February 22, 2022
Moataz Alobaid, one of the founders of Bankey, LLC, is a member of the Diaspora from Lebanon. Growing up in a large family of 8 people in a small village in Lebanon, Moataz knows first hand the struggle that rural communities face, especially when it comes to the lack of financial services. So what is a Diaspora?
It refers to a community of people living away from their home country, whether it be by choice or circumstance. They may have moved abroad for work, education, or to escape conflict or persecution. Despite being far from home, they maintain strong ties to their culture and community and often send money and support to their families and friends back home.
The Diaspora from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is a growing community, with millions of people living abroad and sending remittances to their home countries. In fact, the MENA region is one of the largest recipients of remittances in the world, with the World Bank estimating that in 2021, remittances to the region totaled over $100 billion.
However, for many in the Diaspora, sending money home can be a difficult, time-consuming, and costly exercise especially with annoying hidden fees. This is particularly true for those who are unbanked, meaning they do not have access to basic financial services such as savings accounts or credit. The unbanked often rely on expensive money transfer services, which can take a significant chunk of their hard-earned income. This is not only a problem for the Diaspora but also for their families and friends back home who rely on these remittances to support their daily needs.
Moataz’s story is not unique. More than 1 billion people worldwide are in the same predicament of being unbanked, and despite the large number of unbanked peoples, two-thirds of them own a mobile phone. Bankey was born out of a desire to solve this problem and empower the disenfranchised globally. Bankey’s first venture into this field is a product called EMPOWCH, which is a mobile first, blockchain powered financial services platform that uses blockchain and mobile technology to provide an inclusive financial network that connects the unbanked with access to funds and the ability to transfer those funds at minimal cost to family and friends.
In the future, Bankey is also looking to build communities with “pop up ATM’s” or KEYS that will convert paper cash into digital cash (and vice versa). These KEYS are community members who will provide a vital “Cash-In” and “Cash-out” service.
So how does Empowch work?
First, load money into your Empowch account by using one of our “Keys” or by Mobile Phone (coming soon) or from your credit, debit card or bank account if you have one. Then, send and receive money from your mobile phone anytime and anywhere. You can pay your bills, shop, and withdraw cash from a local KEY or cash out merchant, all within Empowch. Establishing a dependable method of value exchange, connected through human networks, and scaled by technology, will have tremendous benefits for the unbanked and banked, worldwide.