Building Blocks aims to make WFP’s growing cash-based transfer (CBT) operations faster, cheaper, and more secure. With current projections suggesting up to 50 percent of WFP’s operations will be executed by CBT by 2020, blockchain offers unique opportunities to reduce overhead transaction costs from approximately 3.5 percent to 1 percent or less. Full implementation of the technology promises significant cost savings to WFP, and donors alike, totalling millions of dollars per annum. By passing on cost savings, integrating retail innovations such as biometric scanning and mitigating the risk of identity fraud or data mismanagement, WFP can ensure more people receive crucial food assistance.
WFP is taking first steps to harness blockchain technology to enhance our ability to provide effective, efficient assistance to the people we serve – and save millions of dollars.
Underpinning Building Blocks project is blockchain, a cutting-edge technology that could transform the way in which humanitarian agencies deliver aid. Blockchain is a digital ledger technology used as a trusted way to track the ownership of assets without the need for a central authority, which could speed up transactions while lowering the chance of fraud or data mismanagement. Crucially, its peer-to-peer nature removes the need for verification from costly intermediaries such as banks or other institutions.
With the support of the Innovation Accelerator in 2016, Building Blocks established an early, but robust concept suitable for prototyping in a field environment. Utilising an open source blockchain platform, ‘Building Blocks’ commenced field pilots in Pakistan in January 2017 that will continue throughout Spring.
WFP is actively exploring use cases beyond the current CBT pilot, in part by establishing a broader core architecture of this system that powers the future of identity management and supply chain operations.