Uulala
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Uulala

How Uulala uses blockchain to empower the underbanked

Uulala’s financial services platform relies on blockchain technology to facilitate activities, automatically creating a permanent record of all transactions. This makes it not only secure but also accessible and cost-effective.

As a mission-driven organization committed to bringing financial access to the underbanked, Uulala not only offers digital finance to previously unbanked individuals but also starts creating a credit history for each user from their first transaction. The permanence of transaction records created on the blockchains allows individuals without credit to rely on the validity of their transaction history with Uulala. They can start building a credit profile that can be accepted by formal financial institutions, opening the door to larger financial offerings, like mortgages or business loans.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain can be defined as a distributed, decentralized public ledger. It gained notoriety in 2009 as the software underpinning Bitcoin, but was actually invented in 1991 as a way to timestamp digital documents.

The ‘blocks’ in a blockchain are chunks of digital data, and the ‘chain’ is the public database on which they are stored. Each block has characteristics that make it unique and link it to the previous block in the chain.

There is no way to tamper with an individual block of information without affecting all subsequent blocks. Data stored on a blockchain is not only encrypted but also linked together chronologically, copied onto a public database (the blockchain) and distributed to a network of individual computers (nodes), who then each hold a copy of the original blockchain.

Each block of data is made of three unique components:

  • Data — Transactional info and value; what is being transferred and by whom.
  • Hash — Unique identity of the block, calculated from the data it contains. If the data in the block changes, the hash changes. A hash looks like this:

b31d032cfdcf47a399990a71e43c5d2a:144816

  • Hash of the previous block — If data in any block is changed, every subsequent block would need to be redone to incorporate the identity of the block that was changed.

In order to add a block to the chain, the block needs proof of work, an algorithm that requires consensus throughout the network. This process takes time (e.g., 10 minutes in the case of Bitcoin), and slows down processing enough to prevent someone changing the hashes of the entire blockchain in time for the change not to be caught by the network.

How does Uulala use blockchain?

While blockchain technology is largely associated with cryptocurrencies, it has a much wider range of applications, from storing medical records to tracking art to creating secure digital identification. For Uulala, blockchain is used to facilitate and store all its transactions.

Every transaction that is made in the Uulala ecosystem, whether between Uulala users or between a Uulala account and an outside institution, requires a token (the UULA) to process the transaction. The UULA is a type of cryptocurrency called a utility token that is not used as money, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, but is used to facilitate transactions which are then logged on a blockchain.

Fintech regulations are evolving rapidly, and as new regulations come into effect, Uulala’s blockchain system has the versatility to adapt to changing conditions both nationally and internationally while maintaining a stable, secure platform.

How blockchain can help the financially underserved

In Latin America, over half of adults have no bank account at all and even more do not have access to a full range of financial services, such as credit cards or loans.

In 2015, 9 million households in the U.S. were unbanked, and a further 24.5 million were underbanked. The credit scoring system in the United States, FICO, is not international, so new immigrants have no usable credit history when they first come to the country. Uulala could help change that, as the security of its transaction records have the potential for recognition by governments and formal financial institutions.

The security and incorruptibility of the blockchain makes it a suitable record for traditional financial institutions to accept when evaluating new applicants. As un- and underbanked individuals begin making transactions through the app, they’re building a secure record of their transaction history that they can then leverage for future credit in the formal sector.

Eventually, the hope is that with a system of decentralized, blockchain-secured credit history will be internationally recognized, helping immigrants access financial products in their new countries as well as bringing digital finance to nearly 2 billion unbanked adults worldwide.

Visit Uulala.io to get early access to the mobile app in your country.

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Matthew Loughran, EMBA

Matthew Loughran, EMBA

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Social Impact Entrepreneur at FounderX.co, Emerging Technology Advocate, Certified UN SDG Impact Measurement Specialist