China / Life

Blockchain helps unblock funding

By Ren Xiaojin (China Daily) Updated: 2017-08-31 07:46

A crowdfunding site has launched an online charity to raise cash for chronically ill patients.

Qingsongchou Network Technology Co Ltd, an internet business in Beijing, is using a form of "blockchain technology" to help streamline the process and show where the money raised on its platform goes.

"By using blockchain, or light chain as we call it, people who donate cash will be able to track their donations and see it goes to the right places," said Yu Liang, chief operating officer at Qingsongchou.

Blockchain technology has had mixed reviews. It is basically a public ledger, which records transactions between two parties. It is also constantly growing or completing "blocks" to a virtual register.

"Some people have a negative view towards charities or fundraising organizations," said Yu. "Many do not understand how they work or are skeptical because of previous scandals.

"But when they are sure their kindness will not be abused and every penny will be used for good causes, they are more than willing to help those in need," Yu added.

Since using blockchain technology for the crowdfunding site in July, Qingsongchou has received daily donations of about 20 million yuan ($3 million) for people who have serious illnesses.

"In 2015, we collected 1 bil-lion yuan through crowdfunding, while the number doubled the following year," Yu said. "In the first half of 2017, 2 billion yuan was donated to people in need through our platform."

Wang Yixin is a registered user on Qingsongchou and does not really understand blockchain technology, but he does "trust" the charitable site.

"To be honest, I don't understand the concept, but I feel I can trust it when the app tells me my donation is right there in the bank account of those who really need it," Wang said.

To underline its charitable credentials, Qingsongchou has canceled its 5 yuan service fee for every transaction made through online payment portals such as Wechat wallet and Alipay.

"Many people still feel uncomfortable when they are asked to pay extra even if it is to cover transaction charges," said Yu. "When we canceled it, crowdfunding becomes more popular and efficient."

Earlier this year, the platform raised 300,000 yuan in three days for Yang Ting, a bus driver in her early 20s, who fell into a coma after being infected by a virus in Bali while on holiday.

Donations poured in to cover the cost of flying her home to her parents and for medical treatment.

Li Ang, a colleague who set up the fund on the platform, said Yang spent the last few days of her life with her family before she died

"That was down to the kindness of strangers," Li added.

Founded in 2014, Qingsongchou was among the first 13 crowdfunding platforms recognized by the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

It was also listed in the top 250 financial technology companies in the world by CB Insights, a consulting company in the United States.

The internet firm now has 80 million users and has helped 1.47 million families with sick relatives. By using blockchain technology, Qingsongchou cuts down on administration costs.

"It reduces the need for human labor," COO Yu said. "Blockchain also makes any tampering of the ledger impossible due to the nature of the technology."

The company is now lobbying hospitals in China to adopt blockchain technology to speed up the funding process for sick patients.

Two private health centers have shown an interest in getting involved, according to Qingsongchou.

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