Humaniq: Financial Inclusion Of World’s 2 Billion Unbanked

Jacqueline Prause

Consider some of the services you probably rely on your bank to provide: safekeeping, payments processing, and the occasional credit. Your bank also likely facilitates certain intangibles: your sense of financial inclusion, job market participation, and household security. Without these you would easily be vulnerable to potential exclusion and economic prejudice.

Access to basic financial services is so critical to security and development that it is listed as the top target set forth in the UN Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty. For more than 2 billion people, banking services still remain out of reach, according to the World Bank. Traditional banking services may be complex, expensive, and difficult to access. Barriers include lack of local banking infrastructure within reasonable distance and high expenses to open accounts. In addition, some 1.5 billion people lack the necessary personal identification documents to open a bank account – preventing them from taking even the most basic steps to integration.

Humaniq, a London-based fintech startup, is a next-generation bank offering solutions for the world’s unbanked population. Combining its vision for economic empowerment and community building with the latest innovations in blockchain technology, mobile, biometrics, and artificial intelligence, Humaniq aims to provide a technology platform for financial inclusion services for those who lack practical, affordable banking solutions.

Dinis Guarda, CEO of Humaniq, is a vocal proponent of global sustainability initiatives. In founding Humaniq, he joined with fellow co-founders Alex Fork and Dimitry Kaminsky to seek a way to use advanced technologies to solve humanity’s most pressing challenges. “The biggest challenge at the moment is that a big proportion of the world’s population is filtered-out from the technology around them. They don’t see the future of work and all the disruption that is going on,” explains Guarda. “At the same time, we have new disruptive technologies, a lot of them foundational technologies, like blockchain, as well as IoT and AI. These technologies are creating a fast transformation in the way we consume information, the way we deal with our economic and social models, and the way we deal with economics.”

Initial coin offering powers expansion

Established in July 2016, Humaniq has moved swiftly in executing on its plans to build a sustainable business model as well as a technology model that supports expansion of its platform and ecosystem. In April, Humaniq achieved a major milestone with the initial coin offering (ICO) of its HMQ token. The sale attracted 12,000 investors and netted close to USD$5.2 million. “With this, we are now building the beta version of our app,” says Guarda. “We did our first pilot project in India. With these pilot projects, we are testing the technology, and as we get a much bigger capacity to understand [users’] needs, we are going to scale these and take things to the next level.”

Platform integrates mobile, biometrics, and blockchain technology

Developers at Humaniq are working to build a robust technology platform that can scale. Of its five development teams, Humaniq has two teams working on both the backend and frontend, one team on the backend, and one team on open API development with third-party providers. Humaniq’s specialty – which distinguishes it from simply being yet another mobile wallet app – is its innovative combination of mobile technology, biometrics, and blockchain technology.

While almost half of the world’s population lacks basic financial services, a sizable portion own a mobile phone. To access Humaniq’s app, all that will be required of a user is a mobile phone with a camera. The app is being developed initially for Android devices, but will eventually be available for iOS as well.

The use of biometric identification offers a twofold advantage. On the one hand, it simplifies the user experience so that even a novice can use the service. One the other, biometrics provide a sophisticated layer of security through facial recognition algorithms and neural networks that can verify user identity upon each login. This concept, known as proof of face, is based on a series of photos, video recordings of facial gestures, and the user’s speech. “Biometric, because from the UI and UX we want to make sure it is possible for anyone to use it,” says Guarda. “Especially in India, there is a study showing approximately 1 billion people who do not exist in terms of documentation; so we want to make sure through biometrics that we can integrate people in the digital economy.”

HMQ derives value from community

Users of the Humaniq app will hold HMQ tokens as the chief value denomination within the community.  These tokens will be exchangeable into bitcoins, and then into dollars, euros, or other standard currencies. Two crypto-exchanges already accept HMQ tokens. Every user is given tokens for passing bio-identification. They can earn additional tokens by inviting friends to join the Humaniq community and by doing transactions. As the community grows and becomes more sustainable, it is expected that it will become much easier to exchange tokens than to go through currencies and traditional exchanges.

