Machu Picchu: how the blockchain can help persons-in-need

Photo by Kym MacKinnon on Unsplash

This is a 1-minute elevator pitch to explain Machu Picchu, a collaborative open source initiative.

For the helper organisations who want to share the costs of managing the persons in need with other organisations and optimise the banking overhead of their programs, Machu Picchu is a blockchain4good opensource database where each farmer is owner of their data.

See 40" video here: https://youtu.be/MRz5oKHRg-8

Machu Picchu aims to use the Ethereum blockchain and IPFS to share “Data as a Public Service” among all the organisations that provide support and benefits to the persons in need. These persons remain owners of their data and receive a micro-fee from every entity that retrieves this data. Like when you give your data to the GAFA to obtain map guidance, news, entertainment suggestions, taxi services etc. But here the data are accessible to all, including startups. See business model, below.

The first demo is here: https://hungry-montalcini-2618fa.netlify.app/ You don’t need to have any blockchain knowledge nor crypto-currency to use it. It is based on the CELO blockchain, a clone of Ethereum blockchain. It works also on Ethereum testnet, of course.

Cash and Voucher Assistance programs alone totalled $5.6bn in 2019, quote the joint Danish Red Cross/Mercy Corp/HiveOnLine report of November 2020. And wait, there are more programs: risk sharing, credit rating, gender equality, health practices, education, mother and child care, civil governance etc.

Banking the unbanked

The biggest challenge is regulatory. The bank KYC process is the same when your account has 10 USD or when your account has 10 MUSD. This explains the success of mobile banking, which is not really banking.

The International FATF and Anti-Money Laundering (see wikipedia) issued their rules in 1990 which made the life of NGO’s very difficult to on-board the unbanked. These rules were better specified in 2006 Guidelines for Non-Profit organisations. But still the problem remains difficult to tackle.

Mobile Money

Mobile Money started in Kenya. It became successful in all countries that adapted their regulations to facilitate such operations.

The major difference between mobile banking and traditional banking is that mobile banking makes profit on the flow of money while traditional banking makes profit on the storage of money.

There is only a few software providers of Mobile Money platforms and most telco operators use the same ones. These platforms are all centralised.

A good source of information on Mobile Money is the GSMA. Their 2019 report is still quite relevant, excepting the figures.

Of particular interest is the example of Sri Lanka, page 28, reported by the Chicago University:

Sri Lanka has had mobile money schemes since 2007. However, it initially started with a bank-centric model that did not ignite. More recently, in 2011, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka issued two guidelines by which it has allow non-banks… to operate mobile money schemes. The largest Sri Lankan MNO, Dialog Axiata, entered in June 2012 and got 1 million mobile money subscribers (about a third of its total subscribers), of whom 20 percent were active, in its first year.

Cryptos in Inclusive Finance

To help the persons in need, the ultimate last mile must be done in fiat currency.

The state of regulations is such that, as soon as you need to deal with fiat currency from cryptos, the exchange must use traditional banking, resulting in quite high fees (5%-30%).

Machu Picchu

Having observed that jumping directly to helping the unbanked either financially or by mobile money methods is a huge task because of the regulatory legacy, many people started addressing the problem by the other end, which is to help the assistance institutions improve their access to data of persons in need, using the Web3, the blockchain.

Machu Picchu is part of this trend. It was prototyped in the ETH Online 2020 hackathon and won a (small) prize. How we want to build Machu Picchu technically will be subject of future articles.

The business model of Machu Picchu is that the persons-in-need own their data, that data can be accessed against a micro-fee, that this micro-fee is made of assistance tokens, and that these tokens can be redeemed as bonus in the incentive programs. Ultimately, they can be bundled and swapped in DEXes.

Cash and Voucher Assistance programs alone totalled $5.6bn in 2019.

Join us

In Machu Picchu, code contributions are welcome by definition. It’s our starting point: build the toolset along with some use cases, then help the assistance organisations who are interested build their own data-oriented applications based on these examples.

Even if you have an on-going tech4good project, you can join Machu Picchu without leaving your project. Machu Picchu is a toolset. Contributing how your project uses Machu Picchu is a valuable addition to the community.

On top of that, all good will are heartily welcome, in any field, for example experiences in humanitarian field logistics and data collection or data management. If you know nothing about blockchain, here is the first step.

Why the name Machu Picchu?

Remember the Inca empire? and how centralised it was? remember how it was conquered by only 168 men, one cannon, and 27 horses?

Machu Picchu — Data as a Public Service