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Humaniq Aims to Bank the Unbanked With its New App

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Humaniq

On April 6 2017, blockchain startup Humaniq launched their ICO (initial coin offering) that will run until April 27. The ICO is meant to raise funds for the Humaniq project, that aims to provide banking solutions to over 2.5 billion people globally, who don’t have access to financial services.

The ICO received plenty of attention from many publications, which gave it favorable reviews. So far, Humaniq has managed to raise over $4,000,000 during their ongoing crowdsale. Previously, the company received several inquiries from investors with pre-order reservations totaling to about 600 BTC. Early adopters will qualify for bonuses ranging from 12.5 to 49.9%, until the 22nd of April.

Creating new opportunities

In an interview, Humaniq CEO and Chief Strategy Officer Dinis Guardia stated,

“We are thankful to the world crypto community and all the individuals that choose to engage with our Humaniq ICO. There are very few organisations and technology apps doing this with all the new tech available. We are focused in creating solutions using decentralized ledger solutions, IOT and AI driven solutions but our aim is to use it in a simple way to tackle financial inclusion.”

In addition to connecting people from emerging economies to the power of the world economy, users will also be able to generate income by performing a variety of services for other users. This include, small business loans, P2P loans, pension and investment accounts, insurance, and document security. The money they earn can be converted into bitcoin or other altcoins like ether, or use mobile cashiers to exchange (HMQ) Humaniq tokens for fiat currencies.

What is Unique About Humaniq?

To put it simply, the Humaniq project integrates blockchain technology to promote financial inclusivity among the unbanked people in third world countries. This will happen through the use of a biometric identification process that requires the user to have a smartphone with an inbuilt camera.

The biometric identification process is mandatory for all users and takes less than 20 seconds to pass. In addition, you don’t need identification documents or an e-mail. Your identity will be verified through modern recognition software, thus the process will only involve the taking of photos, videos, facial gestures, and speech. Users will be able to tap into the Humaniq mobile app and have access to a global financial network to lend, borrow, save and make payments.

Once new users have passed the biometric identification phase, they will be rewarded with Humaniq wallets. Each wallet comes with free coins and users can also obtain more coins, by making transactions and inviting new users to the app.

The smartphone app will be able to work on the cheapest smartphone, as it will use universally recognizable symbols instead of words. Users will be able to tap into the Humaniq mobile app and have access to a global financial network to lend, borrow, save and make payments.

Proof of Concept’ Testing

HumaniqCurrently, the beta version of the smartphone app is available for users and has so far managed over 1000 downloads. This not only shows interest in the project but is also a valuable source of feedback to the company.

I have personally been testing the app and I can definitely see how a simple to use mobile money app could take off in developing countries where mobile phone adoption is high but access to financial services is low.

As stated in the Humaniq project whitepaper, the full product launch (mobile app and exchange app) will occur in July 2017. In September the company will begin expanding the project to underdeveloped regions and large cities such as London and Singapore. The company also plans to further decentralize its structure, with the integration of virtual cards and fintech start-ups in 2018.

If you still want to take part in Humaniq’s ICO you can do so here

 

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Guava Exchange to Ease Fundraising And Lower Investment Barrier in Africa

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Guava Exchange

Guava, a Nigerian-based blockchain fintech startup, has launched a new digital asset platform that provides a safe and secure environment for retail investors and businesses to participate in the digital economy.

Meet Guava

Guava ExchangeGuava Digital Asset Exchange is an easy-to-use digital marketplace where investors can buy and sell cryptoassets (including cryptocurrencies, crypto resources, and crypto tokens) and businesses can raise funds to accelerate their growth. Guava believes the opportunities in the digital asset ecosystem extends way beyond just bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Its mission includes helping businesses reach a broader investor base and providing an array of investment options to its users.

