United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) releases Blockchain Paper on Social Finance


A recent working paper has just been released by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), coined How Can Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology Play a Role in Building Social and Solidarity Finance?.

The paper written by Brett Scott, explores the potential of distributed ledgers to help create a global world order fairer and more sustainable than the current one, and wonders  how Blockchain technology can be harnessed for community empowerment and solidarity-based finance.

The UNRISD is an autonomous research institute within the U.N. system that undertakes multidisciplinary research and policy analysis on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues.

Scott, is an independent researcher and consultant on alternative finance and financial reform and also the author of The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money.

“This paper sketches out the contours of some key issues that social and solidarityfinance practitioners should consider when thinking about cryptocurrency technology. It is intended to provide a primer on the basics of Bitcoin, and to flag up existent narratives on the technology’s potentials and limits.

First, it considers claims made by Bitcoin proponents concerning the positive role Bitcoin can play as a tool of financial inclusion, or as a tool to build new systems of property rights in countries with unstable governance. It also considers technical and political critiques of these claims. Second, the paper looks at the attempts to design new cryptocurrencies—such as Faircoin—based on explicitly cooperative and social justice principles,” writes Scott.

Thirdly he adds that the the paper considers the emergent wave of “blockchain 2.0” innovation, in whichthe underlying “blockchain” technology of Bitcoin is expanded into realms like share issuance and micro-insurance.

The original Bitcoin community made much out of the “trustless” nature of the technology (Miscione and Kavanagh 2015)—the fact that it does not rely on trusted central intermediaries—but newer groups are expanding the vision into one of trust-enabling decentralized cooperatives, or “distributed collaborative organizations”.

Read paper in Full here.