• Red Cross societies of Norway, Denmark and Kenya launched blockchain-backed “local currencies” as a two-year scheme to mitigate the problems related to hard cash.
  • Testing has already begun in Kenya and Ethiopia. The projects aim to reach 320,000 users in two years.

In the rural areas of Kenya, the citizens face a very common problem associated with traditional finance and hard cash. Another persistent problem in third world countries is the lack of easy access to the services of a bank. Amid these problems, the Red Cross implemented a two-year plan to furnish the ‘disaster-prone areas’ with smooth money management and financial freedom – all with the help of a smartphone.

In the new plan, credits are automatically recorded on the ledger and people can spend the earned credits on daily commodities and services.  Adam Bornstein, who works on alternative financing for the Danish Red Cross, said that after testing in parts of Kenya and Ethiopia, the program has already reaped many benefits by enabling credits from work, sales or aid infusions to be utilized for trade and expenses.

The program will be extended to the other parts of Kenya and could also be rolled out in Malawi, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Papua New Guinea, with an aim to extend to 320,000 users within a span of two years.

According to the report, as part of the project, the Red Cross will also aim to improve the utilization of the USD 1 billion a year in aid distributed as cash and vouchers.

While blockchain is being leveraged to reshape the face of the economy in these countries, local banks are still skeptical about the development. However, Red Cross experts believe that the transparency of the technology will transform aid delivery. Consultant Gil said that it took 15 years for organisations “not to be scared of giving people money” instead of food and other items during disasters. “I hope it doesn’t take another 15 years to understand we need to support local economies instead of giving people cash,” she added.

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