One of the first launches out of the gate at Consensus 2018 is from SALT (Secured Automated Lending Technology) Lending Holdings. The Colorado blockchain-based cash loan provider is launching the SALT Bridge Foundation to create a financial leg up for the estimated two billion unbanked and underbanked people around the world.
SALT (named after salt — historically the first commodity-based money) uses blockchain technology and smart contracts to offer a lending program based on cryptocurrencies as a collateral.
The mission of the SALT Bridge Foundation is to use blockchain technology and cryptocurrency education and lending services to financially empower those without banking services in the developing world.
The SALT Bridge Foundation will provide students with courses in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, and the opportunity to work with nonprofit organizations to implement blockchain technologies in communities around the world.
Describing the foundation’s mission as “creating a bridge to cryptocurrency and the understanding of blockchain,” SALT Executive Director Dan Moore said in a release:
“Blockchain allows us to truly implement the long-held vision of utilizing technology to improve the economic standing and the autonomy of everyone on this planet. I am honored to lead the Salt Bridge Foundation as we contribute to a greater shared future.”
Education and Training
The foundation is already running a pilot project jointly with Denver-based Regis University College of Business and Economics. Students are learning the basics of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies with courses on financial literacy and the benefits of cryptocurrency and blockchain-based financial systems.
In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Moore said:
“We are working with underbanked students at Regis University to provide financial literacy education and aid to be a part of this amazing experience. We are excited to see this program grow and deepen our partnership with such a respected and influential university.”
He added, “The chance to apply what you learn in the classroom to the real world for a meaningful and tangible impact changed my entire perspective and this program provided a natural partnership for the work of the SALT Bridge Foundation.”
After completing the course, scholarships enable students in this pilot project to go into the field in Uganda to participate in a social-impact program aimed at improving financial inclusion.
Moore explained why SALT chose Uganda for their first project:
“We initially targeted West Africa for a number of reasons: first and foremost, the lack of access to formal financial services results in substantial levels of poverty and with approximately 350 million unbanked adults in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a tremendous need for the opportunities financial inclusion can provide.”
He added, “We have seen progress through the burgeoning mobile ecosystem, which has demonstrated varying levels of success, and we believe the SALT Bridge Foundation can augment that work.”
The foundation also plans to train staff from voluntary and nonprofit organizations in how best to use blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies for donation management.
Providing a Financial Blockchain Platform for the Unbanked
The other component of the foundation involves using the SALT platform by providing access to blockchain-based financial services where traditional systems are out of reach.
Moore told us they will be using SALT’s own proprietary lending platform, the Secured Automated Lending Technology platform, which operates a lending marketplace for blockchain-based assets, for the pilot project:
“We plan to use the SALT Lending technology to capitalize on the crypto-collateral we provide in our programs; however, we are not committed to any one blockchain and instead will use whatever tools [are] available to us that fit each program. As this technology progresses and we see increased adoption rates, we’re optimistic about the new possibilities that may become available.”
Moore expressed a preference for Bitcoin at this stage of the program, saying:
“At this time, we believe that Bitcoin is the most logical cryptocurrency emphasis; however, in the future, we will utilize the tools that will best help us achieve our vision. Much like SALT Lending, we are blockchain agnostic, and our mission and focus is providing opportunity for the financially excluded; therefore, we welcome any future innovation that aids that mission.”
Lenders are accredited investors in accordance with SEC federal regulations and have passed SALT’s Lending Suitability Test.
The foundation hopes to expand its program to other countries and regions and is also exploring ways that it can more effectively help other foundations use, manage and obtain advantage from cryptocurrency holdings.
“We are passionate about the global social impact we can provide in bringing financial inclusion to this region and look forward to showing the world the true value of this technology,” concluded Moore.