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UNICEF Announces Investment in Blockchain Technology Startup

UNICEF has unveiled an investment in a South African blockchain startup, as part of its ongoing commitment to fostering new innovation and technologies for social good.

The United Nations Children’s Fund launched a dedicated investment vehicle in February designed to identify opportunities for investment in technologies with potential applications for its work in some of the world’s poorest communities.

After appointing a dedicated blockchain specialist, the organization has identified 9Needs as a target for its investment, pledging $100,000 to help with the development and expansion of existing infrastructure.

The move comes amid investment in five blockchain startups in total, as UNICEF looks to explore ways the technology can be used in tracking remittances and sending payments to aid and development organizations on the ground.

Chris Fabian of UNICEF’s Innovation Ventures division said the community feel and ethos of the company, as well as its innovative social technologies, made it a great candidate for UNICEF backing.

“The sense of community we got of the company, in talks with them, they seem like a really cohesive group of people using a sophisticated technology to solve a pressing set of problems.”

9Needs is exploring alternative ways of using blockchain infrastructure for humanitarian causes, including early childhood development in some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities. Having developed a robust infrastructure, the company was seeking investment to expand its offering and help reach profitability for long-term sustainability.

With UNICEF identifying 9Needs as a company with a social conscience, as well as a technology platform that could overhaul the delivery of services at the point of most need, the organization said the company was a good fit for investment backing. Analysts have pointed out that the hookup between the two presents possible synergies for UNICEF’s work in the developing world.

The announcement comes amid countless other high-profile moves from private-sector, government and third-sector investors, encouraging the development of a range of practical applications for blockchain technology.

The infrastructure underpinning Bitcoin, blockchain is now being developed in a number of key industries as a more efficient mechanism for record transactional data and securely exchanging information between unconnected parties.