Ethereum founder and OmiseGO donates $1 million in crypto to refugees
Handling money in traditional bank accounts is not easy for millions of refugees and asylum seekers arriving in a new country. For people without proof of identity, it’s often downright impossible to even open a bank account.
While you might not automatically think of it, the blockchain is one system which could change all that. Now, organisations are taking advantage of the benefits that the blockchain could provide for philanthropic endeavours. Fintech startup, OmiseGO (OMG) and Ethereum founder, Vitalik Buterin, have used that decentralised power to skip the hurdles of large bank transfers, and donated $1 million to refugee charity, GiveDirectly.
“OmiseGo, with an additional generous contribution from Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, is donating the equivalent of $1 million USD in OMG tokens directly to refugees living in extreme poverty, and GiveDirectly will deliver those funds,” Omise I, parent company of OmiseGO wrote in a blog post.
OmiseGO is a public Ethereum-based financial tech firm that enables real-time cryptocurrency money transfers over its systems. GiveDirectly is an organisation which passes the purchasing power directly to refugees rather than deciding how to spend it on their behalf, and more than 12,000 people will receive a grant in Uganda. Using mobile payments, the organisation will send the grant directly to the recipient.
With a decentralised system, refugees can access the funds as and when they need them, avoiding the barriers and regulations that traditional banks have in place. That’s the real beauty of using the blockchain to financially help refugees.
The 65 million refugees across the world already find it very tough to re-enter the formal financial system, simply because they lack appropriate local documentation.
Refugees “are precisely the people we wish to see benefit from the ‘unbanking effect’ that OMG is designed to create,” the post reads.
With OMG’s transfer system, transactions will be able to be completed without any fees.
“The OMG team is working to decentralise the means to own and wield purchasing power by creating a disintermediated system for storing, transferring and exchanging assets. These financial tools do not require users to go through centralised networks which put up barriers and impose unnecessary costs.”
OMG and Ethereum aren’t the only organisations using tech to help refugees with finance in their new country of residence. Startup, Taqanu, has designed an app to help asylum seekers verify themselves and open a bank account. The app compiles together any digital data it has on the user and creates a ‘reputation network’ which asks friends and family to vouch that the person is who they say they are. With the app, they can also upload any documents they receive from refugee camps.