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.

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About Jacqueline Prause

Jacqueline Prause is the Senior Managing Editor of Media Channels at SAP. She writes, edits, and coordinates journalistic content for SAP.info, 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.

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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 sap.com/sme.

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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.

Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences

Kai Goerlich

 

Google Cardboard VR goggles cost US$8
By 2019, immersive solutions
will be adopted in 20% of enterprise businesses
By 2025, the market for immersive hardware and software technology could be $182 billion
In 2017, Lowe’s launched
Holoroom How To VR DIY clinics

Link to Sources


From Dipping a Toe to Fully Immersed

The first wave of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is here,

using smartphones, glasses, and goggles to place us in the middle of 360-degree digital environments or overlay digital artifacts on the physical world. Prototypes, pilot projects, and first movers have already emerged:

  • Guiding warehouse pickers, cargo loaders, and truck drivers with AR
  • Overlaying constantly updated blueprints, measurements, and other construction data on building sites in real time with AR
  • Building 3D machine prototypes in VR for virtual testing and maintenance planning
  • Exhibiting new appliances and fixtures in a VR mockup of the customer’s home
  • Teaching medicine with AR tools that overlay diagnostics and instructions on patients’ bodies

A Vast Sea of Possibilities

Immersive technologies leapt forward in spring 2017 with the introduction of three new products:

  • Nvidia’s Project Holodeck, which generates shared photorealistic VR environments
  • A cloud-based platform for industrial AR from Lenovo New Vision AR and Wikitude
  • A workspace and headset from Meta that lets users use their hands to interact with AR artifacts

The Truly Digital Workplace

New immersive experiences won’t simply be new tools for existing tasks. They promise to create entirely new ways of working.

VR avatars that look and sound like their owners will soon be able to meet in realistic virtual meeting spaces without requiring users to leave their desks or even their homes. With enough computing power and a smart-enough AI, we could soon let VR avatars act as our proxies while we’re doing other things—and (theoretically) do it well enough that no one can tell the difference.

We’ll need a way to signal when an avatar is being human driven in real time, when it’s on autopilot, and when it’s owned by a bot.


What Is Immersion?

A completely immersive experience that’s indistinguishable from real life is impossible given the current constraints on power, throughput, and battery life.

To make current digital experiences more convincing, we’ll need interactive sensors in objects and materials, more powerful infrastructure to create realistic images, and smarter interfaces to interpret and interact with data.

When everything around us is intelligent and interactive, every environment could have an AR overlay or VR presence, with use cases ranging from gaming to firefighting.

We could see a backlash touting the superiority of the unmediated physical world—but multisensory immersive experiences that we can navigate in 360-degree space will change what we consider “real.”


Download the executive brief Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences.


Read the full article Swimming in the Immersive Digital Experience.

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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

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Blockchain: Much Ado About Nothing? How Very Wrong!

Juergen Roehricht

Let me start with a quote from McKinsey, that in my view hits the nail right on the head:

“No matter what the context, there’s a strong possibility that blockchain will affect your business. The very big question is when.”

Now, in the industries that I cover in my role as general manager and innovation lead for travel and transportation/cargo, engineering, construction and operations, professional services, and media, I engage with many different digital leaders on a regular basis. We are having visionary conversations about the impact of digital technologies and digital transformation on business models and business processes and the way companies address them. Many topics are at different stages of the hype cycle, but the one that definitely stands out is blockchain as a new enabling technology in the enterprise space.

Just a few weeks ago, a customer said to me: “My board is all about blockchain, but I don’t get what the excitement is about – isn’t this just about Bitcoin and a cryptocurrency?”

I can totally understand his confusion. I’ve been talking to many blockchain experts who know that it will have a big impact on many industries and the related business communities. But even they are uncertain about the where, how, and when, and about the strategy on how to deal with it. The reason is that we often look at it from a technology point of view. This is a common mistake, as the starting point should be the business problem and the business issue or process that you want to solve or create.

In my many interactions with Torsten Zube, vice president and blockchain lead at the SAP Innovation Center Network (ICN) in Potsdam, Germany, he has made it very clear that it’s mandatory to “start by identifying the real business problem and then … figure out how blockchain can add value.” This is the right approach.

What we really need to do is provide guidance for our customers to enable them to bring this into the context of their business in order to understand and define valuable use cases for blockchain. We need to use design thinking or other creative strategies to identify the relevant fields for a particular company. We must work with our customers and review their processes and business models to determine which key blockchain aspects, such as provenance and trust, are crucial elements in their industry. This way, we can identify use cases in which blockchain will benefit their business and make their company more successful.

My highly regarded colleague Ulrich Scholl, who is responsible for externalizing the latest industry innovations, especially blockchain, in our SAP Industries organization, recently said: “These kinds of use cases are often not evident, as blockchain capabilities sometimes provide minor but crucial elements when used in combination with other enabling technologies such as IoT and machine learning.” In one recent and very interesting customer case from the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Italy, blockchain was one of various cloud platform services required to make this scenario happen.

