A network of global charities has begun using blockchain to provide transparency to donations, ensuring that they are used appropriately.
Organisations including Oxfam, Save the Children and Christian Aid are three of the 42 members of the Start Network, which trialled the use of blockchain in humanitarian projects last year. The group has representatives on five continents, and will work on the project with start-up fund management platform Disberse.
"This exciting partnership...could catalyse a new way of working," said Start Network director Sean Lowrie: "one that is transparent, fast and which drives accountability to taxpayers and those affected by crises."
Disberse uses blockchain, which records all transactions in a distributed digital ledger, to ensure that less money is lost on inefficient exchange rates, banking fees and currency fluctuations. It will also help charities to fight fraud (in 2012, then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that 30 per cent of all UN development assistance was lost to corruption), by tracking all transactions.
UK charity Positive Women has already run a trial with Disberse. The trial lowered transfer fees, to overseas projects in Swaziland, enough so that three additional students' school fees could be paid for a year.
"We normally use our bank to transfer funds, but transfers have become increasingly expensive and slow. Using Disberse, we saved 2.5 per cent [on fees], which covered the costs of a year's education for an additional three girls," said Sarah Llewellyn, director of Positive Women.
Reuters says that the new partnership will be scaled up to work on 'a series of small disbursements' within the Start Network's existing programmes over the next six months.
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