“People have a token because of being in the community,” says Guarda. “These tokens will have a value similar to other assets such as commodities, fiat currencies, or stock-market shares. The HMQ token is already doing this at the time of writing.”

Challenges: technology integration and security

External resistance and technical challenges are likely to crop up around the integration of the various technologies, especially concerning the integration of blockchain with biometrics. The biometrics aspect presents additional challenges with security and data, however, Humaniq is working with leading cybersecurity experts and non-governmental organizations to ensure the integrity of digital identity and Big Data management. “We are conscious that, working in some of these countries, there will be a lot of unforeseen challenges,” says Guarda. “We need to make sure there is a high degree of cybersecurity.”

One foreseeable challenge for Humaniq is that as its digital asset becomes stronger, there will be additional financial, legal, and ecosystem issues to consider. On these matters, Humaniq is working with Deloitte for guidance. To mitigate potential risks to its currency, Humaniq has strictly enforced policies limiting the number of tokens any single person or entity can mint. Because of the biometric ID requirement, no one can own HMQ tokens anonymously. These policies are intended to protect HMQ against the notoriety gained by some cryptocurrencies as tools for money laundering, currency manipulation, and abuse.

Priority on building a solid community

In July, Humaniq plans to make its service available via pilot projects in Africa, Asia, and South America. Ultimately, the service will be available to anyone anywhere, facilitating an exchange between the developed world and developing countries. For example, someone working in Germany will be able to send money back to her family in Africa. Guarda says, “We want to make sure that Humaniq is not merely an app, but a social-good ecosystem for humanity.”

Community is an integral part of Humaniq’s mission. “The challenge of building a solid community is essential, because if we don’t build a solid community, it won’t scale,” says Guarda. Humaniq’s first step in community building was the success of its ICO. “We got 12,000 people that participated in our crowd sale, which is the biggest successful crowd sale in terms of participants in documented human history. This means we already have a community in terms of people who believe in us and our vision for the near future. That’s point one,” says Guarda. “Point two is that we have ambassadors around the world. We have people in more than 50 countries already involved. We have offices in London, Luxembourg, and Silicon Valley. We are building that community step by step.”

The ambassadors are Humaniq’s representatives on the ground in locales where its services are being offered. These people, some of whom are influential leaders locally, will hold info sessions and be a bridge for the service into the community. Humaniq’s own team stands out for its technical expertise as well as its multicultural background with people from all over the world, including Cambridge, the United States, Germany, Italy, Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, and Asia.

Looking ahead to the future, Guarda’s entrepreneurial vision for Humaniq is that it will be a driver for social change. “I certainly want to make sure we use the technology for the right things,” he says. “I want to say how Humaniq made tech for good, and in the process integrated billions of people into the world economy. If I can do that, I think I will be happy and my children will be proud of me.”

For more on blockchain, distributed ledgers, and smart contracts, see Running Future Cities on Blockchain.


About Jacqueline Prause

Jacqueline Prause is the Senior Managing Editor of Media Channels at SAP. She writes, edits, and coordinates journalistic content for, SAP’s global online news magazine for customers, partners, and business influencers .

IoT Can Keep You Healthy — Even When You Sleep [VIDEO]

Christine Donato

Today the Internet of Things is revamping technology. IoT image from American Geniuses.jpg

Smart devices speak to each other and work together to provide the end user with a better product experience.

Coinciding with this change in technology is a change in people. We’ve transitioned from a world of people who love processed foods and french fries to people who eat kale chips and Greek yogurt…and actually like it.

People are taking ownership of their well-being, and preventative care is at the forefront of focus for both physicians and patients. Fitness trackers alert wearers of the exact number of calories burned from walking a certain number of steps. Mobile apps calculate our perfect nutritional balance. And even while we sleep, people are realizing that it’s important to monitor vitals.

According to research conducted at Harvard University, proper sleep patterns bolster healthy side effects such as improved immune function, a faster metabolism, preserved memory, and reduced stress and depression.

Conversely, the Harvard study determined that lack of sleep can negatively affect judgement, mood, and the ability retain information, as well as increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even premature death.