How to identify “blockchainable” processes and business topics (value drivers)

To understand the true value and impact of blockchain, we need to keep in mind that a verified transaction can involve any kind of digital asset such as cryptocurrency, contracts, and records (for instance, assets can be tangible equipment or digital media). While blockchain can be used for many different scenarios, some don’t need blockchain technology because they could be handled by a simple ledger, managed and owned by the company, or have such a large volume of data that a distributed ledger cannot support it. Blockchain would not the right solution for these scenarios.

Here are some common factors that can help identify potential blockchain use cases:

  • Multiparty collaboration: Are many different parties, and not just one, involved in the process or scenario, but one party dominates everything? For example, a company with many parties in the ecosystem that are all connected to it but not in a network or more decentralized structure.
  • Process optimization: Will blockchain massively improve a process that today is performed manually, involves multiple parties, needs to be digitized, and is very cumbersome to manage or be part of?
  • Transparency and auditability: Is it important to offer each party transparency (e.g., on the origin, delivery, geolocation, and hand-overs) and auditable steps? (e.g., How can I be sure that the wine in my bottle really is from Bordeaux?)
  • Risk and fraud minimization: Does it help (or is there a need) to minimize risk and fraud for each party, or at least for most of them in the chain? (e.g., A company might want to know if its goods have suffered any shocks in transit or whether the predefined route was not followed.)

Connecting blockchain with the Internet of Things

This is where blockchain’s value can be increased and automated. Just think about a blockchain that is not just maintained or simply added by a human, but automatically acquires different signals from sensors, such as geolocation, temperature, shock, usage hours, alerts, etc. One that knows when a payment or any kind of money transfer has been made, a delivery has been received or arrived at its destination, or a digital asset has been downloaded from the Internet. The relevant automated actions or signals are then recorded in the distributed ledger/blockchain.

Of course, given the massive amount of data that is created by those sensors, automated signals, and data streams, it is imperative that only the very few pieces of data coming from a signal that are relevant for a specific business process or transaction be stored in a blockchain. By recording non-relevant data in a blockchain, we would soon hit data size and performance issues.

Ideas to ignite thinking in specific industries

  • The digital, “blockchained” physical asset (asset lifecycle management): No matter whether you build, use, or maintain an asset, such as a machine, a piece of equipment, a turbine, or a whole aircraft, a blockchain transaction (genesis block) can be created when the asset is created. The blockchain will contain all the contracts and information for the asset as a whole and its parts. In this scenario, an entry is made in the blockchain every time an asset is: sold; maintained by the producer or owner’s maintenance team; audited by a third-party auditor; has malfunctioning parts; sends or receives information from sensors; meets specific thresholds; has spare parts built in; requires a change to the purpose or the capability of the assets due to age or usage duration; receives (or doesn’t receive) payments; etc.
  • The delivery chain, bill of lading: In today’s world, shipping freight from A to B involves lots of manual steps. For example, a carrier receives a booking from a shipper or forwarder, confirms it, and, before the document cut-off time, receives the shipping instructions describing the content and how the master bill of lading should be created. The carrier creates the original bill of lading and hands it over to the ordering party (the current owner of the cargo). Today, that original paper-based bill of lading is required for the freight (the container) to be picked up at the destination (the port of discharge). Imagine if we could do this as a blockchain transaction and by forwarding a PDF by email. There would be one transaction at the beginning, when the shipping carrier creates the bill of lading. Then there would be look-ups, e.g., by the import and release processing clerk of the shipper at the port of discharge and the new owner of the cargo at the destination. Then another transaction could document that the container had been handed over.

The future

I personally believe in the massive transformative power of blockchain, even though we are just at the very beginning. This transformation will be achieved by looking at larger networks with many participants that all have a nearly equal part in a process. Today, many blockchain ideas still have a more centralistic approach, in which one company has a more prominent role than the (many) others and often is “managing” this blockchain/distributed ledger-supported process/approach.

But think about the delivery scenario today, where goods are shipped from one door or company to another door or company, across many parties in the delivery chain: from the shipper/producer via the third-party logistics service provider and/or freight forwarder; to the companies doing the actual transport, like vessels, trucks, aircraft, trains, cars, ferries, and so on; to the final destination/receiver. And all of this happens across many countries, many borders, many handovers, customs, etc., and involves a lot of paperwork, across all constituents.

“Blockchaining” this will be truly transformational. But it will need all constituents in the process or network to participate, even if they have different interests, and to agree on basic principles and an approach.

As Torsten Zube put it, I am not a “blockchain extremist” nor a denier that believes this is just a hype, but a realist open to embracing a new technology in order to change our processes for our collective benefit.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business. Learn how.

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Juergen Roehricht

About Juergen Roehricht

Juergen Roehricht is General Manager of Services Industries and Innovation Lead of the Middle and Eastern Europe region for SAP. The industries he covers include travel and transportation; professional services; media; and engineering, construction and operations. Besides managing the business in those segments, Juergen is focused on supporting innovation and digital transformation strategies of SAP customers. With more than 20 years of experience in IT, he stays up to date on the leading edge of innovation, pioneering and bringing new technologies to market and providing thought leadership. He has published several articles and books, including Collaborative Business and The Multi-Channel Company.