UBI Blockchain: How Ledger Technology Advances Universal Basic Income On A Global Scale

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UBI blockchain: Going beyond traditional borders (Pexels)
UBI blockchain: Going beyond traditional borders (Pexels)

GoodDollar Is Determined To Build UBI Blockchain – But Collaboration And Support Is Critical

Exactly 12 months ago, in April 2019, GoodDollar reached an important landmark by becoming the first blockchain-powered project to present at a Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) event. BIEN, a network of academics and activists promoting the concept of basic income, was established in 1986 by professors Philippe Van Parijs and Guy Standing, among others, and is regarded as the most influential such group in the world. What did they think about UBI blockchain?

It was a great privilege for our Lead Economist Dr Nir Yaacobi to speak at UBI-Nordic 2019, held in Oslo, the Norwegian capital — officially the world’s most expensive city, ironically. Nir argued that thanks to the advancement and confluence of a number of technologies, such as cryptoassets and blockchain — the distributed digital ledger that underpins bitcoin — hope is building that universal basic income (UBI) principles can be adopted to help the poorest people in the world achieve more financial freedom.

It was, however, a challenge to convince all delegates that UBI blockchain can work at scale, though a number of key players were persuaded of its potential. Dr Sarath Davala, Vice Chairman of BIEN, for instance, acknowledged the importance of encouraging new solutions to help further the UBI cause, which can be traced back to the 16th-century writings of Thomas More.

“I believe it was the first time anyone from outside our regular basic income community made a presentation about blockchain and UBI,” he said of GoodDollar’s appearance at the three-day summit, a major event in the UBI calendar. “Several people told me that they appreciated the new things they learnt and understood GoodDollar’s vision.”

At GoodDollar we want to involve the market and hand each and every person on the network direct voting rights on major decisions. To achieve UBI blockchain, the organisation is decentralised. We believe in our power as individuals and as a collective, and trust we can self-organise to create and deliver value across geographic borders.

GoodDollar: Breaking New Ground

Dr Davala stressed the need for collaboration, and continued: “It is extremely important that these two worlds [traditional UBI and UBI blockchain] meet in a humble way, so as to see what there is to learn from each other. Sometimes just knowing what we do and gaining clarity on what our motivations are is enough to clear the mutual distance and suspicion.

“In general, we assume that ultimately it is the state that implements the UBI. It is only the state that can bring scale to any policy idea. Private agencies — community-based or initiated by not-for-profit organisations — can only do experiments and proof-of-concept initiatives. However, I feel GoodDollar will break new ground, and make us all in the BIEN community think beyond the state, if it can be successfully demonstrated that communities can be empowered through decentralised blockchain solutions.”

One year on from BIEN-Nordic, and the clamour for UBI is reaching fever pitch, albeit thanks to the “black swan” COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of writing the Spanish government is looking to implement basic income on a national scale, while similar conversations are taking place at the highest levels in Australia and New Zealand, and no doubt elsewhere.

While national authorities grapple with the logistics of deploying basic income at scale, the GoodDollar team — in the 12 months since the Oslo event — has been busy firming up our pioneering UBI blockchain model, which works alongside governments and beyond boundaries. We are determined to use blockchain technology for good, and committed to working together with like-minded teams, and openly, to catalyse meaningful change for those most in need.

Give Blockchain Another Chance

There has been much excitement around blockchain since bitcoin was introduced to the world in late 2008 (the genesis block was mined in January 2009). Though for many people familiar with the technology, it is the former, not the first cryptocurrency to become a household name, that is the most exciting prospect. Initially, there was great hope that blockchain, as an immutable, transparent digital database, would have a huge impact on boosting and advancing financial inclusion.

Admittedly, over a decade later, there are not many excellent use-cases, though the United Nations has embraced blockchain for a number of its humanitarian projects with success.

At GoodDollar we believe in the true potential of blockchain to design new incentive systems more than the hype — especially now, when there is a critical global need for UBI at scale.

Here are three good reasons to embrace UBI blockchain:

  1. You can program money to meet certain values with blockchain technology. The value that we are focused on at GoodDollar is creatively re-thinking wealth creation and distribution to create a free-er and fairer economy. That is why our model is based on creating a balance between those individuals who hold high amounts of capital, whose money works to create value for other individuals that need basic income and come and claim basic income in the system.
  2. Blockchain enables decentralised governance. Ultimately we want to create a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), which is open to all — anyone can join. It is fully participatory, it’s not bound by us (the creators of GoodDollar), and will be self-governed. Anyone who participates in the GoodDollar economy gets a say in how the GoodDollar currency functions and works. For example, anyone can vote on important changes and help govern the G$ economy.
  3. Programming incentives offers a new model for philanthropic investors. Most experts acknowledge that the aid model is broken. We also understand that the most lasting impact comes from sustainable businesses that are able to achieve scale. This is partially why there has been so much discussion around blockchain and economic development in the last decade. While the learning and the launch of blockchain-powered products that deliver in the impact space have been slow, the market is maturing. New innovative solutions are required. Now, more than ever, is the time to rethink the way resources are distributed and populations are reached when borders are closed, movement is limited, and anti-globalisation policies are threatened.

Want To Collaborate? Let’s Talk

GoodDollar aims to drive the discussion around UBI and blockchain, but we are still learning 

and, to echo Dr Davala’s words, “humble” in our approach. We wish to work together with UBI experts, technologists, philanthropists, NGOs, developers, blockchain developers, those interested in financial inclusion, and more.

The GoodDollar team is working around the clock to achieve a public launch of the G$ protocol and currency in the second half of 2020. As we stride toward that goal — another landmark moment — expect to see us roll out the following over the coming weeks and months:

– GoodDollar Demo. A release of our simple web app that provides the experience of a user claiming UBI. (Please note: participating in the demo and providing feedback will secure your spot to receive real G$ upon release.)

– G$ Protocol And Token Model. We will soon publish the G$ economic model paper that shows how the G$ coin will create and generate value to be distributed as UBI to recipients.

– Global UBI Alliance. To support all our collective efforts in realising the complex mission in advancing global UBI, we plan to launch the Global Universal Basic Income Alliance. This gathers leading academics, technologists, researchers, politicians, activists, business leaders, philanthropists and UBI ambassadors to connect, contribute to pilots and research, and share best practices in the basic income space.

At GoodDollar, we aim to “do good and do well”. Can you help us reach more important landmarks on our pioneering UBI blockchain journey?

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