Financial Wellbeing for Alice and Bob – 2018

“The poverty rate in B.C. is among the worst in Canada. Too many people are struggling to make ends meet, earn a living wage, or find and keep affordable housing. Too many families are suffering without basic necessities, relying on food banks, going hungry or sending their children to school hungry.” The BC Poverty Reduction Initiative, BC Government.

The BC Blockchain Forum is proud to be hosting a hackathon in partnership with Blockstack and Women in Emerging Tech.  The purpose of the hackathon is to encourage developers to create a decentralized product/service for increasing financial wellbeing for financially distressed, hardworking members of our society,

The Problem: Token Economy: Slow adoption and use cases for contribution to the real economy

The real economy is defined as “the part of the economy that is concerned with actually producing goods and services, as opposed to the part of the economy that is concerned with buying and selling on the financial markets.” (FT Lexicon)

There is an opportunity for the emerging token and blockchain economy to demonstrate contribution to the growth of the real economy.

The opportunity: Creating financial wellbeing for the ALICE segment in the economy

We are inspired by the research and the United Way AlICE project:

“ALICE is a hardworking member of the community who is employed yet does not earn enough to afford the basic necessities of life.

ALICE earns above the federal poverty level, but does not earn enough to afford a bare-bones household budget of housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care. The United Way ALICE Reports use new measures to provide a more accurate picture of financial insecurity at the state, county, and municipal level.”

Traditional measures of poverty do not capture the magnitude of people who are struggling financially. Our new metric offers a better way to count and understand ALICE, and to ultimately inform policy decisions to affect positive change for this growing portion of our population.”

ALICE is a United Way acronym that stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.” 

Reference: The United Way: Alice Project

Why this is important

Significant resources and efforts are applied by blockchain technology initiatives to address the challenges faced by the unbanked. There is however a large proportion of society on North America who are currently finding it challenging to engage, adopt and contribute to development of decentralized technologies and the token economy. This increases the risk that they will be “left behind” in the digital economy creating a bigger challenge fo them to achieve financial wellbeing.

The ALICE demographic faces a variety of challenges in accessing the blockchain economy safely, which could prevent us for achieving our dreams for a  more inclusive economy and just society:

  1. Lack of knowledge about the industry, the risks and opportunities for their financial future
  2. Time: to attend meetups, study after hours, learn how to use the technology
  3. Physical constraints: e g inability to travel to events, lack of access to social media and other leading edge technology (including smartphones)
  4. Almost impossible to participate in the blockchain economy: difficult to invest in compliant security tokens and other tokenized digital assets (technology barrier as well as issues of scams, etc)

The purpose of the hackathon:
Participants will create a decentralized product/service to help Alice and Bob participate in a safe, viable and sustainable way in the emerging decentralized economy. We want to demonstrate how this will empower Alice and Bob to grow their financial wellbeing.

Examples of Potential Use Cases

  1. Household Data Collection: in a way that households who provide the data can also directly benefit from use of the data
  2. Household Data Collection: households and data collection organizations can be assured of better security and data protection
  3. Household Community Rewards Program: Completion of Blockstack Financial Wellbeing activities in a way that contributing households earn reward tokens (that can be turned into real money or cost saving for life’s  necessities)
  4. Financial Wellbeing Partner Reward Program: Reputation Rewards Partner Program completing activities in  a way that they earn reputational tokens that will increase their influence in helping to promote new policies in BC based on real time economic measurements of financial hardship
  5. Improved reputation and accuracy for Social Impact Bonds: Payments by the public sector/financier for improved social outcomes that result in public savings.

Why Blockstack?

Blockstack is a socially responsible business and a new internet for decentralized apps where users own their data. A browser is all that’s needed to get started. Developers do not need to have any prior blockchain coding skills. This enables any developer to participate in the new distributed digital economy.

This developer hackathon to bring the greater good of decentralized technologies into action is brought to you by Blockstack, BC Blockchain Forum and Women in Blockchain Vancouver with organizer support from Advance Tech Media, Decentrum and DigitalFutures.

Please contact Rama Ibrahim,  MaRi Eagar or Angel Gonzalez if you are interested in contributing to this meaningful event as a developer (participant), sponsor or mentor (experienced developers/engineers). We also welcome anyone who would like to encourage members from their communities to enrol.




Research and user experience

There are various reasons why Alice and Bob currently find it challenging to engage and fully participate in the emerging decentralized economy. We have provided some research resources for you to understand these challenges. These resources will help provide insights and simulate ideas on how the token and blockchain economy can contribute to reducing poverty and contribute to new financial wellbeing opportunities.

Meet Alice and Bob:
“They are hardworking members of society but do not earn enough to afford a bare-bones household budget of housing, child care, food, transportation, and preventative health care.

Alice and Bob are your child care worker, your parent on Social Security, the cashier at your supermarket, the gas attendant, the salesperson at your big box store, your waitress, a home health aide, an office clerk working in health care.

Alice and Bob cannot always pay the bills, have little or nothing in savings, and are forced to make tough choices such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent. One unexpected car repair or medical bill can push these financially strapped families over the edge.”
(Adapted from United Way: definition: The Alice Project)

User Experience

Take the challenge to understand the tough financial choices Alice and Bob make.

BC Inspired Use Cases

You can also download and read the list of ideas gathered from the BC Government Poverty Reduction initiative – community engagement workshops.

Watch this inspiring TED Talk about changing stereotyping of poverty: “Poverty isn’t lack of character, it’s lack of cash.”


Meet Alice

She is divorced with two children ages 7 and 10. Her ex-husband does not pay alimony, and has little involvement with her and the children because of his personal health issues.

Alice works full time as an administrator in a low paying role in the government  and studies after hours to complete a certificate in HR. Over weekends Alice makes extra money by cooking meals and cleaning the apartments of senior citizens.

She would love to be a psychologist, but would simply never earn enough to even get a student loan to study or take time off for full time studies.

Alice is worried that new changes in technology will make her work redundant.

She is unable to attend any meetups or get involved with blockchain as she does not have money to travel nor pay someone to look after the children when she is not home.

The crypto world is also scary as she heard about bitcoin scams at ATMs and her father told her that economist said it is a ponzi scheme.

As a government employee she works on outdated computers and will have no exposure to machine learning or even blockchain or fintech technologies.

She does not use social media and does not have internet at home as she cannot afford it. Her children do not have mobile phones, and attend a public school. 

Meet Bob

Bob just celebrated his 50th birthday. A month ago he had an annual performance meeting, and was informed that the  retail company where he worked as a manager, lost significant business due to Amazon’s online shopping platform. Bob was given a three month severance package, three free career counseling meetings to transition to a new job, and qualifies for Unemployment Insurance for 6 months after the three months severance is over.

He is frantic as his wife has been unable to find work for more than two years and they already live frugally in a rented studio in a basement.

Bob and his wife heard about bitcoin and blockchain, and want to get involved as they hope it will help him get work with blockchain projects, but he does not know where to start.  

He also wants to figure out how to earn cryptocurrency safely and does not have any money to invest. His wife is already on but only makes enough to pay for the monthly hydro bill.

Bob also discovered last week that he has a heart problem, which is made worse because of his stress about not having a job anymore.

The company where he worked did not invest much in technology, and Bob has therefore limited experience using collaboration platforms. He has never been involved in any entrepreneurial projects.

They both attend blockchain meetups, but find that it is difficult to fit in due to their age.

Financial Wellbeing for Alice and Bob: Research and Hackathon design by MaRi Eagar from DigitalFutures.

Each One, Teach One.