There’s a lot of talk in the blockchain space about using the technology to create social impact. From facilitating remittances, to improving transparency, to reducing counterfeit goods, if the world has a problem, blockchain might be a solution.
While much of the discussion of blockchain’s potential is still all talk, four Canadian companies are proving they can also walk the walk.
Bunz: Good Things Come to Those Who Trade
Bunz began organically in 2013 when a group of neighbours started trading the things they no longer use with each other. Five years later, more than 1 million people have joined the community and the philosophy of the buyerarchy of needs , a mantra that values borrowing or trading over buying new.
Bunz connects people who swap items instead of throwing them out or buying new and does so at a time when climate change is a significant concern for the planet.
Earlier this year, Bunz adopted a cryptocurrency called BTZ — pronounced bitz — to facilitate trades where people didn’t match on items they wanted to swap.
Unlike most other cryptocurrencies, BTZ are also accepted at more than 250 local shops. So you can trade your old rollerblades for BTZ and then use the BTZ to buy a coffee or a beer.
The tokens can be earned through traditional bounties like inviting friends, but also through the daily drop — an airdrop where you answer a simple survey question.
Fundamentally, the Bunz app rewards users with BTZ for their contributions to the community and their data, but unlike classical models, it ensures the lion’s share of value goes to the users themselves.
CryptoChicks: A Blockchain Community for Women
There’s no doubt that the blockchain space is a heavily male-dominated field.
Recent surveys have shown that only 8 percent of attendees at this year’s devcon event were female. And while there is a lot of talk about improving diversity in the space, Cryptochicks is doing the work to make it happen, thanks to the work of founders Elena Sinelnikova and Natalia Ameline, who are working to get more women into the industry.
They’ve hosted hackathons in Toronto and New York that are specifically for girls and women, and include a business case track for those who aren’t as comfortable with coding.
They are hosting their next hackathon in Pakistan in March of 2019, where more than 100 girls have already registered.
Cryptochicks is also leading the charge to help make the blockchain space more friendly to women, including hosting a sold-out event at devcon about diversity and inclusion.
RightMesh: The Power of Connectivity in the Hands of the People
One of the concerns that comes up often when talking about blockchain applications for developing contexts is internet.
Without access to consistent, quality internet, many of the benefits of cryptocurrency and blockchain are simply not possible.
Vancouver’s RightMesh is solving that problem.
If you haven’t learned about mesh networks, you’re in for a treat. Imagine you’re in a community that is without internet access.
As long as one individual has a connection, perhaps through a satellite linkup, they can then transmit data to and through the people around them using a local connection. It’s like a game of broken telephone, except the message isn’t broken.
RightMesh is building a blockchain-based mesh network that enables people who help transmit these data messages to get a micropayment in cryptocurrency.
These types of networks are great for providing broader internet access when it’s not available, enabling the four billion who are not currently connected to have access to a whole new world of benefits.
Betterplace: What if Your Spare Time Could Change the World?
Passionate about a cause but don’t know how to help? Need help but don’t have a community? Betterplace has you covered.
Founded by Toronto-based Farhaan Ladhani, a pioneer in digital applications for human rights, Betterplace enables organizers to easily coordinate their communities with small tasks or actions they can take to make a meaningful difference towards a greater cause.
Betterplace unlocks the potential of the crowd to take collective action and generate social capital at scale.
The app has already been used to coordinate against gun violence, to support refugee rights, and to improve housing justice.
In their blog, Betterplace discusses how there has been a shift in community organization to be more informal, collaborative, self-governed, and often more short-term.
Technology has given every citizen the capability to build and shape movements collaboratively.