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Blockchain in action for social and civic impact

ImpactAlpha, January 30 – Say what you will about blockchain hype (see “Deals lag the hype in ‘blockchain for good’ investments). But keep paying attention.

The Blueprint for Blockchain and Social Innovation,” from New America’s Blockchain Trust Accelerator, takes stock of blockchain pilots and programs attempting to boost social impact and governance in business, global development, public services, social investment and media. Bottom line: “Blockchain isn’t a replacement for or a shortcut to building trust,” write the New America authors. “It is a trust accelerator, giving individuals and organizations a head start in cultivating solid relationships, built on a foundation of security, accountability, and transparency.”

Deals lag hype in ‘Blockchain for Good’ investments

  • Financial inclusion. Smallholder farmers in cooperatives use AgUnity’s blockchain-enabled app to share crop transactions and sales information with other farmers. Price transparency across the cooperative allows farmers to bargain for better prices. Farmers equipped with AgUnity devices tripled their incomes in pilots in Kenya and Papua New Guinea.  
  • Social investment. Berkeley, Calif., officials partnered with municipal bond investment platform Neighborly and the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab to let investors buy tokenized municipal bonds for as little as $10. Bypassing middlemen and decreasing transaction could enable new initiatives such as food vouchers for the homeless.
  • Mobile voting. Nearly 150 overseas military members and their families voted in the 2018 general election in West Virginia via a blockchain-enabled mobile voting application (from tech firm Voatz). Blockchain has the potential to reduce failure and fraud in elections, and restore trust in the institution of voting.
  • Combating “fake news.” During the 2018 Macedonian referendum, Democracy Notary “notarized” public statements on the conduct of the referendum process to provide a verified official copy.

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