TEDxZurich Trail Blazers
Friday Nov 19th 2021 ​

Why Thinking “Outside the Block” Can Be Revolutionary: Blockchain for Social Goods

I bet you have been exposed to the term “blockchain” during the last years, due to the bitcoin and cryptocurrency hype. However, have you also heard of the term “blockchain for social good”? 

Blockchain’s goal is to record and distribute digital information without allowing this piece of information to be edited. Basically, each “block” of digital information is stored linearly and chronologically in a “chain”, or public database, and could only be forged through sheer impossible amounts of computing power. The accuracy of the underlying information makes it especially useful in financial settings, where investors, clients, and traders seek to engage in a secure, reliable ledger of transactions that have been made by different parties over time. 

Besides financial fraud prevention, the blockchain technology can also be used for other innovative objectives. Its effective application has proven successful in other social and public domains such as democracy and governance, energy, climate and environment as well as financial inclusion.

In the democracy and governance fields, for instance, there are several projects using distributed ledger technology to make votes instantly traceable and impossible to edit, guaranteeing that the “audit trail” question – essential for any voting system – is fundamentally assured. On top, voters can also verify that their vote was duly cast and counted.

Within the energy and environmental spheres, the blockchain technology fosters transparency and trust in the carbon credit exchange market. Data retrieved from the ledger could be used to issue rewards to individuals who recycle or produce clean energy1.

Moreover, blockchain has been used for cross-border payments to overcome obstacles associated with traditional banking/financial systems. Blockchain reduces transaction time by eliminating the need for a trusted third-party intermediary, which makes banking more affordable and accessible, particularly for small transactions. 

The above examples represent the idea of Blockchain for Social Goods (BSG). Acknowledging the vast potential of BSG initiatives, the European Union has conducted research aimed at providing evidence-based scientific insights to the European authorities. For example, in their most recent report2 (2020) it mentions that Switzerland accounts for 15% of all European BSG projects since 2016, same percentage of Germany and just a bit behind Spain and Netherlands, which is an impressive figure. 

BSG is still in its initial stage of implementations; even though the effective long-term impact of such projects is yet to be seen, its innovation potential is reason enough to spread enthusiasm towards the acceleration of social and public impact through transparency, security, speed, or elsewhere! For that reason, Blockchain for Social Good is a revolutionary and worth sharing idea!


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1 Graduate School of Sandford Business. Blockchain for Social Impact: Moving Beyond the Hype. Available at: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/sites/gsb/files/publication-pdf/study-blockchain-impact-moving-beyond-hype.pdf
2 Hassan, S., Brekke, J.K., Atzori, M., Bodó, B., Meiklejohn, S., De Filippi, P., Beecroft, K., Rozas, D., Orgaz Alonso, C., Martínez Vicente, E., Lopéz Morales, G. and Figueras Aguilar, A., Scanning the European Ecosystem of Distributed Ledger Technologies for Social and Public Good, Roque Mendes Polvora, A., Hakami, A. and Bol, E. editor(s), EUR 30364 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020, ISBN 978-92-76-21578-3, doi:10.2760/802653, JRC121675. Available at: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC121675

Sources:

Graduate School of Sandford Business. Blockchain for Social Impact: Moving Beyond the Hype. Available at: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/sites/gsb/files/publication-pdf/study-blockchain-impact-moving-beyond-hype.pdf.
Blockchain for Social Good: A Field in Expansion. Available at: Blockchain for Social Good: A Field in Expansion | by Samer Hassan | P2P Models | Apr, 2021 | Medium | P2P Models.
9 Blockchain for Social Impact Predictions for 2020. Available at: https://robertgreenfieldiv.medium.com/9-blockchain-for-social-impact-predictions-for-2020-7e10fbffe0c1
Forbes. How Blockchain Is Changing The Game For Social Impact Initiatives. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/09/25/how-blockchain-is-changing-the-game-for-social-impact-initiatives/?sh=3ce2b77437bb
Hassan, S., Brekke, J.K., Atzori, M., Bodó, B., Meiklejohn, S., De Filippi, P., Beecroft, K., Rozas, D., Orgaz Alonso, C., Martínez Vicente, E., Lopéz Morales, G. and Figueras Aguilar, A., Scanning the European Ecosystem of Distributed Ledger Technologies for Social and Public Good, Roque Mendes Polvora, A., Hakami, A. and Bol, E. editor(s), EUR 30364 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020, ISBN 978-92-76-21578-3, doi:10.2760/802653, JRC121675. Available at: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC121675

Novel Hand. “Thinking Outside the Blocks”: Blockchain for Social Good. Available at: https://novelhand.com/blockchain-for-social-good/#skip-here.

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