This is the second part of Intelligenthq’s interview to Humaniq’s visionary founder and President Alex Fork. In the second part, Alex Fork tells us more about Humaniq, the mission and its ambitious agenda to tackle Financial Inclusion. This interview appears at the same time Humaniq ICO’s reached2 354.09413 BTC 2,7 million USD.
The 1st part you can find it here Humaniq Finance Inclusion Revolution Alex Fork Interview President Founder Part 1
1. What is humaniq?
I prefer not to talk about Humaniq, as a company, or as a project. It’s much more pleasant for me to talk about Humaniq as a mission, that aims to include a huge number of people in the global financial economy.
At the moment, the best solutions for Humaniq that I see are Blockchain, bioidentification by the face, mobile application. Of course, we will integrate them first.
2. What differentiates Humaniq from other financial inclusion tech startups?
Taking in consideration that I have a great experience of working with a large number of start-ups, I would say that I think of Humaniq as a start-up of start-ups. That is, a program for start-ups.
If we try to speculate on the issues that already exist in the “unbanked” field, we will identify a number of significant shortcomings that prevent services from spreading. We can begin by discussing M-Pesa. M-Pesa is a technology based on cellular communication. And this is its fundamental limitation. Of course, it allows using cheaper phones, however, the coverage radius is limited to the country where the cellular communication provider operates. M-Pesa has discovered many different great phenomena. For example, it was noticed that in villages that were very far from civilisation, and where there was no electricity, a car with batteries was coming every day, in order to charge the phones of the people in this village so that they could use M-Pesa money. That’s the motive power of a desire to use payment tools. That is its civilizational benefit.
Humaniq, unlike M-Pesa, doesn’t rely on the phone number, but on bio-identification of the user’s face. Having Internet access is sufficient for Humaniq. And thus, we are not technologically limited to the state where the cellular operator is working (as for M-Pesa).
In addition to the payment tools, we have a very strong incentive connection program; its principle implies the opportunity of receiving rewards equivalent to the simplest mobile phone. A smartphone that allows using our mobile application. This point will originate, in my opinion, a fast entry into the market.
Next, we have for example, BitPeso, as a solution for using Bitcoins as a means of payment. Its main problem is that in the nine years of Bitcoin’s existence, it never appeared in unbanked regions.
For example, there was news about this possibility arising in Indonesia. This is a big market – 250 million people. According to one of the heads of exchange services, the main reason for the low turnover though is an elementary shortage of digital currency in Indonesia, which does not satisfy the existing demand.
Sometimes it takes a long time for the necessary amount of liquidity to appear in the local market, especially if the region is poorly integrated with the international financial system.
It is often said that Bitcoin will help Africa. Imagine a resident of one of the depressed regions, which has at least one mobile device. How can he use this currency? He installed a mobile Bitcoin wallet and has zero on the account. Where will he take Bitcoins, from whom can he can get them? Nevertheless, the economy in these regions exist. It is a peculiar, low scale economics. People work, sell and order services, sometimes without monetary exchange. But for eight years, cryptoeconomics has never appeared there, despite all its advantages: no documents are required, it is simply exchanged with a mobile application, it is easy to make translations around the world. And I have a feeling that if this continues, it will not appear there. Because there is no liquidity in these markets, and no one has been mining in these regions: they could not, did not know how, and had no time. Thus, there is a need for a special tool that will form the necessary liquidity in these regions.
Another important difference from other services is Humaniq’s focus on the usability of the interface. At the moment, we have created an application without language, where only numbers are present. However, during the tests, we found that in the slums, where we were, about 20% of the population can not read. It is a challenge, creating an interface, which depicts visually how much money you have. That is, that does not require numeracy. This is the main difference from any payment tools based on other cryptocurrencies.
3. What is and will humaniq presently be doing for financial inclusion / innovation and global goals?
At the moment, we are developing a special mobile application. This application is a combination of the most advanced technological solutions. The method of its distribution is based on a special Ambassadors program. That is, people who taking into account cultural specificities, integrate the solution in the area, creating and contributing to the support points, use, exchange, and any other aspects of integration, giving us feedback to refining the solution.
