UNHCR Launches Blockchain Payment Solution to Support Ukrainians Displaced by War


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently said it has launched a blockchain payment solution for digital cash distribution to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine. According to the agency, the use of the blockchain-based cash distribution system ensures the funds are instantly transferred to the intended recipients.

Only ‘Most Impacted and Vulnerable People’ Qualify

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF), an organization supporting the growth of the Stellar blockchain, announced on Dec. 15 the launch of a “blockchain payment solution for digital cash distribution to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other war-affected people in Ukraine.”

In a statement, the agency said it had, alongside the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC), become the first “to pilot the new Stellar-based aid disbursement solution.” Lauding the pilot phase, which is designed specifically for Ukraine, the UNHCR said using this system ensures the funds reach the intended beneficiaries.

As part of the arrangement, eligible Ukrainians are set to receive the donated funds in the form of the USDC stablecoin. Recipients can either choose to store the funds in their Vibrant wallet or cash out at any global Moneygram location. Recipients can also do this at “over 4,500 Moneygram locations in Ukraine.”

While there are plans to eventually expand the program to more Ukrainian towns, the statement named only three cities: Kyiv, Lviv, and Vinnytsia are currently participating. The expected beneficiaries of the pilot include “people most impacted and vulnerable due to the war.”

Pilot Program Said Likely to ‘Strengthen Humanitarian Efforts’

Commenting on the agency’s pilot cash distribution program, Karolina Lindholm Billing, the UNHCR’s representative in Ukraine, said:

“Ukraine is a global lead in the development of technical solutions to increase access to social protection, including assistance for displaced people. Across the world, UNHCR has been collaborating for years with the tech sector, which has played a crucial role in helping us to innovate to deliver assistance faster, as speed is of the essence in humanitarian action. It’s also essential to provide people with a range of options for receiving aid, as one size does not fit all.”

Denelle Dixon, the CEO and executive director of SDF, said the partnership between her organization and the UNHCR has pioneered “a new future for the delivery of billions of dollars in aid disbursed annually.” For his part, Oleksandr Bornyakov, the Ukrainian deputy minister of digital transformation, claimed that the pilot program is likely to strengthen “humanitarian efforts around the world.”

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Terence Zimwara

Terence Zimwara is a Zimbabwe award-winning journalist, author and writer. He has written extensively about the economic troubles of some African countries as well as how digital currencies can provide Africans with an escape route.

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