Azraq has 36,605 registered persons of concern at this time. 57% are children, including 268 unaccompanied minors. In Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp in 2017, thousands of Syrian refugees did not pay for their food with cash, but by a scan of their eyes. Purchases were then recorded on a Blockchain computing platform. Iris recognition devices at the checkouts of the camp’s supermarket authenticated customers’ identities and deducted what they spent from sums they received as aid from the World Food Program (WFP). The U.N. launched the intervention in May 2017 with 10,000 of Azraq’s more than 50,000 inhabitants. It was a bold step to explore Blockchain’s potential to lessen costs and eliminate bottlenecks. The project has been scaled up to reach over 100,000 refugees in camps across Jordan.
In 2012, Ban Ki-moon said that 30 % of all U.N. development assistance was lost to corruption. Misappropriation of funds is an issue across the whole humanitarian sector. In 2016, the WFP cash transfers amounted to US $880 million. This money moved across 80 countries in which the WFP is active. The WFP relies on a large number of banks and intermediaries that apply transaction fees of up to 3.5 %. This erodes impact. Blockchain promises to cut those costs. Additionally, Blockchain allows the WFP accountants to follow the money without having to triangulate reports from merchants, refugees and banks. Advance payments are now unnecessary and risks are reduced along with the likelihood of fraud and collusion to inflate bills.
Once the WFP had to rely on external sources of data, but today Blockchain has given the UN its own immutable record of everything that happens. Cryptocurrencies have zero intrinsic value. Blockchain is the prize alongside other distributed ledger technologies (DLTs). DLTs are fast becoming a key component of an overarching national technology strategy with Malta positioning itself to be a Blockchain-Island. Here, Malta is ahead of the curve among Small Island Developing States. On July 4, 2018, the Maltese Parliament passed three Bills to establish a legal framework to stimulate innovation in Blockchain-type technologies. Once licensed in Malta, ‘Founders Bank’ will be the first ‘Decentralized Bank’ and community-owned bank in the world. ‘Binance’, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange recently moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to Malta. While Lithuania and Estonia are focusing on cryptocurrencies and Switzerland has designated its Canton of Zug as a ‘Crypto Valley’, Malta’s attention is on the wider applications of Blockchain technology. In May, Malta partnered with the British Blockchain platform, Omnitude, to improve the island’s public transportation network. Malta hosted a global Blockchain Summit on November 1-2, 2018. Since 2017, Malta has been collaborating with Learning Machine Technologies to allow Maltese higher-education students to access and retrieve educational transcripts and records using Blockchain technology. Malta recognises that DLTs are being used for more than just Bitcoin. They aim to become a hub for Blockchain-based businesses and to stimulate Maltese economic growth.
‘Voise’ is a Blockchain platform that enables artists to receive 100% of a set price whenever a user streams music. ‘Follow My Vote’ is developing a Blockchain-based system that guarantees secure, transparent and mathematically accurate election results, given that ballot boxes and online voting platforms are vulnerable to manipulation. MIT is developing a Blockchain-based medical health records platform called ‘MedRec’. Medical records which are held by GPs, clinics and labs could be read and updated from multiple locations. Data protection legislation allows the patient to control the information and to choose whom to share it with. ‘Lo3Energy’ in Brooklyn, NY, permits homeowners to buy and sell energy they have generated using rooftop solar panels. Blockchain allows homeowners to set their own price – and to do so without a price-setting, commission-taking intermediary. Communities can now manage their own microgrids. The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is the first member of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States to implement a Blockchain credentialing system. Bahamas BlockCerts will enhance how national credentials are created, issued and authenticated. The NTA of the Bahamas is the only national body issuing Blockchain digital certificates. The plan is to expand the initiative to include 23 national agencies including the Bahamas Tech-Voc Institute, the Department of Inland Revenue, the University of the Bahamas and the National Insurance Board. They also plan to use Blockchain to issue tax certificates and business licenses.
Blockchain is being considered as a tool to reduce error, augment information sharing, assuring provenance of information and reducing delays associated with paper intensive processes across Her Majesty’s Home Civil Service in Whitehall. From Azraq to Zug, Blockchain has the potential to:
(1) efficiently manage files across Service Commissions and Ministries,
(2) facilitate the movement of data related to skilled people, service providers and merchants across the CSME,
(3) efficiently manage information related to National Credentials and Change of Skilled National Certificates,
(4) manage data related to the movement of talented individuals under the Right of Establishment, and
(5) empower civil servants to offer exceptional service to the public.