Building for Financial Inclusion in Bangkok
The fifth installation in the SURGE series saw participants from across Thailand gain blockchain skills and put them to use
SURGE Bangkok was the fifth installment in SURGE, UNICEF Ventures' blockchain learning series, held May 24, 25 and 26 in Bangkok, Thailand. Over the course of three days, participants learned about blockchain technology, deployed their first smart contracts and developed early-stage prototypes of applications that use blockchain technology to increase financial inclusion for young people.
The event, held at KX: Knowledge Exchange, an innovation center and co-working space in the heart of Bangkok, kicked off Friday with a one-day technical learning event, with talks, demos and hands-on mentoring for over 60 participants. The idea of hosting the learning day before the hackathon originated from a learning from a previous hackathon – if people have had limited exposure to blockchain technology, how can they learn AND build within a hackathon’s limited time frame? To remedy this, we designed the learning day to be a deep dive into the technology, allowing participants to ask questions and poke around, preparing them to begin building the following day.
On Saturday, the hackathon began! Teams were welcomed by Thomas Davin, the Country Representative for UNICEF Thailand and Vansa Chatikavanij, CEO of OmiseGO, a blockchain company focused on creating self-sovereign financial services and our lead co-organizer for SURGE BKK. As the hackathon began, teams had the opportunity to begin hacking or to listen to workshops from various companies on topics ranging from designing UX/UI for Blockchain Applications to learning How to Use Stablecoins in an Application. The hacking continued Sunday, as teams began putting the polishing touches on their presentations they would make to their fellow teams and to the judges.
With the overall hackathon challenge being increasing financial inclusion for youth, teams were able to speak with experts from UNICEF Thailand, OmiseGO, and others to help shape their prototypes into solutions that would truly benefit those on the ground. By the time presentations rolled around Sunday afternoon, we had six teams who were ready and eager to present their ideas to the audience.
A diverse group of judges evaluated the six projects based upon: 1) technicality, 2) originality, 3) impact, and 4) the wow! factor.
The first prize of SURGE BKK went to EdChance, a solution that enables the funding of migrant children's education while aligning the incentives of the construction companies hosting the parents, the education authorities and UNICEF. In their use case, a construction company will subsidize the education cost of immigrant worker's children. Using smart contracts via a blockchain, every time a migrant child goes to school, the subsidy from the construction company will be distributed to both the child's parent and the school that they attend.
The second prize was awarded to Children Future Fund (CFF), a savings solution in which a government would issue each child a digital identity and a cryptocurrency e-wallet at birth. Throughout childhood, money is added to the wallet by the government, for things such as social services, and by family, and is held in a blockchain-based escrow account. Until the child is 18, up to 50 percent of the funds can be released, however, once the child turns 18, they gain full control of their funds. The chief idea of CFF is to set each child up with a firm financial foundation, enabled by blockchain.
Lastly, the third prize winner was iDonate. The team created a crowdfunding platform geared towards teachers, allowing them to raise funds for classroom needs. Anyone can select a cause to donate to on the platform using cryptocurrency, allowing the funds to be transparently tracked through the process. Funds are held in escrow until a funding threshold is met, otherwise, funds are returned back to the donors.
As an added bonus, remaining teams were awarded prizes for fulfilling bounties posted by several of our mentoring & prize supporters.
The excitement didn’t stop at the pitches - as part of the grand prize, the three top overall teams will be pitching at Techsauce, a large tech and media conference taking place in Bangkok 18th and 20th of June, 2019. Zooming out, the SURGE Learning & Hackathon events are part of a broader vision of blockchain ecosystem development in UNICEF programme countries. As participants continue to learn and develop their products borne out of SURGE, they have the potential to become entrepreneurs whose companies may one day be eligible for the UNICEF Innovation Fund.
Thank you to all of our collaborators, participants and guests!