I distinguish three blocks:
1) Remote operation via this application or a swarm of friendly applications. It can be freelancing sites, CPA networks, tasks of the individuals. In the beginning, we will try to test payment for activities (like Bounty company) ourselves.
2) Fintech startups. These are various models of lending, insurance, sharing economy, machine learning, e-commerce. In this case, Humaniq platform provides access to other projects for his client base.
3) Charity. Presently, the largest charity funds spend more money to deliver financial aid to the areas of humanitarian disasters than people actually get. There are a lot of problems with fraud. We provide a tool for 100% delivery of aid to these regions, moreover remote, reliable and secure. In addition, there are many other programs: free mosquito nets, clean water, medicines and so on. We can embed these gifts into the application and indicate points where you can get the necessary items – and bio- identification eliminates over expenditure of charity.
4. How do you see financial innovation, mobile money and the objective of getting people included in finance and identity?
We had a very interesting experiment in India. We simulated Humaniq as a business game in Indian slums. Instead of electronic money we gave people paper money so that they exchange them. As a result, we saw a very high desire and a tendency to various innovations, and great interest in relation to innovation and financial tools.
I guess that with the help of our project people get the opportunity to earn on the phone with basic actions. It will also be one of the app’s strongest incentives to involve people. I am absolutely sure that people in slums are interested in innovations.
5. How do you want to put Humaniq vision in practice?
There are two major components in the project development. The first is technological, and the second is what I call “integration in reality”. The technological component is closed by a group of companies involved in our project. These are Distributed lab, Etherion Lab, Digital Invaders and Vision Lab. Prototypes. Our application can already be downloaded and tested now. We are moving according to the white paper, so in May, we plan the release of a working version, in July – a combination of applications, which will allow convenient use of this tool.
The integration component includes a program for Ambassadors.
On the client side the idea is to get a phone for performing common tasks. This is our strongest driver. Often our client simply does not have such an opportunity.
On the part of ambassadors of the project – we have a fund incorporated into the program to support it, which depends on the funds raised, say $500,000 a year. We will support ambassadors in proportion to the number of users in the region. This budget will be used for Internet marketing, articles, media support, and agitational media content. Thus we will understand dynamics and case studies from different parts of the world, which will act best taking into account local and cultural specificities. Ambassadors are the project guides to the local countries, who understand the local culture and are the centers of local development project. Ambassadors are interested in attracting more people to Humaniq, Ambassadors receives bonuses for each connected user in the region. They are building a network of exchange offices both online and offline, ensuring exchange of Humaniq to local means of payment. Exchanged HMQ are sold back to the network users, or at the exchange points.
6. There are 2.5 billion people in the world who don’t have access to any kind of financial account and in some cases water and electricity. How can you change that in an effective way without falling into the traps of the present finance and capital markets industry – corruption, bureaucracy, politic and social religious issues?
We are interested in developing this project with the most remote corners of our planet. We aim not to revolutionise the financial industry, but to create it as Peter Thiel wrote in his book “From Zero to One”. To aim for a completely new qualitative state. This is the answer to some extent, in respect of regulators and competitors. At the second stage of our project, we certainly expect to move in the direction of the area where we need to be more carefully building exactly the legal component. And at the third stage, we will think about the presence in more developed countries such as the US, EU, China.
Humaniq project is one attempt to find a new model of human community, to create an infrastructure for the inclusion of people previously isolated, in the modern economy.
For developing countries, we believe that it can have a positive effect for:
- Poverty reduction.
- Gender equality: connecting the female population to electronic financial systems will improve income in health care and education; a barrier for women in registration of financial account will disappear; women will have more control over their finances and business.
- Improving the quality of education through remote access and payment capabilities.
- Remote jobs and economic growth: greater opportunities for savings will increase the lending capacity of the population; the collection of customer financial data will reduce the lending risks.
