What is R-Coin ?
The Rohingya Project Social Crypto Token (R-Coin) is to function as a social incentive device. The objective of the token is increase the social volunteering spirit among Rohingya, especially youth, and encourage integration within the local host country based on meritorious activities which can be documented.
The lack of a formal legal and administrative framework means that Rohingya and other refugees and asylum seekers cannot legally work and have limited access to public services. In remains a challenger to sustain themselves with sufficient economic resources to be able to pay for essential expenses. Refugee women and youth are among the most marginalized. Language barriers and cultural norms, often make it difficult for women to participate in activities outside of the home. As a result, they are disconnected and unable to become self-reliant. Refugee youth lack access to education and professional development opportunities resulting in participation in un-safe jobs and activities. Social capital is one of the coping mechanism developed. Refugees who do undergo skills-based training often lack a mechanism to track their skill development and are presented to employers as blank slates. Social capital plays important role such as in getting basic needs, informal employment/loans and information. With the protection risk, misperception about refugees and differences in culture and beliefs, building social capital or engaging in collective actions that will contribute to their wellbeing, remains a challenge. Refugees have developed a complex social system that allows them to adapt to these challenges. As difficult as such circumstances may be, they also offer fertile ground for creative and atypical projects that seek to fill in the gaps that exist in this informal system for refugees. The desire for penetrating this informal socio-economy with the hope of creating a new ecosystem is the impetus behind our latest project, called the R-Coin. The overall goal of the R-Coin is to tap into this unrecognized community service and skills of refugees through creating a digital reward system that can eventually form the basis for formalizing the informal.
The R-Wallet is a simple, usable mobile application that can store R-Coin – a non-monetary crypto token that serves as reward coin for volunteer work within the refugee communities such as teaching, counseling, assisting in soup kitchens and group cleanup. Refugees receive R-Coins for completed hours of community service. To ensure the viability of the Refugee Token network, we are collaborating with field partners. Field Partners (including UN agencies, schools, NGOs, etc.) are those who supervise community services by the refugee, and are responsible for dispersal of R-Coin upon completion of tasks and documentation of timing and duration of tasks. The designated of the community tasks is set upon in consultation with Field Partners.
- Encourage and reward Rohingya and other refugees who are socially productive
- Create a digital record of their social contributions and skills hours that refugees can carry with them, endorsed by the organizations whom they are associated with as a digital accreditation
- Counter the narrative that refugees are only unhelpful and burdensome migrants which is prevalent in host countries
The R-Coin is a path to recognition of refugees and giving them legitimacy rather than living an invisible existence. The R-Coin gives Rohingya and other refugees a means to record their social transactions and build a professional history as they seek resettlement or look for employers who would be willing to hire them based on their recorded work history. For many refugees such as Rohingya who also lack formal identification including a UNHCR card, this social history forms one basis of identity as well.
The long term impact of the R-Coin is to be a gamechanger for Rohingya and other who are stuck in a limbo in which there is little recognition for their extensive social work in their own communities and outside for host society as well. The precious training hours that refugees undergo in various training centers in Kuala Lumpur can be added to the refugee profile. It will also provide a new and viable avenue for humanitarian aid providers to link their charitable contributions to positive contributions on the ground from refugees. Aside from this, the R-Coin ecosystem can be a bridge for refugees to create meaningful connections with the local labor markets that can view the refugee less as mysterious entities and more based on the skills and achievements linked to their digital profile. This integration of refugee within the host country social framework is a long term goal.
The Rohingya Project conducted the R-Coin pilot with 35 refugee participants, including Rohingya, Afghan, Somali, Myanmar Muslim, Palestinian and Yemeni refugees. While initially the program targeted 1000 community hours achieved through the R-Coin in three months, due to certain delays the time period was limited to from early November to late December. The program achieved over 570 R-Coins from the participants in this period which actually exceeded expectations at the beginning of the pilot. At the closing ceremony, the participants redeemed their R-Coin for different rewards, including Starbucks gift cards (10 R-Coins), ATM Cards with insurance (20 R-Coins) and health service packages (40 R-Coins). The ATM cards offer mobile finance services as most refugees are unable to open bank account locally.