Blockchain Technology has recently added a new feather to its hat as it would be used to resolve the issue of exorbitant illegal fees that migrant workers are forced to pay in the city of Hong Kong. This technology is already being used in multiple areas because of the many benefits that it offers. UN Migration Agency has announced that it would make use of blockchain to stamp out these illegal fees that are imposed on the workers. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) which is the UN Migration Agency in collaboration with a blockchain financial services and technology company called Diginex, has announced the launch of a blockchain-based tool whose objective is to prevent the exploitation of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong SAR, China.
The tool has been named the IRIS-SAFER, which stands for the International Recruitment Integrity System- Self Assessment for Ethical Recruitment has been designed to be used by “representatives from the approximately 1500 Hong Kong-based migrant domestic worker recruitment agencies as well as selected associated agencies in worker-sending countries.” Certain agencies have also been invited to implement this tool to examine the level of adherence to global ethical recruitment principles, as set forth by the IRIS Standard. This exercise will be a part of their engagement in training on a wider scale on ethical recruitment.
Blockchain technology is being used as it will enable the strengthening of data management and data integrity with its set of ‘immutable, secure, data records’ which would ensure a high degree of transparency and visibility. Hong Kong witnessed a flood of domestic workers almost every year with almost 390,000 domestic workers which implies that 1 in 10 workers are migrant. Moreover, almost 98% of these workers are women and almost 56% i.e. more than half of them, have had to pay illegal and high fees by recruitment agencies. The IOM is an intergovernmental agency on migration and therefore focuses on any problem area faced by immigrants and provides a pragmatic resolution of these that would help industry associations, migrant communities, governments and other stakeholders in the process. The IRIS-SAFER has thus been conceived to mitigate and resolve any migrant related issues like the one faced by these workers in Hong Kong.
Guiseppe Crocetti, Chief of Mission, IOM, China, has said, “ Ethical requirement practices are essential to improve the protection of workers, employers, and recruitment intermediaries. We are excited to have identified an opportunity by which IOM can support migrant worker recruitment agencies to differentiate themselves as good actors. Through the use of IRIS SAFER agencies will first learn what are global ethical recruitment standards, then be able to demonstrate their progress and, ultimately prove their commitment.” Mark Blick, The Head of Government Solutions at Diginex, has remarked, “We are delighted to partner with the IOM on this impactful project. Using the UN’s IRIS standards as the benchmark for reputable agencies, we are confident that the tool can help to strike out these unethical practices.” Diginex and IOM also have plans to introduce the IRIS-SAFER to recruitment agencies in other jurisdictions spread throughout the globe. The test of the tool would be in Hong Kong SAR and a few other countries where migrant domestic workers play a significant role in the workforce. Diginex and IOM have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop the IRIS-SAFER tool last year and have anticipated a successful rollout of the tool in this region.
Diginex, being a blockchain financial services and technology company, collaborates with different institutions, government agencies, institutional investors, corporations, etc. with the aim to make the business process more safe, efficient and simple. It strives to make digital assets more accessible and with its emphasis on a collaborative approach, it aims to secure global cooperation with more institutions adopting blockchain technology and using digital assets in a regulated manner. Therefore with its partnership with UN Migration Agency, IOM aims to resolve the challenges that migrant workers are facing and is expected to be a step forward towards the human management of the migration problem.