Oxfam has joined hands with an Australian tech start-up, Sempo, and a blockchain technology company, ConsenSys, to provide aid to disaster victims in Vanuatu. However, in something out of the customary, Oxfam will be providing this aid in cryptocurrency, and not in cash. The Australian government has also expressed its support for this ‘crypto meets charity’ project.
Disaster victims are in need of cash, more than other donations like food grains, clothes, etc. However, giving out cash in these areas is risky and expensive. Cryptocurrency is a medium used to eliminate this risk and prevent potential crimes. Transactions in cryptocurrency are transparent, further eliminating corruption.
Vanuatu is a country prone to natural disasters all around the year. It is prone to tsunamis, cyclones and volcanic eruptions and more than 10% of the population struggles on less than $2 a day.
About two hundred residents in the region were provided with tap and pay cards with about $50 USD each. These cards were further linked to an Ethereum address credited by Oxfam with $50 worth Dai, which is a stablecoin pegged to the US Dollar. Residents can spend their Dai on food, medicines, clothes etc. Shop vendors and schools were given smartphones to accept these payments. About 2000 transactions were recorded during this trial.
Sempo Co-founder, Nick Williams, said,
“As far as we know this is the first time an NGO has used a stablecoin to provide aid anywhere.This is not a one-off pilot. We believe that using cryptocurrency to allow the unbanked to access finance will completely change the way aid runs.”
Sempo has already tested its service in other parts of the world like Lebanon, Greece and Kurdistan in Iraq .
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