Do you want to identify as a citizen of the world? Blockchain can help

Here's an interesting use of blockchain technology - hitherto about bypassing the "middlemen" of the big banking sector, and trading directly and securely with others. We noted in an earlier blog how blockchain could be used to empower localities.

Now, we hear that it will be able to help refugees become digitally identifiable, and thus eligible for support and services globally. But blockchain will also protect their ID from being captured by the tyrannical governments they're often fleeing from. 

The initiative has been set up by Microsoft and Accenture - here's some info from the ZDNet report

"Approximately one-sixth of the world's population cannot participate in cultural, political, economic, and social life because they lack the most basic information: Documented proof of their existence," Accenture said in an announcement.

"Establishing identity is critical to accessing a wide range of activities, including education, healthcare, voting, banking, mobile communications, housing, and family and childcare benefits."

The prototype does not store personally identifiable information on a centralised system; rather, it inter-operates with existing identity systems of commercial and public entities so that such information always resides "off chain".

We need to keep thinking about blockchain, and the unintended consequences of linking all our digital connections to a secure identifier. In a UN report, researcher Brett Scott worried about the possibility that it becomes "techno-colonial solutionism from above", and might be just "too libertarian" for developing countries. 

But could this also be the beginning of a kind of global citizenship, enabled by blockchain? How might it help ensure access to the kind of basic income payments being tested in Kenya?