TechInPacific – Oxfam is a UK-based confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations which focuses on designing payment systems, especially for crisis-affected people in the Pacific area. The payment systems provided by Oxfam including vouchers, e-transfers, and cash. Furthermore, Oxfam is devoted to providing financial assistance to people in crisis using blockchain as it is faster, more transparent, and lower cost.
Through Oxfam Australia and the current partnership with Aid:Tech, a “pilot-testing” is conducted on the digital asset delivery system run by the Hyperledger blockchain. The Pacific Cash & Livelihoods Lead of Oxfam Australia, Sandra Hart said: “… (the pilot-testing) uses QR-coded cards to allow people to make cash-free purchases in local shops. It is essentially an electronic voucher system that runs on a blockchain. It presents some major advantages – it’s not costly, there’s a little hardware involved, and it allows Oxfam, donors, and partners to see where, when, and how much recipients are purchasing, in real time.”
Speaking about the pilot-testing, Oxfam receives funds from the Australian Government. As it is unique in the Pacific region to use blockchain technology for humanitarian purposes, the confederation receives high support from stakeholders as well as partners locally and internationally.
Using blockchain technology for the humanitarian sector is a new thing, thus there are barriers the confederation has to face regarding the blockchain technology, the use, and how to make people understand about the concept. Many people still do not understand the technology where it leads to risks.
Speaking for Oxfam about the blockchain technology in the Humanitarian sector, Sandra Hart said, “I think it’s safe to say that there is still a lot more progress needed to explore the uses of blockchain in the humanitarian sector, but for good reason, given the challenging places that humanitarian work occurs in. The question isn’t whether the humanitarian sector can use and develop blockchain apps. The question is – whether blockchain applications can actually work effectively in complex humanitarian environments.”
Currently, Oxfam is not only collaborating with Aid:Tech to support its programs, but also with another blockchain tech firm, Disberse. The partnership with Disbers is to find more feasible ways of transferring funds among Oxfam organizations as transparent, efficient and inexpensive as possible.