How would you describe Humaniq to someone who is new to crypto?
Humaniq is building an ecosystem to provide social and financial services for people without proper legal identification. That is why we use Biometric technologies to create digital identities and Blockchain as one of the main technologies that is driving zero fee money transfers on the network.
Humaniq recently won the 2018 Block awards. How do you intend to leverage on this to drive adoption?
Humaniq focuses on providing the best technological solution, which led us to adopt Blockchain in our technological stack. We believe that our approach solves real problems of the world in a better way than other existing mechanisms. This is why we received the Block awards, they are another confirmation that we’ve chosen the right path.
Mojaloop, a platform designed in collaboration with Ripple and the bill & Melinda gates foundation, is also looking to bank the unbanked in the developing world. Do you intend to work with them, or are they your competitors?
Mojaloop is a very different idea from ours. It’s an interoperability layer between existing payments services on a national scale, sort of like a SWIFT for all the mobile money providers in a country.
Mojaloop is seeking to unify these competing services into a single network, which is an excellent initiative that would lead to great strides in financial inclusion. At the same time, it also has limitations, since it only connects national services, so users still can’t easily send money outside their country. Another problem is that it requires that all the existing providers cooperate with each other, instead of competing. Large companies such as M-Pesa might be wary to give away their network effect, which is a very strong competitive advantage. A powerful incentive is needed, which in the past was generally given by regulation.
We operate on a different layer, since we use a Hybrid Blockchain for our network system, and we don’t use national fiat currencies as a unit of account. We are not a competitor to Mojaloop, because the Humaniq network brings value through additional services to the customers, and I don’t see anything that can stop us from potentially working together in the future.
One of your partner is Jamii. What does it mean to your end users?
Jamii is a micro-health insurance provider, operating in Tanzania with 20,000 users and 200 hospitals supporting it. Lack of healthcare coverage is a huge problem in developing countries, where most healthcare expenses are done out of pocket. This, of course, means that for many people who can’t afford the extra expense, hospital visits must be avoided at all cost, leading to higher mortality rates than normal. Providing affordable and effective health insurance quite literally saves lives.
We have signed an MOU with Jamii, a formal declaration of intent. Over these months we will be launching test programs and later integrating the platforms, with the end result that Humaniq App users in Tanzania will be able to purchase Jamii health insurance with HMQ directly through the app. I honestly think this is an amazing partnership, exposing our users to such a great product they might otherwise not know about, and providing a great user base for Jamii.
Where do you see Humaniq in the next 5 years?
I see Humaniq being used as a universal payment gateway method like Alipay in China, in the Sub-Saharan region, together with a strong presence in many others. We are able to bring the value for the users by being able to: receive a loan that revitalizes their farm, or buy a healthcare coverage for their child that saves them from a deadly disease. In the cities you can pay at restaurants, events, gas stations with Humaniq. Freelancers and entrepreneurs can connect with companies and investors all over the world, accelerating the growth of their country’s economy. Our goal is to make Humaniq a universal payment gateway method, and in five years I believe we will achieve this.
Recently, Humaniq has announced about its further expansions. What’s prompted you to go international?
In truth, we were planning to do this for a long time, since financially excluded and unbanked people aren’t limited to just Africa, in fact as much as half of them live in Asia and Latin America. However, only recently we were able to make this expansion, thanks to the tireless work of our legal team, which ensures compliance to all the local regulations in each country we operate. Thankfully, this is much easier to do in these new regions, which is why we were able to double the count of countries served in one stroke.
We still focus on Sub-Saharan Africa the most, because the important thing is not the amount of countries, but the number of users and strength of the local network. Africa is mostly an untapped market, for example, due to its low degree of mobile penetration compared to the rest of the world, but that is changing now. It’s one of the fastest growing regions in the world in basically any metric you can think of, so I think it really makes sense to take advantage of a low-competition but high-potential market.