In this article we cover...
- Background - agriculture, technology and smartphones
- Blockchain and low-cost cross-border payments
- What are Stablecoins?
- Which stablecoins are currently supported by Task?
- Getting money to the front-line fast, without middlemen
- An Agro-finance walk-through
- Client case study - Smart Agro
In a world where everyone is connected via their smartphones, it’s the ideal setting to create micro economies by connecting those people to the supply chains that support their livelihood.
In this article we look at how we have combined Blockchain with the Task platform in a way that allows the tracking of remote team activities, and getting micro-payments to them instantly and with near zero fees.
We’ll start off by taking a look at Blockchain and “stablecoins” before moving on to a 3 minute video that shows you an “Agri-finance” use case example - and end with some insights into a Task customer based in Cambodia, who is using Task to reward farmers.
Background - agriculture, technology and smartphones
The agricultural sector plays a key role in advancing economic growth in Low and Middle-Income Countries and use of new technologies for supporting farming systems is essential with achieving this - agriculture must grow by around 6% per annum in geographies where it dominates labour productivity.
According to AGRA’s 2017 Africa Agriculture Status Report, Small Scale Producers provide livelihoods for more than 2 billion people and produce about 80% of the food in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Smartphones are rapidly coming down in cost, mobile money now means payments can be sent directly to those smartphones, and technology such as blockchain smart contracts can help buyers and consumers be certain that all information about the source and transit of a food is trustworthy - the advances are needed to ensure the effective scale the agricultural sectors.
Yet, just 13% of Small Scale Producers in Sub Saharan Africa have registered for any digital farmer service and only 3% are active users, according to the CTA-Dalberg 2019. Digitization of food systems has the potential to enable greater efficiency, transparency and profitability for the Small Scale Producers.
Blockchain and low-cost cross-border payments
One of the reasons we chose Stellar for our Blockchain technology was their focus on low-cost, cross-border payments, in their words:
Stellar enables a future where everyday people can send money anywhere affordably and quickly”
Stellar is specifically designed to make traditional forms of money—the money people have been spending and saving for centuries—more useful and accessible.
This means Task can facilitate an American company paying a Mexican supplier in dollars, and the supplier can pay her team in turn, with a five-second wait to settle.
Because the dollars represented by the digital token never actually move as the value changes hands, these transactions sidestep the friction and expense of the current banking system, with transaction fees costing about $0.00002 USD.
What are Stablecoins?
A stablecoin is a new class of cryptocurrencies that attempts to offer price stability and are backed by a reserve asset.
Stablecoins have gained traction as they attempt to offer the best of both worlds—the instant processing and security or privacy of payments of cryptocurrencies, and the volatility-free stable valuations of fiat currencies.
Which stablecoins are currently supported by Task?
AnchorUSD is an audited provider of the USDX token and holds all deposits in US-domiciled bank accounts. USDX is created for $1 or redeemed for $1, and let’s investors trade with confidence without the volatility of unbacked cryptocurrencies.
They provide an easy to use Mobile app savings account that gives you 8% APR. In the example video below, we show the AnchorUSD token in action as a means to provide fast, cross-border payments.
USDC, the stablecoin co-founded by Circle and Coinbase, first started as an Ethereum-based token. Centre, the consortium that manages USDC announced that Stellar will be the third blockchain that supports USDC with rollout at some point during Q1 2021.
Brazil and Argentina’s Stablecoins
Settle Network launched two new stablecoins in Argentina (ARST) and Brazil (BRLT) in November 2020. Both issued using Stellar, these are the first stablecoins in each country.
There are plenty more stable coins on the horizon, but Task facilitates the exchange of these currencies between different stakeholders. Let’s see what that means for you.
Getting money to the front-line fast, without middlemen
Stellar’s blockchain technology inside Task, combining fast payments with remote activity tracking brings a number of benefit, especially if you:
- Are providing investment to third parties and are concerned as to how the funds are spent. You’d like a ‘drip feed’ approach that meant the money arrived in the right pockets fast, at the same time you can monitor activity
- Provide means to improve livelihoods by getting full or complimentary salaries to remote locations, and don’t want your funds to be gobbled up by middle players
- Need a transparent reporting mechanism that means rewards go to those who deserve it, and it's hard for bad players to “game” the system
In short - let’s get funds to the people that need and deserve them, automate management reporting and reduce inefficiency in current economic support and reward systems.
What does a typical Task workflow look like?
- An initiative is created on Task by an organisation
- Credit such as stablecoins are allocated to the project “wallet”
- The activities to track are defined - imagery, documents - whatever provides adequate “proof of work” back to the organisation
- The remote “teams” complete activities which can optionally be verified before payment is released
- An ongoing audit trail is generated providing management and marketing with the proof they need to hit the objectives of the organisation
- The remote team members get payments they can then exchange for locally relevant goods and services
An Agro-finance walk-through
Watch the video below to see what activity verification and fast, low cost payments looks like in task, with this example showing a Programme Manager in the UK using their mobile phone to verify activity by farmers in Thailand.
The Farmers are able to record their production of Biochar at a collection point, and be paid in Bank-backed USD, with locally relevant payment options provided to them.
Client case study - Smart Agro
Smart Agro are a Task customer, and deploying a project with several hundred households from indigenous minorities and Khmers living in the mountainous region of Cambodia across the provinces of Mondulkiri, Kratie and Tbong Khmum. They typically grow cashew trees, black pepper and own a few cows and other livestock.
Marc Eberle, Founder of Smart Agro explains: “Integrating no-till agriculture and cover crops into cropping systems is one step towards a transition to an environmentally friendly production system that can provide solutions rather than create more problems.
At the moment, conventional agriculture emits 25% of all GHGs worldwide, on the Asian continent it is 42%. If farmers stop tilling the soil and integrate cover crops, they can sequester between 1-4t CO2 from the atmosphere per hectare per year and reverse global warming depending on the scale they implement these practices on. This is a huge opportunity for humanity, society and the planet as a whole”.
Smart Agro trains farmers in soil and water management and helps them to implement no-till practices, the use of cover crops and organic crops and livestock protection like biopesticides etc. They also focus on improved pasture cropping and holistic grazing schemes and integrate the livestock back into their cropping systems of cashew and pepper where possible. This way farmers are able to protect their soils from erosion and regenerate soil fertility, which results in higher yields and profits combined with increased ecosystem health on their farms and around them.
We use Task to manage the project internally as well as the farmers. It creates buy-in from farmers when they upload their images and fill in their data. We can support them in their implementation in workshops and via the Task app, and in turn the app helps us to create demand and build a market for a variety of regenerative products that help farmers make their operations more sustainable and more profitable.”Marc Eberle, Director - Smart-Agro.net
We're excited to be working with Smart Agro and we believe this model has the potential for many other types of use cases. If you are an organisation looking to connect with remote teams, have investment funds that need protecting, or want to see funding channelled to the right places without middle-men, then we should talk.