Stellar aid assist
Stellar disbursement platform
At the start of the new year, I told our team that you have to picture the world that you want in order to make it happen. For us at SDF, this picture has been consistent since the Stellar network was established in 2014: a more equitable financial system, enabled in part by blockchain technology.
December’s launch of Stellar Aid Assist, a new aid disbursement system that is being used in pilot programs by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to deliver cash assistance to internally displaced persons in Ukraine, proves in no uncertain terms that blockchain technology is providing solutions for people where they are and when they need it most. Now, we’re headed to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos to bring it to a global forum.
Stellar Aid Assist is a solution that directly addresses a real-world problem. It gives aid organizations a new alternative to providing individuals with physical cash (cash that can put them at risk day-to-day and when crossing borders). It does not require a bank account, debit card, or credit card, and provides recipients with a more secure place to hold and transport funds, until cash is needed. Individuals can 1) remotely receive relief payments from aid organizations or governments in digital dollars; 2) hold them more securely in a stable store of value, managed from their phone; and 3) exchange these digital dollars for local currency at MoneyGram locations around the world.
To us and the aid organizations we’ve partnered with thus far, the innovation and end user benefits here seem crystal clear. But as we saw with some of the reactions to this launch last month, there are plenty of skeptics and pessimists out there. Some have bigger platforms and can be quick to comment while ignoring how the solution works; they dismiss it as an attempt to get people into crypto. This is a false narrative that we must work proactively to correct. I see so much opportunity to educate people about the real-world utility blockchain offers, to hear and consider good faith critiques from skeptics, and meet with new stakeholders who may have ideas for applications that we haven’t even considered yet.
Davos convenes representatives from across government, business, and civil society to address the state of the world and discuss priorities for the year ahead. Leaders of aid organizations and government agencies from around the world — the potential users of Stellar Aid Assist — will be there to hear about how they can leverage this solution for those who need quicker, more transparent, and more accessible forms of aid disbursement. Policymakers and regulators, those responsible for creating an enabling environment for blockchain innovations like Aid Assist to flourish (or not), will also be there, and I hope to share the same message I always have with this audience — that real-world use cases for blockchain and crypto like this are live today, providing access to better financial services for those who’ve been underserved by traditional financial infrastructure.
Davos is the chance for us to reach the very audience that could set Stellar Aid Assist as a standard bearer for open-source blockchain solutions that expand financial access. That’s why the SDF team will be there, ready to engage with supporters and skeptics alike, motivated by the same goal as always: to show that blockchain technology can deliver real-world utility, and help enable a more equitable financial system for everyone, everywhere.