When MazaCoin was introduced in 2014, it was touted as the future of the Oglala Lakota Nation – one of the United States' most impoverished Native American tribes. For the people of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, the advent of MazaCoin was supposed to represent a new future for a people long at odds with the federal government and its institutions.
Four years later, MazaCoin is selling at $0.000673 per coin, or roughly one-third of the coin's price when it was first made available. MazaCoin is joined by WishCoin, CharityCoin, AidCoin, and Clean Water Coin in a growing club of coins with noble ambitions but no market appeal, at least if CoinMarketCap is any indicator.
Senegal-born singer Akon is seeking to buck this trend. At Cannes Lion, Akon announced that he plans to bring up for sale a new cryptocurrency named AKoin that would help fund the development of an "Akon Crypto City" in Africa. Akon explained in a panel discussion:
"I think that blockchain and crypto could be the savior for Africa in many ways because it brings the power back to the people and brings the security back into the currency system and also allows the people to utilize it in ways where they can advance themselves and not allow government to do those things that are keeping them down."
Akon – also known as Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam – has already made a name for himself in philanthropy circles with his Lighting Africa project, which helps bring solar power to the continent. The AKoin is intended to fund a crypto-based city he intends to build on a 2,000-acre plot (3.125 square miles) granted to him by the Senegalese president. The performer hopes that this city will be the "first of its kind 100% crypto-based city with AKoin at the center of transactional life."
The "real-life Wakanda of Akon Crypto City," per its website, will "invent a radical new way of existence" by "cryptonizing" daily business and non-business exchanges.
While the potential to utilize ICOs for high returns-on-investment to fund charitable causes is an intriguing idea, evidence suggests it is not viable. With so many crypto coins currently in existence, AKoin will have tough competition to achieve the mass appeal and market stability needed to build a city.
This, however, does not mean that cryptocurrency and charities do not mix. Arguably, a better way to use cryptocurrency for charitable donations is to make donations using existing cryptocurrency. For instance, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which promotes the right of a free press worldwide, has announced it will accept donations in bitcoin, Ether, bitcoin cash, Litecoin, and Zcash. The blockchain developer Mainframe has already made a 1,000 ETH donation to the charity, and the firm previously received 2,019.57 ETH in its "Proof of Heart" fundraising campaign.
Clay Baswell, founder and CEO of CommitGood, told ETHNews:
"According to a study done by Charity Navigator, top executives of the largest and most prestigious charities in the US receive salaries exceeding $1 million. Once charities begin to accept cryptocurrency, a new form of transparency will be unlocked. By monitoring the wallet of your charity of choice, you can track their spending to ensure it's going to the right places."