Minneapolis, MN – The world’s biggest brewer is increasing its stake in a blockchain trailblazer helping some of the world’s smallest businesses.
Anheuser-Busch InBev announced today it boosted its Series A investment in Minnesota-based BanQu (pronounced Bank-You), a blockchain startup working to help entrepreneurs and small-business owners, most in the Third World. Exact terms of the investment were not released, which was done through ZX Ventures, the global growth and innovation group within ABInBev.
“Together, we are working to improve access to modern banking for thousands of farmers in underserved rural markets, driving inclusive growth and contributing to our own 2025 Sustainability Goal,” said Tony Milikin, chief sustainability and procurement officer at AB InBev.
In many of the world’s poorest countries, farmers, miners and other business people lack a credit history. BanQu connects them with the companies and organizations that buy their products. It then helps them create a digital ledger of transactions with blockchain to establish an economic identity. This information is then accepted by financial institutions as legitimate identification information, which can help them get credit and bank accounts. BanQu says it has already helped over 200,000 producers.
In June 2018, BanQu began a pilot program with ABInBev working to connect 2,000 Zambian farmers to BanQu’s mobile platform. During the growing season, farmers used the platform as they harvested and sold an estimated 2,000 tons of cassava, a starch used in beer making.
BanQu says its process greatly lowers the cost of credit scoring and identity management systems for financial institutions and governments.
BanQu estimates that 60 percent of the world’s 2.7 billion unbanked people own mobile phones, which can serve as a connection point for people to get their business involved with the global economy.
The company’s platform is live in a dozen countries, including Brazil, India, Somalia, South Africa and the United States, and it plans to expand to China and Mexico this year. BanQu says its ultimate goal is to help lift 100 million people out of extreme poverty by 2023.
ABInBev brews global beer brands like Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois, and last year had revenue of $54.6 billion.