Crypto saviour


South Woodford resident Matt Bradley explains how, earlier this year, he helped students in Ukraine escape the war-torn country by creating a cryptocurrency guide

My name is Matt Bradley. I’m a recent graduate from a London university and have lived in South Woodford for most of my life. My degree was focused on business management and I took a particular interest in emerging technologies and companies operating on the blockchain (a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets).

While studying at university, I got a call from a friend who knew I had been working on some blockchain-based projects, asking if I could give some advice to a charity group helping minority students in Ukraine.

I took the call at 10pm and met Natasha Junejo, who was working with Black Foreigners in Ukraine (BFU). They explained the issues that minority students were facing when trying to use the local currency to pay for transport out of the country. Many forms of transport were accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment; however, the group had no experience with this technology.

So, I started making a guide that could be deployed to students on the ground and the organisation’s team members. Knowing that time could make a big impact on the individuals in Ukraine, I set to work, and I knew creating a pictorial guide would be extremely useful as many students didn’t have Ukrainian as their first language.

The guide was used to install a wallet on their smartphones that would give them an address that BFU was then able to send cryptocurrency to and the students could then use their phones to pay for goods and services.

Within 12 hours we had a young medical student who had been lost for almost a day using cryptocurrency to get themselves on a train out of the country and en route to their family. The team at BFU and Natasha did all the heavy lifting, and the work they do is truly astounding.

It was amazing to help in any way and I’ll always remember this opportunity as a time I was able to make a difference, and it makes a great case for decentralised currencies.

The blockchain isn’t just a way to invest money and buy ‘internet money’. It offers a way for people to live without relying on institutions to transact and work as a community. By taking that institutional power away and putting it in the hands of us, the people, we can make big impacts together.

I’m now working with London Imaginative Collective to build a way to tell the stories of refugees and those in Ukraine using the blockchain, and we will soon be releasing a documentary covering the untold stories of the Ukrainian people.