Realizing blockchain’s potential for social impact
By Tatsiana Hulko
As is usually the case with disruptive new technology, blockchain comes with a lot of hype. While its best-known application, bitcoin, divides opinion and makes banks and governments nervous, the technology may have great potential to advance social good.
Serving the underserved
Fintech companies across the globe are using blockchain to improve financial systems and redefine how businesses and individuals make payments. Coins.ph operates out of the Philippines, where transferring money electronically is very popular but can be expensive. The company built a mobile app that runs on blockchain technology and allows cheaper, quicker and more direct fund transfers for those with limited access to formal banking. Users can open an account simply by inputting a phone number and digitally verifying their identity. Transactions are settled instantaneously and at a fraction of the fees charged by traditional banks. This translates into increased disposable income, better resilience to economic shocks, and wider participation of the most vulnerable populations in the financial system.
Like Coins.ph in the Philippines, Kenya’s BitPesa, Mexico’s Bitso, India’s Unocoin and others are using blockchain to expedite cross-border payments, establish new types of digital wallets and allow peer-to-peer payments with digital currencies for previously unconnected people and markets.
Photo courtesy of Christian Ditaputratama.