There’s a lot of recent hype surrounding blockchain-based cryptocurrencies and get-rich-quick schemes, but it’s important to recognize that blockchain’s powerful technological capabilities are also capable of implementing worldwide social change. Here are nine companies using the blockchain platform to make the world a better place:
- Impact PPA
Growth in the renewable energy sector is essential for the human race to survive climate change, and access to electricity such growth provides could be life-altering for communities who currently lack adequate power to run hospitals or water sanitation facilities. But financing renewable energy projects has historically been difficult, lengthy, and bureaucratic.
Impact PPA uses blockchain tokens to democratize renewable energy funding into a far lower-friction, faster model. In the Impact PPA ecosystem, a dedicated token can be allocated by its purchasers to fund renewable energy projects. The projects then generate their own energy-representing tokens, which are paid back into the ecosystem as users purchase electricity.
- Blockchain Intelligence Group (BIG)
While blockchain is a revolutionary technology, its historical association with illegal cryptocurrency transactions on the dark web is holding back its full development. Mainstream investors are unsure about trading in funds that may have been used for money laundering, drugs, or sex trafficking.
BIG has tackled this problem with their BitRank software, which uses analysis of blockchains and wallets to identify and flag sources of cryptocurrency that may be involved with suspect activity. By promoting the legal and ethical use of blockchain, they help bring the entire ecosystem into the future while taking financial tools away from money launderers and traffickers.
The global crop economy is plagued by inefficiencies harming both growers and buyers, such as when crops get thrown out in one region while hungry marketplaces go underserved in another region, or corruption further up the supply chain means farmers face prohibitive market conditions.
Agriledger seeks to alleviate this by creating a blockchain-based network of farmers and suppliers, where co-ops and small producers have immediate access to accurate information about market costs and can create transparent, immutable transaction agreements to ward off corruption.
A stable and accurate credit identity is essential to accessing financing options such as loans or rental agreements, but many people worldwide don’t have a credit profile because they lack access to comprehensive banking services or have moved from one country’s system to another.
Bloom uses blockchain ledgers to create stable BloomIDs for each user, which are then used to report on existing debt arrangements and provide an alternative credit score for individuals who might easily be given a bad or non-existent ranking by traditional institutions lacking access to their full financial history.
The internet has facilitated the rise of crowd-funded philanthropy, where individuals can give small amounts online to social projects. But there’s little in place beyond basic trust to ensure that a project receiving funds is spending ethically or accomplishing its goals.
Alice uses an Ethereum-based token to allow users to give to social projects of any scale across the globe. But those tokens are generally held in trust or only partially given to participating charities until very specific achievement metrics are reached (distributing 100 meals, planting 100 trees, etc.). By making funding contingent on accomplishment, charities are incentivized to be effective, transparent, and efficient.
- World Identity Network
Identify verification will be an increasingly important challenge as humanitarian crises force refugees to flee their homes and try to establish themselves in nations without their original identification documents. It’s already a challenging issue in the world of combating child trafficking, as many children globally lack a birth certificate and thus are difficult to rescue or provide with social services.
The World Identity Network is working in partnership with the United Nations Office for Project Services in order to provide a blockchain-based identity for individuals in these vulnerable communities, rendering access to vital identity-confirming info accessible regardless of their location.
Migrant laborers constitute a massive global economic force and often travel to different countries or even continents to work. Unfortunately, the distance between where laborers first sign their contract and where they wind up working (often separated from the protective family and cultural structures of their homes) means that their contracts are often exploitative, convoluted, or simply ignored.
Handshake seeks to remedy this by codifying migrant labor contracts onto the blockchain. By providing workers with secure, immutable, and universally accessible information on the terms of their employment, Handshake seeks to empower laborers to protect themselves from unethical recruiters or employers.
Supply chains are complicated, and their complexity only increases as our economy becomes more and more globalized. This makes it difficult for consumers to find out basic information about how and where their goods were produced.
Provenance is working on changing all that, and their software is already used by over 200 retailers and producers. Information about materials that go into products is stored on a blockchain that can then be accessed by shoppers considering different purchases. By facilitating transparency, Provenance incentivizes ethical supply chain choices.
- Clean Water Coin
Nearly one billion people worldwide lack clean water, and the health and mortality consequences of that fact are huge. Charity: water is one of the world’s leading nonprofits trying to change that. And the Clean Water Coin allows crypto users to help them.
Every transaction or mining action using the coin donates a percentage of its value to Charity: water. Users can also buy ad space using their coins, and business partnerships and efficiency-maximizing exchange protocols are also in the works.
What are some other ways blockchain can be applied to social problems?