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Instead he lifts his head to a black box and gazes into the mirror and camera at its center. By letting a machine scan his iris, he confirmed his identity on a traditional United Nations database, queried a family account kept on a variant of the Ethereum blockchain by the World Food Programme WFPand settled his bill without opening his wallet.
Started in earlyBuilding Blocks, as the program is known, helps the WFP distribute cash-for-food aid to overSyrian refugees Case review get inside the Jordan.
By the end of this year, the program will cover allrefugees in the country. If the project succeeds, it could eventually speed the adoption of blockchain technologies at sister UN agencies and beyond. Right A mural at the Zaatari camp. Building Blocks was born of a need to save money.
This approach could feed more people, improve local economies, and increase transparency. But it also introduces a notable point of inefficiency: Early results of the blockchain program touted a 98 percent reduction in such fees. And if the man behind the project, WFP executive Houman Haddad, has his way, the blockchain-based program will do far more than save money.
It will tackle a central problem in any humanitarian crisis: Owning your identity Haddad imagines Bassam one day walking out of Zaatari with a so-called digital wallet, filled with his camp transaction history, his government ID, and access to financial accounts, all linked through a blockchain-based identity system.
With such a wallet, when Bassam left the camp he could much more easily enter the world economy. He would have a place for an employer to deposit his pay, for a mainstream bank to see his credit history, and for a border or immigration agent to check his identity, which would be attested to by the UN, the Jordanian government, and possibly even his neighbors.
Such a record, perhaps stored on a mobile phone, could let someone like Bassam take his data from Syria to Jordan and beyond, backed up online in encrypted form.
Syrian refugees using such a system—and most in Zaatari already have smartphones—could regain legal identities that were lost along with their documents and assets when they fled their homes. In this scenario, Bassam could move—to Germany, or back to Syria—and easily prove his educational credentials, demonstrate his relationship to his children, and get a loan to start a business.
Zaatari is a bustling city that sprang into existence as a tidal bore of humanity crashed over the Syrian border in Nearly 75, Syrians live in the sprawling camp, including many children and young adults.
If such a system had existed before Bassam left his hometown of Daraa, he might have avoided Zaatari altogether and become a productive member of Jordanian society straight away. Even if Syria revoked his passport, or if a school with a record of his degrees were bombed, an immutable register of his history could still smooth his entry into an adopted country.
A number of organizations are already working on aspects of this idea. In Finland, a blockchain startup called MONI has collaborated since with the Finnish Immigration Service, giving every refugee in the country a prepaid MasterCard—backed by a digital identity number stored on a blockchain.
Even without the passport necessary to open a Finnish bank account, a MONI account lets refugees receive benefits directly from the government. The system also allows refugees to get loans from people who know and trust them, helping them build rudimentary credit histories that could make it possible to get institutional loans down the road.
Meanwhile, companies like Accenture and Microsoft are joining nonprofit organizations in a public-private alliance called ID The mission is to help achieve the UN goal of providing a legal identity to everyone, starting with the 1.
The system uses a traditional database and an account stored on a permissioned variant of the Ethereum blockchain. The supermarket offers bulk supplies of necessities such as rice, oil, and sugar. In such a scheme, identity would be portable and not dependent on any state or central authority.
And the consensus is growing that a blockchain should be at its center. Blockchain systems are also more secure than conventional identity records because they cut out third-party intermediaries. They can be easier to use, and they can survive disasters that might wipe out more centralized record-keeping systems.
The ultimate goal is a system in which a user owns and totally controls some kind of digital wallet—much like the physical one we carry today for our paper documents. At the Tazweed Supermarket, residents of the camp can buy goods using a blockchain-based account. It will take a while to achieve that grand vision.
In an early test of the Building Blocks payment idea in Pakistan, however, the transactions were slow and the fees were too high. Haddad decided one of the problems was that the system was built on the public Ethereum blockchain.
On a public blockchain, anyone can join the network and validate transactions. Such a system makes it difficult for any one person or agency to tamper with or forge transactions, but transaction fees tend to add up.
On a permissioned blockchain, a central authority decides who can participate. The upside of the permissioned system is that Haddad and his team can process transactions faster and more cheaply.If you’re looking for an inexpensive case solution, check out some of the iPhone 7 leather cases on Amazon.
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