The main use cases for cryptocurrency in the richest countries are earning and holding, trading, or using various other methods to earn more money. In developing countries, where access to financial and banking systems is limited or non-existent, innovative humanitarian organizations are pursuing micro-blockchain ecosystems.
In the summer of 2021, Hope for Haiti is ready to launch a cryptocurrency pilot program to provide 150 mothers with mobile phones, digital wallets and payment cards that use near -field communication technology. Each mother who participates in the community nutrition program is set to receive $ 50 per month in cUSD for six months to cover the family’s needs. A selected group of local vendors are trained to use the system and are ready to accept cryptocurrency payments. On August 14, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook Haiti’s Tiburon Peninsula, damaging the region.
The hope for Haiti is to postpone the project and immediately move to disaster relief. The organization received thousands of cryptocurrency donations quickly. Skyler Badenoch, Hope CEO of Haiti, told the Magazine: “We’re probably bringing in a grand hundred in crypto to support our earthquake efforts. That’s $ 50,000 in Bitcoin from Binance Charity. [..] We got an Ethereum donation for us. We got $ 10,000 in Dogecoin donated to us. It came from everywhere. ”
EMERGENCY CALL: Thousands of lives, property & access to basic necessities after a disaster #Haiti earthquake. We call in our community from #kripto donors come together & support the important relief work they are doing @HopeforHaitiFL & more on the ground https://t.co/dUZX4n7dJu pic.twitter.com/zVDk8qPXUu
– Binance Charity (@BinanceBCF) August 24, 2021
Just a year earlier, Sandra Uwantege Hart, who at the time was Oxfam International’s blockchain innovation and cash transfer lead, was ready to launch a cryptocurrency pilot in the southern Pacific Ocean country of Vanuatu. After its first successful venture in the region, Uwantege Hart hopes to expand Oxfam’s UnBlocked Cash solution for the fifth time for this ambitious second phase project.
Then, a few days before its launch, Cyclone Harold struck the island nation. A category 5 storm devastated parts of the archipelago, an economically dependent island chain on tourism that has been reeling from the COVID-19 lock and active volcanic eruptions.
Cyclone Harold hit Vanuatu, after killing 27 in the Solomon Islands
This is a category five storm, the heaviest, with winds of 215km/h https://t.co/LeWqxUQowa
– BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) 6 April 2020
Almost overnight, Oxfam and local partners were brought into the blockchain lifeline scale, originally tested with 200 participants and 27 local vendors, for nearly 5,000 households and 357 vendors. He worked with a local chamber of commerce to issue mobile phones to merchants and trained on the UnBlocked Cash system. In the field, a network of about 15 charitable organizations registered affected citizens and managed the system. In a conversation with the Magazine, Uwantege Hart said that “It’s almost like the whole idea of decentralization, a distributed model is exactly what worked in terms of the way we operated and distributed the system.” He added:
“Let’s decentralize, let’s provide a very good automated tool to help and decentralize the way the tools are distributed across multiple organizations in multiple locations simultaneously, to make sure we can measure quickly.”
Uwantege Hart then teamed up with global technology company Emerging Impact. In partnership with the Celo Foundation, Kotani Pay and Polish Humanitarian Action, Emerging Impact recently facilitated efforts to integrate the DeFi tool into a cash rewards program in Kenya. Celo, the donor, created a dashboard to deposit funds directly into the Kotani Pay wallet. In the field, Kotani Pay recruited Maasai women to participate in pilots while the Polish Humanitarian Action monitored transparency. According to Uwantege Hart, “I can’t even tell you how much time it saves.”
She explained more so that it happened, many players from all over the world came together: “These include Celo, based in California; Polish Humanitarian Action, based in Poland, with several offices in Somalia; and implementing partners in rural Kenya, and Maasai women who build rural infrastructure, build dams to save water, in order to increase agricultural yields.
The experience gained and the lessons learned in the pilot led to the development of the Umoja Emerging Impact solution, an all-in-one humanitarian aid suite. One of the first projects to use the system is a pilot of digital cash assistance and CARE vouchers in Ecuador, starting in September 2021. CARE Ecuador monitoring coordinator Ronald Pisco told Pilot Magazine provides electronic vouchers and NFC payment cards to 250 women who don’t have access to public services.