Through the Internet of Things, researchers can now explore sleep patterns without the usual sleep labs and movement-restricting electrode wires. And with connected devices, individuals can now easily monitor and positively influence their own health.

EarlySense, a startup credited with the creation of continuous patient monitoring solutions focused on early detection of patient deterioration, mid-sleep falls, and pressure ulcers, began with a mission to prevent premature and preventable deaths.

Without constant monitoring, patients with unexpected clinical deterioration may be accidentally neglected, and their conditions can easily escalate into emergency situations.

Motivated by many instances of patients who died from preventable post-elective surgery complications, EarlySense founders created a product that constantly monitors patients when hospital nurses can’t, alerting the main nurse station when a patient leaves his or her bed and could potentially fall, or when a patient’s vital signs drop or rise unexpectedly.

Now EarlySense technology has expanded outside of the hospital realm. The EarlySense wellness sensor, a device connected via the Internet of Things, mobile solutions, and supported by SAP HANA Cloud Platform, monitors all vital signs while a person sleeps. The device is completely wireless and lies subtly underneath one’s mattress. The sensor collects all mechanical vibrations that the patient’s body emits while sleeping, continuously monitoring heart and respiratory rates.

Watch this short video to learn more about how the EarlySense wellness sensor works:

The result is faster diagnoses with better treatments and outcomes. Sleep issues can be identified and addressed; individuals can use the data collected to make adjustments in diet or exercise habits; and those on heavy pain medications can monitor the way their bodies react to the medication. In addition, physicians can use the data collected from the sensor to identify patient health problems before they escalate into an emergency situation.

Connected care is opening the door for a new way to practice health. Through connected care apps that link people with their doctors, fitness trackers that measure daily activity, and sensors like the EarlySense wellness sensor, today’s technology enables people and physicians to work together to prevent sickness and accidents before they occur. Technology is forever changing the way we live, and in turn we are living longer, healthier lives.

To learn how SAP HANA Cloud Platform can affect your business, visit It&Me.

For more stories, join me on Twitter.


About Christine Donato

Christine Donato is a Senior Integrated Marketing Specialist at SAP. She is an accomplished project manager and leader of multiple marketing and sales enablement campaigns and events, that supported a multi million euro business.

Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Brews Sustainable Growth On Cloud ERP

David Trites

Recently I had the pleasure of hosting a podcast with Paula Muesse, COO and CFO of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea, a small, organic, fair-trade tea company based in California, and Ursula Ringham from SAP. We talked about some of the business challenges Zhena’s faces and how the company’s ERP solution helped spur growth and digital transformation.

Small but complex business

~ERP helped Zhena’s sustain growthZhena’s has grown from one person (Zhena Muzyka) selling hand-packed tea from a cart, into a thriving small business that puts quality, sustainability, and fair trade first. And although the company is small its business is complex.

For starters, tea isn’t grown in the United States, so Zhena’s has to maintain and import inventory from multiple warehouses around the world. Some of their tea blends have up to 14 ingredients, and each one has a different lead time. That makes demand-planning difficult. In addition, the FDA and US Customs require designated ingredients be traced and treated a certain way to comply with regulations.

Being organic and fair trade also makes things more complicated. Zhena’s has to pass an annual organic compliance audit for all products and processing facilities. And all products need to be traceable back to the farms where the tea was grown and picked to ensure the workers (mostly women) are paid fair wages.

Sustainable growth

Prior to implementing its new ERP system, Zhena’s was using a mix of tools like QuickBooks, Excel, and paper to manage the business. But to sustain growth and ensure future success, the company had to make some changes. Zhena’s needed an integrated software solution that could handle all facets of the business. It needed a tool that could help with cost control and profitability analysis and facilitate complex reporting and regulatory requirements.

The SAP Business ByDesign solution was the perfect choice. The cloud-based ERP solution reduced both business and IT costs, simplified processes from demand planning to accounting, and enabled mobile access and real-time reporting.

Check out the podcast to hear more about how Zhena’s successfully transformed its business by moving to SAP Business ByDesign.

