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GoodDollar: Send Not For Whom The Bell Tolls, It Tolls For Thee

Interview by Matthew Dove

It’s rare that fintech and the words of great poets make apt bedfellows but GoodDollar is no ordinary fintech and its goal, the reduction of the global wealth gap, commands the loftiest of literary comparisons.

When John Donne wrote Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions he could never have imagined that his 17th century meditations on the interconnectedness of humanity would still be as pertinent in 2019 as they were on the day that he committed them to paper:

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me.”

GoodDollar is a project keen to remind us that, in a world of extremes of wealth and poverty, one should never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee…

So, what is GoodDollar and how does it work?

gooddollarGoodDollar is a not-for-profit project that intends to launch a payment network, and explores how decentralised cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology may be enabled to redistribute the added value of the network together with donation, through models based on universal basic income (UBI) with the central aim of reducing global wealth inequality.

Thanks to the advancement and confluence of a number of technologies, such as cryptoassets and blockchain (the distributed digital ledger that underpins bitcoin), hope is building that UBI principles can be adopted – by GoodDollar and other projects – to help the poorest people in the world achieve more financial freedom.

GoodDollar is a not-for-profit project that intends to launch a payment network…with the central aim of reducing global wealth inequality.

Projects in the OpenUBI community are working hard and collaborating to deliver solutions around digital identity – ensuring a user on UBI-based systems such as GoodDollar is verifiable and unique – and governance structures.

Momentum is building. Advanced economic models are currently being tested. GoodDollar will launch a pilot scheme in 2019 and our vision is to expand it on a global scale.

Our economic model employs UBI principles, and the vision is that a cryptocurrency (GoodDollar) will be distributed in a fair and transparent way, using “smart contracts” on the blockchain.

By adopting a carefully crafted, and fully tested model – to be determined through experiments and pilots – the least advantaged on the decentralised GoodDollar network will receive the greatest relative benefit. Eventually, users – in the developing and developed world – will be able to use their GoodDollars to purchase goods and services and even exchange them for other cryptocurrencies, thereby empowering the beneficiaries. Ultimately, this will help generate a sense of purpose for many more people while reducing global wealth inequality.

At what stage in development is the project at now?

GoodDollar was officially introduced in November 2018 at Web Summit, but for most of the year before the launch work had been going on, and a team of economists, scientists and like minded people had been established.

Momentum is building. Advanced economic models are currently being tested. GoodDollar will launch a pilot scheme in 2019 and our vision is to expand it on a global scale.

That core group has expanded, partly thanks to the support of eToro; the global multi-asset investment platform initially committed $1 million to the project in autumn 2018.

In November 2018, GoodDollar helped launch the OpenUBI ecosystem, in Berlin. This was established to foster collaboration and discussion around universal basic income (UBI) and its technological implementation. We hope to use the principles of UBI to deliver GoodDollar.

GoodDollar has a number of interesting projects planned in 2019, and we are working hard to deliver them as quickly as we can. For example, we will be launching a pilot UBI project, and will reveal more details in due course.

In 2019 we expect to build upon the early momentum GoodDollar has generated so far. We want to scale our research. We will encourage more meet-ups and hackathons (the first “Hackinequality” took place in March), engaging and collaborating with likeminded people, with a common aim of using blockchain to reduce global wealth inequality.

Are projects like GoodDollar inevitable given the rise of automation and machine learning?

gooddollarWealth inequality is the crucial economic challenge of our time. It’s no coincidence that the number-one goal (out of 17) of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” (see here). Further, goal 10 is “reduce inequality within and among countries” (see here).

With the rise of technology unemployment – the jobs of up to 800 million human workers (one-fifth of the global workforce) are forecast to be displaced by 2030 (McKinsey Global Institute, November 2017) – we believe the tech industry needs to find solutions for those with less money to participate in the economy and pursue their purpose.

Our economic model employs UBI principles, and the vision is that a cryptocurrency (GoodDollar) will be distributed in a fair and transparent way, using “smart contracts” on the blockchain.

Add to that the fact that the 26 richest people on the planet own as much in terms of assets as the 3.8 billion people that comprise the poorest half of the globe’s population (Oxfam, January 2019).

Were GoodDollar (or a similar UBI model) to scale, what kind of resistance could it expect to experience from established concentrations of centralised power (governments, corporations etc.)? Has the project experienced any resistance thus far?

Hitherto, GoodDollar has not met any resistance, or negative sentiment, from governments, or centralised authorities. We have been encouraged by the fact that the United Nations is turning to blockchain solutions in a bid to solve humanitarian challenges. We are interested to learn more about what blockchain technology can help with. The GoodDollar team hopes that we can work alongside and together centralised platforms and payment networks to help reduce global wealth inequality. We strongly believe the two types of system can co-exist and help one another.

Is GoodDollar working with other organisations (governments, corporations, charities, NGOs etc.) to bring its vision to fruition?

Ultimately, we are well aware that delivering decentralised UBI on a large scale requires much input from the whole ecosystem – we cannot do this alone.

Now – together – we need to determine a network or system to exchange ideas, particularly around identity and governance of UBI projects. Additionally, we must scale the OpenUBI activity and would like meetups to happen all over the world on a regular basis.

We are currently in discussions about partnerships with several people and organisations that can make our collective vision – to reduce global wealth inequality – possible. GoodDollar is open to collaborations, and we welcome any and all suggestions.

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