How does DGP differ from other charities that aim to provide monetary assistance to the homeless?
We provide the equivalent of spendable cash to clients, which they can then use to buy food, groceries, and other essential goods. As many charities have learned in the past, physical cash can be lost, stolen, or used to purchase alcohol, drugs, or weapons. However, our cash equivalent is designed to be used only at approved vendors. This solves the misdirected-spending problems which have stymied prior efforts to assist the homeless with cash donations.
As an added benefit of our cash-equivalent model, we’re able to closely track how funds are spent. This gives us the ability to better understand our clients’ needs and behavior. We also share this knowledge with the shelters, rescue missions, and other organizations who interface directly with our clients. The end result is that we are able to fine-tune the program, change spending limits, provide regular deposits, and quickly adapt in order to more effectively serve the homeless population. This is not possible with physical cash donations.
How are you able to provide your clients with a cash equivalent?
DGP leverages a recent technological innovation called Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a protocol that enables rapid, low-fee, peer-to-peer transfers of money. Since it exists solely in the digital realm, our clients’ bitcoin cannot be stolen or lost. Nor can it be easily spent in exchange for illicit goods.
Our platform does not require that anyone taking part in the program understand the technology behind it. A client holds their funds in a smartphone “wallet,” which is presented to the vendor at the time they make a purchase. The vendor then uses their own phone to process the transaction and receive the payment. A record of the transaction is then sent to DGP. Much like paying with a debit card, this all happens within a matter of seconds.
Why not just give pre-loaded debit cards to your clients?
Debit cards entail a relatively high fee per transaction. We’d prefer to keep those fees as minimal as possible, ensuring that our clients receive the most benefit possible. Additionally, government regulations require a physical address in order to obtain a debit card. By definition, our clients often lack an address. Finally, debit cards do not provide us with the ability to quickly measure how and where funds are being spent.