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Humaniq Brings Financial Inclusion to Five More Countries in Africa

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Humaniq Brings Financial Inclusion

London-based fintech startup Humaniq has announced plans to expand its mobile banking services for the world’s unbanked to five more African countries. The expansion is part of its broader strategy to offer banking solutions to over 2.5 billion people worldwide who have little or no access to financial services.

Entry into New Markets

Humaniq is a financial services app that is enabled by its own cryptocurrency (HMQ) and aims to eradicate poverty amongst millions of people living in developing economies. The Humaniq app offers specialised features such as an inbuilt chat system, live support, a secure authentication process and cryptocurrency wallet for HMQ tokens. Users can download the app on Google Play Store onto their smartphones and access the global financial network enabling them to make payments, save, lend and even borrow money.

The app utilises a biometric identification system, E2E encryption, and offers free HMQ coins for new signups and referrals. In March, Humaniq launched version 2.0 of its app, which operates on the first-ever working hybrid blockchain. The benefits of the upgrade include zero commission fees, instant transfers and allowing HMQ tokens to be open and accessible on the Ethereum main-net.

Currently, the app has over 180,000 downloads and has been received positively by first members of the Humaniq community living in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and Senegal. The blockchain startup is expanding to new markets which include Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Botswana, bringing equitable access to financial services, money transfers and social programmes.

Succesful ICO and Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa

Building on their ICO in April last year, which raised over $5.1 million, Humaniq is also moving to the South African market where it seeks to develop a competitive mobile ecosystem. The expansion comes at an opportune time when mobile adoption in the continent continues to soar and Internet penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa is at 35.2%. While the region faces challenges such as lack of infrastructure its economy is expected to grow in the next three years outpacing some of the more developed nations and opening opportunities for the unbanked.

Anton Mozgovoy, CTO of Humaniq, said in a company press release: “Humaniq is developing extremely fast and now we are on the threshold of a promising new step. The app’s first few months show Africa becomes a leader in the mobile payment transactional model adoption. Our development team is excited about delivering financial inclusion solutions for the 2.5 billion unbanked and we hope to inspire new users and earn their trust as we introduce them to a new, safe world of diverse financial free-of-charge services.”

In order for its team to understand the financial climate in Africa – particularly pertaining to the unbanked – the company held a competition for blockchain projects in November 2017 that promote financial inclusivity. Three winners among the 450 participants who submitting projects especially made for the Humaniq platform were selected for an expedition to Kenya to meet the people who will benefit from the services and to receive feedback on how to improve their solutions based on the needs of their targeted customers.

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South African Ekasi Bucks Plans To Launch “World’s First Crypto-Mall and On-Demand Taxi Service for Townships”

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Ekasi-bucks
Image by Ekasi Bucks

Ekasi Bucks, a South African-based blockchain startup, is planning to launch what the company calls “the world’s first crypto-mall and on-demand transport service for townships” in Soweto, Soshanguve, and Mabopane.

This launch by Ekasi Bucks comes several months after the startup tried to raise R50 million through an initial coin offering (ICO) that was meant to finance a rewards programme that is blockchain-based for township residents who shop from specific township businesses. However, the ICO was only able to raise R500,000, falling short of their R50 million target. As a result, a large percentage of the money was given back to investors.

The co-founder and president of Ekasi Bucks, Lucky Kgwadi, told Ventureburn in an interview that “the startup had intended to use much of the R50-million to buy land and pay for the initial building of a physical mall — but after the failed ICO the company has now opted to therefore go digital”.

The Online Crypto-Mall

The digital crypto-mall will enable township businesses to sell their products via an online portal and in exchange, they will receive the Ekasi Bucks token.

Ekasi Bucks

The past six weeks have seen Ekasi Bucks run campaigns to create awareness and recruit vendors to the crypto-mall with 800 township entrepreneurs having so far submitted their applications to sell products such as clothing or food from local restaurants that will be delivered.

“We are trying to allow residents to shop from their own townships and to shop from their own home,” said Kgwadi. The co-founder of Ekasi Bucks believes that given an opportunity, township residents will easily buy from their local retailers. According to him: “It’s not a matter of products and markups — people just don’t know where to find the product.”