Participants, especially migrants and refugees from Venezuela, were able to use the card to purchase health services, medicines and hygiene products from the 10 participating vendors. The card is charged $ 50 to $ 100 in cUSD, with vendors withdrawing money and converting stablecoin into local currency on a weekly or monthly basis.
CARE USA’s senior director for market -based approaches, Christian Pennotti, told the Magazine that “The final recipients, […] they are given a card with which they can pay for goods and services. [..] They don’t have to download a special wallet. You don’t need a 17 -digit key. ”
Although there are high technical barriers to entering the crypto space, such as access to the internet and mobile phones and the need for technology literacy – things that are currently inaccessible to program participants – Pennotti believes that this exchange is easy enough for women who participate: “The back to back, there were a lot of incredible happenings.But in his experience, CARE was able to give him a card, and he got what he needed.
CARE wants to try a blockchain-based, easy-to-use non-cash solution to replace an inefficient paper-based voucher system. According to Pisco, it could take several weeks to repay the vendor. CARE staff must keep track of all paper vouchers, collect them and send them back to the office. The process is expensive and time consuming. Uwantege Hart showed that initial metrics from pilots showed delivery time had been shaved by more than 50%. Costs are down, and it’s easy to monitor increases.
Umoja’s second debut deployment is back on track, as the temporarily suspended Hope for Haiti pilot is underway – and has recently doubled in size and scope thanks to Coinbase. According to Badenoch, when Coinbase heard about the pilot after the earthquake, it donated $ 150,000. The project is a project that will continue to help earthquake victims, as long as others have returned home.
Badenoch believes that “This is the next iteration of our work in collaboration with key players in the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem.” He added:
“We think it will help us talk about the value and power of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology and the ability of crypto and blockchain to help reduce poverty.”
According to Badenoch, Coinbase’s role in the project is “the difference between piloting something that helps temporarily and piloting something that actually shifts the way the household economy functions.” The hope for Haiti is to integrate Digicel’s mobile cash solution into the cash out process for participating vendors, which means there is a local ramp in Haiti’s financial ecosystem. “That’s huge. It’s the difference between financial inclusion and giving money, ”Uwantege Hart said.
Uwantege Hart believes that humanitarian aid is ultimately “short -term assistance.” He said one of the challenges for all humanitarian institutions is to responsibly transition people from receiving “a bunch of goods or free payments” to a more recovery -focused scenario, where they can connect the assistance they receive to regular access. goods or services on a daily basis.
Moving out of poverty, or a risk -free situation that causes them to be poor, is a major goal. Emerging Impact hopes to eventually separate wallets, still attaching them to payment cards but also to individual payment applications and savings accounts.
After similar thinking, another CARE crypto pilot worked with a village savings and loan association in western Kenya affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Siaya County, a rural area that relies on agriculture, CARE asked members of a savings group what it takes to make them whole. According to Pennotti, they all said they would need more funds to support the group’s current business or start -up funds to facilitate the flow of income generated from the new group’s business.
Although almost 85% of people working with CARE in Kenya do not have a bank and do not have full access to the financial system, many have mobile wallets. Binance’s Blockchain Charity Foundation funded the project by directly depositing BUSD, stablecoin denominated in U.S. dollars, into the participating Trust Wallets. The group then uses the funds to purchase goods and services from local vendors.
Helen Hai, executive vice president at Binance and head of Binance Charity, told the Magazine, “Our pilot project working with CARE and the village savings and loan association is a new area for Binance Charity, but one I found very exciting because if successful, it will provide a solution to deliver cash assistance and reaching many financially vulnerable people at a lower cost compared to traditional methods.
He explains how the process works: “All transactions are recorded in a public ledger, which can be tracked, cannot be changed and offers 100% transparency to the public.” Hi add:
“Our goal is to enhance the economic recovery of VSLA members from the impact of COVID-19 and related vulnerabilities, through stablecoin providers offered through blockchain technology. Crypto education is an important part of the success of this project, which means we can also provide new skills as well as help. financially.
according to Pennotti, one of the goals in Kenya is to know if the technology will be used in the community. What will be received, and what are the benefits to CARE and its donors?
Another goal is to build institutional awareness of the potential of financial inclusivity. Pennotti looking for a DeFi project that would help on-ramp this group to crypto, potentially then take advantage of staking and sorts of other wealth-generators like yield farming in an accessible way. “You don’t have to know how it works, just what the financial benefits are,” Pennotti said.