Block.one recently concluded its month-long EOSIO Virtual Hackathon aimed at creating solutions that will continue to deliver a social impact way beyond the world of COVID-19. More than twenty final projects were submitted by teams from all around the world, but eventually only one could claim first place. To find out more about the winning project I conducted an interview with Edgar Fernández, the Co-founder of EOS Costa Rica. Most people will know EOS Costa Rica as one of the top standby Block Producers on the EOS public blockchain who clearly have a lot going on in the blockchain sphere.
Without further ado, let’s hear more from Edgar Fernández about their winning Lifebank app.
In Block.one’s recent Coding for Change hackathon you were awarded first place for your Lifebank app. Can you please tell us what it is and what it does?
Sure, Lifebank helps local communities create a virtuous circle of value exchange between three parties — an eligible blood donor, a donation center, and a sponsor.
A potential donor can sign up for the app, create an account, and find a local donation center. When they go donate to a registered life bank, they will be eligible to receive a life token. They can redeem that token at participating local businesses we call sponsors.
Out of all the things you could’ve built, why did you settle on an application for blood donations?
We identified two problems — a blood donation shortage and a local economic slowdown. We settled on Lifebank because it provides a solution to both and is also relevant after COVID-19 and for future health/economic crisis in the future.
The $100k prize that came along with first place; how does that affect Lifebank going forward?
Our company entered the competition to build cool apps on EOSIO. The prize gives us a lot of confidence to continue to do so but it doesn’t change our goal – build blockchain-based applications to solve real-world problems. We want to continue developing Lifebank and the prize money will definitely help us in doing that. Lifebank is open-source, we hope that the prize money brings attention to the current blood shortage and motivates people to participate in the solution.
With blood banks saving millions of lives each year in emergency situations and this donation shortage being a cause for serious concern. How have the medical institutions coped? Do they have alternative sources?
They rely on the continued goodness and humanity of donors willing to go to medical centers during a health crisis, putting themselves at risk. I think Lifebank helps by now bringing local businesses into the virtuous circle creating an incentive to become a business that values the goodness in their community. At the very least, it provides recognition to donors, more than monetary value.
Is there something out there that’s similar to the Lifebank app?
Not that we know of. After the end of the competition we did more research and there is a company that uses geolocation in Nigeria to help DELIVER blood donations, but they don’t use blockchain or community incentives. We’d like to partner with any medtech companies out there solving problems but they may have thought blockchain was to complex for them to implement.
What previous experiences would you say give you enough knowledge to see to it that Lifebank is a success?
We are technologists, developers. We do not run a non-for-profit or have any experience in medical or health services. We cannot take Lifebank to its full potential without the support and involvement of other organizations. We’d like to concentrate on the software development and see how real users save lives while using it. We have experience and knowledge building with blockchain tech and we think it can be a powerful component of the solution. It’s not the solution in and of itself.
Considering the state of the world at this moment. When and how do you plan on presenting your application to the relevant organizations and the people that need it most?
We already are and no better time than now to get this out there to the people looking for a solution to incentive blood donation and reactive local small businesses in their community. We need a get the world out there with news media and see who can help us get Lifebank into the hands of communities.
In a bit more detail how will the Life token benefit users; from the donors to sponsors?
Donors will receive an added incentive to donate blood within their community since its location-based. They also will be able to receive discounts from local businesses.
Donation Centers will be easier to find and will be able to “surge” the rewards as they need more blood donations in a certain community.
Businesses of Sponsors have a new way to promote their products and services while also telling their customers they value blood donation in their community. This is an easy way for any small business to have a secure and reliable voucher system without needed to invest in a third party service. It also adds them to a geolocation database.
Why choose to implement blockchain technology (EOSIO) over traditional technologies?
2 – Efficiencies – We can create a whole token economy without a lot of investment in traditional tech that requires native contracts and security. This comes out of the box with EOSIO.
3 – Transparency – Blockchain allows anyone to verify how many tokens exist in a community. You don’t need to trust anyone with the data.
4 – Programmable money – Each token has its one inherit business logic; it is programmable. For example, only a Donation center can mint a token, only a donor can receive it from a donation center, and only a sponsor can receive it from a donor. This prevents donor to donor transfers that can lead to abuse.
We reported on the news regarding your involvement with the LAC-Chain project, any plans to promote Lifebank within that blockchain ecosystem?
Yes, LACCHAIN is about creating the infrastructure as a social good in Latinamerica. We think Lifebank could be an app that benefits from being on a regulated, public-permissioned chain built for social impact but its just one alternative. LACCHAIN has KYC/AML built in. We’d love to see Lifebank creating millions of HUMAN-VERIFIED accounts on EOS mainnet as well without asking for KYC information. After all, robots and spammers can’t donate blood.
Lastly, how do you see this retaining its usecase beyond the world of lockdowns and blood donation shortages?
The world will always need blood donors. Thats is a fact. Small businesses always need efficient ways of attracting new customers. That is also a fact.
I think the use case will be beyond that. Lifebank may be the beginning to asking (and answering) questions like:
- What information is needed for me to verify I’m human?
- How can I align incentives within a community to promote activities that that community values?
- How can Ricardian contracts help blockchain adoption in jurisdictions that have regulatory vacuums?
- How can we use blockchain without knowing we are using it?
Awesome stuff, thanks! And congrats once again on your win! This is a great app and there’s a crucial and an immediate need for it. I wish you and your team the best of luck as Lifebank will make the biggest winners of those who need it most.
Thanks for the interest and the coverage!!! I look forward to the article.
A pleasure it was chatting with Edgar about their amazing app. The world is in urgent need at the moment for such vital innovations in society and however bad the COVID-19 situation is right now, one of the positives is that it would’ve helped shine the spotlight on technologies like the Lifebank app.
Blockchain technology and the phenomenon of open-source highlight the kind of impact human collaboration can have. You get a team of developers (EOS Costa Rica) with the drive and ability to create something like this, and an entity (Block.one) willing to provide the right kind of platform for them to carry it out; the result ends up being something that could save millions of lives even long after we’re gone.
Those people who choose to be blood donors do so out of their capacity for altruistic acts. As such, Lifebank tokens hold no monetary value as their value is decided by the sponsors who redeem them for goods and/or services. Each donation center is limited to how many tokens they can have and they can start to distribute them once the donors have opened an account through the app. Lifebank doesn’t collect personal data from its app; just an account name and a secret pin for signup.
Not yet live, the app is currently running on the Jungle Testnet as open-source software. The team hopes this to become a collaborative effort in bringing the application to the hands of those that need it most.
Thank you for reading!
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