Eli Mohamad und Dr. Philipp Kallerhoff im Interview.


Vor sieben Wochen berichtete ich über Jumiya – ein Projekt, dem die Idee zugrunde liegt, dass Gesundheit und Finanzen eng miteinander verknüpft sind. Menschen, die einer gesunden Lebensweise nachgehen, werden für dieselbe in Form von finanziellen Vorteilen belohnt.

Zum Schluss meines Artikel versprach ich ein Interview mit den beiden Gründern dieses Projektes, das sich momentan noch in der Beta-Phase befindet. Ich freue mich sehr darüber, dass sich  Eli Mohamad und Dr. Philipp Kallerhoff dazu bereit erklärt haben, mir einige ausgewählte Fragen zu beantworten.

Eli Mohamad (CEO von Jumiya) ist ein ehemaliger Unternehmensberater und Experte der Europäischen Kommission im Bereich Innovation mit viel Erfahrung in der Entwicklung und Leitung von Projekten über viele Branchen hinweg. Er hält einen Master of Science in „Technology and Innovation Management“  der Universität von Sussex (USA).

Dr. Philipp Kallerhoff (CTO von Jumiya) studierte Maschinenbau und Management, Psychologie und Physik an der Technischen Universität Berlin, der Sophia University Tokyo und an der State University of New York. Er promovierte in der Fachrichtung „Computational Neuroscience“ an der Technischen Universität in Berlin und arbeitete in der Banken- und Hedgefondbranche.

Zu ihrem Team zählen außerdem die beiden Investoren und Berater Brent Dixon und Peter Kellner.

1) First of all, thank you very much for this interview, Eli Mohamad and Dr. Philipp Kallerhoff.
Can you explain the vision and strategy of Jumiya to our readers? What are your goals for banks and credit unions? How should established, traditional banks respond to your trend? 

Thanks a lot for having us as guests. Although we are early stage, we’re building some exciting things for the banking industry, and I believe your readers will enjoy finding out about it.

Jumiya was born out of a Silicon Valley, Singularity University project in the summer of 2012, where we tested our hypothesis that health behavior and financial behavior are intimately linked. To our surprise, the research project’s results did not only prove that we were right, but we were able to build a prediction model that enabled us to predict an individual’s financial behavior based on his/her physical activity data. The level of prediction accuracy was quite high (80%), so with the help of good people at Filene (a research institute backed by 150 credit unions) we were able to present our findings in front of 8 CEOs of large American credit unions. Their positive reactions confirmed to us that there is a lot of commercial potential in the facts we’ve discovered, and the rest is history. Philipp and I left our comfortable jobs in Europe and sailed on a quest to improve health and finance.

If we talk about high-level vision, we’ve built our product to address an incredibly important problem: in the USA, as in many European countries, public trust in financial institutions is at a significant low. We continue hearing from the media that the credit rating system is completely broken. Millions of consumers are shackled by debt and poor credit. Just in US there are over 30 million underbanked and unbanked households. But what if you could get access to finance just by being more physically active? What if you could get cash, or access to loans just by getting off the couch and out for a run? We’ve scientifically demonstrated that individuals that exercise regularly, eat well and rarely drink or smoke are more likely to pay bills on time and save monthly. This is not only great news for the active individuals, but also for the financial providers, who are happy to reward such behavior, thus making Jumiya possible.

Simply said, Jumiya is a wellness and finance platform that rewards active and healthy lifestyles with access to financial loans and better interest rates, as well as real-world rewards, in cooperation with banks and credit unions. We use the attractiveness of the quantified-self trend and the power of Big Data analytics tools to monitor individuals’ activity in real-time and reward them for positive actions. Our goal is to help financial institutions to regain the public trust by showing they care (they are enabling their customers to remain healthy), but also help individuals take back control of their finances.

