Banking For The Unbanked – London FinTech Firm Raises $3.8m For Emoticon Driven Financial Inclusion App

Humaniq is what is known as a “4th generation mobile bank”, which means no paperwork, no tricky passwords and no “buggy” apps – just a blockchain driven, biometric banking solution.

Headquartered in London, Humaniq say they are “on a mission to provide financial inclusion products and services powered by Blockchain technology to the 2 billion unbanked people across the globe.”

The team are targeting Africa, South and Central America and parts of Asia, as well as India, where they have already been conducting pilot tech projects.

Humaniq has already raised $3.8 milllion of funding, and now the firm have announced that they will be partnering with global financial services and consultancy firm Deloitte, who they say are “the right auditing and innovation firm to manage our structure and operational efforts in multiple countries and locations”.

Now here’s where it gets interesting; as part of their efforts to “repurpose science and technology for the good of the world”, Humaniq have created a fintech app, recently launched on Google Play, that allows to users to sign up and register using their “biometric identity”, or to put it in more simple terms, “by snapping a photo through a face recognition algorithm”.

The app uses minimal language, preferring to use emoticons, which, combined with a super-simple interface, makes it the perfect choice for “the unbanked”, that is the part of the world’s population that have not been able to afford, or are too remote, to formally educate themselves – and for the same reasons, have never set up a formal bank account.

The aim is global financial inclusion; the use case, a Nigerian farmer, say, who has no formal ID to open a bank account with, lives 90 miles away from the nearest bank, but wants to sell corns and pepper, and buy his new seeds, internationally, where the markets are larger, and the fees cheaper.

All this farmer needs, thanks to Humaniq’s app, is a smartphone and basic internet access.

It’s incredible to think that there are 2.4 billion people worldwide, 1.5 billion of whom are over the age of 14, who cannot prove who they are with ID cards or documentation. In the eyes of the authorities, this means these people forfeit their right to social protection, and exposes them to crime, and corruption, including people trafficking and slavery.

Humaniq want to change this – co-founded by two tech blockchain evangelists, Alex Fork and AI expert Dmitry Karminsky, with Dinis Guarda, author of several book about the blockchain and fintech acting as CEO, Humaniq have also appointed an advisory board consisting of more than global fintech evangelists, from orgaisations including The Financial Times, United Nations, Greenpeace, Cambridge University, Save The Children and the University of Toronto.

Together they say: “Humaniq and Deloitte ultimately want to help establish sustainable and structured operations to enable more financial inclusion, justice and strong institutions on a global scale.

Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it? The world of finance is changing – hopefully for the better – for all the technological disruption and sophistication of the likes of Silicon Valley, emoticon driven banking looks for all the world like a return to the age of hieroglyphics.

It seems our ancestors may have known a thing or two about international trade, after all.

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