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Couldn't the smart contract literally "burn" the funds in case of failure?

Like transfer a small percentage to the owner as a fee for the service, then send the rest to a faulty address or contract setup to never be retrievable?

yes. or maybe even distribute it among those that managed to reach their goals.

Then people might try to game the system. I think you present the excess to one person each day that receives votes as the best (public) goal matched. It incentivizes people to publicize their goals, which helps the business, and also makes them more likely to fulfill the goal. You will still see gaming I'm sure, but at least it will be vetted by peers.

In a way "burning" the funds already does distribute them to everyone else.

Since that is now money that is forcibly and irrevocably taken out of circulation, so therefore everyone else's money is worth slightly more because of it!

Goal: "Set a goal that makes me eligible to receive a portion of the rewards".


Even more reason to not fail your goal and give money to "stupid freeloaders" :P

I wonder if deliberately sending money to a blockchain address that no one has the keys to could be legally considered destruction of money?

Probably not yet, but maybe eventually. It's essentially the same as burning it.

Destruction of value is not destruction of money. If I were to buy some extremely expensive memorabilia (a pristine copy of Abbey Road, signed by all of the Beatles) and burn it in my back yard, that wouldn't be destruction of money.

While BTC, ETH, XMR function like currencies and can be traded - they are not recognized as a currency in most places

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