Leaf is an integrated financial services provider whose mobile platform enables the conversion of physical to digital fiat currency through blockchain technology. Refugees deposit cash at a mobile money agent in their home country and then send that money into a Leaf account. The company stores the transaction on the blockchain and works in partnership with regional banks to safeguard currency.
Over the next six months, Leaf will receive $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive mentoring from its Catalyst Fund sponsoring investor, Accion Venture Lab. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.
THE Problem and Solution
The UN has designated 68 million people as forcibly displaced with an additional 100 million living in a state of social, economic, and political crisis. Most affected areas lack the adequate banking infrastructure to make cash accessible across borders in digital form or meet the needs of refugees. When forced to flee, many refugees are unable to get to a bank or money transfer location to pick up funds for their journey, thus limiting them to whatever cash they have on hand. Carrying cash is not only dangerous but becomes inconvenient and expensive to exchange across borders.
Leaf operates as a virtual bank for refugees, allowing customers to safely store assets over time and transport them across borders for minimal fees. Leaf can provide financial security even when a refugee does not know where they are going or how long it will take to get there. By converting mobile money into stable investments over a blockchain platform (backed by fiat currency), Leaf operates profitably while extending services currently unavailable to refugees. The refugee is spared from the risk of violence, theft, and currency devaluation associated with carrying cash while in flight. Friends and family abroad can also deposit into the refugee’s account, thus creating a cross-border connection to a community during a turbulent period. Leaf takes advantage of the period a refugee is in-flight by investing customers’ savings to generate a return. Leaf can offer services at a much lower rate than current offerings because of the unique features of blockchain technology. This also allows for increased security, transaction speed, and accessibility from a mobile device.
- Posts transactions to the Stellar distributed ledger to increase transparency between financial institutions and facilitate the movement of assets across borders in partnership with mobile money.
- Works with developers behind a variety of private and public blockchain solutions designed around the virtue of stability rather than capital accumulation.
- Provides secure transactions using a voice and facial recognition biometrics system to manage customer identity.
- Completely eliminates the risks of carrying cash across borders including violence, theft and natural disasters for refugees.
- Partners with banks, mobile money providers, and MNOs to offer secure asset transport across borders.
- Platform supports SMS interface and multiple languages (Swahili and French).
The Value Proposition
- Offers a safe and convenient asset transfer solution across borders for refugees leveraging blockchain technology.
- Provides an affordable payment solution to refugees crossing multiple countries.
- Provides an identity management system for refugees.
- Blockchain technologies enable Leaf to provide a system that works across various countries, banks and financial platforms.
THE LEARNING AGENDA
Leaf is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda. Their challenges could help answer the following questions within the learning pillars of:
- How can inclusive fintech companies best integrate with mobile money platforms using blockchain technology?
- How can inclusive fintech companies optimize for customer trust via blockchain technology?