On-Demand Taxis for Townships

The operations of the on-demand taxi services will be similar to that of Uber or Taxify. However, instead of customers paying with credit cards or cash, they will make payments using Ekasi Bucks. To start, Ekasi Bucks plans to source for their token users from their already existing rewards programme that they have been managing since 2016. The programme is active across South Africa and has more than 20,000 card users and 4,000 merchants.

The startup has received 20 applications for its on-demand taxi service from drivers after running several Facebook ads for the said service. The initial batch of the vetted drivers will become the first pilot for the on-demand taxi service, said Kgwadi. He went on to say that for each token transacted, Ekasi Bucks will charge a ten percent commission to the drivers, which makes their rates significantly lower compared to the fee charges that Uber (15 percent to 20 percent) and Taxify (30 percent) debit from their drivers. In addition, the startup has partnered with Lion of Africa to provide white labelled life cover insurance to its drivers who will be part of the on-demand taxi service.

Kgwadi hopes that Ekasi Bucks’ new offering will appeal to more people and pick up considering that the startup was not so lucky last year in its ICO.

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Six Tips to Make Your Airdrop a Success

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Make Your Airdrop a Success

Airdrops are becoming increasingly frequent and are a common trend in the crypto space. With thousands of tokens currently in existence and a constant stream of more in development, the number of scam airdrops is also on the rise, therefore distinguishing between legitimate and fake airdrops is a big issue for potential airdrop participants.

With the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data privacy scandal still fresh in people’s minds, there is a heightened awareness around disclosing personal information and data protection — meaning existing mechanics such as Google forms (which require the input of personal details) may discourage potential involvement. Google form airdrops also require significant time and manpower to cross-reference Telegram users with registrants.

Enter the progressive airdrop: by enabling live syncing between platforms, this new kind of technology allows companies to bring more value to their communities, as well as monitor participant engagement.

So what can companies do to ensure a smooth and successful airdrop?

1. Use Telegram

By conducting everything in one place such as messaging app Telegram, it makes life easier for your users who won’t have to struggle with referral links, switching between multiple apps, or losing friends to drawn-out processes.

Instead of copying and pasting, the progressive airdrop model (like the one qiibee uses) will automatically detect when you add a new member to your Telegram group.

Having everything and everyone on Telegram also helps to build your community and encourages conversation starters.

2. Live sync across platforms

By implementing technology that enables live syncing between platforms, this back-end development can help resolve logistical issues, thus eliminating any scope for human error during the process and creating a more seamless system — bringing added value to both your users and your Telegram group.

3. Make it as user-friendly as possible

Consumers know the value of their data, and with ethics and regulation under the spotlight recently, it’s important to take the privacy of your participants into consideration. Airdrop registration should be a simple task with minimal input needed.

While existing mechanics like Google forms require the input of personal details, this can be off-putting to some people and discourages potential involvement. To encourage more involvement, keep things on a need-to-know basis.

4. Reward engagement

Unique to the progressive airdrop model, participants are provided with the opportunity to access more tokens through engagement. Giving control to participants and acknowledging their interactions and milestones is invaluable in building trust.

Recognising achievements with a badge system or leaderboard can motivate participants to be more active in your community channels. This forms a mutually beneficial relationship and further builds loyalty.

5. Monitor spam

Managing community channels such as Telegram during the airdrop process often means dealing with increased volumes of spam and trolling. This can be detrimental to your credibility and have a negative impact on engaged participants contributing to the conversation. Using anti-spam and anti-abuse policies in conjunction with sentiment detecting and text recognition technology are simple ways of maintaining high-quality discussions.

