Huma Finance is a leading income-backed DeFi lending protocol for people and businesses globally. The company also empowers its partners and communities by providing a decentralized, transparent, and accessible financial infrastructure. To learn more about the company, Pulse 2.0 interviewed Richard Liu, co-founder of Huma Finance.
Richard Liu’s Background
Prior to Huma Finance, Richard Liu served as the Head of Engineering at Google for multiple 0-1 products including Google Fi, Google Trusted Store, and Google Commerce Search. And Liu also co-founded Leap.ai, which was acquired by Facebook. Plus Liu was the Chief Technology Officer at Earnin, a financial platform whose services allowed tens of millions of Americans to access wages before payday, avoid overdrafts, and start saving. This is where Liu met the Huma co-founders Erbil Karaman and Ji Peng.
How The Idea For Huma Finance Came Together
Liu pointed out that the DeFi ecosystem falls short when lending to real-world use cases where the real needs are: the 99%.
“DeFi mainly relies on the over-collateralization of a small sample of assets, which can lead to a concentration of wealth, as only those with significant amounts of collateral can access DeFi lending platforms. Huma believes this substantially limits the potential of DeFi and prevents it from achieving the goal of creating a more accessible and equitable financial system,” said Liu. “A key reason today’s DeFi cannot support the 99% is that the ecosystem lacks the infrastructure to use the most critical input that all modern risk underwriting depends on, income (cash flow). Income-backed lending is a type of loan that is approved based on the borrower’s income. It is the most common form of lending in real life but is completely missing in DeFi.”
The Huma Protocol was designed to turn income into a first-class primitive that can be borrowed against. And through partnerships with Circle, Request Network, and Superfluid, Huma Finance is launching the first on-chain factoring market on Ethereum Mainnet and Polygon.
“Now, people and businesses worldwide can borrow against their outstanding invoices on Request Network and their payment streams on Superfluid,” Liu added. “These invoices and payment streams are tokenized and used as collateral during the factoring process. The process takes less than a minute, demonstrating the power of income as a first-class primitive. Given the trillion-dollar factoring market in TradFi, we are excited about this first application and are working on launching more payment networks.”
Liu pointed out that Huma Finance was born at ETHDenver 2022 where the team won the DeFi track. And since then they published a whitepaper, completed an audit, and launched their public beta.
“We’ve attracted 20 teams building on Huma, grown the community to 40k on Discord and Twitter, and 30k people used the new Huma dApp (decentralized application),” added Liu. “Income is the most critical signal for real life lending and is missing in DeFi. At Huma, we have developed a full-stack protocol to introduce income as a basic primitive to DeFi and Web3. “
The first layer is known as Decentralized Income Portfolio. And various Income Adapters can be developed to understand and tokenize the income through the integration with various on-chain and off-chain income sources like invoices, payroll, and staking.
The company’s second layer is called the Evaluation Agent framework. And various underwriting solutions can be plugged into Huma to perform underwriting and risk control for different lending use cases.
The company’s third layer is our smart contracts. And they have developed a suite of generic lending smart contracts that can be configured or customized to suit a broad range of use cases from receivable refactoring to general purpose credit lines. During ETHDenver 2023, there were more than 20 teams building on Huma.
Plus Huma also provides an SDK and widget library to make it easy for different dApps to integrate with Huma’s protocol.
I asked Liu about the company’s biggest milestones and he cited a few bullet points:
— Won ETHDenver ‘22 DeFi track
— Raised $8.3M Seed
— Launched Public Beta
— 20+ teams building on Huma
— 40k+ community on both Discord and Twitter
— 30k+ used the Huma dApp
Customer Success Story
When I asked Liu about a customer success story, he cited Jia (Jia.xyz). Jia is providing working capital to small businesses in Kenya and the Philippines and they work with health clinics in rural areas, where clinics need to replenish their medical inventory regularly – which they need to pay upfront. Sometimes those clinics do not have immediate capital access and when they fail to replenish their medical inventory, the whole village suffers.
Building on Huma Protocol, Jia’s clients can access credit instantly from the global blockchain ecosystem through a simple mobile app.
Since launching, Huma Finance secured $8.3 million in a seed round with participation from Race Capital, Distributed Global, ParaFi, Circle Ventures, Robot Ventures, Folius Ventures and founders of other successful blockchain projects.
Total Addressable Market
I asked Liu about the total addressable market that the company is pursuing.
“We are starting with the global factoring services market, which alone was valued at $3 trillion in 2022,” Liu answered. “Our mission is to help close the $8 trillion financing gap that exists in emerging markets, so that any business or person can have access to immediate credit as long as they have a form of revenue or income to borrow against.”
Differentiation From The Competition
What differentiates Huma Finance from the competition?
“Huma Finance is the first protocol in Web3 which will use income as collateral, enabling many more businesses and people to access lending through DeFi. Currently DeFi mainly relies on the over-collateralization of a small sample of assets, which the majority of people don’t have. We are creating a protocol that serves the 99%,” Liu replied.
Future Company Goals
What are some of Huma Finance’s future company goals?
“Our main goal is to make DeFi accessible to the 99%. We want to help emerging markets fintechs launch fair and sustainable lending products on Huma,” Liu revealed. “On the protocol side, we want to integrate with every on-chain income source to provide instant financing to the growing web3 ecosystem.”