Gates Foundation Launches Blockchain-based Mobile Payments Solution

By Joshua Althauser    October 20, 2017

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has launched the Mojaloop open-source payments software to provide an interoperability layer between financial institutions, payment providers, and other companies offering payment services to the poor and unbanked people around the world.

The mobile payments system employs the Interledger technology that was developed by distributed ledger technology (DLT) startup Ripple.

According to the foundation’s deputy director of financial services for the poor, Kosta Peric, the new software is aimed at resolving the issues with respect to the interoperability of digital payments. He also issued an invitation to players in the banking and payments industries to test the system.

“Interoperability of digital payments has been the toughest hurdle for the financial services industry to overcome. With Mojaloop, our technology partners have finally achieved a solution that can apply to any service, and we invite banks and the payments industry to explore and test this tool.”

Source: Gates Foundation Launches Blockchain-based Mobile Payments Solution

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How Blockchain Technology is Helping to Clean the Niger River – Nasdaq

By Rebecca Campbell, Bitcoin Magazine, October 3, 2017

How Blockchain Technology is Helping to Clean the Niger River

Ogoniland, situated off the coast of the Gulf of Guinea in southeastern Nigeria, is considered the most polluted region along the Niger Delta and among the worst in the world.

Even though the Niger Delta is rich in resources, poverty, pollution and unemployment are rife. One of its primary resources is oil, and consequently, many companies take advantage of the region. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the oil industry has been a key factor in Nigeria’s economy for 50 years. As a result of oil drilling and spills by Shell and other companies, however, the land has been devastated, the vegetation decimated, fish numbers depleted, and surrounding mangroves, swamps and creeks contaminated. Consequently, the livelihoods of many fishermen and farmers have been destroyed.

In 2011, the UNEP said that it could take up to 30 years for full environmental restoration to be achieved in Ogoniland; but a lack of accountability appears to have stalled progress as corruption and violence spread, and mistrust continues to grow between the people and the government.

Cleaning up the Niger Delta remains a key focal point for Chinyere Nnadi, founder and CEO of Sustainability International, a U.S.-based nonprofit that provides innovative solutions to complex sustainability and conservation issues in the developing world. Sustainability International’s current large-scale initiative hopes to revitalize the region through its Clean Up Niger Delta Project.

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine , Nnadi, whose family comes from Nigeria, said that it’s important to understand the full scope of this Gordian knot before reaching a resolution, and to raise awareness around the effects caused by the oil pollution.

More at: How Blockchain Technology is Helping to Clean the Niger River – Nasdaq

US Centers for Disease Control to Launch First Blockchain Test on Disaster Relief – CoinDesk

For public health practitioners, the ability to quickly collect, analyze and take action on data is paramount to containing the spread of a deadly new virus or disease.

But despite the advent of big data technologies, collecting this information today remains a highly cumbersome and time-consuming process, explains Jim Nasr, chief software architect at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tasked with combating the spread of preventive and chronic disease.

Now in search of a better solution, Nasr is eyeing a blockchain proof-of-concept he believes could facilitate the more rapid and reliable capture of epidemiological data in crisis situations.

The agency will discuss the concept, aimed at public health data surveillance, along with several other PoCs, at the Distributed: Health conference in Nashville on Tuesday.

“It turns out that there’s a lot of manual intervention involved and there’s a lot of time lost in this whole process,” said Nasr, adding:

“Right now, this is a situation that could literally take months to happen, but with the blockchain it could be done possibly in hours.”

More at: US Centers for Disease Control to Launch First Blockchain Test on Disaster Relief – CoinDesk

Finland Uses the Blockchain to Help Refugees – The Merkle

Blockchain technologies have already irrevocably changed many industries, with the most obvious example being finance. Fortunes are both made and lost with cryptocurrencies, but the blockchain itself acts as a constant and new force in the finance sector. However, the blockchain is about far more than money, and many governments and organizations have started looking at what else it can do. A new project in Finland utilizes the blockchain to help refugees adjust to their new lives.

BLOCKCHAIN FOR THE UNBANKED

Given the devastating conflicts arising in the Middle East and appalling economic conditions elsewhere in the world, many refugees have sought asylum and safety in European and Scandinavian nations. Many of these people do not have much, and making sure that they have identifying documents is the last thing on anyone’s mind when seeking to escape death. This presents a huge problem in the traditional banking model we have set up today.

