One year ago today, the Grantcoin Foundation announced the launch of Grantcoin to the public. Now, I am pleased to announce the relaunch of Grantcoin with a clear and simple focus: Grantcoin is the first cryptocurrency to be distributed primarily as Basic Income grants for everyone in the world who chooses to participate.
During our first year, there were many twists and turns. We started out with a plan to distribute Grantcoin as grants to socially responsible businesses. Later in 2015, we added charities into the mix, and tried to brand Grantcoin as the “charitable alternative to Bitcoin.”
Although these were noble goals, that version of Grantcoin never really caught on. In February we announced our intention to launch a Universal Basic Income pilot program. After conducting a thorough internal evaluation of the Grantcoin project and our various programs, the Grantcoin Foundation has decided that the cause of Basic Income will be the sole focus of Grantcoin for the foreseeable future.
I founded Grantcoin on the principle that when money is created, the money supply of a currency should be distributed into circulation as grants to all the people of the world equally. As I wrote in our Mission Statement — in language that is still there today — “We insist that a new currency be equitable” and that its method of distribution should “compensate, at least partially, for the accidents of birth and circumstances of fortune” that result in poverty and inequality.
This is the central idea that Grantcoin has always been based upon. I elaborated on this idea in a recent speech I gave in New York, entitled Money as a Human Right: Poverty, Economic Inequality and the Vision of Grantcoin — a speech which was very well received by an audience of human rights activists and people of conscience. Writing this speech was a helpful exercise which reminded me of why I’m involved in this project, why I care about Grantcoin at all.
Distributing Grantcoin as a Universal Basic Income — to individual people directly — is the simplest and most obvious way the Grantcoin Foundation can implement the principle of access to money as a human right. I think we got off the track somewhat in our earlier versions of Grantcoin, because we were trying to appeal to different audiences with various programs and approaches. As a result, Grantcoin became too complicated and difficult for the average person to understand. The basic message of why we created this currency was obscured.
The Grantcoin Foundation has not yet started distributing Grantcoin Basic Income. The first Basic Income grants will be distributed in September, so that hopefully a large number of people will sign up by then, and a handful of early adopters won’t receive a huge advantage over everyone else. If you haven’t signed up yet, it only takes a few seconds — I encourage you to sign up today!
During the next week, I’ll be contacting everyone who has already begun the signup process to get you verified for the program.
In 2015, Grantcoin became the first cryptocurrency to be managed by a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. In 2016, I hope Grantcoin can do something even more special: become the first cryptocurrency to tap into the booming movement for Basic Income — a movement which is starting to attract millions of dollars in investment by philanthropists — and combine this great socioeconomic cause with the financial technology pioneered by Bitcoin.
The time is ripe for a fusion of basic income and blockchain — two big ideas whose time has come. In the coming months, I promise to do everything I can to spread the word about the new version of Grantcoin, and we’ll find out if a basic income currency can begin to catch on.
Thank you to all the volunteers, investors, donors, and other supporters of Grantcoin in 2015. I invite you to check out our updated website, and hope you’ll continue to support Grantcoin in 2016 and beyond!