Circle, Stellar, MoneyGram and the UNHCR convene to advance humanitarian aid

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According to the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), increasing humanitarian crises around the world have forcibly displaced 103 million people. Based on its 2023 outlook, the United Nations estimates that 339 million people worldwide are in need of humanitarian assistance. Only a year ago, it was 274 million people. Conflicts, the climate crisis and COVID are leading to growing hardship.

Recently, UNHCR joined with Circle, the Stellar Development Foundation and MoneyGram International to rapidly deliver aid to people displaced and impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine utilizing Circle’s dollar digital currency, USDC.

Enabling the use of internet-ready, device-centric payment methods to distribute humanitarian aid is a momentous breakthrough that has several distinct advantages compared to legacy payments infrastructure. For instance, recipients do not require a bank account. Beneficiaries can receive funds within minutes on a smartphone via an internet-based digital wallet app. Redeeming these aid payments is also flexible with options of encashment and utilization. Displaced persons are able to hold and transport digital dollars in a digital wallet and convert to cash when it is needed and safe to do so at more than 350,000 MoneyGram locations in over 200 countries worldwide.

At WEF23 in Davos earlier this year, I was joined onstage by Denelle Dixon, CEO of Stellar, along with UNHCR Treasurer Carmen Hett. Together, we outlined the impact USDC is having in Ukraine, along with their plans to scale this critical infrastructure to recipients in other global regions.

Here are some highlights of the conversation.


circle ngos


On the need for standardized solutions

Hett talks about the magnitude of the current need, and reasons for pursuing a standardized program that can deliver digital dollars to global populations within minutes.


What makes Stellar an ideal infrastructure

Dixon discusses the unique approach behind Stellar’s blockchain infrastructure, and why having global on/off ramps helps create new levels of utility in aid distribution to the unbanked.


Overcoming friction while mitigating risks

Hett describes UNHCR’s diligence process for getting UNHCR comfortable with the solution, what makes it different from traditional forms of aid disbursement and potential next steps for expanding the program.


View the full conversation here.


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