Overview

Sikka is a digital asset transfer platform designed for the financially marginalised, at-need population. With Sikka, community members can receive cash transfers on their feature phones through local vendors or a local financial cooperative in their village, thus allowing both unrestricted as well as restricted cash-based transfers (CBTs). Sikka is designed such that it can provide unrestricted CBTs through local financial cooperatives or restricted CBTs and distribution of humanitarian aid goods through vendor networks. In this way, Sikka’s asset transfer platform opens the benefits of blockchain-based services to those lacking either the knowledge, technology or resources generally required of other similar services.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether have been gaining a lot of media attention, which sometimes highlighted certain regulatory concerns that has resulted in some national governments and central banks issuing laws restricting the use of cryptocurrencies. Blockchain technology, however, is distinct from cryptocurrency: A blockchain is a form of distributed ledger technology (DLT) that creates a trust protocol between a network of system nodes for communicating information that is inherently secured and validated.

Sikka can be used to represent any currency or commodity as per the aid organization’s need. The Sikka token will hold its value only within a well-defined ecosystem comprising the aid organization, beneficiaries, vendors and/or financial cooperatives. The Sikka system creates an equivalent number of tokens for each unit of fiat currency (or commodities) held in trust for the system. In the case of CBTs, all the money distributed in the system remains within the traditional banking system with Sikka functioning as a trust protocol representing money in the bank.

Problems

Some of the problems in existing cash transfer interventions are identified are as follows:

  1. Organizations do not want to share beneficiary’s private information with external stakeholders.
  2. High cost associated with other technologies or means of aid distribution
  3. Intense trainings and long implementation timeline required before the distribution.
  4. Numeracy among beneficiaries and traders is very low
  5. High service charges associated while acquiring services from banks.
  6. Extra costs associated with logistics and staffing during distribution.

Solution

Sikka in Nepali means “coin”, which is an apt name for a currency-backed token. Sikka forms the core of an e-voucher system that incorporates blockchain technology over cellular networks to provide a CBT solution for aid agencies to reach remote communities with limited access to financial services. The CTP model of Sikka is designed to facilitate and monitor both cash and commodity based aid operations

Why Sikka?

As an overall solution, the benefits of using Sikka can be understood as benefits accruing from accessibility, network resilience and accountability:.

  1. Accessibility : Sikka makes use of cellular networks to provide its service which can be accessed through the use of a simple feature phone. Since this is based on a SMS service, there is no restriction to the kind of phone that can be used to access Sikka’s services.
  2. Network Resilience : SMS service is one of the most resilient services provided by any mobile network operator, making Sikka’s services more readily available and with reduced downtime. After a disaster like an earthquake, SMS is the first service to be made available by the network operator which makes it easier and more reliable for the organizations to disburse aid to affected beneficiaries with reduced connectivity.
  3. Accountability : Sikka, being built on blockchain technology, ensures accountability, transparency, and trust within and among organizations. Each transaction happening between beneficiaries, vendors and cooperatives within a given program can be tracked in real time as it happens. Since the transaction logs existing in a blockchain are essentially tamper-proof, organizations can rely on the system in a virtually trustless manner.

 

The main benefits from an organizational perspective for using Sikka are:

  • Reduced Overhead: Sikka supports significant portions of Monitoring and Evaluation processes by virtue of blockchain transaction records. In addition to that, organizations are not required to be continually present in the field, or at least not in the large numbers required by similar systems, because Sikka allows greater levels of operational capacity through local partners within a transparent operational environment.
  • Real-time data visualization: Sikka provides a dashboard to Program Managers that allow them to monitor the use of Sikka and track deployment in real-time. Each transaction is time stamped and displayed on the dashboard with information including sender, receiver and the amount transferred.
  • No additional equipment required: Sikka does not require organizations to distribute any additional hardware or materials (such as debit cards)  to the beneficiaries.

 

From the beneficiaries perspective:

 

  • Simple and intuitive end user interface and experience: Beneficiaries are able to use sikka using SMS service with simple and intuitive steps that can be memorized easily. For beneficiaries it’s easier than adding credit to their phone through a scratch card.
  • Available in local language:  In addition to using a feature phone the overall user interface is done through local language further reducing barrier for usage. Currently, the system supports English and Nepali language.

 

Utilizes local vendors and local Financial Services Providers (FSPs) : Sikka uses existing service providers like local shops and local cooperatives for redemption and/or exchange of Sikka thus reducing the hassle for beneficiaries to travel long distances to receive support.

Website

www.sikka.me
info@sikka.me

Team

Saujanya Acharya
saujanya_acharya@nepalinnovationlab.org

Sandesh Pandey
sandesh_pandey@nepalinnovationlab.org