 This article originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Building a successful company is hard work. SAP’s affordable solutions for small and midsize companies are designed to make it easier. Simple to install and use, SAP SME Solutions help you automate and integrate your business processes to give real-time, actionable insights. So you can make decisions on the spot. Find out how Run Simple can work for you. Visit


About David Trites

David Trites is a Director of SAP Global Marketing. He is responsible for producing interesting and compelling customer stories that will humanize the SAP brand, support sales and marketing teams across SAP, and increase the awareness of SAP in key markets.

Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.

Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?

Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.

There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.

Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.

Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu


Finance And HR: Friends Or Foes? Shifting To A Collaborative Mindset

Richard McLean

Part 1 in the 3-part “Finance and HR Collaboration” series

In my last blog, I challenged you to think of collaboration as the next killer app, citing a recent study by Oxford Economics sponsored by SAP. The study clearly explains how corporate performance improves when finance actively engages in collaboration with other business functions.

As a case in point, consider finance and HR. Both are being called on to work more collaboratively with each other – and the broader business – to help achieve a shared vision for the company. In most organizations, both have undergone a transformation to extend beyond operational tasks and adopt a more strategic focus, opening the door to more collaboration. As such, both have assumed three very important roles in the company – business partner, change agent, and steward. In this post, I’ll illustrate how collaboration can enable HR and finance to be more effective business partners.

Making the transition to focus on broader business objectives

My colleague Renata Janini Dohmen, senior vice president of HR for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, credits a changing mindset for both finance and HR as key to enabling the transition away from our traditional roles to be more collaborative. She says, “For a long time, people in HR and finance were seen as opponents. HR was focused on employees and how to motivate, encourage, and cheer on the workforce. Finance looked at the numbers and was a lot more cautious and possibly more skeptical in terms of making an investment. Today, both areas have made the transition to take on a more holistic perspective. We are pursuing strategies and approaching decisions based on what delivers the best return on investment for the company’s assets, whether those assets are monetary or non-monetary. This mindset shift plays a key role in how finance and HR execute the strategic imperatives of the company,” she notes.

Viewing joint decisions from a completely different lens

I agree with Renata. This mindset change has certainly impacted the way I make decisions. If I’m just focused on controlling costs and assessing expenditures, I’ll evaluate programs and ideas quite differently than if I’m thinking about the big picture.

For example, there’s an HR manager in our organization who runs Compensation and Benefits. She approaches me regularly with great ideas. But those ideas cost money. In the past, I was probably more inclined to look at those conversations from a tactical perspective. It was easy for me to simply say, “No, we can’t afford it.”

Now I look at her ideas from a more strategic perspective. I think, “What do we want our culture to be in the years ahead? Are the benefits packages she is proposing perhaps the right ones to get us there? Are they family friendly? Are they relevant for people in today’s world? Will they make us an employer of choice?” I quite enjoy the rich conversations we have about the impact of compensation and benefits design on the culture we want to create. Now, I see our relationship as much more collaborative and jointly invested in attracting and retaining the best people who will ultimately deliver on the company strategy. It’s a completely different lens.

Defining how finance and HR align to the company strategy

Renata and I believe that greater collaboration between finance and HR is a critical success factor. How can your organization achieve this shift? “Once the organization has clearly defined what role finance and HR must play and how they fundamentally align to the company strategy, then it’s more natural to structure them in a way to support such transformation,” Renata explains.

Technology plays an important role in our ability to successfully collaborate. Looking back, finance and HR were heavily focused on our own operational areas because everything we did tended to consume more time – just keeping the lights on and taking care of our basic responsibilities. Now, through a more efficient operating model with shared services, standard operating procedures, and automation, we can both be more business-focused and integrated. As a result, we’re able to collaborate in more meaningful ways to have a positive impact on business outcomes.

In our next blog, we’ll look at how finance and HR can work together as agents of change.

For a deeper dive, download the Oxford Economics study sponsored by SAP.

Follow SAP Finance online: @SAPFinance (Twitter)LinkedIn | FacebookYouTube


Richard McLean

About Richard McLean

Richard McLean, regional CFO for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, oversees all key finance and administrative functions for field and regional headquarters, supporting more than 16,000 employees. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior finance roles with leading global companies across a range of industries, including financial services, investment banking, automotive, and IT. He joined SAP in 2008.