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World’s first SMS to be auctioned to raise money for refugees

world first SMS - World's first SMS to be auctioned to raise money for refugees

LONDON: British telecoms operator Vodafone is auctioning off a non-fungible token (NFT) of the world’s first SMS text message on Thursday, with proceeds of the sale going to the international refugee agency, UNHCR.

The 15-character long text message, which reads “Merry Christmas”, was sent on the Vodafone network 39 years ago in December 1992, when programmer Neil Papworth sent the message to a colleague, Richard Jarvis, who received it while he was at the company Christmas party. It took a further nine years for other networks to have Vodafone’s ability to transmit and receive SMS.

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The lot is expected to fetch up to $200,000 and the buyer will pay for the NFT in Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. As well as the digital token, the winning buyer will take home tangible assets in the form of a digital picture frame showing the mobile phone receiving the world’s first SMS and a 3D animation of the same as a digital version.

Ahmed Essam, chief executive of Vodafone UK, said the company was “proud” to be bringing together cutting-edge technology from the past and the future to help “people in desperate need of support”.

The telecoms company will be donating the winning bid to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency that supports 82.4 million people worldwide, and who have lauded the “power” of technology to “change the world.”

“Through this combination of ground-breaking tech and movement for social good, UNHCR can continue helping refugees and people who’ve been forced from home, giving them an opportunity to transform their lives and build better futures for themselves, their loved ones and communities they’re living in,” said Christian Schaake, Head of UNHCR’s Private Sector Partnerships Service.

It isn’t the first time the refugee agency has been involved in the fast-growing NFT market. In November, the organisation sold a collection of 70 NFT artworks by Syrian-Palestinian cartoonist, Hani Abbas to mark the 70th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention, and the establishment of UNHCR.

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