Bancor, the world’s largest decentralised market for digital currencies is launching a network of blockchain-based community currencies in Kenya aimed at combating poverty through stimulation of local and regional commerce and peer-to-peer collaboration.

The launch will be overseen from Nairobi by Bancor’s new Director of Community Currencies, Will Ruddick, whose non-profit foundation, Grassroots Economics, operates community currency programs in six locations across Kenya, serving more than 20 schools and 1,000 local businesses. Ruddick and his team will utilise the Bancor Protocol to expand Grassroots’ existing paper currency system into a blockchain-based network which aims to reduce poverty by empowering communities to create interest-free credit based on their productive capacity.

Bancor is seeding the initial currencies by contributing capital generated from its $153 million token sale in June 2017. The Bancor Network allows anyone to create digital currencies that hold one or more balances in a connected currency. This enables integrated currencies to be interchangeable for one another, without the need for a counterparty. The currencies also feature built-in mechanisms to algorithmically calculate prices based on the currency’s supply, which adjusts dynamically to its use. These unique innovations are already being used to process over $20 million daily in digital currency conversions via the Bancor Network, and are now being rolled out to underserved communities across Kenya.

The project plans include:

  • First pilots to launch in Kawangware and Kibera, the two largest slums in Kenya.

  • Grassroots will tap its network of local businesses to circulate the currency by offering discounts and other benefits to customers who use it to transact.

  • As more people buy and hold the local currency, its market cap will increase, creating wealth and purchasing power for its holders.

  • Supporters or anyone (including community members) can buy and sell the community currencies, with transactions processed via the open-source Bancor Protocol, using other cryptocurrencies or a major credit card, allowing users globally to support the communities from afar.

  • A balance in a stabilised “parent” cryptocurrency that is under development will be initially pegged to the national currency (the Kenyan Shilling) and enable convertibility between the network of local currencies at algorithmically calculated prices.

“We have seen the crypto world generate roughly $400 billion for new currencies, and we believe the same mechanics can be applied to help communities create wealth on a local level through the use of blockchain-based community currencies that fill regional trade gaps, enable basic income and food security, and promote thriving local and interconnected global markets,” says Galia Benartzi, Co-founder of Bancor.