As many of us know, it can be incredibly frustrating to set up a bank account. Doing so requires countless documents and time even for settled members of society. Unbanked individuals have a much harder time getting settled anywhere, since employers require that one have a bank account into which to send wages, landlords far prefer bank transfers to cash, and there is a certain level of security a bank provides that hiding spaces in homes do not.

Finland has come up with a pretty interesting solution to combat these problems with the help of the blockchain. In a partnership with a company called MONI, the Finnish government has provided prepaid Mastercard debit cards to those refugees who do not have bank accounts. This is a sharp break from the past, when cash was simply dispersed.

 Each card has a unique identifier that is stored on the blockchain. This immediately eliminates the need for a third party bank or other financial institution to require verifying identities. The card and cardholder are given that identity, it is stored on an immutable blockchain, and the account’s private keys can only be associated with the cardholder. Advantages for the cardholders are incredible. These individuals went from barely being able to live a safe life to not having to worry about whether they are employable given their unbanked status. This is because the card acts like a bank account and can receive direct deposits from users’ employers.

More at: Finland Uses the Blockchain to Help Refugees – The Merkle

Finland Solves Refugee Identity with Blockchain Debit Cards – The Cointelegraph

Finland has said it has “solved” the problem of refugee identity, using the Blockchain to record data of new residents.

As part of its commitment to support asylum seekers, Finland is providing arrivals with a prepaid debit card instead of cash, and linking the identity of cardholders to the Blockchain.

As Technology Review reports, quoting Finnish Immigration Service director Jouko Salonen, the issue of “strongly authenticated identity” is no longer a problem.

“We have found a way to solve that,” he told the publication.

The cards are the product of local startup MONI, and function more like a bank account replacement than a simple payment device.

In issuing them, Finnish authorities are able to track both spending and identity with the added benefit that the Blockchain data is immutable.

More at: Finland Solves Refugee Identity with Blockchain Debit Cards – The Cointelegraphs

FEMA relief is the perfect use case for blockchain — FreightWaves

A helicopter flies over Houston after hurricane Harvey.

If there was ever a use case for blockchain, it is in disaster relief with FEMA. Hurricane relief logistics is among the most challenging projects any logistician will face.  The confusion, lack of organization, inexperienced logisticians running ground logistics, and coordination (or lack of) between government agencies and private contractors creates a very chaotic environment. Supplies are coming in from all over North America and situations are changing on the ground in real-time. Combine this with the immediate need to help people, the influence of politicians which are under the gun, and the sensational reporting by the media, you are going to have a ton of problems that blockchain could address.

To understand this, let’s look at what a disaster relief project would look like with blockchain applications being implemented.

First off- the funding of relief.

Insurance companies have been developing pilots to create blockchain products that mitigate fraud and accelerate pay-outs. While FEMA is not an insurance company, it serves a similar role as an appropriation fund for federally declared disasters. The agency handles billions of dollars in payouts each year. Imagine a world where FEMA implemented a blockchain smart contract that paid out when a hurricane hit and accelerates the amount of money based on the size of the storm itself. Once the hurricane hits landfall, the smart contract would automate payment to the state and municipal governments to accelerate the process of providing relief supplies. Insurance companies and flood insurance carriers would benefit from a similar offering.

Property records could also be held in the blockchain. One of the things that inevitably happens during a hurricane is that some people lose most, if not all of their worldly possessions. They also happen to lose personal records and documents that prove identity. With blockchain, this information could allow people to keep records without depending on a centralized government server or having documents in a house that is now unrecoverable.

Source: FEMA relief is the perfect use case for blockchain — FreightWaves

Money the Root of All Evil? Not With Buddhist Coin

Through the use of Blockchain technology and its transparent and immutable ledger, there is a drive for religious spending to be visible and known to parishioners. The Lotos Network hopes to rethink religion with two concepts offered by Blockchain technology.

The hope is that by digitizing currency on a transparent ledger, the misappropriation of funds within religious sectors will end.

There already has been some dabbling from other religions into the power of digital currencies as Bitcoin is in the works, a digital currency for Jews.

More at: Money the Root of All Evil? Not With Buddhist Coin