Cryptocurrency mania may have waned considerably over the last 12 months raising the question if they have any future at all. Much of the hype around other potential applications of the ‘immutable decentralised ledger’ blockchain technology that underpins cryptocurrencies has also fallen away.
It turns out many of the use cases proposed for blockchain solutions don’t really need an immutable, decentralised ledger system after all. As Steve Wilson, the principal analyst and vice president of Constellation Research puts it, many blockchain proposals could be defined as ‘a solution looking for a problem’.
However, even if blockchain technology isn’t turning out to be quite the magic miracle cure to every administrative system in the world, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have applications that are tailor made for its strengths. That is something that UNICEF, the global charity dedicated to protecting disadvantaged children and adolescents certainly appears to agree with. The charity’s Innovation Fund has invested up to $100,000 in 6 different blockchain start-ups around the world. The blockchain technology products of all 6 are judged by UNICEF to have use cases that are particularly valuable to the promotion of the charity’s mission.
The condition attached to the investment into the 6 start-ups is that they have 12 months to build open source prototypes. The prototypes should also:
- Tackle global development problems such as healthcare, digital connectivity and access to basic financial services.
- Help determine the applications of blockchain that can achieve something conventional technologies cannot or have so far failed to.
The six blockchain start-ups to have been awarded the investment are:
Prescrypto, Mexico: the three-year old start-up’s product is RexChain, a blockchain platform for personal clinical data and prescriptions administration. RexChain hopes to support an electronic prescriptions system in Mexico and Latin America as well as handing personal data ownership and control back to individuals. It will allow clinicians, patients, pharmacies and researchers to send, receive and track electronic medical prescriptions in a region with little in the way of legacy infrastructure.
Atix Labs, Argentina: a blockchain platform offering SMEs access to funding opportunities while protecting investors through trackable spending and measurable business impact.
Onesmart, Mexico: a blockchain platform designed to support the delivery of state-funded social services. The initial focus will be on those targeting children and young people but the principle would extend to any form of social service.
StaTwig, India: blockchain platform designed as a supply chain management system for the delivery of vaccines.
Utopixar, Tunisia: a social collaboration platform. Intended to help facilitate decentralised community decision making and value transfer.
W3 Engineers, Bangladesh: offline mobile networking platform for refugees and migrants that requires neither SIM cards nor an internet connection.
Steve Wilson, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research