“There is a broad array of financial instruments that most of us don’t have access to; the cost of entry can be prohibitively high, and ease of entry and exit otherwise referred to as liquidity can discourage potential investors. Our blockchain-based digital asset platform will fractionalise the potential investments and furthermore provide liquidity thereby allowing investors to easily enter and exit these instruments,” the founder and CEO of Guava, Enitan Williams, told BitcoinAfrica.io.

The Problem

There is limited visibility for potential investment opportunities in Africa, the threshold for entry is high, and there is low access to liquidity for investors.

At the same time, many companies looking to raise funds do not have access to platforms where they can easily reach potential investors while traditional avenues can be time-consuming and arduous involving many intermediaries.

Guava’s Solution

Guava believes that the blockchain has a role to play in strengthening the financial systems in African economies. The technology helps digitise assets that will help people living on the continent participate in the global financial market as well as assist local businesses to raise finance for projects.

Guava’s state-of-the-art digital asset trading platform connects businesses searching for funds and investors seeking new opportunities. The platform digitises the ownership and value of any asset class – agricultural funds, real estate, equity – and offers it as tokens to potential investors. Our approach lowers the cost of entry for investments and reduces the burden of companies in crowdfunding.

Security and Due Process

The Guava Exchange has world-class security procedures including a multi-wallet storage strategy. Guava is also committed to complying with all current regulations that help prevent, detect and remediate unlawful behaviour by customers when using the platform or any of the company’s other services.

At launch, Guava will allow users in Nigeria to buy and sell three cryptoassets: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Ripple (XRP) but in the coming weeks, investors will have access to a stablecoin backed by the U.S. dollar and tokens of major local and international companies.

Guava is Nigeria’s premier digital assets exchange that can help you learn about, invest in and manage digital assets in a safe and secure environment.

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The Benefits of Cryptocurrencies On Africa’s Economy

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BitOasis

Societies today are seeing a progressive shift in the direction of a cashless system. This progress puts digital currencies as the imminent future of both commerce and banking. 

For African countries, such as Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, there is starting to be a feel for digital currencies – mainly bitcoin – in society. Additionally, the blockchain is perceived as the eventual solution to Africa’s present issues and economic growth. Industries in Africa are gradually understanding the basics of blockchain and how it works.

Bitcoin ETF ProposalsIn advanced environments, the rate of approval of cryptocurrency is relatively slow. This is because the financial sector is standing as an obstruction to its utilisation. However, in Africa, these digital currencies are gradually being tested and accepted.

A significant reason for this is because it allows the African community to rise above the typical monetary institutions and establishments. The banks located in cities are also difficult to access from secluded, provincial villages with ease. The increased cost of transaction also adds to the reasons why financial services are limited amongst the African community.

Right here is where cryptocurrency comes in.

Cryptocurrencies provide added opportunities to the African economy. This is major because it is not being scrutinised or controlled by either the Government or financial institutions. 

Digital currencies have the ability of rendering assistance to people in under-developed areas. There is an authentic need for a much more protective method of making digital payments and even loans for little transactions.

What Do Cryptocurrencies Offer Africa’s Economy?

As a non-scrutinised digital currency, cryptocurrency provides flexibility in the economy and a chance to carry out transactions involving diverse monetary markets all over the world.

Cryptocurrency is greatly protected and provides alternatives to the typical banking and transactions. The benefits and opportunities for this technology in Africa include;

  • Alternative Banking for the Unbanked

Cryptocurrency is perfect for unbanked African citizens because it is easily accessible and secured compared to the typical currencies. Also, making use of cryptocurrency accounts allows easy payment for services rendered and utilities.

Approval of this computerised banking allows the building of a virtual financial history which is necessary for the receipt of loans. It can be used for investment in diverse business opportunities.

  • Privacy

Digital currencies are modelled to be decentralised with no central point of failure. They are not subject to management by the Government meaning that nobody can freeze your account at will maybe due to legal problems. Cryptocurrencies are immune to the ineffectiveness and disturbances of the Government.