We are currently working with credit unions, as they have the “helping the society” element much more expressed than traditional banks. However, we’ve had about 30 enquiries from banks so far, and this is mostly from the ones realizing that they have to be on top of technological trends in order to ensure their market relevance. We are building a trend that uses big data analytics to the benefit of both the financial institution and the customer, proving that it is possible to have a happy customer and remain quite profitable.

2) From a customer’s view: How can I use the possibilities of Jumiya and what are my advantages?

By signing up for a Jumiya-supported bank account, the end user gives us access to the stream of data from his/her quantified-self devices and apps, such as the Nike Fuelband, Fitbit, Zeo, Runkeeper and Withings. We are particularly interested in physical activity levels, with evolving models for sleep and diet.  We aggregate all this data, make it easy for the user to visualize it and understand it through a master dashboard, and use predictive models and gamification to motivate further physical improvement and achievement of goals. As the individual’s activity levels improve and goals are achieved, points may be redeemed directly for better rates, loans or discounts at local businesses. There is no gadget or app to buy – the user simply signs up for Jumiya at the bank.

3) Jumiya is a very fascinating and interesting idea, but I’m thinking about some risks: Could members get hooked on getting exercise just to get better interests? Are there some limits to reach? How are my achievements checked? Is it possible to cheat?

Well, I would love if the members from your example would actually do it! We as a society don’t exercise enough! It actually addresses another problem which is very important – most causes of medical debt are related to treatment of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, which are preventable with exercise, change of diet and a generally more active lifestyle. This is true for the entire developed world. Jumiya can motivate people to become healthier by increasing their physical activity levels, whether it is walking, running, or exercising in the gym or at home. And the only side-effect is that these same people get increased access to finance and rewards for being healthy.

As we are still in pilot phase, the limits to reach are constantly evolving. For example, currently the user can get an interest rate improvement of maximum 2% on loans. Other limits, such as cash, real-world rewards or discounts really depend on each credit union or bank participating in the pilot. This leaves the banks the opportunity to compete based on service quality. Generally, the higher the rewards, the more new customers are drawn.

Cheating is often one of the main topics, both with end users and with banks. We are gathering real-time data from quantified-self apps and gadgets. Most people leave the apps on their smartphone running in the background, and check their performance after a run or walk, because they want to find out the real results. But if rewards were given for physical activity, someone may want to cheat the system – for example an individual may put a Fitbit in the dryer for a cycle in order to trick the accelerator in the gadget, and go back to sitting on the couch and watching TV. We’ve actually heard of a story where an individual built a special pouch for his IPhone and made his dog wear it while it ran, so he could show others he “achieved” certain running goals on Runkeeper. No system is cheat-proof; however there are many ways to actively discourage cheating. One is to build the system so that it makes cheating much more effort- and time-consuming than actually going out for a walk. This is exactly what we have done. In addition to this, our algorithms are trained to recognize when potential cheating is happening. For example, if we see that someone ran 10 kilometers, but his/her heart rate was not elevated at all, we know that something odd is going on.

4) What are your next steps with Jumiya?

We are currently working on two major things. One is that we are preparing a special pilot project with 5 credit unions in the USA and iterating our solution to best fit the end users’ needs and maximize the number of new account users we attract for the credit union, which is usually the most profitable customer. The second is that we are a young startup and our solutions are still being tested, so we are hiring new developers and account managers and building partnerships globally. For this we will need new capital – so if there are any angel investors or VCs among your readers interested in talking to us, please let them know to feel free to contact us.

5) Finally, what do you mean, which trends will impact the banking the next 5-10 years?

This is actually not very hard to predict. Many trends are continuing to improve steadily for years, and future trends will continue to ride on advancements in information technologies. I am personally very interested to see how gamification of financial management is going to play out. Mobile banking will see its true dawn in the next year or two; security challenges financial service providers face will continue to be an issue; financial institutions will increasingly use more data from their customers to make more informed decisions; and of course, the connection between health and finance!


Thank you very much for your interesting answers, Eli Mohamad and Dr. Philipp Kallerhoff.


Was sind Ihre Gedanken zu diesem jungen und innovativen Unternehmen?