3 Blockchain Based Solutions for Economic Empowerment in Developing Countries

Jennifer Abel
7 min readMar 8, 2021


Imagine you are earning your living as a seamstress and you want to get a micro loan of a bank to buy a sewing machine to scale your work and income. But you do not have any documents to proof who you are and that you were profitable selling your services the past years. This is typically the reality of financially excluded people.

It is often stated that the distributed ledger technology (DLT) and especially blockchain as a version of it is here to stay and to change the world. Blockchain has the potential to connect the whole world in a global decentralized network, which helps to overcome corruption, gatekeepers, and distrust among each other. Think of blockchain as a list of records where every participant in the network has a copy. When a new record is added there is a validity mechanism in place to proof that this record is a further item added to the existing list and each participant again gets an updated copy holding the common truth of that list. In this way it is hard to manipulate this list as each participant in that network must be convinced one by one that a different list is true. It is also not possible to change older records. Only new records can be added.

Blockchain is a peer-to-peer network that has the possibility to bring financial services to everybody in a much cheaper and faster way especially to those who have currently no access to any banking. Looking at the global population most of those people without entry to financial services are very often living in poverty.

The biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization is Bitcoin allowing a global value exchange without any intermediaries. But blockchain is even more than bringing the foundation for cryptocurrencies as an alternative way of payment or value storage. Having the ability to automate processes and manage how people or machines interact within such a blockchain network using for example smart contracts opens a new world of possibilities.

Therefore, I am curious and would like to explore the following questions: If blockchain can change our world and make it fairer can it also combat poverty? How can that be accomplished? Let us have a closer look.

Financial inclusion as catalyst to end poverty in all its forms

Not only the definition of poverty varies (extreme poverty with less $1,90 a day, multidimensional poverty or e.g., poverty by national poverty lines), but it is a result of overly complex matters and different interdependencies like ecological, economic, and social stability. To be more resilient on an individual level to up and downs in these areas access to financial services can support laying a foundation for personal health, education, and livelihood. That is also why financial inclusion is one of the World Bank’s top priorities. In 2017 the Global Findex database shows that globally 1.7 billion adults are still unbanked and nearly all of them are living in the developing world often representing the poorer population of these countries.

Therefore, there is a need to create solutions which strengthen society in a way that has a basis to flourish in a sustainable manner. The fact that more and more people in developing countries have access to mobile phones and blockchain has the power to reinvent access and usage of financial services this article is putting a spotlight on BanQu, SureRemit and Humaniq which are three blockchain solutions to connect unbanked people to the global economy putting them on the map for economic prosperity ending their lives in poverty.

Become visible in the global economy — BanQu

BanQu founded in 2015 and located in the US and South Africa is a for profit/for purpose software as a service company providing a supply chain platform based on blockchain technology.

Their mission is to eliminate poverty through making billions of people living in extreme poverty bankable. A key problem they are addressing is the missing economic identity of e.g., farmers and miners who provide raw materials, but are invisible in the global economy. Having a track record of work stating what a single person does and sells gives them the basis to participate in the economic ecosystem doing basic things like opening a bank account.

Therefore, BanQu provides a platform putting these providers of raw materials like crops, minerals, or natural fabrics in the center of the supply chain that enables them to build secure, immutable transaction records simply using text messaging on their mobile phone. A smartphone is not necessarily required unless the QR code option is used. The platform is not using any cryptocurrencies. All trades are logged and fulfilled in local currencies. From a business model perspective BanQu’s customers are brands who want to have more transparency in their supply chain and being more sustainable through leveraging the benefits of a circular economy, which BanQu also promotes. Therefore, a brand itself is paying for the service, which is an annual subscription fee, and all the other participants can use the platform for free.

As of today, BanQu is launched in more than 40 countries and made over 300,000 connections within global supply chains for fast-moving consumer goods.

An ecosystem for merchants for global non-cash remittances — SureRemit

SurRemit is a non-cash remittance service solving the problem of how to transfer value across borders to family and friends.

Especially immigrants want to support their family back home through sending money which then can be spend on food, clothes, housing and so on. The issue is that remittances in the traditional way are very costly and risky. Especially supporting people financially in the poorest regions of the world is not easy as it cannot be guaranteed that the money receives the recipient particularly in cases when that individual does not have a bank account.

SureRemit takes a spin on that problem and focuses on the core element of why money is remitted. It is remitted to send value giving the recipient the possibility to buy clothes, food or pay their bills. So why not skip the money part and provide value directly?

This said back in 2014 SureGifts started to build a network of merchants in Africa and Latin America. This was the foundation for creating the SureRemit platform utilizing blockchain to purchase the Remit token RMT to buy digital vouchers, which then can be used directly by family and friends abroad. Recipients receive vouchers via text message or email and then redeem its value directly in the store or pay bills.

The RMT token is issued on the Stellar blockchain to facilitate fast and cheap transactions. Merchants who create digital vouchers get paid directly in their fiat currency. After SureRemits ICO ended in 2018 the company was growing and expanded their value sending capabilities.

Empowering the unbanked — Humaniq

As stated above there is a clear relation between poverty and people who are unbanked. Humaniq is exactly tackling this issue bringing financial services and entrepreneurial opportunities to the unbanked by utilizing blockchain and mobile technology. Target markets are South America, Africa, and Asia.

Key is an app on a smartphone with camera and voice recording capabilities. Therefore, Humaniq is not only providing a software, but is also pushing smartphone distribution so the services can be used.

The goal was to make authentication and identification simple and fast using bioID by simply taking a selfie. Making undocumented people uniquely identifiable is the basis to exist as a participant in a financial system and start building one’s economic identity.

Humaniq uses the Ethereum blockchain and its own token HMQ. HMQ can be also converted into the local currency, but Humaniq’s greater goal is to build an economic network where HMQ can be used as a payment method. By laying the foundation of providing documentation and an account by using the Humaniq app on an Android smartphone, which can already be purchased for $10 to $15, new financial services like micro loans or micro insurances can be offered and used. Humaniq also encourages users to build their own businesses using the app to create their individual economic prosperity and be part of an economy without borders. In this way Humaniq also connects emerging markets with developed countries.

Decentralized economic empowerment

Blockchain might still be a nascent technology, but there are already great projects and approaches to create solutions which can be used by a broad audience solving pressing problems. Different blockchain communities are working on making the technology more accessible, robust, and efficient so that it is easy to use, and great decentralized applications can be built.

The growing number of smartphone users in developing countries gives more people access to technology and internet. In this way more and more people can benefit from blockchain solutions breaking barriers for the unbanked population. Being financially included empowers them to participate in a modern society building their own economic prosperity.


Jennifer Abel is a Blockchain enthusiast and passionate about innovations working as IT Project Manager at Raisin Bank AG creating Banking as a Service solutions for FinTechs. You can contact her via email (mail@jenniferabel.de) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferabelofficial/).

Call for Women in Blockchain: Join the DLT Talents program (http://www.dlt-talents.com/). Application deadline for the next cohort is March 17, 2021.



Jennifer Abel

Product Management | Entrepreneurship | Agile Coaching | FinTech | HealthTech | Blockchain Enthusiast | DeFi | DAO | NFT