En 2009. Satoshi Nakamoto lauched the Blockchain technology that has already changed the world and has the capacity to revolutionize the social sector. Satoshi is the alias of a person (or group of people) that nobody knows, but their invention, Blockchain, is absolutely real. Blockchain is the technology that makes possible its best known use, the bitcoin cryptocurrency. But the underlying technology opens up infinite possibilities well beyond the famous virtual currency. Unfortunately, the blockchain debate is too often focused on highly technological issues too cryptic for most people, which only serves to alienate potential users of the most powerful tool to have emerged since the invention of the World Wide Web. The examples of projects already under way using Blockchain speak far more eloquently of its potential than any technological presentation.
In May 2017, the United Nations sent funds to more than 10,000 people in Syria through the Ethereum cryptocurrency platform. Sending aid using cryptocurrency permits guaranteeing that the money will get to those it is intended for (traceability is one of the great strengths of Blockchain) but in such a way that nobody apart from the interested parties can know who sent the money and who receives it (the security of the encryption is the other strength that makes this protocol superior to the ones we knew before). In an environment where being identified as a recipient of UN aid is a death sentence, Blockchain has allowed local aid initiatives to remain afloat for those still trapped in wars. This is a case of applying Blockhain to thesocial sector.
Another example in the social sector relates to Accenture, which is leading a project to identify displaced people using biometric variables on Blockchain, whose official documents have, in many cases, been destroyed or are too damaged to be of use. In the words of Accenture “approximately one sixth of the population is unable to participate in cultural, political, economic and social life through not having the most basic of information: Documentary evidence of their own existence”. The consequence of this is that there are many people throughout the world that cannot, for example, open a bank account or obtain insurance because, even if they are stood in front of the official/employee on duty, they have no means of proving who they are. Once more, the combination of Blockchain's perfect traceability and secure encryption can do away with the need to carry documentation that proves one's identity.
Some will read this and think that it's science fiction. It's certainly science, but there is nothing fictional about Blockchain. We are not talking about the future but rather the present situation of the social sector. It's about your present and that of millions of people who are hoping for access to basic services which now, at last, we are able to provide.
*About the author:
Concepción Galdón is Director and Academic Lead of Social Innovation at IE, Concepción focuses on the use of technology in social entrepreneurship, as well as promoting the creation of academic content in the field of Social Innovation for both schools and a number of programs.