Blockchain can solve some of the world's most pressing challenges. Here's how

Blockchain has the potential to be a major driving force behind social progress. Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Astrid Zweynert
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Blockchain?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Blockchain is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


Two thirds of companies and organisations using blockchain to drive social impact say the technology is an improvement over other methods used to solve some of the world's most pressing challenges, a report published on Thursday showed.

The report by Stanford University's Center for Social Innovation and non-profit foundation RippleWorks analysed 193 social impact organisations that are using blockchain, the technology behind digital currencies such as Bitcoin.

The use of blockchain is steadily growing. Image: Stanford Centre for Social Innovation

The use of blockchain has grown steadily since 2013, with the health sector being the most avid user, followed by financial inclusion initiatives, those working in philanthropy and aid, and democracy and governance, according to the report.

The report identified four potential benefits of blockchain for social impact: transparency, lower transaction costs, creating digital identities for those without formal documents, and difficulties tampering with data entered in a blockchain.

"It is still early days but what is emerging is that blockchain brings solutions that previously would not have been possible," said Doug Galen, co-founder and chief executive of RippleWorks, which pairs emerging market entrepreneurs with top technology experts as voluntary advisors.

Blockchains are ledgers of digital transactions maintained by a network of computers without a centralised authority.

At 25 percent, the health sector was the most avid user of blockchain technology, followed by financial inclusion, philanthropy and aid, and democracy and governance.

The technology was most frequently used for verifying records and facilitating payments, with around a quarter of those surveyed saying they used blockchain for those purposes.

Blockchain's most popular benefits were risk and fraud reduction, followed by increasing efficiency, the report said.

Have you read?

In the foreign aid sector, where billions of dollars are lost every year due to corruption, blockchain can help improve transparency, said Galen.

"It enables a donation to be traced through every step, from donor to recipient, and record every action and intermediary along the way," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of the 2018 Skoll World Forum for social entrepreneurship.

For organisations dealing frequently with cross-border money transfers, especially where multiple intermediaries are involved, blockchain can significantly reduce inefficiencies and save costs, the report said.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
BlockchainEconomic Progress
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Modernizing Financial Markets with Wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (wCBDC)

Scott Doughman

December 5, 2023

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum