Startup Uses Blockchain Technology to Connect Refugees With Financial Services

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By Landon Manning

The startup company Gravity Earth has announced a dramatic mission: using blockchain technology to connect refugees to financial resources, normally inaccessible for effectively stateless people.

According to recent coverage, Gravity Earth laid out these plans at the stage of TechCrunch’s Disrupt Berlin, where a special series of events allowed startups to describe their business visions. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Gravity Earth claims to have “developed a platform that allows a person’s digital data to be stored securely on its decentralized platform.”

By keeping this data on a totally independent blockchain, the goal is that refugees can set up this information and access it at any step on their oft-haphazard journeys, with the help of program integration from existing “NGOs, who are working at refugee camps with some 80,000 people.”

The refugee crisis caused by a fallout of the Syrian Civil War has been one of the most devastating ones since the end of World War II, leaving facilities trying to accommodate these refugees all over the Middle East, North Africa and throughout much of Europe. With a small cost to actually connect people to this blockchain, the displaced persons of the world could find themselves with another lifeline that they can leave and then re-access without notice on an entirely separate continent.

According to TechCrunch, “Gathering data can be challenging, but the Gravity Earth platform allows third parties to provide and validate data on users. Validators are incentivized with bonuses such as free mobile airtime and lotteries.” The company has already been raising startup capital and announced plans to go after venture capitalists, but has declared its lack of interest in launching an ICO.

“For us, the focus is really on the product — the front end — because there are so many things to figure out there,” said co-founder Johannes Ebert. “How do we drive adoption and keep our users engaged?”

The company is evidently planning on first bringing its project adoption efforts to refugee-based NGOs in Africa. Many small-scale conflicts in the region also produce large numbers of refugees that have no greater plans of moving between continents, in addition to those that do.

“The thing we’d like to move to is access to financial services for refugees — we also see this as a way to monetize and prove our business model,” said Ebert.

From there, Gravity Earth’s consumer base could become truly global.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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