The British Virgin Islands — a United Kingdom Overseas Territory in the Carribean — has partnered with blockchain firm Lifelabs.io to launch an alternative crypto-enabled payments infrastructure for residents across its network of islands. The development was reported in a BVI government press release on April 18.
The partnership notably heralds a particular focus on using a crypto infrastructure to support the reliable and swift transfer of aid and access to funds in emergency scenarios.
The BVI government will implement Lifelabs’ blockchain Platform as a Service (PaaS), which reportedly reduces transaction fees by over 50%, as well as providing significant time savings as compared with Automated Clearing House (ACH) electronic payments, the press release notes.
Furthermore, the implementation will support residents’ use of the smartphone-based LifeWallet app, which supports ether (ETH), bitcoin (BTC), ERC20-compliant tokens and Lifelabs’ native token, life.
Both parties underscore that implementing a blockchain payments infrastructure — which supports peer-to-peer and local commercial transactions — will ensure that residents can continue to access essential goods and services in the event of a humanitarian crisis.
The BVI notably suffered damages in excess of $3 billion during hurricane Irma in 2017 — three times its estimated GDP of $1 billion. The partners have therefore also launched a crypto charity platform, BVI/Life Rapid Response Cash Fund, which will aim to foster transparency and efficiency for donations, ensuring that funds actually reach those in need.
Andrew Fahie — premier (head of government) and Minister of Finance of the BVI — has said that blockchain-powered financial innovation “comes at a pivotal time for our people and our economy, while the memory of recent natural disasters remains fresh in our minds and hearts, and the pressure for increased economic efficiency keeps mounting.”
As previously reported, blockchain’s potential to underpin fairer and more equitable aid and donated funds distribution has been recognized by leading world organizations, including the United Nations, who used the Ethereum network to distribute aid to Syrian refugees in 2017.
Industry initiatives also include the crypto-powered donation channel launched by Binance’s philanthropic arm — the Binance Charity Foundation (BCF) — as well as charitable partnerships from the Tron Foundation and BitPay. Both Blockshow and BCF have recently launched fundraising campaigns to raise crypto for the reconstruction of Notre Dame cathedral, which suffered a blaze earlier this month that nearly destroyed the world-renowned landmark.