3. . Another question that came up: “ There are a number of others working in this space. Would love to have some additional information to understand how you are differentiating yourself.”
While there are other partners working on ID solution, we are different in two ways: 1. We are building on the trust network to link families separated by war and conflict. 2. We are using blockchain technology in unique way, as we are the only organization not using crypto-currency, but the distributed ledger aspect.
4. Human-centered design starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor-made to suit their real needs. How does this idea consider user needs?
Our technology follows the human centered design thinking. The inspiration of BanQu was born out of some of our co founder's experiences including living in refugees camps and slums of in India. For instance, Hamse Warfa lived in Dadaab Refugee Camp, Nairobi, Kenya. Having left everything behind on the outbreak of civil war in Somalia, Hamse and his family had to build their identity from scratch and had very limited access to work opportunities, access to marketsand financial services. Visiting the refugee camp twenty years later, Hamse saw the same issues affecting the refugees in the camp today, and this inspired Hamse and his co founders to think about solutions to these issues that affect up-to 2.5 billion people worldwide.
This ideation saw BanQu co founders tinker with the BanQu proto-type, eventually having the opportunity to pilot in diverse regions, from South America to East and West Africa to the Middle East as well as refugees in in the United States.
5.. Would love to learn why you chose not to incorporate beneficiary feedback at this point, what did you learn for future development?
Beneficiary feedback was very useful and central to our product to date from the initial focus groups in 2014 to this process that we are going through. For instance, we have taken note of the concerns raised about internet access in this process. Given that we are currently undertaking pilot programs in 3 continents, we will dedicate a period of time to revising our technology taking into account the beneficiary feedback.
6. How will you take user-feedback into your organization as you grow?
• We believe in continuous improvement, and we will take note (via anonymized analytics) i.e. user preferences of certain features and products on BanQu, to guide product development. Additionally, we will conduct periodic surveys to get direct feedback from our users. We will also provide a structured process for receiving feedback through a “feedback form” embedded into the application. These feedback mechanisms will be tailored for our nonpaying clients (economically excluded) and our paying clients (Banks, NGOs, Financial Institutions) to ensure customer satisfaction. The end user ultimately shapes our iterative process of improving the platform.
7. Outstanding comments and questions: “It would be great to see the problem of lack of identification to access bank accounts, markets, etc. be addressed. While I think this idea is a great and innovative one that merges technology, markets, and people in need together, I am concerned about how diverse of a market people can tap into (will they be locked into limited choices, if companies don't honor the e-ID?), and especially about privacy protection against their data being collected.” • As mentioned above, the choice set available for refugees and financially excluded is very limited. We are moving them from zero to at least one option. Those firms that embrace innovation and work with BanQu will of course get first-mover advantage. However, as more firms sign-up, the choices available to the users increase. This will be a commercial transaction, and it is up-to the firms to market and appeal to their new user-base.
Thank you for the feedback, and we are excited to re-think and improve our initiative. We have addressed some of the points raised in the feedback below:
When thinking about desirability, feasibility and viability here’s what experts shared: 1. Desirable -- Yes, with a handful of assumptions I would love to hear flushed out i.e. if one has a smartphone, access to internet/wifi, if companies and markets honor the ID, if the user has diverse options in the marketplace, and if data/privacy is protected.
• Desirability: Focus groups in Dadaab, Kenya and Kibera slums Kenya indicate strong interest from the folks we are pitching to. Additionally, the pilot schemes we are undertaking will help refine what aspects of the BanQu platform did the users find most appealing/useful. • Access to smartphone. Smartphone penetration is surprisingly high in developing nations, even in refugee camps. There is a version of the platform we have developed for no-smart phones. Whatsapp is one of the key ways refugees communicate, even as they travel across borders. Our technology can work off-line, although it is not optimal to have the most up-to-date blockcahin. • Access to internet: Yes, the technology can work offline, but for the most up-to-date blockchain, internet access would be required. We will partner with local governments and NGOs, private sector partners to enhance access to internet in very remote parts of the world. • Commitment from firms: We are post revenue generation stage already, a testament to the strong interest from firms. The value propositions of know your customer, and identity verification are very clear to the private sector interested in the bottom of the pyramid market. From the slums in Kibera, Nairobi, to the refugee camps in Jordan, private sector engagement is a core focus of our strategy. • Privacy and Data protection: The focus of our platform is putting refugees and the financially excluded at the heart of it all. We are working with vulnerable communities, and as part of on-boarding, we are sensitizing our users of the power and value of their information. Our technology is both encrypted and permissioned and only those that the user allows access can be able to get the information. In the centralized economy we live in, Gmail, Facebook and even your local bank monetize your personal information by selling to third-party marketers without asking for your permission. We are changing this paradigm by putting control back firmly to the owners of the data. • Options: The choice set available for refugees and financially excluded is very limited. We are moving them from zero to at least one option. Those firms that embrace innovation and work with BanQu will of course get first-mover advantage. However, as more firms sign-up, the choices available to the users increase. This will be a commercial transaction, and it is up-to the firms to market and appeal to their new user-base.
2. Feasible -- Yes, feasible to develop & pilot in specific communities. How are you thinking about the challenges to reach other communities like refugees and other marginalized groups in poverty though, unless a different method is created that does not rely on internet access? • Feasibility: As mentioned, Internet access is much higher than many expect. The technology can work without internet access, but for real-time update of the distributed ledger, we would have to connect to the internet. • Viable -- Looking at this from just the point of reaching the population of refugees & marginalized groups that own smartphones & have internet access, it can potentially be sustainable. Our solution is beyond the identity, it is building the transaction history of refugees in order to access markets and finance outside of their restricted environment. The distributed economy powered by blockchain will change the paradigm for service delivery. For the first time, people can own their own data and transact directly with one another, without intermediates. Power and control by large companies and governments can now be distributed to more of the population. This is the future of identity, trust and financial transactions. Out platform, due to our social mission, focuses on enhances access to people excluded from the current economic paradigm. However, as we, the market size of this population is 2.5 billion people world-wide. It is also important to remember that our solution integrates with existing systems while innovating.
Bettina Fliegel You are spot on! We are in discussion with several health organizations who serve refugees and displaced people. As a former refugee myself, I remember the tedious process of repeating immunization shots as we moved from one place to another. This is very common challenge to this day. Thanks for your thoughtful question!