Kora: Blockchain Technology for the Underbanked
With blockchain technology proving to be a timely, if not the most important invention of the decade, security, transparency, and accessibility have become luxuries that few can afford. Its widespread adoption hinged on data security, transaction speed, transparency, and efficiency, and achieving some of its early promise has disproved the skepticism of various financial giants and personnel around the world.
The emergence of various financial projects incorporating blockchain technology as its backbone has proven critics wrong about what this technology is capable of. Already, there have been some fintech projects challenging the traditional financial methods, such as in the case of Nexo.io, which is providing crypto backed loans, and many more like it are pushing back the boundaries between finance and technology.
Another project created to challenge the traditional financial system is Kora, a blockchain supported infrastructure created for the purpose of the increasing financial inclusion of the under-banked regions around the world.
According to World Bank Group (WBG), financial inclusion is vital for reducing extreme poverty and to boost prosperity amongst the unbanked. According to a report from WBG, there are over 2 billion unbanked people all over the world. That is 2 billion or more people excluded from the potential value creation that could be gotten from financial inclusion. This exclusion is traced to the inaccessibility of the traditional financial system into the unbanked regions, communities, or remote settlements.
The majority of the unbanked population dwell in remote regions around the world, regions with low “economic input”. Hence, an understanding of the motive of the traditional financial system in reaching out to the unbanked is needed to see why blockchain backed technologies can overcome these.
Built on the blockchain technology, Kora’s infrastructure is designed to provide necessary financial inclusion in products and services to the over 2 billion underbanked people in the world. Already, it has started its first User Testing Program in Nigeria and will launch their beta in Ghana in July 2018.
According to the CEO of Kora Dickson Nsofor:
“…the Kora Network uses blockchain technology as an immutable trust engine, increasing transparency and creating a reliable record of business activities, proving them a more stable investment opportunity to stakeholders. By opening up access to more investment capital and resources to
better manage their finances, these communities have the chance to better plan their business activities, returning greater profit and gaining a fair share in the wealth they create.”
Kora Network principles of operation are based around low cost, universal access and a commitment to engaging with existing communities. On top of this, Kora will also be able to provide an authenticated identification process. Lack of documentation and the ability to prove one’s identity is something which holds back traditional financial institutions from serving the unbanked. Kora, using an internet service model, also overcomes many of the infrastructural barriers placed in the way of established banks and lenders. In other words, they do not have to build branches. Kora customers will have access to secure storage for their funds, the ability to transfer money between accounts, and it will provide a low-cost marketplace for retailers and other businesses to operate in.
It services will be available and accessible in areas will little or no internet connection via the SMS/USSD protocol, while its mobile app can be accessed in areas which are served by mobile internet.
The striking point of this project is the use of SMS/USSD for transactional purposes. Already, it has been established that most remote areas of the world, Africa to be exact, are shut out of the internet disruption and opportunities due to a lack of cell towers. Traditional financial houses are reluctant to invest heavily in areas with little or no return. Kora will provide the infrastructure for such services in the remotest parts of Africa and subsequently, other parts of the world, those both with and without internet connectivity.
Kora’s blockchain is capable of storing identity and transactions while running software modules and connects to other blockchains as well. It uses Tendermint DPoS as a consensus algorithm which allows for scalability while maintaining decentralisation.
Just recently, Kora got an early investor, Aeternity Ventures, with a shared vision of building a global financial infrastructure that fuels economic growth.
Kora hopes to put an end to extreme poverty in the most remote regions of the world. With the use of blockchain as a social and financial tool, it hopes to lend a helping hand, empower and as well as increase the financial status of the underbanked.