreover, stakeholders will be able to get real-time information about specific donations straight from the platform. 

A blockchain-based system will enable anyone to check the smart contract to ensure that the data are valid and cannot be tampered with. Armed with guaranteed accurate information from these systems will increase efficiencies as distribution channels will not have to go through checks and balances that only serve as bottlenecks for the immediate distributions of much-needed supplies and equipment. The fight with COVID-19 is a fight against time and being able to send the supplies as fast as possible could be a difference between life and death.

In addition, donors who are guaranteed that their donations will benefit those whom they intended to help will be morewill more likely to donate again and perhaps even recommend other patrons to use the platform. Fostering transparency in charity systems by leveraging blockchain technology is a step towards the right direction for a more sustainable charitable institution as well as to stomp out fraud that has affected the effectiveness of these initiatives. This in effect, has affected the confidence of donors and thus found themselves donating less and less for charitable causes.

The recipients, on the other hand, will have the confidence of knowing exactly who gave the donations or its point of origin. While most donors are well-meaning individuals and organizations, donations should be accepted with an abundance of caution as supplies and equipment donated might not be the right type for its intended purpose  There had been reports of faulty COVID-19 test kits and protective gear that may endanger patients and health professionals. 

Final thoughts

Amidst the raging pandemic, the importance of a transparent, efficient, credible and accountable information disclosure platform cannot be overstated. IOST and AIOU are leading the way by providing this system. Having an information system with these attributes will empower stakeholders to make timely decisions, lessens mistakes and fast track the distribution of much-needed help to areas devastated by the highly contagious virus. Charitable institutions will be able to deploy help with haste without worrying it will not reach the proper destination.

Recipients will also have valuable information about the donations they get, this is especially important since they are dealing with a relatively unknown virus and any information with the effectiveness of current testing kits, medicines, equipment, and protective gear can spell a life-saving decision to a national disaster. Furthermore, the information within this disclosure system will be valuable inputs to aid authorities to establish a database that will help them develop more effective medical gear, quarantine protocol or even a vaccine. 

The COVID-19 has sent the world in a downward spiral where the mightiest economies and the most advance tech seem inadequate to fight this existential threat to humanity. Confronted with such a vicious, fast and relatively unknown adversary we need to be working together to help defeat this contagion. Blockchain is one of the technologies we have to ensure that we have accurate and verifiable information that might lead to a short term and ultimately long term solution.