Blockchain for Good

A blockchain is essentially a shared digital ledger that records transactions and stores data in a transparent, decentralized way, making it a powerful tool for a range of social enterprises, from tracking coffee through a supply chain to building a credit system for the 2 billion unbanked” people worldwide who still lack basic financial services. The study looked at applications in every major sector and found that healthcare, financial inclusion, aid, and democracy and governance were the areas with the most existing blockchain for good” initiatives.

Galen points to four key potential benefits: transparency, immutability, lower costs, and digital identity. A transparent record of donations could help an aid industry in which 30% of all disaster relief money is lost. And the immutable” feature of blockchain might help guard against election fraud, since every transaction is permanent and cannot be altered after the fact. In healthcare, which accounts for 25% of the study’s cataloged initiatives, the focus has been on using blockchain to store medical records and to monitor supply chains, including medicine temperatures during shipment.

In addition to making supply chains more trackable and secure, blockchain is likely to have a large, immediate impact on the way people transfer money. Foreign workers worldwide send an estimated $500 billion worth of remittances back to their home countries each year. By eliminating transactional middlemen, blockchain systems can help workers transfer a higher percentage of their savings directly to family members. This easy movement of funds applies to aid and development as well. The UN World Food Programme used a version of blockchain in Jordan to facilitate cash transfers to more than 10,000 Syrian refugees.

More from the Stanford study.

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