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Widening the Wealth Gap - CirclesUBI Research Report 2023

In this era of rapid technological progress, the divide between rich and poor seems to just be set to grow even further. Mental health challenges, environmental degradation, disparity, and automation and artificial intelligence that will quickly replace even more human jobs, are leaving millions facing economic insecurity. Traditional government welfare programs are overwhelmed and failing to adequately support those in need.

This is a challenging human reality that demands fresh solutions. This is where CirclesUBI is set to provide some light.

In 2023, CirclesUBI conducted an ambitious field test across three districts in Bali. The goal was to pilot a decentralized, trust-based digital point solution in real-world communities, promoting financial empowerment and strengthening local bonds.

Over the course of three months, CirclesUBI's locally-driven approach was geared to implement a controlled testing period with 1,500 users, in the three diverse areas. Participants included the rural district of Jembrana (623 users), the semi-urban town of Tabanan (357 users), and an area in the city of Denpasar (554 users). In total, 1,530 participants exchanged an impressive 1.26 million CirclesUBI Digital Points through 29,400 transactions, intersecting with 1,440 shops created on the CirclesUBI platform.

As local champions and community leaders advocated for the CirclesUBI vision, a powerful organic phenomenon emerged with 225 users joining organically. Disparate groups connected with over 9,500 new trust links formed, sharing resources and renewing a spirit of caring for their neighbors. Entrepreneurial thinking sparked, with users launching markets, charity initiatives, and earning opportunities within the innovative CRC ecosystem.

The effects were felt by local micro, small, and medium businesses, many of whom saw a welcome boost in customer engagement thanks to CirclesUBI's integrated marketplace tools, and after witnessing the tangible impacts firsthand and rigorously reviewing the outcomes of the pilot, Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) offered approval for continued nationwide implementation of CirclesUBI activities in the country.

According to BRIN's Impact Assessment, CirclesUBI users in Jembrana, participants experienced a perceived decrease in the severity of difficult life issues and lower debt burdens. Users in Tabanan reported decreased ceremonial expenses and an increased sense of being trusted within their community. In Denpasar, residents enjoyed a newfound ability to dine out more frequently.

The impact of CirclesUBI is reflected in the personal stories that emerged during this period of piloting. From organic user-driven adoption and a flood of user-generated content celebrating Circles exchange experiences to heartwarming tales of economic empowerment and deeper community ties, the 2023 field test showcased the potential real-world benefits of this decentralized approach.

70% of the 22 engaged Circles local champions, who were deeply involved in the onboarding of research participants, expressed enthusiasm and willingness to continue volunteering when CirclesUBI is ready to return.

Key lessons from this pilot have shaped considerations for the road ahead. User education, product refinements such as improved application load times, and more integration of social components including gamification were considered to be priorities to ensure an improved, human-centered user experience.

Key recommendations also included providing a more intuitive and robust marketplace, a dedicated charity donation interface, and solutions for performance in lower bandwidth areas.

To access the complete report feel free to click here.

Everyone at Circles UBI is immensely grateful to the 1,530 research participants who wholeheartedly embraced this field test, demonstrating in real-time how community-driven initiatives can catalyze real, and sustainable, cost-effective, meaningful change. Their stories of economic empowerment, renewed community bonds, and personal transformation will forever inspire us.

To entrepreneurs everywhere, we encourage you to follow CirclesUBI. Build businesses that strengthen local resilience, and build trust and human connection.

As the Indian philosopher Vinoba Bhave once said, "The furthest point in the evolution of community life is that society itself becomes a big family."


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