The International Digital Asset and Cryptocurrency Association (IDACCA) seeks to achieve a lofty, yet straight forward mission: make the world a better place, and use cryptocurrency as the vehicle to do so. The association is still in its fledgling state, only coming to establishment in June of 2018. The IDACCA board is currently made up of eight members, and intends to increase that number with advocates across the crypto-sphere. A central ideology of the association focuses on maintaining a neutral stance regarding the various cryptocurrencies and digital assets within the space; cross-crypto cohesion is essential. David Morefield, IDACCA Executive Director, explained in our interview:
"In order to have a lasting effect on the world, we must start within the Crypto-sphere. Currently, there is a lot of competition between Cryptocurrency projects, which can be good. But, too often this competition between projects leads to followers of one group bashing followers of another group. This is not good for the Crypto-community as a whole and this type of mudslinging does nothing to help pave the way towards mass adoption."
Morefield has come to understand that much of the public's image of "cryptocurrency" is negative, as there seems to be a constant barrage of negative press reported, across media platforms around the world. He states that while many cannot explain how cryptocurrencies actually operate, they can repeat negative talking points that have been "pounded into their heads time and time again". He believes that now is IDACCA's opportunity to create a positive association with cryptocurrency by highlighting the unique virtues that cryptocurrency has to offer. IDACCA has simplified their mission to do so into a five-pronged point of approach:
Education: Informing the public and lawmakers on current issues that cryptocurrencies can solve. Also pointing out, those already using phones to pay for things (Point of Sale) are merely one step away from understanding cryptocurrencies; IDACCA seeks to bridge that gap with this demographic.
Advocacy: It's not going to be the big players in the crypto-space that will influence law-makers around the world, it will be the people. IDACCA believes that when the people make their voices heard, governments acting on behalf of these constituents will in-turn have to respond accordingly.
Public Service: As laws governing digital assets and cryptocurrencies are inevitable, there's little sense in fighting against them. The most successful approach will be to work with governing bodies in achieving a common goal.
Philanthropy: Humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors are an effective way to change the perception of cryptocurrencies, on a global scale. This is a very central part of IDACCA's strategy in changing public opinion.
Advisory Board: Getting top contributors from crypto projects on the board is another key part of the strategy. Having effective advisors available to large businesses interested in the integration of cryptocurrencies will be instrumental in achieving IDACCA's goal. The importance of this has already been expressed to David Morefield by the CFO of their partnered bank, who cited that IDACCA will be a great resource to the bank once they're able to incorporate cryptocurrency and digital assets to clients.
Education to the masses about how the use of a cryptocurrency, at the point of sale, will offer much more security than that of the current popular choices (cash, credit and debit cards) will be imperative. Morefield referenced the fact that Home Depot, Lord and Taylor, Saks, Macy's and Target have ALL been hacked for customers' credit card information. He explains that this is, obviously, problematic. Despite the fact that hacks like this result in financial institutions having to pay big bucks, customers may lose trust in the point of sale systems used by the retailer. He goes on to point out:
"If Home Depot had their payments on the blockchain, instead of credit/debit cards, the hack would have resulted in nothing of value for the hackers. This is an area where the public seems to be grossly uninformed. (...) Blockchain based payments are a whole lot more secure because a wallet owner never sends their private key across the internet to be intercepted; only the public key is seen. The only thing that can be done with a Public Key is to send money to it, but you cannot take money from a Public Key without the agreement of the Private Key that controls that Public Key."
IDACCA is already well established in philanthropic efforts in Kenya. While there is currently not a big push by public in Kenya, IDACCA sees important uses for cryptocurrency which could improve the current situation for the majority of its citizens. Conflict between the Luo and Kikuyu tribes have plagued the country for some time. The fear of a riot erupting has created a very tense atmosphere for businesses and people alike. This type of turbulent atmosphere and political unrest further perpetuates a distrust for the government and Kenya's financial system. According to Morefield, a majority of Kenyan citizens do not have bank accounts, and live in austere homes made of wooden frames, concrete walls and corrugated metal roofs. Despite the lack of banks and wealth, most citizens do have smart phones and instead rely on an SMS-based money transfer service, mPesa. Aside from transfers of money, mPesa also offers microloans, savings account and other services. Though these services have been made available, and mPesa has become a standard within the country, Morefield points out that there are obvious security concerns using an SMS-based financial platform. Morefield explained in our interview:
"I believe that if people understood the security advantages of using Cryptocurrency over mPesa, it would invite rapid adoption. This would free the people from fearing what the future political changes could do to the Kenyan Shilling. But for now, they seem trapped and have no concept of what could help them make improvements."
The concept of Bitcoin is known by many in Kenya, and though they would like to own Bitcoin, many feel as though they cannot afford it. As Morefield stated, "They seem to view it as something that is unattainable, but worth dreaming about." He also noted that those educated about cryptocurrencies (like Shakur, a pharmacist working with IDACCA in Kisumu, Kenya) would prefer it, even to the U.S. dollar, which is also preferred over the national currency, the Kenyan Shilling. The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has warned both citizens and the government alike about the perceived risk of cryptocurrencies, citing a lack of regulation and oversight, and are taking a sluggish approach to the notion. However, as most of the citizens are 'unbanked', regulations from the central bank will have little effect.
IDACCA's initial philanthropic project seeks to use cryptocurrency as the means to build an orphanage in Ombaka, Kenya by April 2019. David Morefield has years of experience working in Kenya, which led to the selection of Ombaka. The remote village of Ombaka is home to many orphaned children, and will not only provide necessities like food, water and shelter, but also education to help better the lives of these children. While this effort is being conducted, an educational seminar will also take place in the nearby city of Kisumu, which will seek to educate the public on the advantages to be gained from using cryptocurrency.
So when can we expect the major paradigm shift from cash and credit to cryptocurrencies and assets? According to Morefield, the best case scenario may be in 5-10 years. It will depend on the effectiveness and volume of advocacy from the public, which is the main purpose of IDACCA. David Morefield personally believes that once a major company brings institutional levels of money into the crypto space, we will see a boom in cryptocurrency markets. Accordingly, not everything in the crypto-space is a currency. In fact they are more likely to be classified as either assets and securities; and the IRS, SEC and CFTC will eventually define them as such. Without laws and regulation defining cryptocurrencies, it's unlikely that businesses will adopt them as a means of payment.
If you're interested in learning more about IDACCA, you can visit their site, and become a member here: https://www.idacca.org/.
On August 16 (at LSU campus, New Orleans), IDACCA's Committee Chair, Dr. Beena George, will be proposing a video contest, in partnership with the Association of Information Systems (AIS). Additionally, she will look to recruit other members of academia to join IDACCA's academic committee, and contribute to the development of future projects.
If you'd like to provide help in the orphanage construction in Ombaka, Kenya, or are part of a cryptocurrency project and would like to present at the conference in Kisumu, Kenya, you may email David Morefield directly for more information: email@example.com.