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Health Heroes Program: the biggest success

Ximena Díaz de la Serna G.

May, 16, 2023

2 min. reading

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Circle and Airtm joined forces to develop the “Heroes of Health” program. Through this initiative and in coordination with the U.S. and Venezuelan governments, they established this program to disburse humanitarian aid in the form of USDC to frontline doctors and nurses in Venezuela. 

In mid 2020, the Interim Government of Venezuela (IGV) contacted Airtm for our notorious ability to quickly deliver payments worldwide. The IGV was looking for a partner to deliver millions in aid to Venezuelan health care workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IGV had access to millions of dollars seized from the Maduro Regime by the US Treasury department. In order to make use of them, the US Treasury needed to study and be comfortable with the mechanisms to be used to guarantee the funds would land in the hands of the pre-approved list of frontline medical professionals. 

Airtm’s Legal, Compliance, FinOps, and Operations teams worked hand in hand with IGV and an independent suite of OFAC specialists from StoneTurn and Black Trust to map out the precise funds flows and verification processes necessary to fulfill the US Treasury’s requirements. 

After an extensive preparation period, the Health Heroes Program went live in August 2020 thanks to a specific OFAC license.

Challenges, actions and achievements

Airtm & IGV wanted to accomplish 3 main goals:

  • Onboard $6,200,000 per month
  • Onboard and verify 62,000 individuals accounts
  • Distribute $100 to each individual

Due to the high-risk nature of the program, Airtm had to seek out and bring in alternative banking partners willing to support the high-risk funding streams. So Airtm found Circle, with whom co-created custom payment order formats and submission processes to ensure the program’s integrity and security.

Once Airtm sat down to talk about this big project, we knew that we had to take several actions to be successful with this program that would help thousands of people, so we made the following efforts:

1. Worked with external council to adopt new compliance policies and procedures:

  • Created custom KYC processes
  • Formed an specialized user onboarding team
  • Acquired necessary OFAC licenses to facilitate program
  • Assisted in third party program audits

2. Created a dedicated support team to onboard and verify 62,000 individual’s identities in 1 month.

3. Prepared marketing materials and distributed in coordination to IGV internal support team.

4. Held custom onboarding sessions for VIP client onboarding.

5. 24/7 communication with Airtm’s executive team throughout the duration of the program. Help routine in person meetings.

6. Dedicated internal POC focused on operational matters. Set up ongoing meetings to deal with ongoing program maintenance.

7. Fine tuned Airtm’s local off-boarding capabilities to ensure program beneficiaries to meet agreed upon cash-out standards:

  • Local payment method compatibility
    • 31 local payment methods
  • Cash-out speeds
    • 6 minute cashouts
  • Cash-out costs
    • < 3% + $0.40


The Health Heroes Aid program met its goals and concluded in January 2021

  • 59,740 verified doctors and nurses paid
  • $17,799,800 digital dollars delivered
  • 177,995 individual payments to Venezuelan nationals

The OFAC permissioned campaign paved the way for a multi-year relationship of permissioned payment programs between the VIG and Airtm.

Success stories

Nurse COVID19 Airtm Circle Venezuela

“Knowing that I could count on a stable paycheck every month allowed me to devote my time and energy to help people during a chaotic and stressful time.”

–Maria Fernandez, Nurse

Nurse COVID19 Airtm Circle Venezuela

“The Heroes of Health program has been a wonderful program that has changed my life. I want to express my gratitude for the interest and support of those who made this a reality. I truly hope that this program can contribute to a great change for Venezuela and help overcome the terrible crisis that all Venezuelans are experiencing. By receiving the contribution in a stable currency, I can be assured it is protected from this crisis.

This program has been a true blessing in my life, not only has it allowed me to learn new things, but it has also given me a new perspective and hope for the future. Thank you again for everything you do to improve the lives of people like me”

–Norys Jimenez, Nurse

Doctor COVID19 Airtm Circle Venezuela

“AirTM has been an essential part of the Heroes of Health program, and I can’t thank them enough for their contribution. As one of the only financial platforms that offers the exchange of bolivares to digital dollars, AirTM has proven to be a game-changer. This project has not only provided me with the freedom to exchange my local currency to a more stable digital currency, but it has also helped me to secure my finances during the economic crisis in my country. AirTM has truly made a difference in my life, and I highly recommend their services to anyone in need of financial stability and security”

–Antonio Alba, Doctor

Lisa Nestor Airtm Circle COVID1 9

Millions of people across Latin America and Africa depend on Airtm to access online dollar earning opportunities, and to bring that money home. USDC allows us to offer them that; and with speed, reliability and transparency. 

–Lisa Nestor, Chief Strategy Officer, Airtm

Some PR

  • A U.S. Airdrop of Dollars in Venezuela
  • Circle Partners with Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Airtm to Deliver Aid to Venezuelans Using USDC
  • The Battle to Get Dictator’s Seized Millions to 62,000 Venezuelan Health Heroes
  • Informe Cierre de programa Héroes de la Salud (spanish)
  • Esta es la movida de Guaidó para “movilizar” los recursos
  • US Government to Use USDC Stablecoin to Bypass Venezuela’s Maduro

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