6. Utilise social media

Integrating follow features into your airdrop mechanic invites participants to continue the conversation across different channels. Spreading the word on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube about a system like the progressive airdrop not only helps to reach new audiences but bolsters your own message on social media.

qiibee’s tiered achievement system-based airdrop will allow users to earn more QBX the more they participate, with 5,928,750 (or US$ 420,000) of QBX tokens up for grabs from this Monday, 21st May. For more information, visit airdrop.qiibee.com

This article was contributed by Gabriele Giancola, co-founder and CEO of blockchain-powered loyalty ecosystem qiibee

*Disclaimer: Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the promoted company, product or service. Bitcoin Africa Ltd. is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any loss or damage caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, product or service mentioned in this guest post.*

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Humaniq Global Challenge Winners Go To Kenya

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Humaniq Global Challenge Kenya

Companies working to overcome the challenge of two-thirds of Africans not having access to banking services are acknowledging the need to draw on the needs and experiences of African communities themselves.

A global vision, set by the UN, aims to extend banking to everybody in the world without access to a financial account by 2020. There has been progress this decade, driven by mobile money accounts, especially in East Africa, where more than a third of all people have one. And yet the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, based at the World Bank, has highlighted that only half of all new financial accounts being opened worldwide are being used. This has underlined to startups seeking to accelerate progress on this financial agenda that they must meet the real needs of the unbanked if they are to succeed.

Startups working in this space aim to serve the unbanked by making accounts easier to open. Blockchain technology means financial services can be deployed to more people more quickly because it removes the need for costly intermediaries. Biometric technology, meanwhile, means that those without identification can register with financial service apps and gain a digital identity.

One startup deploying such technologies says that deploying technology alone will not in itself ensure that new accounts are used.

It is not enough for entrepreneurs to generate business ideas from afar,” says Alex Fork, CEO of Humaniq. “Proposed new solutions can be perfect on paper, but only those founded in listening to the real needs of Africans will succeed.”

This is why Humaniq runs a ‘global challenge’ to facilitate the development of new financial inclusion solutions, which invites social entrepreneurs to submit proposals for blockchain startups targeted at Africa’s unbanked. The challenge involves selected developer teams meeting the unbanked people who stand to benefit from new services in Kenya, in order to test and adapt emerging business plans.

Three projects selected for the first Humaniq expedition, which attracted a total of 450 entries, included a blockchain-based land registry project, a micro-venture capital loans system and a remote-workplace app. The challenge winners went on an expedition to Kenya as part of their efforts to build on the rapid take-up of mobile money in the East African nation. The idea was to develop further financial services that make use of smartphones which are increasingly available in Kenya. Already, more than a quarter of people own one, according to Pew Research Center survey last spring. The widespread adoption of smartphones in the nation over the next few years will mean that a wider range of solutions to be offered, beyond the transactions the mobile-based money transfer service M-Pesa makes possible.

To develop their plans, the winning entrepreneurs invited ideas for solutions to problems from communities in Kenya themselves in a more bottom-up way of developing new tech services.

For example, in places such as Nakuru, in the Great Rift Valley, Richard Beresford met business owners and farmers and heard from them that there was demand for loans, but these are not provided by traditional banks. He also heard interest in making bartering between farmers easier, and in bringing traditional goods, such as those sold by the Masai in curio shops, to a larger number of people.

“One of the things that are most important about blockchain is that it can help to create interactions between small groups of people at the bottom of the pyramid,” said Bereford.

A second winner, Chad Pasha discovered in Namanga, a town divided by the Kenya-Tanzania border, that a platform that facilitated the exchange of goods and information could help bring down barriers between people from the two nations and from different tribes and religions. “I think we have a great opportunity to do this,” he commented. The third, Grace Wong, in her meetings with Kenyans, was told that people felt that if young people had more information on new technologies and solutions, this “would create incentives for young people to create new opportunities for themselves,” she said.

Following the trip, the first winners will now refine their business propositions and move forward to initial coin offerings, the crowdfunded way of attracting investment for projects using cryptocurrency.

Humaniq concluded that the trip had deepened the understanding of the needs of businesses, young people, and others in Kenya. It has now decided to make the global challenge an annual event, with a second challenge due to be held later this year. The startup believes that this will allow it to both engage further partner developers, and also further potential users. The first trip allowed scores of organisations of thousands of people to feed in their ideas to the development of financial inclusion solutions, according to Humaniq.

As R. Beresford said on the results of the first expedition: “I’m very hopeful that all the different experiences we’ve listened to… can be analysed to produce a mobile app development plan that produces the product that can be used by the unbanked.”

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