The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a UN agency mandated to aid and protect refugees, is launching a blockchain solution to distribute cash to Ukrainians affected by the ongoing Russian invasion.

The program is being piloted first in Kyiv, Lviv, and Vinnytsia, the three Ukrainian cities many people fled to after their homes were destroyed by Russian missile attacks or seeking shelter for their families, with the UNHCR being responsible for confirming the eligibility of recipients and the allocation of the relief aid.

To participate, users need to download Vibrant, a Stellar-based non-custodial mobile digital wallet that provides a secure place to hold and transport funds in USDC, a popular dollar-pegged stablecoin.

Recipients can then choose to convert the received USDC to U.S. dollars, euros, or local currency and withdraw their funds at hundreds of thousands of MoneyGram locations around the globe.


The pilot is in collaboration with United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC), which serves as a technical solution provider, and will leverage Stellar Aid Assist, a Stellar-based product that lets users send money instantly and securely on the blockchain.

“For fleeing Ukrainians, and primarily for those whose banks are inaccessible, this pilot project providing humanitarian assistance using a digital wallet, will serve as a possible lifeline for survival. The project itself is a vivid example of how blockchain has the potential to transform and revolutionize the way humanitarian funds are allocated,” deputy minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine Oleksandr Bornyakov said in a statement.

Money distributions are helping the war-impacted people to cover basic needs like accommodation, food, medical care, and heating during the winter, with the UNHCR confirming eligibility and distributing assistance.


According to Stellar Development Foundation CEO Denelle Dixon, this way, the funds are getting into the hands of those who need them “quickly, transparently, and without the need for bank accounts or credit or debit cards.”

Last year, the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) also announced that the Stellar blockchain will be used to pilot an electronic version of the hryvnia, the national currency of Ukraine.

“SDF, together with UNHCR, is realizing the promise of blockchain and pioneering a new future for the delivery of billions of dollars in aid disbursed annually,” Dixon said in a statement.

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