@nick is known in the Muggle world as Nick Williams. He is a cofounder of Sempo, a startup that has experimented with cash aid using blockchain in a number of scenarios, and recently finished a pilot program in Vanuatu in partnership with Oxfam.
The tl;dr of the Vanuatu pilot is that residents of two villages were given smart cards preloaded with Dai, and vendors were given smartphones with an app for accepting payments. The cards are read/write capable so they can be used even if the app isn’t connected to the internet. A cash-out system was established (after a couple of hiccups) so that vendors could exchange their Dai for local currency.
In the many conversations I’ve had about using crypto for cash giving, the question always arises: will people actually use the tokens they are given or just cash them out at the first opportunity? If they’ll just cash out immediately, what was the point?
In this case, they were able to achieve some pretty massive increases in efficiency with onboarding. Between ID checks and bank visits cash aid onboarding had been taking around and hour; getting a new user signed up for the Sempo cards took around 6 minutes. Overall adoption was pretty expedient - within the first week of the pilot, about half of the money that was given had been spent.
Nick also mentioned that while most wanted to cash their Dai out for Vatu, some vendors did use the Dai they received from sales to program participants to transact with other vendors. It will be really interesting to see what happens on a longer timeline. My own theory is that the more Dai people receive and spend, the more they will come to think of it as “real” money - and the more willing they’ll be to just skip cash altogether…but the only way to find out is through more of this type of interaction.
There are posts about weeks 1-3 of the first phase of the program on the Sempo blog (they returned about a month later for another two-week visit, which has yet to be as thoroughly documented): https://blog.sempo.ai
There’s also an interview with the Oxfam project lead here: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/using-blockchain-technology-for-humanitarian-assistance/11158034
And a Coindesk article about the pilot here: https://www.coindesk.com/oxfam-trials-delivery-of-disaster-relief-using-ethereum-stablecoin-dai
Sempo’s 2018 learnings report is a good place to dive into some of the more technical aspects, although things have come a very long way in the year and a half since that was published.
The intersection of humanitarianism, capitalism and decentralization - where empowering people is actually a business model and the “business” is a network of thousands that blurs the lines between user, creator and service provider - is absolutely fascinating to me and I think it’s the best possible future of blockchain. I think Sempo is sitting neatly in this space, so I’ve thoroughly interrogated Nick about this and I thought you all might like to do the same. He’s kindly joined us here to answer any questions we can come up with about Sempo’s experience trying to bridge the Ethereum-reality divide.
Ask away, ONC!