From Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Zcash, Dash, Ripple, and Monero to hundreds more you have probably never heard of, virtual currencies (also nicknamed cryptocurrencies) are making an impact on the world. Virtual currencies, digital currencies that use encryption techniques to regulate currency and verify the transfer of funds, operate primarily outside of banks and government institutions. They are slowly becoming more well known and creating a larger influence on society.
Dr. Angela Pool-Funai, Director of the Master of Public Administration program at Southern Utah University, and expert on virtual currencies, explains that “until the Silk Road drug bust, Liberty Reserve money laundering scheme, and other Bitcoin-related scandals came to light in 2013, virtual currencies had flown under the radar for years as a techie niche market.”
Pool-Funai notes that while “much of the attention given to virtual currencies concerns commercial application (for better or for worse, as the scandals brought to light), digital currencies also play a unique and important role in philanthropy.”
“In early 2014, the University of Puget Sound received an unprecedented gift worth about $10,000 in Bitcoin. Such contributions may still sound novel today, but charitable uses of virtual currency date back over a decade.”
Another example, the American Cancer Society “raised $2.7 million since donors began a virtual Relay for Life via the online world of Second Life, using a digital currency.”
From the perspective of the public administration field, Dr. Pool-Funai feels “it is vital that we include the nonprofit sector in discussions of this nature because policies concerning virtual currencies do not only impact private business practices. Tax policy and other regulations involving digital currencies will have a real and direct impact on the nonprofit community.”
“Although scandals tend to make the headlines, more stories highlighting the good work happening with cryptocurrencies in the nonprofit sector may draw more positive attention to the endless charitable applications of virtual currencies.”
Dr. Pool-Funai’s research focuses on virtual currency, tax policy, and philanthropy. She is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit her profile.
Angela Pool-Funai Director of the Master of Public Administration Program
Specializing in experiential learning, fund-raising, and grant writing in higher education