- Innovations and infrastructure: e-finances will help to create new business models and products.
- Reducing class inequality: financial services will provide a great advantage for very poor people.
With advanced banking that use blockchain technologies, it is possible to implement this project very quickly.
It should also be noted that we will rely on the opinion of our ambassadors, who know and take into account local features. Our project is called Humaniq, because Human is of paramount importance. In this age of technological breakthroughs and artificial intelligence, the philosophy of our project is based on the fact that the primary thing for us are Humans/ Humanity.
7. Financial inclusion needs social inclusion, education and an ethical social enterprise new culture. What are your views on that?
This is a great question. We plan to continue our research about acceptance of money as a new cultural phenomenon in environments where it doesn’t exist, or exists in insufficient amounts. This is a very interesting and exciting experience. We plan to hold a series of games in different parts of the world and see how people react and interact with each other, having a tool like money. I also assume that Humaniq will both be a financial platform and a platform for education and support for a number of charitable projects. Because our platform solution will have API, it will allow creating customised products and interfaces. Be it Islamic banking, feminine banking, or finance for children.
Of course, I suppose that this process will take some time, and integration will happen quite naturally when people will explain to each other how they can get connected.
8. MPESA success is a critical case study in mobile money in Africa, but it is difficult to repeat because it has distinct unusual features. How do you see Humaniq efforts on this area of mobile money and the difficulties of scaling some work in an effective and ethical ways?
As I have previously described, MPESA has a number of technological limitations in terms of scalability. Humaniq requires only a smartphone with a camera and the Internet. Nothing else is required. Through our Ambassador program that account local features and provides support, as well as through incentive programs for integration, I guess Humaniq will be a more organic solution than ones using SMS as a payment tool.
The principal difference of Humaniq from MPESA is that we use Blockchain for processing, which allows analysing data and using it to create a variety of other services. That is start-ups. In this respect, we are the platform for start-ups. And bioidentification is used as proof of identification in this project. Thus, we associate Blockchain directly with the user.
9. How do you overcome limiting factors such as countries that don’t have infrastructure, technology network, government support or agency network?
The world does not stand still, it is always evolving. Equipment becomes cheaper, the mobile Internet already covers 80% of the space where people live, and this trend will only increase. Agency network, in principle, is not required. However, we are developing this program.
The fact is that the Ambassadors program is an experience of different people supporting this project in different regions. It will allow finding the best and most effective ways to resolve some nuances and problems at the meetings.
10. What is the focus in next 6 months, one year?
In the project’s Whitepaper, we have described that the first important stage is the creation of a fully functioning bio-identification for the application. Now we already have an operating prototype, and the challenge for the next 6 months is to grow the client base. First, I guess our clients will be people who already have a smartphone. After one year, I suppose that we will be able to conclude a number of strategic partnerships with major development institutions in the world and maybe collaborate with programs of the United Nations and other major charitable foundations.
11. Humaniq is creating a movement all over the world and has been having a big reception in different countries in both Africa and India. Can you explain?
We continue receiving a great response, including from South America, South-East Asia. But the most pleasing is that the project had positive reviews from leading experts in the world. I believe that gaining the support of the expert’s community is our greatest victory. I am very grateful to the leading, well-known enthusiasts with a good reputation in the regions for sharing our common mission and active participation. But at the moment I do not think that two dozens of representatives are a large scale. There is about one hundred countries in the world where a high proportion of people is not connected to the Internet. There are also areas of natural disasters and armed conflicts, and other not so well-off places. And there are, of course, a whole bunch of different issues, including the problems of financial independence of women.
Yes, I should add that it is, of course, only a tool that allows dealing with the problem of high levels of poverty, women’s rights, including the issues of education, and remote work. Humaniq’s enthusiasts aim to share new opportunities to solve these issues. Since these opportunities have now appeared, they should be implemented. We need to give people the opportunity to do what they would like to, but can not yet. So they will find the best means to achieve their goals. Thus, people will be able to build their own destiny.