SDF Blog

Pioneering the Future of Aid Delivery

We can all agree that 2022 has been a rough year, but it’s been particularly tumultuous for the world’s most vulnerable populations. For context: 

  • 103 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as of June 2022 (UNHCR). This is an increase of 13.6 million (+15%) compared to the end of 2021. 
  • Most notably, the start of the war in Ukraine caused approximately 7.8 million refugees to flee the country and displaced another 6.5 million within the country, pushing the number of forcibly displaced people globally to over 100 million for the first time (UNHCR). 

For these populations, cash-based interventions are a lifeline, helping to access essential goods and giving recipients freedom, power, and dignity when they need it most. But traditional methods of cash disbursement often require people to carry physical cash, putting them at risk day-to-day and when crossing borders. It can require those in need to access a bank branch or bank account, which may not be possible in conflict or rural environments. 

Our mission — creating equitable access to the global financial system — is about using technology to reach people where they are and when they need it most. And, financial inclusion is top of mind for us when envisioning what can be accomplished with blockchain technology. Our mission is about building  something that makes a difference for real people. Blockchain is not a technology in search of a problem, it is a solution.  

That’s why we are pioneering the future of aid delivery on the Stellar network with Stellar Aid Assist.

Built on Stellar, Stellar Aid Assist enables aid organizations to deliver cash assistance to vulnerable populations quickly, affordably, and transparently. It is powered by a new back-end bulk disbursement system called the Stellar Disbursement Platform, or SDP for short. With the SDP, humanitarian aid organizations can pay thousands of people as easily as one person, even for small amounts typically too expensive to be cost-efficient in the legacy system.

On the other end, Stellar Aid Assist allows individuals receiving relief payments from aid organizations or governments to remotely receive digital dollars and hold them securely in a digital wallet on their mobile phone. Not only does it serve as a stable store of value, but these individuals can also exchange those digital dollars for local currency at thousands of MoneyGram locations. 

By leveraging the unique strengths of the Stellar blockchain, Stellar Aid Assist enhances the speed, efficiency, and flexibility of traditional cash-based interventions, while providing greater transparency for organizations and their donors through the traceability of funds. 

Delivering aid through the Stellar blockchain provides concrete benefits that unlock a world of potential for the future delivery of aid:

  • Transparency: End-to-end traceability of funds helps mitigate fraud and ensures aid goes to those who need it. 
  • Instant (bulk) Disbursement: Deliver aid instantly using the USD stablecoin (USD Coin) on Stellar, an efficient and low fee network.
  • Accessibility: Recipients don’t need a bank account to receive aid, enabling organizations to reach those most vulnerable. 
  • Stability: Digital dollars sent via Stellar provide a stable store of value to recipients (1 USDC is always equal to 1 USD) 
  • Portability: Recipients are able to safely transport and access funds when they need them, whether they are moving across borders or are forced to flee, which restores choice and dignity.
  • Global Cash Out: The Stellar network’s expansive geographic and physical reach supports cash out locations in over 185 countries in multiple currencies.

And major organizations are using Stellar Aid Assist right now to deliver aid. Equipped with this new tool, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) are currently piloting the distribution of relief payments in Ukraine. 

True to Stellar’s open-source nature, Stellar Aid Assist and the SDP will soon be available for any digital wallet to use, so get in touch with [email protected] for more details. 

Our hope is for Stellar Aid Assist to fully realize its potential in laying the groundwork for future financial innovation regarding cash assistance and donation programs. And in doing so, provide a unique opportunity to grow a global ecosystem of digital wallets and cash on/off ramps to implement this solution so it serves different contexts and geographies – and we’re proud to be leading the charge.

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