Tuesday , February 27, 2024

BlocPal And OneFeather Team to Deliver Services Via Mobile Wallets to Canada’s Indigenous People

As part of its goal to provide unbanked and underbanked consumers affordable digital access to financial services through a single application, BlocPal International Inc. has partnered with OneFeather, a Victoria, British Columbia-based provider of digital services to indigenous people in Canada, to introduce the OneFeather app in that country.

The app is intended to be a single platform for access to myriad digital services such as banking, election and voting services, data sovereignty and community engagement among indigenous people, says Sushant Trivedi, chief marketing officer for Vancouver, British Columbia-based BlocPal.

Of the 2 million indigenous people in Canada, 15% are unbanked and more than 44% live on reserves, making it difficult for them to access traditional financial institutions and services.

Trivedi: “It can be challenging to get to a bank from a reservation because of the distances that have to be traveled, and Covid only [worsened] the situation.”

“It can be challenging to get to a bank from a reservation because of the distances that have to be traveled, and Covid only [worsened] the situation,” says Trivedi. “There is a genuine need among indigenous people for technology that provides better access to financial services.”

The OneFeather wallet provides users access to prepaid credit and debit card accounts and includes the ability to digitally make deposits, withdrawals, and payments. The wallet also includes a digital rewards currency called the OneFeather token that offers wallet users incentives intended to empower indigenous people and meet their specific needs. Tokens can be used, shared, and managed directly from the OneFeather wallet. 

The OneFeather app also facilitates such non-financial services as digital voting, community engagement, and renewal of the First Nations Status card, an identification card for indigenous people in Canada. Some municipalities in Ontario and Nova Scotia offer Internet voting, and the Northwest Territories has experimented with the Internet for absentee voting. The OneFeather app is available through the Apple and Android stores. 

“The goal is to create a comprehensive solution for financial and non-financial services that bring indigenous communities into the online world,” says Trivedi, who adds BlocPal has launched similar initiatives in India and Mexico. 

A key benefit of providing digital access to financial services through the app is that it can help the unbanked avoid paying high transaction fees for payday loans or check-cashing services. Fees on payday loans can be 20% to 30% of the amount of the check. “Predatory pricing takes a big chunk of the check’s value upfront, which makes it harder to manage finances,” says Trivedi. 

Looking ahead, Trivedi says BlocPal plans to continue adding financial services, such as microloans and insurance, to meet more of the financial needs of indigenous people.  “Our aim is to provide the unbanked access to financial services that [banked consumers] take for granted,” Trivedi adds.

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