As blockchain applications become more commonplace, it’s important to take a deeper look into some of the applications being built to help us understand how they fit into the broader development landscape.
This is especially relevant when blockchain applications tie into other prominent topics, like Universal Basic Income (UBI). In particular, SovTech’s partnership with Project UBUshows how blockchain can be used to build applications that change the way society operates when it comes to exchanging value.
As SovTech was recently nominated under the blockchain category for Project UBU for the AppsAfrica Awards, it’s also the perfect time to get a deeper insight into how this type of project works – which I did by chatting to SovTech’s FullStack Developer Nusrath Khan:
1. What were the main reasons for creating Project UBU?
“Most people struggle to wrap their head[s] around economic concepts, it’s difficult to think about money if it’s not backed by anything, like gold or coal, or oil. We’re moving into a different way of exchanging value.” – Nusrath Khan
To really understand Project UBU, it’s helpful to understand UBI first.
To put it simply, the idea behind UBIis to issue money in a systematic way that empowers people to live above the poverty line, and allows them to gain access to the current economic system (which they are currently excluded from). But in truth, that’s only one potential application of UBI, as people see this system working in different ways, depending on where they’re from.
As there are so many ways of thinking of UBI, it can be difficult to actually implement it, which is why Project UBU is regarded as a very successful initiative, as it is the first project of its kind to be launched anywhere in the world.
As Khan summarises:
“The goal of Project UBU is to solidify its own currency, through Universal Basic Income, which makes income accessible to those who don’t have easy access to it, for example people without bank accounts or valid ID, who can’t get access to a bank or a grant. All these people that are just get left out of the system.
Project UBU tries to incorporate everyone into its ecosystem, because all you need to join is a cellphone number, and a computer or smartphone (or any device with internet access). You get issued your free 100 UBUs everyday, which you can then go and spend at vendors. The cool thing is that anyone can sign up to be a vendor, and you can decide what price you want to put on your goods, as there is no value ascribed to one UBU at the moment.”
2. How has Project UBU been successful?
While the long term goals of the project are yet to be realised, the SovTech team is currently building an asset exchange infrastructure, which will allow for greater economic impact (i.e. allowing people to buy and exchange UBX cryptotokens).
What is remarkable about the project is that it was entirely funded through the sale of ERC-20 Ethereum tokens, an entire Initial Coin Offering (ICO) process which was managed by the SovTech team. The current infrastructure is also built on a private blockchain, which means that it can only be accessed by those who have been granted specific permission.
When it comes to how the project has been rolled out, Khan also adds:
“Project UBU has been trialled at restaurants like RocoMamas, where it was used to promote certain meal specials. It is still in its early stages but user base has increased from 5,000 to 20,000 in about a month, and there are some interesting deals being loaded by vendors, like data bundles and airtime deals.”
3. How do you see Project UBU evolving in the future?
To give a brief overview of how the project will evolve, Khan says the following:
“While I can’t disclose all the details right now, we eventually want people to be able to take their UBUs and exchange them for Rands.”
4. How do you envision society shifting due to the implementation of these kinds of projects?
The way Khan sees it, the future of these kinds of projects will include more rewards-based projects that run off blockchain (which operate on a similar premise to the UBU), as well as more widespread experimentation with the project in different areas, even as implementing at scale remains a challenge.
It’s really quite a lot to take in and understand, but it’s encouraging to hear about successful implementations of the project, for example, in Langa, Cape Town, where small business owners are continuously being empowered with the liquidity that a system like Project UBU provides.
Get in touch with the SovTech team to find out more about the range of blockchain and custom software projects we’re currently working on.