Emergency identification and financial inclusion for refugees and disaster victims through blockchain.
Imagine having to flee your home country to avoid conflict or persecution. A nightmare reality that millions of people face. In 2019, the number of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate rose to 20.4 million. An additional 5.6 million registered refugees are in an estimated 60 camps across the Middle East.
In all the chaos, refugees are lucky enough to have time to pack a bag with their family’s identification credentials. Birth certificates, national ID cards, passports, residence permits, or even a driver’s license are often necessary to prove who you are to the authorities. Unfortunately, many people either don’t have the time or means to bring with them proper identification. The Norwegian Refugee Council claims that 70% of Syrian refugees lack basic IDs. Upon failure to provide appropriate documents, the already nightmarish scenario becomes much worse. Families could end up being dispersed, end up in detention centers, or denied entry and forced to return to the country they are fleeing.
The Cardano Foundation believes that blockchain can help solve specific inefficiencies within the refugee crisis by digitizing identities and essential documents. The information stored on a blockchain can be easily accessed and verified, which makes physical copies unnecessary. Refugees who have the ability to share the appropriate credentials can help immigration authorities in safe third countries vet applicants better and will allow for a more easily managed and smooth refugee process.
There are multiple companies and organizations working on a blockchain based digital identity such as IBM and Input Output Global, the development company that built Cardano. Blockchain-based digital Identity solutions differ from being decentralized or centralized and permission or permission-less. Centralized digital identity can be dangerous because a company or government has control over the data and decides who has access. A decentralized ledger is important because the information stored on the blockchain can not be erased or manipulated by a centralized authority. In the case of refugees, the authority of the country a person fleeing from doesn’t have control over your identity.
Digital identity built on Cardano
Atala PRISM is a decentralized digital identity solution built on Cardano blockchain. By leveraging blockchain technology, Atala PRISM enables users to have full control of their credentials, which they can share and verify instantly. The blockchain also ensures that transactions are performed in a secure, peer-to-peer fashion. Atala PRISM can be used to store and share government ID, university degrees, proof of employment and health insurance.
The Cardano Foundation has recently announced a partnership with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education to onboard 5 million students and teachers to Atala PRISM. This is the biggest blockchain deployment anywhere in the world.
Digital identity is the key to unlocking a whole range of services and financial inclusion. Identity is required for financial services such as applying for a loan and remittances. Refugees sending money back home can be very expensive. Remittance fees for international transfers range from 5% - 10% on average but can be higher depending on the country to which they are sending from and too.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies reduce transaction fees for cross-border payments. This helps reduce costs for refugees sending remittance payments back, and for people looking to donate money to charities working on the ground.
Blockchain can help track where donations are going, and help give donors the transparency needed to make sure they are comfortable donating. The Cardano Foundation and Save the Children, one of the largest international non-profit organizations (NPO) for children, is actively exploring ways to use Cardano and the ada digital currency for the benefit of their humanitarian initiatives in East Africa.
Read more about the Cardano Foundation’s initiatives for social inclusion here: