In 2017, more than 2 billion adults and up to 39% of the total global
population still do not have access to a bank account. In developing
countries, that number is even higher.
According to the World Bank’s Financial Inclusion Database,
as of 2015, almost two-thirds of the populations of just five
countries – Indonesia, Philippines, Nigeria, Colombia, and
Peru (a combined 630 million people) – remain unbanked.
If one includes all middle income and developing nations,
that number rises to a whopping 3 billion-plus humans
without access to a bank account, let alone access to basic
financial tools such as a debit card. Despite the leaps made
by financial technologies in the past few decades, it is
clear that access to simple, 21st century financial utilities
remains shockingly low.
Digital payments are the solution that will provide entry
to financial inclusion for these billions of people. That said,
financial exclusion still remains, in large part, because
most merchants in underserved demographics still deal
only in cash. These micro and small businesses (MSMs) –
the local food vendors, gasoline stands, mobile phone
kiosks – the lifelines for most people, represent over USD
6.5 trillion in transactions annually. Yet less than 10% of
these merchants currently accept digital payments.
Moreover, the current financial infrastructure further
disincentivizes digital payments for MSMs. Payment
terminals involve long, inefficient application processes,
connectivity historically has been poor, and card payment
fees are too high to justify operating in anything but cash.
Similarly, service providers have thus seen little reason to
invest in the infrastructure to bring these billions of people
into the modern digital financial system.
Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies offer an
opportunity to change that. Against a backdrop of rising
mobile device adoption (global smartphone user base
to increase by ~1.6 billion in the next 3 years), the barrier
for people to potentially transact securely, transparently
and conveniently has never been lower. BELUGA aims
to leverage these new technologies to develop an open
source asset transferring platform. By thus providing
the tools for small businesses and their customers in
developing countries to go digital, it is BELUGA’s mission to
help the unbanked billions become part of a newer, better,
and fairer global financial system.
BELUGA will be fully compliant in every jurisdiction it
operates in with strict Know Your Customer (KYC) and
Anti-Money Laundering (AML) processes