UN uses digital currency platform to help refugees

World Today

Digital currencies like “Bitcoin,” “Litecoin” or “Ether” are known for their volatility.

But the technology behind these currencies is proving so efficient and reliable, that it’s been successfully tested by the United Nations to feed the hungry.

CGTN’s Liling Tan reports.

At a refugee camp in Azraq, Jordan, a pilot project by the World Food Program allows some refugees to buy their food without physical cash. Instead, money is electronically transferred from their accounts through biometric scanning under a project known as “Building Blocks” powered by the same technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and ether.

Here’s an idea of how the system works. When refugees go to the market, the biometric iris scan confirms their identities, then the technology deducts the amount from the allowance provided by the World Food Program.

The pilot project began with 10000 Syrian refugees at the Azraq camp, but it has been so successful that the World Food Program plans to expand it to at least 100,000 people in Jordan by the end of the year.

That’s all thanks to blockchain technology, which acts as an accounting ledger that keeps all the transaction data in one place. It’s been hailed for the security and transparency it provides, and for saving costs by taking out the middle man, the banks. And that’s why blockchain is being explored beyond the world of donors and philanthropy.