Author Archives: Joseph Horch

Can Blockchain Help Solve the Refugee Crisis?

Earlier this week French officials announced that they would begin clearing out “The Jungle,” a refugee camp near the port city of Calais. More than 6,000 refugees ranging from Eritrea to South Sudan are set to be dispersed around France, many of these refugees are without proofs of citizenship and legally speaking they do not exist.

In June of 2016, The Atlantic reported that according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees there are an estimated 60 million refugees or internally displaced people (IDPs) worldwide, the highest number since World War II.

Since 2015 over one million refugees have arrived in Europe alone. With the spread of terrorist organizations like ISIS, many Europeans fear that terrorists could be crossing the borders disguised as refugees. It is worth noting that in the aftermath of the 2015 Paris attacks a fake Syrian passport was found next to one of the assailants. Thus suspensions have been raised about migrants entering countries. Are these people who they claim to be? Where did they come from? Who is a danger and who is not?

Lack of ID creates problems for border countries, refugees, and the relief organizations attempting to help. Blockchain technology could assist in resolving all of these issues.

Identity is assigned and recognized by governments and governments only, and without a relationship to the state, you essentially are no one. Because blockchain relies on a network with no government or institutional association, it creates a decentralized data structure. Thus, who you are is no longer reliant on a relationship to a state, but rather an information contained in a trustworthy and accessible ledger.

With a distributed database a refugee could arrive in Greece, a popular destination for refugees fleeing by sea, border officials could check identity on their copy of the ledger housing the ID of a refugee. And because blockchain is almost tamper-proof, the refugee could present a far more compelling story of who they are.

Furthermore, because blockchain can handle digital assets of all sorts, relief organization and NGO’s could wire money to refugees who most likely have no money.

One firm has attempted to solve this problem Bitnation:
“BitNation, a blockchain-based Governance 2.0 initiative, is using the blockchain to help refugees in Europe. The organization’s new series of Refugee Emergency Response services allow refugees to create a digital identity, which can be used to cryptographically prove their existence and who their families are.” – Huffington Post

This is the process refugees have to face while trying to enter the U.S.

Ideally blockchain technology could ease the process for refugees attempting to enter the U.S. especially with the pledge to accept 10,000 refugees.

Blockchain can help ease political turmoil of all kinds and create a world in which a refugee, despite the collapse of their national state, can maintain their identity and dignity.

Exploring the Future of Blockchain

Fortune’s 30-second definition of Blockchain is quite simple “the blockchain is a way to structure data…This coding breakthrough—which consists of concatenated blocks of transactions—allows competitors to share a digital ledger across a network of computers without the need for a central authority. No single party has the power to tamper with the records: the math keeps everyone honest” Notice that the definition makes no mention of money. That is because blockchain technology can be applied to more than just monies. Currently, forty of the world’s top financial firms are experimenting with the technology; there have been over $1 billion invested in Bitcoin, the most popular form of blockchain.

Blockchain technology is set to disrupt over 20 industries. Companies are going to harness the power of the Blockchain in the next several years. One already is attempting too, Bit Bastion. The banking system as we know it is going to get a complete overhaul. They will incorporate private Blockchain powered technology to create cryptographic ledgers to enable banks to deliver secure end-to-end financial systems.

Money transfers as we know it will be powered by Blockchain. Blockchain will create a more direct payment flow across the globe. There will not be any intermediaries to charge high fees.

Blockchain is also able to reduce conventional cybersecurity risk by removing the need for human intermediaries. This instantaneously lowers the potential security concerns from hacking to corruption. Blockchain technology will even be used in schools, to authenticate academic certificates. There will be no way to falsify student accreditation, not to mention the cost-savings potential.

Credit Suisse, recently conducted a project to demonstrate the potential of the blockchain, here are their findings: “This project demonstrates the potential for blockchain technology to fundamentally reshape the syndicated loan market and the capital markets more broadly,” said Emmanuel Aidoo, head of the distributed ledger and blockchain effort at Credit Suisse. “This demonstration sets us on a path to increase efficiency and reduce costs, which will benefit banks and clients alike. By connecting a network of agent banks through blockchain, we can achieve faster and more certain settlements in the loan market.

Throughout the world, nations are shying away from globalization and leaders promising an isolationist agenda are receiving more attention and votes… only look at the rise of party leaders like Donald Trump and Nigel Farage (the leader of UKIP and the Brexit movement). Some experts believe that technology could not only save globalization but spur it. In a world where everything from good and services to people will exchange almost instantaneously, blockchain will allow us to keep track of everything and one.  “By translating the language of the legal chain into a digital language — an achievement that required us to develop a set of 21 typologies — we have created a system that could locate and capture any ledger in the world and make it public.

For coming weeks our blockchain team will explore the wonders and capabilities of this increasingly prominent technology. In the coming weeks, our team will discuss how blockchain will impact the banking industry, cyber security industry, academia and more. We have already seen the capabilities of the blockchain, Bitcoin and Silk Road. However, for our first post, we thought it was paramount that we stress blockchain has more implications than transforming the way you send and receive money.

There are many questions associated with a technology like a blockchain. How long until central banks adopt the technology? How much money could be saved or even lost? What industries are set to benefit the most? Who will be left behind and who will prosper? How will blockchain shape our world? This technology has endless applications, and we only see the first stages of it. Much like the Wright brothers who were pioneers of flight; we will be the pioneers of the blockchain.