  • Cross-Border Payments

Top international establishments believe that crypto trade between countries in Africa can act as a spur for an increase in the economy. Even more, digital currency can now back both international cross-border trade.

Local businesses know the importance of cryptocurrencies and how fast and effective it is for cross-border payments. This includes some products and services rendered in the increasing market in Africa.

Additionally, the easy access to a tremendous customer base through cryptocurrency approval provides a possibility for rapid growth in sales. 

Wrapping It Up

It is worthy to note that cryptocurrency is gradually gaining traction in Africa. This is turning the continent into a leader in the current monetary revolution and has the potential to boost Africa forward in its economic development. 

This guest post was contributed by Ibe Emmanuel, CEO and co-founder of BitBata.

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How FinTech Companies Changed Africa

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FinTech Companies Changed Africa

Although Africa’s economies may be lagging behind its more developed counterparts, it seems that the continent is not immune to the global fintech revolution. Africa started witnessing a substantial surge in fintech startups in 2015. The total funding from venture capitalists spiked by 51 percent to $195 million between 2016 and 2017, with fintech funding accounting for a third of the amount. That’s a significant amount given that total global funding for seed-stage companies, early-stage venture capitalist rounds, and VC rounds was $851 million, $7.137 billion, and $6.9 billion respectively. 

Currently, there are well over 300 startups in operation all over the continent — 94 operate in South Africa, 74 in Nigeria, and 56 in Kenya. It’s not a surprise that these three countries are spearheading the fintech revolution in Africa as they are considered the top three investment destinations in Africa.

Regional comparisons in fintech adoption show that South Africa is in the lead with around 35 percent of fintech startups concentrated in the region. West Africa follows close behind with around 34 percent.

Africa’sfintech industry to a large extent owes its existence to the development of M-Pesa, a Kenyan-based mobile money transfer service that has given Kenyans the ability to access financial services away from banks. Currently, the platform supports over 25 million customers in over ten markets in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The number of M-Pesa users has grown by 32 percent from 17.12 million to 22.62 million as of June 2017. The massive success enjoyed by M-Pesa has influenced other FinTech companies to join the finance sector to develop financial solutions such as those offered by M-Pesa.

Fintech Implementation in Africa

Fintech companies in Africa are mostly focusing on two broad categories:

  • payments and transfers;
  • lending and finance.

Of the two categories, payments and transfers have recorded an influx of startup companies compared to the others. Reports show that a majority of these startups focus mainly on simplifying the process of sending and receiving money.

Some fintech companies in Africa that are taking major steps in revolutionising the finance sector in Africa include (aside from M-Pesa):

  • Flutterwave has operations in over 36 countries and is partnered with 10 African banks. It provides payment technologies and infrastructure to Africa’s largest financial institutions. Today, Flutterwave has processed over $1.2 billion in payments. The primary goal of Flutterwave is to provide solutions for enterprises, entrepreneurs, and banks alike. It presents its customers with no special, annual, or upfront project fees. Instead, Flutterwave bridges the digital payments gap that exists between users and banks. Their Nigerian customers can execute money transfers directly into several bank accounts without any hassle.
  • Pezesha, initially launched in Kenya, is a peer-to-business micro-lending marketplace made up of low-income borrowers. In Africa, formal credit services are hard to attain, and on top of that, they have incredibly high interest rates. Therefore, most Africans are unable to secure reliable credit facilities that they can safely payback. Users of Pezesha can acquire instant loans on their mobile phones via SMS provided that minimum criteria are met. Apart from low-income earners, Pezesha also extends its services to SMEs that make up 80 percent of Africa’s employment. It not only drives up the economies of the continent but ensures the continued existence of small businesses across the continent.
  • Cellulant, a digital commerce and payments service provider, is well established and operational in 11 countries. The company works with over 90 banks. The Cellulant ecosystem has support for over 100 million customers. As of January last year, the company served roughly 12 percent of Africa’s mobile consumers who utilise the platform to make payments. This year, Cellulant raised $47.5 million from a collection of investors that included Satya Capital, TPG Growth, Endeavour Catalyst, and the Rise Fund.
  • Tala, a mobile technology company that’s providing access to credit by putting mobile credit services into the hands of consumers, is operational in several countries in Africa and outside Africa. The company leverages an android app that collects data from each consumer, determines their credit score, and disburses a loan in <10 minutes. So far, the company has disbursed over a million dollars to individuals in East Africa and outside Africa.
  • Numida, a digital financial services company situated in Uganda, won the Kampala Seedstar World Competition in 2017. The company boasts of a 99 percent repayment rate and has since disbursed about 190 loans to 135 Ugandan SMEs. Other than providing small unsecured loans to small businesses, the firm helps these businesses digitise their financial records through the Numida app. Through the Numida app, Numida can assess a client’s creditworthiness and then issues an appropriately sized unsecured loan.

