The United Nations World Food Program is using a blockchain to distribute cash entitlements to Syrian refugees.  The program currently distributes $1.3 Billion in cash to refugees through a digital voucher.  The program works by collecting biometric data from the refugees and associates the data with a digital wallet.  Money is transferred to a financial services organization that manages the wallets and transfers the funds to food merchants on a per transaction basis.

However, the program administrators learned that they could use a blockchain to replace the financial services organization.  The blockchain maintains all the data and the funds are transferred to the merchants every two weeks in a bulk transfer.  This eliminates the 1.5% fee on all the individual bank fees.

Using a blockchain instead of a financial institution offers several benefits.   The increased availability of data provides more insight and transparency into the program.  There is reduced risk because funds do not need to be transferred to a third-party and the cost savings.

The initial pilot included about 100,000 Syrian refugees, saving the program approximately $40,000 per month.  However, when the program is expanded to include the full $1.5 billion in payments, the anticipated cost savings will be $1.6 million per month.

 

Source:  The UN World Food Programme’s Blockchain-Based Food Vouchers for Syrian Refugees, With Robert Opp – Ep.017

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