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UN Migration Agency Will Use Blockchain Technology in Effort to Stamp out Illegal Fees Charged to Migrant Workers in Hong Kong

While in many people’s minds, blockchain technology is inescapably linked to bitcoin and the rise of cryptocurrency and the disruption of traditional financial services, the technology has also long been hailed as a facilitator and enabler of social change and improvement in the quality of life for many of the world’s most disadvantaged people. With increasing investment across the world into the development of blockchain technology, many sectors are now involve in its adoption and application to some degree. With its potential benefits, including the immutability and security of stored information increased transparency, visibility and security of data, even international non-governmental organisations, including the United Nations, are exploring how blockchain technology might support some of their varied initiatives.According to a December press release, Diginex, a blockchain financial services and technology company, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – the UN Migration Agency – will launch a blockchain-based tool developed to prevent the exploitation of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong SAR, China.
The tool is initially being designed for use by representatives from the approximately 1,500 Hong Kong-based migrant domestic worker recruitment agencies as well as select associated agencies in worker-sending countries. It is called IRIS-SAFER, which is an acronym for the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS)- Self-Assessment for Ethical Recruitment (SAFER).Agencies will be invited to use the tool to assess their current level of adherence to global ethical recruitment principles as set forth by the IRIS Standard, and they will use IRIS-SAFER as a part of their participation in broader training on ethical recruitment.Diginex asserts that, “The use of blockchain technology – essentially a set of immutable, secure, data records – will strengthen data management and enforce data integrity, which allows for a higher level of transparency and visibility.”According to a survey in the area, almost 10% of all workers in the city are migrant domestic workers and almost all of these are women. More than half of these domestic migrant workers are being charged illegal fees by recruitment agencies.

Mr. Mark Blick, Head of Government Solutions at Diginex, said: “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 practises. In Hong Kong, foreign domestic workers are some of the most economically vulnerable people in our society and pay approximately HK$700,000,000 each year in placement/recruitment fees. Being headquartered in Hong Kong, we believe it is vital to support the communities in which we operate, so this partnership and project is close to our hearts.”

IOM is focused on searching for practical solutions and tools that assist industry associations, governments, migrants and their communities with migration-related issues.

“Ethical recruitment practices are essential to improve protection of workers, employers and recruitment intermediaries,” added Mr. Giuseppe Crocetti, Chief of Mission, IOM China.

“We are excited to have identified an opportunity by which IOM can support migrant worker recruitment agencies to differentiate themselves as good actors. Through 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. With this project, we are drawing from IOM’s global work, through the IRIS initiative, and tailoring it to the specific experience of recruiting migrant domestic workers to Hong Kong SAR, China to ensure that in future no migrant domestic worker is made vulnerable to exploitation due to unethical recruitment.”

Diginex and IOM plan to roll out IRIS-SAFER to recruitment agencies in other jurisdictions globally. This launch follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Diginex and IOM to create IRIS-SAFER earlier this year.

About Diginex

Diginex is a blockchain financial services and technology company that partners with institutional investors, corporations and governments to make digital assets more accessible, and business processes more efficient and secure. Diginex believes its collaborative approach and pursuit of global cooperation is optimal to drive institutional adoption of blockchain technologies and the regulated use of digital assets. For more information on Diginex, please visit

About IOM
IOM is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. As the UN Migration Agency, it works to ensure the orderly and human management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, and to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration challenges. With 174 Member States and over 400 offices in 100 countries, it is able to bring together governments, civil society and the private sector to establish labour migration programmes and mechanisms that balance their various interests, and address migrants’ needs. For more information on IOM, please visit
About IRIS
The International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS) is a voluntary multi-stakeholder certification system for international labour recruiters which is based on international human rights instruments, ILO Conventions and guidelines, as well as best practice from the recruitment industry. It helps to protect and empower migrant workers by eliminating exploitation in the recruitment process as well as helps recruiting agencies gain competitive market advantage by establishing themselves as fair, transparent and responsible entities. For more information on IRIS, please visit