Universal Basic Income – A 40yr old UBI & the latest experiments

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019

The social need for a Universal Basic Income and its social and economic implications have not subsided. UBI is not as hot as stablecoins and DeFi but there are more and more UBI pilots that are mushrooming around the world. I am noticing pilots that move into implementation and also UBI programs that were launched for a small part of the population and have now grown multiple times.

Most people know of the Swedish experiment that was not considered a great success. From experience and from the academic points of view, values and cultures matter because they shape the perceptions of self worth, purpose, and value add. At the same time, we live in an era during which values are shifting.

I`ll take you around the world and highlight some of the UBI initiatives that are already rolled out. First and foremost, Alaska is the state that has UBI running `successfully`  since 1980 which pays out to every citizen amounts that vary from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands (recently). The payments depend on the reserves of the Alaska permanent fund (from oil revenues). The success is measured by the alleviation of poverty especially amongst the indigenous population, and improved child health levels.

In the US, UBI was a core theme for the former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s campaign. A recent survey by PEW Research center, showed a split 54% against and 46% in favor of a $1000 UBI per adult in the US. However, young people favor this kind of UBI by about two to one.

COVID has led to local small UBI programs in the US, like the one launched by the San Francisco mayor. He has earmarked $6million for artists, cultural workers and teachers who will receive in 2021 a monthly stipend of $1000 for at least 6months.

Jack Dorsey the CEO of Twitter and Square is funding a $3million UBI experiment with 15 mayors in cities in the US.

Spain and Denmark already implemented interim UBIs during the pandemic. Scotland has stepped up already and Brighton is in trial phase.

India is discussing UBI seriously.

While South Korea is moving really fast. They had started a small-scale UBI program with 200,000 citizens in the province of Gyeonggi and during the pandemic, they scaled it up to 13 million citizens. The money is distributed via card and the money can only be spent on local businesses (no international chains or stores in another neighborhood). They have also been analyzing the aggregated anonymous data to adjust the program accordingly. Their aim is to stimulate local economies and small businesses. Up until the success of the program is very positive. South Korea is already a country with very high automation levels, and any data from there is valuable in understanding the issues that arise when implementing UBI programs.

//https://on.wsj.com/3datgPV

As Elon Musk discussed back in 2017, automation will create unemployment and UBI will become a necessity. The challenge will be the social issues around self-worth and purpose when one is unemployed.

The only way to experiment and create UBI schemes that are suitable for different societies is to deploy programmable money. Still, we will have to deal with issues of people moving to countries with better UBI schemes, much like people have been migrating to countries where there are better job opportunities.

There are two fresh initiatives that I spotted experimenting with cryptocurrencies, wallets and UBI. These are not government-led.

Circle, powering stablecoin USDC, will be airdropping 240 CRC tokens every month in your Circles wallet. The Circles wallet is new and one needs to get invited by three users that are already in the network. CRC tokens can only be used to exchange products and services within the Circles community. Therefore it is a UBI to spent within the local digital community.

EToro, the social trading platform, has announced a DeFi powered UBI initiative. The OpenUBI project called GoodDollar, will function with its own stablecoin $G (backed by $DAI). EToro has donated $1million worth to GoodDollar, and is inviting others to donate. The non-profit project will used DeFi yield farming and then distribute part of the interest back to supports and towards issuing new $G tokens for UBI payments. The project is in the trial phase. Thousands of wallets have been created and await $G tokens in countries like South Africa and Nigeria, and Venezuela. In the first two weeks 100,000 $G tokens have been placed.

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