If you asked anyone what could unlock their goals, make their life easier and give them a feeling of stability, most would answer one thing: money. When it comes to retirement, emergencies, education and housing, financial freedom is the difference between struggling with few prospects and resting comfortably. Financial freedom starts with the basic building blocks of a financial profile, bank accounts and credit.
The Finnish blockchain startup, MONI, collaborates with the Finnish Immigration Service to ensure that refugees in Finland have access to prepaid MasterCards and digital identity numbers stored on a blockchain.
To recap, blockchain technology was founded by multiple people, listed under the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. Blockchain distributes digital information in a format that can't be altered but that can be tracked digitally and it's behind some of the big name technologies like Bitcoin.
Advantages to MONI
Using MONI's app, customers don't need a passport to open their Finnish bank account. This is especially useful for refugees, many of whom may be stateless, never had a passport or whose passports were expired, damaged or lost before arriving in Finland. Having a bank account unlocks multiple opportunities for refugees, like having an account to receive government benefits, apply for loans and have some kind of credit history.
Since the accounts are prepaid MasterCards, they work anywhere MasterCard is accepted and customers always have control of their money They can top up their balance using any credit or debit card, receive their salary through MONI and shop in-store and online with their cards.
How Credit Works Internationally
The recurring issue for many immigrants and refugees is credit history. If you never planned on having to leave your country abruptly, you may not have built up a credit history. Even if you had, you would likely have no official record as your loans and payments wouldn't have been recorded under the identification system of your new country. For instance, a Dutch citizen may have a record of transactions done under their Dutch citizen or BSN number, but when they come to America and obtain a Social Security Number, there would be no record of any transactions made before they obtained an SSN.
With MONI, no existing bank account or credit history is needed to sign up. This is also similar to the approach MONI takes to loans and other financial services. MONI allows customers to send money to other MONI accounts instantly and without a fee. It also enables customers to lend and borrow money without additional costs or interests. The app itself is set up for users to loan and borrow money from their friends and family and keep track of and receive disbursements in real time.
This loan structure not only helps users get loans who otherwise would not be able to obtain them, but also it provides users the ease of paying loans back at their own pace and with a record of payments. For customers who need help keeping track of their transactions or perhaps just need the additional peace of mind, MONI keeps track of transactions for them. Payment, transaction and loan activity generate alerts for customers, which helps them avoid surprises and keep track of their balance.
For customers who already have multiple cards, they can connect any other credit or debit card to their MONI account using the app. In this way, customers don't have to carry more than one card. Should they lose their MONI card, customers will be notified immediately of each transaction and can block it from any web browser.
While these services seem simple, they're also taken for granted. They're offered free of charge in traditional deposit accounts, but for those who must rely on cash or prepaid cards they typically aren't offered. The app itself is only available for Apple devices but it is available all across Europe.
Providing access to financial resources not only helps refugees manage their money and build up credit, but it also helps achieve a financial freedom they otherwise may not have had. The first step toward financial freedom and dignity is finding alternatives to traditional deposit accounts.