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Can blockchain improve development? New report highlights opportunities and dilemmas

(December 14, 2017) Blockchain has the potential to renew development cooperation and humanitarian aid, among other opportunities, using cryptocurrencies and digitalised contracts to deliver rights and development in a new and potentially more effective way. That is the conclusion in a report released today by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark in collaboration with the think tank Sustainia and blockchain currency platform Coinify.


According to the new report, “Hack the Future of Development Aid”, development cooperation and humanitarian aid organizations can perhaps wave goodbye to paper contracts and slow transactions by using the opportunities of blockchain technology. Written by Sustainia per request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, the report investigates the potential of new blockchain-based solutions to solve Danish development challenges. The report emphasises among other things that by using cryptocurrencies, money can be transferred faster and more safely to the hot spots of the world. In addition, contracts and other legal papers can be digitalised to combat corruption, ensure more effective development aid, and better protect rights of marginalized groups.


The Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs, says:

development aid“There are huge opportunities in bringing technological development into play in development cooperation. The use of Blockchain and cryptocurrency are merely some of the technologies which can give us new tools in the development cooperation toolbox. It is clear that if we are to succeed in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals, we need digital and technological solutions. Some of these we do not know of, but we will help find them. Denmark is at the forefront when it comes to innovation – also in the development cooperation. That is why I am proud to present this report.”


From slow kroner to fast cryptocurrency

One of the recommendations of the report, or so-called “hacks”, is about using blockchain technology to enable a fast transfer of money without intermediaries and fees. By using cryptocurrency as a support agent, development aid can be transferred directly from Denmark to recipients in poor countries. Denmark could therefore consider being the first donor country to transfer aid using cryptocurrency, the report says.



Mark Højgaard, CEO and Co-founder of Coinify explains: “With crypto-aid solutions, we foresee that issues like corruption will drop significantly, as money will be easy to track and transactions remain completely transparent.”




development aidIn other words, high-speed digital money means less corruption and more lives saved. Project director from Sustainia, Marianne Haahr, explains: “Crypto and crisis is a perfect match, and aid organizations will undeniably be able to respond more quickly using blockchain-based digital money, which arrives at email-speed, safely and transparently. The big challenge now is to disrupt the aid model. The first step is to build trust in blockchain and its ability to facilitate all aspects of aid, and the next step is to disrupt the whole aid system.”



Blockchain is a new weapon in the fight for human rights and combating corruption

The report also recommends that development and humanitarian organisations use blockchain when promoting human rights. Land rights and anti-corruption are examples that are mentioned in the report. India for example sees blockchain as a tool to combat the country’s land register bribes (which amount to a staggering 700 million USD). In relation to land rights, the benefit from blockchain is that the individual owners take control over their own rights data – whether it is land, health information or education.

The report is presented today, Thursday 14th December 2017, in the UN City Copenhagen, and is freely available for download on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark:


Read more about the Launch event for the Report “Hack the Future of Development Aid” here.


Image credits: Coinify, Sustainia, Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ulla Tørnæs and Marianne Haahr

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