Philanthropy, international aid and blockchain, with Ben Joakim and Paul Currion from Disberse

3 July 2018

In this episode Rhodri chats to Ben Joakim and Paul Currion from Disberse, a fintech startup applying blockchain technology to the international development and aid sector. They chat about the challenges they have found in getting beyond the hype surrounding blockchain, and the genuine opportunities they believe the technology has to offer. Including:

  • Why blockchain? What can you do with a blockchain in an aid context that you can't do with another, simpler technology?
  • The last mile problem: how do you get money and goods to where they are actually needed when using blockchain, assuming that people and communities on the ground are not themselves using the technology?
  • Regulation: how are governments and regulators approaching blockchain technology? What challenges does this present for those trying to use it in a civil society context?
  • Cryptocurrency: Why have Disberse chosen not to work with existing cryptocurrencies? What are the opportunities and pitfalls of doing so?
  • State of blockchain for good: How much of what has been said about blockchain tech's potential in the civil society space is merely hype, and how much reflects true potential to do this differently or better? And where do things go next?

About the Giving Thought podcast

The Giving Thought podcast is an exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society.  Since launching in May 2017, the podcast has become recognised as an insightful and influential source of philanthropic debate. 

In each episode Rhodri Davies, Director of our Giving Thought Think Tank, and guests, take a contemporary issue in philanthropy and civil society and break it down into three manageable chunks, giving an overview of the extensive work they have done on the subject.  Episodes are also available free on iTunes and Libsyn.

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Rhodri Davies

Rhodri Davies

Head of Policy

Rhodri leads Giving Thought, our in-house think tank focusing on current and future issues affecting philanthropy and civil society. Rhodri has spent nearly a decade specialising in public policy around philanthropy and the work of charities, and has researched, written and presented on a wide range of topics. He has a first-class degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Oxford.   Read more about Rhodri



Speaker profile: Rhodri Davies

Rhodri's specialist areas include philanthropy, history of philanthropy, the future of giving, Blockchain/Bitcoin and charity, artificial intelligence and giving, augmented/virtual reality and charity and the science of charitable giving.


Our project to create a world where new technologies and social trends have a positive impact on the future of civil society.

Giving Thought think-tank

Giving Thought is where we consider the key challenges facing civil society globally, explore how and why people give, and test radical new ideas that could shape the future of charity.