Facebook-backed startup is using blockchain to power digital food stamps

The Telos Foundation has announced a partnership with startup All_EBT to host its digital food stamping solution on the Telos blockchain.

All_EBT allows electronic recipients of benefits (EBT) to transfer their food coupon benefits to a virtual card, which can then be used to buy food online. This can be used with grocery / grocery delivery apps like Instacart and DoorDash, for example.

The startup – which is backed by Facebook, Draper Associates and EOS – has given 10,000 EBT receivers virtual cards to date and sees the partnership with Telos as a way to scale up to a much larger potential user base.

About 54 million Americans rely on food stamps, according to the company, and that number has been rising recently as a result of rising unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distance regulations. The pandemic is also why the All_EBT solution can be particularly beneficial at the moment, as low-income recipients can take advantage of grocery delivery services to avoid leaving home to shop.

The Telos blockchain will be used to maintain an unchanging record of EBT transactions, to verify data and minimize potential fraud.

Aside from slowness, there is an unwillingness on the part of government agencies to transfer food utilities to digital because they have not developed an easy way to do things like verify recipients, verify eligibility for purchases, and prevent fraud and other abuse, “said Telos Foundation CEO Suvi Rinkinen, in a release. Blockchain can fill all those gaps.

“The inability of people in need of food to currently provide help for safer options, such as online delivery, will only widen the social divide, weaken society’s safety net and create unnecessary health risks,” he added.

Tapping into blockchain to improve the distribution of wealth is an intriguing potential use case. Last December, company Blockchain Solutions company Orbs released a report suggesting that blockchain technology could reduce wasteful government spending by minimizing fraud in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program.

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