Potential of using Fintech in Africa 

FinTechAfrica is an immense continent with different economies supporting a total population of about 1 billion individuals residing in 54 sovereign countries. Surprisingly, only about 17 percent of the entire African population is banked. With nearly 80 percent of the total population still unbanked (and up to 95 million unbanked adults in Sub-Saharan Africa alone), Africa offers a unique breeding ground for the development of the fintech industry. A significant underbanked population ensures that fintech will most likely be an enabler of financial inclusion.    

Innovation takes time and is often a collection of economies and nations that have the financial capability to invest, research, and develop on a broader scale. African nations, not having the same capabilities as developed nations, are provided with a unique opportunity that they can leverage. They can ‘jump’ inferior and redundant stages of technology advancement and go straight to adopting innovations. For example, currently, millions of Africans are in possession of mobile phone devices without ever going through the hassle of owning a landline at all. A phase that already-developed nations could not have skipped.

Technology is a crucial driver of businesses and entrepreneurship today. Due to this, financial procedures have been developing extremely fast, and there is an immense transformation in many aspects of financial processes. The Internet penetration rate in Africa recently stood at around 35.2 percent while the mobile penetration rate in the continent stands at 44 percent. Out of these two, Kenya emerges as the strongest African country, as it has an internet penetration rate of 85 percent and a mobile penetration rate of 95.1 percent.

According to GSMA, mobile money accounts in Africa have surpassed traditional bank accounts. Mobile money accounts have been on the rise, with statistics showing a steady growth in numbers from 0.2 million to 277 million between 2007 and 2016. The number of active bank accounts in Africa was 178 million as of December 2015. This huge difference in numbers indicates the potential that Africa offers to fintech startups focused on providing payment solutions. Technology innovation coupled with increasing Internet and mobile penetration rates have made the growth of African fintech companies a possibility. Subsequently, this has substantially increased investor interest in the sector even further.    

Africa Welcoming Innovation

The fintech revolution in Africa is not a PR stunt. Fintech companies are attracting a previously unbanked population while at the same time retaining already existing traditional bank customers. Digitisation is helping financial institutions deliver digital financial products and services to a greater number of customers across the continent.

Increased dependence on these innovative fintech companies is projected to reduce demand for bank services. Subsequently, this could lead to bank branches shut down, with only a few remaining as destinations for problem resolution, advice, etc. For example, Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile payment services have made it possible for P2P mobile payments to be made both locally and internationally.

These startups are redefining the industry’s perception of what it means to be called a bank. Not only do they offer bank-like services, but they also avail loans, process financial transactions, and innovate much faster than banks.

Africa is hopping onto the fintech bandwagon, learning from the experiences of developed economies such as Asia, America, and Europe, and even leapfrogging past unnecessary steps, straight to modern innovation. 

This guest post was contributed by Paweł Tomczyk, founder of the blockchain-focused content marketing agency Cyberius

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