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Beyond the Transaction: Every Transaction Has a Story

Fridays With Fintechs: Changing the Delivery of Humanitarian Aid

In 2009, I ran the world’s toughest marathon in Sahara Desert to fundraise for a charity. I raised $122k and I wanted the money to go towards reconstructive facial surgeries for children. Long story short, after the marathon, the funds could not be traced – no one seems to be able to find out whether it did go to the cause intended. Disheartened by the outcome, I began AID:Tech to make sure this problem would never happen again.

A woman speaks on her mobile phone after recharging it at a local stationary cum prepaid mobile recharge shop in KolkataWhen I set out to create change, I learned early on that tracing the delivery of resources down to the very last mile means the recipient must have a verifiable identity. Yet, the 2.4 billion people in the world who lack this form of identity are oftentimes the people who need these funds the most. AID:Tech is responding by building blockchain solutions that focus on using identity as gateway to other services, including entry to formal economic participation.

The solution makes unique digital identity profiles available to people that they can access on mobile devices, the web and plastic cards depending on their diverse needs. Each profile contains a unique QR code that front line workers and shopkeepers can scan to learn who the cardholder is and what form of aid he or she is entitled to – a bottle of water or bag of rice from the shop, perhaps. When the cardholder receives the allotted goods, a permanent record is stored in real-time on the blockchain for anyone with access to see. Our solutions has also been implemented for welfare in the U.K., remittances in Serbia and other forms of aid including monetary donations.

Making waves with AID:Tech comes at a fitting time – the billions of dollars of funding circulated every year seem to be making little impact on the growing needs around the world. In 2016, international humanitarian funding requirements reached $20.5 billion, but funding fell 40 percent short. The gap signals the growing skepticism towards aid and development funding, inspiring a need for innovation to re-engage funders at the institutional and individual level.

Our TraceDonate product responds to this need by sending a notification to donors when their contribution has been delivered to the deserving recipient – giving them greater transparency into where their resources are going.

We joined Mastercard Start Path to receive support in furthering our goals of bringing more people into social and financial inclusion. By connecting to the company’s network of partners, we hope to show others that our blockchain solution has the power to change the lives of people around the world.