In Brief
  • Every single day, approximately 22,000 children die from extreme poverty. The adoption of a UBI system could decrease that number over time
  • While some skeptics think that a UBI would lead to laziness or excessive spending, studies have shown that the opposite typically occurs

A New UBI

With the growing popularity of blockchains, it’s no surprise that they have a new, very useful application, i.e. a global distribution of wealth. Recently, the Grantcoin Foundation, a U.S. based nonprofit organization, implemented a universal basic income (UBI) program that uses blockchain-based digital currency.

Basic Income grants (in the form of the digital currency Grantcoin) are distributed quarterly by Grantcoin. January 31, 2016, Grantcoin distributed digital currency to 1,132 applicants from around 79 countries around the world. This was the third leg of the Grantcoin Basic Income program that began in June of 2016 which was followed by a second implementation in October.

“Each year, we plan to add 3.5% to the Grantcoin already in circulation,” Grantcoin explains. “This will be given as Basic Income grants to everyone in the world who chooses to participate, growing the money supply in a way that provides equal access to all.” Grantcoin is the first blockchain-based currency that’s distributed globally following a UBI model.

Credits: Grantcoin Foundation, screenshot
Image Credit: Grantcoin Foundation

Basic Income Basics

UBI, though controversial, is largely seen by experts as a potentially viable solution to financial inequality as it equally distributes wealth to individuals regardless of social and employment status. UBI supporters, like Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, see it as a possible fix for expected job displacement due to increases in automation and digitization. It is also highly regarded as a better alternative to existing social welfare programs that many governments currently use.

Critics of UBI say that it will create a culture of dependence and laziness. A World Bank study, however, shows the opposite. According to the study, in places where UBI programs are being tested, people consumed less “temptation goods.” Perhaps the recipients of existing basic income pilot programs, like Grantcoin, can attest to how UBI is effective. These pilot programs are designed to figure out how effective UBI could be.

“Grantcoin is already making a big impact in people’s lives — especially people who live in impoverished countries and need this financial support to save for a better future,” said founder and Executive Director of the Grantcoin Foundation, Eric Stetson. To date, Grantcoin’s UBI program has distributed a total of over 20 million Grantcoin (GRT) — worth over $13,000 — around the world. Hopefully, as these grant programs continue, UBI can prove to be a valuable social program that could improve the quality of life for countless individuals living in poverty.