Tech

Dennis Wafula

Kenyan’s crypto-based UBI changing local communities

While many are still finding more potential for blockchain technology, Sarafu Network seems to have successfully implemented the technology to run a crypto-based Universal Basic Income (UBI). In the past, many UBI projects have failed due to lack of systems to monitor and administer their operations. Sarafu Network is hoping to change that.

The Grassroot Economic Foundation created the Sarafu (“currency” in Swahili) Network. This network was deployed on a blockchain through the help of Bprotocol Foundation (Bancor). Bancor serves as the “technology layer” in the Sarafu Network. This is because LocalCoin, a developer of Bancor Protocol, created a platform that allows Grassroots to create tokens and distribute them to users. The platform also ensures that users have the ability to trade and manage their tokens through SMS on feature phones without the Internet or through a Smartphone crypto wallet.

The Sarafu Network serves as a transparent and decentralized local currency system that comprises of interconnected village-level tokens. The network creates a closed loop of local commerce within Villages connected to it. Reportedly, the tokens act as basic income that circulates between local business and the consumers.

Bancor and the Sarafu Network hope to create a decentralized common infrastructure for local commerce, which requires no central authority and no fees to operate. The infrastructure will also be affordable, accessible and seamlessly operated by any community across the globe.

Sarafu begun testing on the first ever tomato traded on the blockchain last year in August. Within a six months’ period, the network managed to get nine village-level tokens piloted with hundreds of business coming on board.

Last month, the Sarafu Network reported a major milestone when it hit 1000 wallets on the network. Local farmers, healthcare providers, teachers, retailers and other workers in the communities own the wallets on the platform.

Reportedly, many have been able to use this network for various transaction. For instance a farmer can receive payments in a village’s local currency, which he can then use to pay for utility bills, school fees and so forth. Records show that communities make use of the network to mostly pay for food, followed by retail and labour.

Ultimately, Bancor plans to open and extend its platform to allow for cash transfer, humanitarian aid and flourishing of entrepreneurship.

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