WWF and UnionBank Team Up for Financial Inclusion in Philippines Using Blockchainby Fintech Philippines December 4, 2019
Today the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines, UnionBank of the Philippines, and TX, announced the launch Tracey, an app for fisherfolk that will use blockchain technology for documenting and verifying catch and traceability data.
The provided data can then be used by financial institutions, such as UnionBank, to conduct credit assessments, enabling them to provide microloans to fisherfolk.
Susan Roxas, Fisheries and Finance Lead for WWF’s Coral Triangle Program, explains:
Small fishers in many coastal countries remain poor, despite the high-value fish they catch, like yellowfin tuna. The innovative and disruptive collaboration between WWF, TX and UnionBank will mean fisherfolk will get remunerated for the catch data they provide. This will also enable more open access to microfinance at market prices, managing risk based on fishers’ track records of accurate catch and trade data. This then creates possibilities for a more equitable distribution of supply chain benefits, through measures that prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and ensures sustainable production.
Fisherfolk and subsequent parties in the value chain are incentivised to share verified traceability and trade data with third parties such as WWF-Philippines, government authorities, customs offices, and throughout the supply chain to final buyers. In return for their data, the fisherfolk are paid by data buyers. Most importantly, Tracey gives fisherfolk the resources required to implement a full traceability system in line with European and US standards. This enables them to sell their catch in foreign markets at much higher prices than they are currently able to.
The data generated will also allow financial institutions to conduct alternative credit assessments for microlending to the fisherfolk. Historically, many fisherfolk are unbanked, and according to WWF their seasonal profession means that two out of five fisherfolk in the Philippines live below the poverty line.
To bridge the gaps between fishing seasons, Filipino fisherfolk need access to microloans that can support other business ventures, but they are often perceived as too much of a high risk for banks. The Tracey app de-risks the lending process and provides UnionBank with sufficient information about potential clients. Fisherfolk receive accurate credit scores after frequently inputting verified catch and trade data. Checks and balances within the fisheries ecosystem mean that fraudulent data input can be mitigated with a variety of methods.
The first phase of Tracey development will be funded by TX, WWF and Business Finland, a public agency for research funding directed by the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy. Additional funding will be sought for subsequent phases.
During the concept development phase, the TX team conducted on-site interviews with fisherfolk to inform the future design of the Tracey app. The first pilot is now planned for mid-2020. This will take place at the WWF-Philippines’ Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) sites in Bicol and Mindoro. If the first pilot is successful, the aim is to extend Tracey to all FIP sites in South East Asia, in connection with local banks.
Streamr provides the infrastructure for Tracey. The app is to be built on top of the Streamr stack, leveraging the Streamr Network — an open-source, decentralized data transportation layer for real-time data flows — and connecting Tracey to the Streamr Marketplace where third parties can then subscribe to the data stream. The income generated from the data sales will be sent directly to the data-producing fisherfolk, not via a third party. Core, Streamr’s real-time data toolkit, will then provide valuable insights such as fish stock levels within a defined geo-location.
UnionBank will provide Know Your Client (KYC) support for the app and digital banking solutions.