Crypto Savannah has partnered with Coin base Giving & Mercy Corps to deliver Blockchain-powered solutions that advance economic empowerment and financial inclusion to Refugees & host communities in Uganda. 

This project is to address the critical challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers such as the inability to access appropriate and affordable financial services due to slow and inefficient identity systems that act as barriers to accessing mobile services in their host country. Refugees are required to present approved identity documents before a SIM card or mobile money service can be activated by a Mobile Network Operator (MNO) in Uganda. The delay in identity verification between MNOs and humanitarian organizations also translates into delays in receipt of aid disbursements, registration for education, employment, medical and financial services for the refugees. Our solution aims to digitize the already existing refugee identities through our block chain platform which will act as an attestation layer to the databases of the Refugee identity issuers.

Refugees can overcome identity-related barriers through this digital ID solution that will also allow them to have access to cash transfers which are an integral element of support provided to refugees. These transfers help cover the costs of food, accommodation, medicine, school fees and more for refugees and their families, supporting them to begin rebuilding their lives while offering flexibility and freedom in how to spend their money. It also has the additional benefit of stimulating local market actors like small businesses. This project will be rolled out in a two phased pilot approach that will reach approximately 35,000 people: 

Pilot 1 – Digital ID powered by Block chain  

A Digital ID platform that is powered by blockchain will be built to verify identity and facilitate digital transactions. Participants’ digital identities will be created when they key in a registration code via USSD that is used to acquire a unique immutable identifier. This identity will be authenticated and encrypted with a password and recorded on a distributed ledger for more secure management and storage of digital IDs by providing unified, interoperable, and tamper-proof infrastructure, and as the ledger is publicly accessible, each participant will be able to use their digital credentials in many locations, helping them to integrate into the wider community.  

Expected benefits to the participants: 

  • Verifiable source of identification that can be used to access aid disbursements, governmental services, formal financial services, and integrate into society at large. 
  • Digital proof of identity where credentials can be recorded, such as education, certifications, etc. 

This pilot would serve as the foundational infrastructure for refugees to prove their identity, facilitating their digital, financial, and economic inclusion. 

Pilot 2 – Crypto transfers to a blockchain-built mobile wallet 

Leveraging the digital identities created in the first pilot, each participant will establish a digital wallet that can be used to receive, store, and spend funds. This wallet will serve as a foundational component to help refugees build their financial profile and literacy of new products and services. Crypto-based transfers will be distributed to mobile wallets, and all transactions will be recorded on an immutable blockchain, which will increase transparency and security. 

Participants are registered for recurring crypto transfers as per existing program guidelines. Instead of receiving fiat money, a prepaid card, voucher or other form of payment, the participants receive a top-up deposited directly to their crypto wallet. The funds can be redeemed for fiat money at select cash-out points or used directly at participating stores within the local community – benefiting refugees and host community businesses. 

Participants can also save some funds in their interest accruing mobile wallet, giving them access to extended financial services. Another potential benefit would be to keep the funds in a foreign-denominated stable coin, which would offer an inflationary hedge in countries with volatile currencies. 

A specific benefit to using blockchain in this case would be traceability. Recording all transactions on an interoperable ledger would increase transparency and accountability for aid organizations and donors, ensuring that funding is used according to program design. 

Expected benefits to participants: 

  • Reduced potential for diversion, corruption, and fraud.
  • Increased personal safety for employees and recipients.
  • Greater transparency on funding flows for donors and aid organizations.

This pilot could revolutionize cash transfer programs for aid organizations globally, shifting from traditional payment modalities to crypto. 

We also anticipate building on this experience and developing additional block-chain-related programming to better serve the communities with whom we work. Given the broad range of use cases for blockchain to help the most vulnerable communities, we remain optimistic that these solutions represent major potential for catalytic change of which Cryptosavannah remains fully committed to brining to life.