The Robin Hood Co-op (RHC) is the world’s first co-operative hedge fund. True to their namesake, they want to democratize economic power and drastically change the world of financial strategy; making this service accessible to everyone, not just the privileged.
This self-described ‘activist hedge fund’ allows anyone to join for an affordable price, and invest on the Wall Street stock exchange. Dividends can then be directed into community projects of the members’ choosing. In the past, the process of diverting funds to community projects has been a manual and labour intensive process. RHC hoped to be able to find a way to automate this whilst also unleashing other capabilities within their network. To manage this, RHC aimed to use Hylo, a web app that allows people to pledge resources in the shape of time, tools, skills and intentions.
The challenge was that Hylo had no way of transacting financially, which was essential to enable people to request finance for projects or to pledge money towards a cause. In partnership with RHC and Hylo, Thoughtworks integrated the Hylo platform with HitFin—a Ethereum cryptocurrency exchange—to handle Hylo's financial services, using blockchain.
Blockchain, the technology underpinning the digital currency bitcoin, is a secure ledger, accessible to all parties on an established network. It records and stores every transaction on that network, eliminating the need to have a trusted third party involved with payment processing. Transactions can be processed quicker and for less cost, at the same time reducing the likelihood of fraud.
Using this technology, the team were able to advance the Hylo platform so that users can authenticate and check their Hitfin balance on Hylo, and pledge money to projects.
This ambitious project presents new ways for customers to interact with financial services and evens the playing field for investors with less capital.