Hypergive, a Halifax startup that uses blockchain to help the homeless, has been presented a special Year of Giving Award at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

The Halifax group were flown to Dubai last week as one of the finalists in the Blockchain Virtual GovHack, which aims to use blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin, to improve the way governments serve their citizens. Hypergive had a shot at winning part of $140,000 in prize money through to competition.

Though it were not one of the three big winners in the hackathon, Hypergive was presented the honorary 2017 Year of Giving Award at the Government Summit by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the awards ceremony.

“We're incredibly honoured and humbled by the recognition of Hypergive at the 2017 World Government Summit,” said Hypergive Founder and CEO Scott Burke in a statement. “As technology continues to rapidly transform society, it’s now our task to create and embrace future solutions without fear in order to tackle global challenges. It’s immensely meaningful to be a part of moving a vision forward which can help enrich the lives of those around us, and in turn, enrich our own.”

Burke founded a Halifax-based group called BlockCrushr, which is dedicated to developing new products using blockchain, which is a series of digital ledgers that can be used to transfer value and information between people, and leave a permanent record of who did what in each ledger.

From Dalhousie to a Tech Accelerator in Cairo

The BlockCrushr group includes Brian Jeffcock, who works with the Halifax startup Sidestory, and Andrew Redden, who works with Kinduct Technologies, also of Halifax.

Together, they have been working on Burke’s idea of a system to help the homeless. Hypergive lets people make donations so the homeless can buy food, clothing, toiletries — the essentials for living.

The donations are recorded and tax receipts issued. The money collected is stored on a card that charitable organizations can distribute to homeless people. These cards will include a QR code and possibly photo identification so they can only be used by the person who received the card. He or she can use the card to purchase goods at retail outlets, whose logos are also printed on the card, and there are daily spending limits on each card.

The purchases can only be made by the person identified by the card, and the card can be replaced if it is lost or stolen.

The Hypergive card should ensure tax-efficient and easy donations, and guarantee that the money is used only to buy needed goods by the intended recipient.

BlockCrushr is now looking to pilot Hypergive in cities around the world. Even in the concept stage, Hypergive drew the enthusiasm of others in the tech community, various media outlets, and key Rotary chapters, which want to help in rolling the project out.

The US$100,000 winner of the GovHack was Project Oaken, an American team that aims to be the leading Internet of Things hardware and distributed software platform used in smart cities. For the GovHack, it devised a system that uses blockchain to make automatic payments at tollbooths, cutting costs and increasing security.