Blog Article

When Blockchain Meets Humanitarian Aid


Denelle Dixon

Publishing date

Stellar aid assist

Stellar disbursement platform


Last week, I took the stage at Consensus 2023 to talk about how blockchain and Web3 can be used for humanitarian causes, specifically with Stellar Aid Assist (SAA). SAA launched last December, with multiple aid organizations leveraging this incredible piece of technology to disburse bulk aid payments to aid recipients.

At SDF, we’re experts in payments. We know how to use Stellar to facilitate fast, affordable, and secure transactions. So we thought… how could we take that expertise and work with those who are experts in their respective fields and see if there’s a fit?

Because you don’t ever want to force the use of blockchain just for blockchain’s sake. And because delivering humanitarian aid is very different from what we perceive as typical payments – we needed experts in humanitarian aid delivery to understand when blockchain could be most useful to them. Might the cash system of aid delivery, which presents challenges ranging from safety concerns for those collecting cash from the in-person sites to fraud in the system itself, be enhanced by the use of blockchain?

It turns out that the answer is: yes, blockchain can help solve these and other challenges. By leveraging both MoneyGram Access, which connects digital wallets to cash-in-and-out on/off ramps in more than 180 countries, and the Stellar Disbursement Platform, which allows organizations to make bulk payments and view transaction records all in one place, SAA has successfully been used to deploy aid to recipients in Ukraine.

MoneyGram Access is already free and ready to use, but here’s another development I’m excited about: we plan to make Stellar Disbursement Platform open-source - hopefully by the end of the third quarter. Then, anyone can use it. Members of the Stellar ecosystem are already figuring out creative ways to leverage these tools, either on their own or together, to bring their particular use cases to fruition. If you’re a developer or entrepreneur looking to explore on/off ramps or bulk payments, you can too.

It has been an immense privilege to work with these aid organizations and learn from them how we can best provide financial access to the populations that need it most. Reflecting back on Consensus, I’m happy to say that what SDF has been saying all along is becoming a reality: when blockchain meets real-world use, it can truly change the world for the better.