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UNICEF’s Project Connect Could Take Blockchain Use Cases to the Next Level

UNICEF, the international nonprofit focused on helping distressed children around the world, announced this week that it plans to provide internet access to every school in Kyrgyzstan with the help of blockchain technology. Beyond permissioned ledgers for major financial transactions, use cases around tracking food products and the tokenization of speculative assets, this effort could one day become the most important use of blockchain technology we’ve ever seen.

Situated in Central Asia along the Silk Road, an ancient network of trading routes connecting the far reaches of China, East Africa and Southern Europe, Kyrgyzstan endures both tropically hot and dry polar climates. Despite its historical prominence in one of history’s most abundant regions, the country recently ranked as the second poorest in Central Asia, with over 31 percent of the population living below the poverty line. In addition to a celebration of rich traditions, the country’s long history and deep roots have manifested themselves in some political unrest, particularly some violent riots in 2010.

In short, Kyrgyzstan appears both fertile for cultural and intellectual exchange, yet plagued by some inequalities that may make it difficult for its citizens to fully participate in the increasingly interconnected world. That may be why it’s seen by UNICEF as an ideal candidate for increased internet expansion through its Project Connect.

The initiative is UNICEF’s branch for mapping school connectivity around the world and narrowing the digital divide between those children who have access to the internet and those who don’t. It has already mapped the internet connectivity for more than 150,000 schools around the world and found that around half of the 1,560 schools in Kyrgyzstan either have no internet connectivity or can’t provide data on their status.

UNICEF is working with the country’s government to change this. Right now, that means additional mapping and accounting, but later this year, Project Connect expects to begin exploring how blockchains might help.

“You can easily see where the blockchain layers would come in,” Chris Fabian, lead personnel with UNICEF Ventures, told CoinDesk. “If you want to pay as a donor — government or company — for a whole section of the country to come online, wouldn’t your rather do that in a way that is authentic and real and accountable as opposed to just sending money somewhere and hoping two years later that something happens?”

In addition to allowing donors to track where their money goes in a verifiable way, it appears that Project Connect wants to leverage blockchain technology for monitoring the quality of internet in schools and other facilities around the world.

And perhaps Project Connect will one day make even greater use of a blockchain to provide internet connectivity. A long-standing pipe dream for enthusiasts of decentralization has been the potential for a community of users to host internet services on their own independent machines, as opposed to the large, centralized entities that currently host them. Maybe regions like Kyrgyzstan will accelerate the adoption of blockchain-based internet hosting, with the help of organizations like Project Connect that want to provide them with the same connectivity many of us take for granted.

A Former CFTC Chairman’s Plan for Federal Crypto Regulation

Timothy Massad, the former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), has outlined a case for better (read: stricter) federal crypto asset regulation in a substantial report for the Brookings Institute, “It’s Time to Strengthen the Regulation of Crypto-Assets.”

Square to Hire Full-Time Team of Open-Source Bitcoin, Crypto Contributors

Source: Twitter

Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of social media giant Twitter and mobile payments company Square, announced that he is hiring a handful of full-time employees for the latter who will work on open-source contributions to the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency ecosystem. He added that the work done by this team, made up of three or four engineers and one designer, will be independent of Square's business objectives and all resulting work will be open and free.

Will #DeleteCoinbase Hurt Cryptocurrency Adoption?

There has been no shortage of news regarding trust issues in the cryptocurrency sphere. For example, the recent death of QuadrigaCX CEO Gerry Cotten revealed that he personally held the keys for the company’s reserves and they were lost, leaving platform users dependent on the Canadian justice system for a solution.

Huobi Introduces Coin Launch Platform

Source: Huobi

The Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has announce that "Huobi Prime," a coin launch platform, will go live on March 26. The service will allow professional and retail investors to purchase new cryptocurrencies before they are listed more broadly and potentially at lower costs. The announcement appears to compete with Binance's Launchpad service.