Blockchain’s promise for social good - Activate World

Blockchain’s promise for social good

Storyline:

In 2016, the Blockchain was recognized as one of the 10 emerging technologies by the World Economic Forum. Today, corporations and governments around the world are exploring ways to use the technology to reliably store vast amounts of data. Many organizations believe that Blockchain has great potential to advance social good.

The technology, also known as distributed ledger technology (DLT), allows digital information to be distributed, but not copied. It ensures that each individual piece of data can only have one owner. The information is constantly reconciled into the database, which is stored in multiple locations and updated instantly. And since there’s no central location, it harder to hack since the info exists simultaneously in millions of places.

Doug Galen, a lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business and co-founder of Rippleworks Foundation, has reviewed blockchain projects with a social purpose. He looked at 193 initiatives and his research revealed that many of the projects deserved the attention they are receiving.

Two-thirds of the 193 projects are expected to start demonstrating impact in the next six months, according to the analysis. Two examples of blockchain applications already impacting social good are:

During the 2016 U.S. elections, the Montana state government worked with Votem, a Cleveland-based mobile voting platform, to use distributed ledger technology for absentee voters. A post-election survey determined that 99% percent of voters who used the Montana system found it convenient and would use it again.

For more than 2 billion unbanked people, the inability to prove their identity prevents them from fully engaging with the global economy. BanQu, a U.S. based technology company, seeks to solve this problem by creating a secure, easy-to-use, blockchain-based software-as-a-service that will run on any cell phone. The app is already used in six countries by farmers, workers, and micro-businesses in some of the world’s poorest regions.

Noteworthy:

  • The World Bank estimates that over 1.5 billion people are unable to prove their identity.
  • The use of digital currencies and the ability to tokenize assets on the blockchain create new ways for donors to interact with their favorite causes.
  • In early 2018, cryptocurrency startup Ripple made the equivalent of a $29 million donation in XRP, the digital coin that it uses in transactions,fully funding all projects on DonorsChoose.org.

Quest and Actions (Q&A):

  • The potential of blockchain to drive social impact is massive. What will be the top three social good areas impacted in the next five years?
  • Should business leaders take a larger role in making sure this technology reaches vulnerable populations who need it and stand to benefit from it the most?
  • Many people take for granted access to human rights like voting, connectivity, and freedom of the press. How can new blockchain systems in developing countries prevent election fraud and provide greater access to information?
Sources: Fast Company, ForbesForbesMercy CorpsNYTimesRippleworks
Photo by Fré Sonneveld on Unsplash