Case Study

How IRC Distributed Cash Assistance Through Stellar Aid Assist


Humanitarian Aid



Products and tools used

Stellar Disbursement Platform


This is IRC

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) helps people affected by humanitarian crises to survive, recover and rebuild their lives. It delivers lasting impact by providing health care, helping children learn, and empowering individuals and communities to become self-reliant, always with a focus on the unique needs of women and girls. Founded in 1933, today it works in over 50 crisis-affected countries as well as communities throughout Europe and the Americas.


Meeting the Need

Delivering aid in emerging crises requires the ability to quickly respond to changing conditions to ensure impacted populations can meet basic needs such as food, medicine, and shelter. Providing immediate and timely cash aid enables the affected people to meet their basic needs with dignity and choice.

Since 2022, in response to the ongoing war in Ukraine, IRC has been providing cash assistance to conflict-affected people as a part of their emergency response.


Accessible Digital Aid Delivery

IRC sought out the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) to pilot a first-of-its-kind blockchain-powered aid disbursement system in Ukraine powered by the Stellar network with Stellar Aid Assist. By offering digital cash assistance that is transparent, portable, and accessible to anyone without a bank account through Stellar Aid Assist, IRC leveraged the power of the Stellar network to send assistance to recipients over a three month period. Through Stellar Aid Assist, organizations utilize the Stellar Disbursement Platform (SDP), a bulk global payment solution that enables organizations to disburse cash assistance in bulk to multiple recipients at once in minutes.

To initiate the process, IRC staff reviewed and verified eligibility of recipients and distributed an invite to them via a SMS invitation sent from the SDP inviting each to access their funds via Vibrant Assist, a digital wallet. Once recipients accessed funds via Vibrant Assist on their mobile phone, they were able to choose to retain their balance, partially draw down on funds, or fully cash out to meet urgent needs. Through the MoneyGram global network of over 300,000 retail locations, balances can be withdrawn into local currency across 180+ countries. Recipients displaced by the war could then choose to retain their funds as they travel across borders without the need to carry physical cash or vouchers.

Disbursements on the Stellar network are transparent and the SDP platform enables organizations to track the status of both batches of payments and the flow of funds to individual recipient wallets in real-time. Traceability of funds provided greater assurance to IRC and its donors that funds were delivered in a timely and efficient manner.

This model of scalable digital aid delivery is replicable across geographies, organizations, and can be used for use cases like disaster recovery relief, emergency responses, and in providing assistance to people on the move.



  • Access to transparent, real-time data supports monitoring from anywhere in the world and accurate reporting for aid organizations
  • Traceability facilitates faster cross-verification & field monitoring to make sure the right people access assistance as quickly as possible
Instant Global Aid Delivery

Instant Global Aid Delivery

  • Assistance is sent on the Stellar network and settles in seconds. The Stellar blockchain processes transactions 24/7/365 and can process ~10,000 transactions for less than 1 US cent in network fees in seconds
  • Organizations can disburse funds to the recipient's digital wallet in seconds ensuring timely and immediate funds delivery
Ease of Use

Ease of Use

  • Organizations initiate and administer funds by creating digital wallets for individual recipients right from the Platform dashboard
  • Balances are accessible directly from a phone without the need for physical cash or a bank account, offering a portable and secure solution for recipients in unstable environments
  • Funds can be held until needed or cashed out to meet daily needs in over 180 countries at Moneygram’s 300,000 agent locations


  • Providing stablecoin assets enables recipients to protect the value of their funds against local currency devaluation over time
  • Circle’s USDC, is a regulated, digital currency you can always exchange 1:1 for US dollars

In the face of emerging crises, teams need the ability to respond swiftly to changing conditions. Providing immediate and dignified aid to those affected to purchase food, medicine, and shelter is crucial. In our collaboration with IRC, the Stellar Development Foundation deployed a groundbreaking blockchain-powered aid disbursement system. Through Stellar Aid Assist, we offered transparent, portable, and accessible digital cash assistance to conflict-affected individuals in Ukraine. Leveraging the Stellar network and the Stellar Disbursement Platform (SDP) enables organizations to disburse funds in real-time, ensuring timely and efficient assistance. This scalable digital aid delivery model, showcased in our successful pilot with IRC, is a testament to the transformative potential of blockchain in humanitarian efforts worldwide.

Denelle Dixon, CEO and Executive Director of the Stellar Development Foundation


Expanding Global Access

At the end of this pilot, it was clear that a new model for digital aid delivery had emerged benefiting both the IRC and recipients in Ukraine.

A new, scalable model for aid delivery

  • IRC piloted digital aid delivery with SDF’s innovative technology reaching 167 households – representing 278 individuals
  • Each person received $228 over a three-month period, enabling them to prioritize pressing needs for health, safety, and restoring dignity in turbulent times

Digital aid that is accessible when needed most

  • 100% of recipients reported their satisfaction with the “smooth” cash delivery of Stellar Aid Assist
  • 94% of recipients found this new process “easy”

The IRC is committed to finding innovative solutions to the challenges faced by people impacted by humanitarian disasters. Our partnership with the Stellar Development Foundation enabled the IRC to offer a new way for clients in Ukraine to receive much needed cash assistance, including the option to receive assistance in USD, which is essential in helping to rebuild their lives. This partnership helped the IRC better leverage new technologies to continue improving the effectiveness and efficiencies of our multipurpose cash programming.

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee


Want to Know More?

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