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Ending Homeless Hunger With The Blockchain

First draft
May 2, 2016

Scott Burke
Founder, BlockCrushr Labs

Abstract. This paper describes a mechanism to revolutionize person to person street giving using the
Ethereum blockchain, in co-operation with community organizations and food retailers, to increase
market efficiency by tapping into common cashless payment methods, and to ensure that the givers
value is spent for the intended purpose feeding the receiver. This is a first draft and as such I invite and
encourage feedback and involvement from anyone who wants to review, contribute to or participate in
this effort.

Its a sunny, spring morning. You can see
her standing on the corner, in her usual
spot. You can feel the plea coming from half
a block away. As you approach, she holds
out her cup. Can you spare some change?
She may be hungry, and you want to help.
You may say, Sorry and walk on by. Or,
you may offer her something. In any case,
she says Have a nice day! and you feel like
she probably means it. You walk away with
a mixture of feelings. If you didnt give to
her, you may feel guilty about it. Even if you
did, you might still feel guilty and wonder if
youre actually helping her at all.

This situation is all too familiar to millions of
people worldwide, especially those of us
who live in urban centres. We come face to
face with hungry and homeless people
every day and wish there was a better way
to help.

The problems with P2P (person to person)
homeless giving are well-known.

Fewer people are carrying cash and
coins as we move towards a cashless
society. 90% of US citizens never, rarely

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or only sometimes carry cashi. 57%

never carry cash.
Rates of drug and alcohol use are
disproportionately high among the
homeless populationii which inhibits
giving people dont want their money
spent to buy drugs or alcohol. These
concerns are founded. According to one
study, although 94% of panhandlers use
the money they get for food, 44% use it
for drugs or alcoholiii.

Vulnerable persons are largely unbanked
and dont have access to P2P methods like
Paypal, usually dont have smartphones,
and cant take credit cards or Square. And
even if they could, the problem of diversion
of funds would remain unaddressed.

But people still have a strong desire to
personally help other people in their
community, and especially to make sure
they dont go hungry.

So, we need to
Solve the problem of transferring value
while ensuring it is used for its

intended purpose (purchasing food for

the designated person).
Tap into the global payments network,
but also provide a completely secure 1-
way firewall.

We believe the Ethereum blockchain and
smart contracts combined with existing
community outreach organizations can
provide the solution.


Value recipient/Recipient The person who
wishes to solicit donations for food and use
those donations to purchase meals

Giver/Donator The person who wishes to
give to a person in order for them to buy

Participating food retailer A restaurant,
supermarket or any outlet thats
participating in the program where you can
buy ready-to-eat food

Community organization A local partner
organization focused on outreach and
helping the homeless, vulnerable and
underfed in their community

Overview of System

Here is a basic description of the proposed

The value recipient is issued a QR code,
which is the encoded public address of
an Ethereum smart contract. This code
is issued through a community
organization or self-service directly on a
web site. The QR code gets printed on
recyclable, inexpensive business cards
or pieces of paper, by the community
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organization or through a partnership

such as with a local library. The recipient
maintains anonymity and is only
identified by their code.

Figure 1. Card recipient hands out to givers.

The recipient is also issued a secret QR
code, which is their key to spend funds
they receive to buy meals.

Figure 2. Card recipient uses to spend funds.

The receiver hands out their cards to
persons who may wish to give them
money for food.
Each card contains instructions on how
to give. The giver may download an app
and scan the receivers QR code, or go
to the website on a laptop or desktop
and type in the 40-character address
manually. Methods to reduce friction
here are desired an alternate
possibility is to have a username or
other mnemonic registered in the
system for each address.


Neither party (giver or receiver) needs
to know what Ethereum is or anything
about the blockchain. The system
abstracts out the technology into
commonly understood standards and
payment methods. (Apps, credit cards,
QR codes) However, it will be helpful
and important for recipients to know
that their accounts are denominated in
a digital currency called ether, whos
value floats against their local currency.

Challenges/Issues/Problems to solve

Account balances are stored in ether
(ETH). Ether trades freely and thus its
price relative to a markets local
currency will fluctuate recipients
balance relative to local currency will
fluctuate in response.
o Volatility may be acceptable
o Possibility for system to
dynamically hedge vs local
Participation of food retailers
o Signing up outlets
Local community
outreach partner will be
o Who will pay for on-premise
systems, training and ongoing
o Willingness of businesses to
have hungry and/or homeless
customers in their
Willingness of citizens (givers/receivers)
to participate
o Ease of use / adoption

The giver fills out a checkout page which

donates value to the recipient through a
payment gateway supporting all major
payment methods (credit cards, Paypal,
BTC, ETH, etc.)
If the payment is denominated in any
other currency but ether, the payment
gateway uses an exchange API or other
backend system to convert the value to
ETH at current market rates, and after
business logic checks to verify the
validity of the smart contract, transfers
that ETH to the recipients smart
The recipient can check the balance of
their account on any smartphone or
public access terminal such as a library,
a community organization, or at a
participating food retailer. Alternately
or in addition, a simple automated
system could be designed with an iPad,
encased in plexiglass to prevent theft,
running an app which uses the front
facing camera to read the recipients
private QR code and show the balance
The balance is provided to the recipient
denominated in their local currency, at
current market rates for ETH.
The recipient uses their private QR code
to purchase a meal at a participating
food retailer. The retailer can use a
smartphone or tablet to check the
balance and process a transaction. The
ETH is spent from the recipients wallet
and converted to the local currency of
the retailer and settled immediately or
Wallet can have a daily spend limit

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Details to be filled in

Actual business logic of the smart contract
Wallet recovery
Daily spending limits
Inactive/lost wallets

Request for comments

Review, comments, criticisms, support and
suggestions for this draft proposal are
welcome and invited from all interested
parties. Email


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