The humanitarian agency’s refugees arm has partnered with Stellar (XLM) to launch a blockchain-based payments solution in Ukraine. The platform will provide cash assistance in USDC stablecoin to those most affected by the Russian invasion.
The United Nations (UN) has partnered with Stellar Development Foundation (SDF), the non-profit that supports growth and development of the Stellar (XLM) network, to launch a pilot for a blockchain payments solution that will deliver cash assistance to those affected by the war in Ukraine. The program will be handled by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is the body that sends monetary aid to refugees in worn-torn countries.
The Stellar-based payments platform specifically designed for Ukraine will be piloted in Kyiv, Lviv and Vinnytsia, and then expand to other regions of the country and later across the world. UNHCR, in collaboration with the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC), the humanitarian agency’s technical solutions provider, will leverage Stellar Aid Assist – a service that allows users to deliver aid in crypto assets instantly and securely on the Stellar blockchain.
To participate in the program, recipients need to first download ‘Vibrant’ – a non-custodial crypto wallet powered by Stellar – on their smartphones. UNHCR will then send USDC stablecoins to the users’ wallets. The money distributed will provide humanitarian assistance to people most affected by the Russian invasion, helping them cover basic necessities like rent of accommodation, food, medical care and heating during winter. Recipients who choose to convert the crypto into fiat money like dollars, euro or local currency hryvnia, can do so by withdrawing the funds at any MoneyGram location in the country or abroad. The international payments service provider has over 4,500 locations in Ukraine.
UNHCR, who oversees the program, will confirm the recipient’s eligibility when delivering cash assistance. Last year, SDF conducted a pilot on the XLM blockchain to test feasibility of a digital version of the hryvnia.
“Today, we can see how blockchain technology allows us to scale humanitarian efforts in a way that wasn’t possible before. For fleeing Ukrainians, and primarily for those whose banks are inaccessible, this pilot project providing humanitarian assistance using a digital wallet, will serve as a possible lifeline for survival. The project itself is a vivid example of how blockchain has the potential to transform and revolutionise the way humanitarian funds are allocated,” said Oleksandr Bornyakov, Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine.
The blockchain-based initiative is part of UNHCR’s Cash-Based Intervention policy. The program launched in 2016 provides aid in cash to people who are forcibly displaced, like during the time of war, giving them the freedom to decide how to prioritise the funds based on their personal need. To date, UNHCR has delivered almost $5 billion in cash assistance to over 35 million people in 100 countries.
At the time of writing, XLM is trading at $0.08 – down 1.1% in the last 24-hours. With 26 billion tokens currently in supply, Stellar has a total market valuation of $2.1 billion. The proof-of-stake blockchain is specifically designed to connect the world’s financial infrastructure by being a platform to conduct cross-border transactions and issue cryptocurrencies.