Category Archives: Innovation and Resources

What are the major sources of scale-up equity finance in the UK?

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BusinessZone |By Christopher Goodfellow | Aug 8, 2017

We’eeeee worked with Beauhurst to find the top 10 UK providers of equity investment for rounds of between £250,000 and £2m.

Use the below links to skip to a particular investor.

  1. Crowdcube
  2. Seedrs
  3. SyndicateRoom
  4. Scottish Investment Bank
  5. The London Co-Investment Fund
  6. London Business Angels
  7. Mercia Fund
  8. LocalGlobe
  9. Angel Co-Fund
  10. Seedcamp

This tranche of funding is crucial in ensuring startups have the financial support to scale beyond small seed investments, which are now well supported due to tax incentives for investors.

Pedro Madeira, Beauhurst’s head of research, said:

"This bracket covers upper Seed and lower Venture investments that may end up being too large for traditional Angels and too small for VCs. So it is important to ensure there is an adequate supply of investment for companies that require investment within that bracket.

"It is worth noting that the top three investors are all equity crowdfunding platforms. This further confirms the view that this bracket runs the risk of falling in a 'no man's land' between Angel investors and VCs."

If you found this research helpful or can think of a way we can improve the resource leave us a comment below, and we’ll get back to you.

Crowdcube's investments in UK startups

Crowdcube is an equity crowdfunding platform. Beahurst data shows it facilitated 58 deals in the £250,000 to £2m range last year.

Interviewee: Luke Lang, co-founder and CMO

Notable businesses: Cauli Rice, goHenry, POD Point, Camden Town Brewery, BrewDog

How active are you in providing scale-up finance?

The vast majority of raises fall within this range (although the full Series rounds can go up to £10m if you include bonds and VCs). Crowdcube really dominates the £1m-plus rounds at the moment, with over 40 raises of over £1m completed on Crowdcube in the last 18 months.

What are your criteria and specialism?

Typically, we’re looking at companies raising over £100,000. The mid-tier of between £250,000 and £750,000 is our sweet spot. The average raise last year was around £800,000, but this is slightly skewed by bigger pitches.

We’re open to different sectors, different stages of growth and different types of businesses.

Over what period are you looking to invest?

We have no set criteria on this front.

See:  2017 Canadian Online Funding Directory

What’s the best way to approach you for investment?

We have lots of referrals from brands that have previously raised but of course you can get in touch with us directly to find out more about raising on Crowdcube. You can also find lots of information and resources, including advice from entrepreneurs that have already gone through the process, on our website.

What share of entrepreneurs who approach you tend to be successful?

Crowdfunding is now a mainstream funding option for many businesses. We’ve seen the number of businesses apply to raise on the platform consistently increase year-on-year and so far over 680 businesses have applied to Crowdcube.

"We invest in around 5-10% of businesses that get onto our list, but angels need to collectively be investing more than £100,000." Angel Co-Fund

Of those that have listed on the platform so far in 2017, 60% have successfully raised finance from our crowd of investors.

How long does it normally take to get an investment?

It takes three-to-four weeks to get live on the site if you’re really on it and it’s a straightforward business with no anomalies. They’re normally funded within another three-to-four weeks. Well executed campaign should reach 100% of their target within 10 days to two weeks.

Monzo Smashed the previous record raising £1.0m in 96 seconds last year. The previous record was Crowdcube, which raised £1.2m in 14 minutes.

What’s the USP of your offering?

No one has raised more! We’ve had 500 successful raises, worth over £250m.This means no one’s got more data or insights or expertise on how to successfully crowdfund.

Crowdcube works with brands to ensure they maximise all the opportunities that present themselves during the raise, can advise on networking, help secure lead investors and more; this is the secret sauce - team, people, knowledge, know-how!

Seedrs equity crowdfunding in the UK

Seedrs is an equity crowdfunding platform. Beahurst data shows it facilitated 41 deals in the £250,000 to £2m range last year.

Interviewee: Tom Horbye, senior campaign development associate

Case studies: FreeAgent, Perkbox, Chapel Down, Veeqo

How active are you in providing scale-up finance?

Our average round size last year was about £400,000 and we funded over 159 deals with £85 million invested in 2016 alone.

Seedrs is the most active investor in UK private companies and, since its launch in 2012, has funded over 500 deals with over £230 million invested into campaigns on the platform.

What are your criteria and specialism?

FinTech has historically been very successful on Seedrs, but we wouldn’t necessarily call it our ‘specialism’. We have funded growth-focused businesses from over 15 different verticals from SaaS, PropTech and HealthTech to AI, Robotics and fast moving consumer goods.

Around 80% of deals on Seedrs fall under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), which is a great incentive for investors looking to build portfolios in the early stage equity asset class as they offer up to 50% tax relief for UK tax payers.

"We receive more than a thousand approaches for investment a year, but only around 4% receive investment." Mercia Fund

However, we welcome companies that are not eligible for these schemes, largely because they’re based in Europe or they’re in a restricted category (a challenger bank for example). Those businesses will still fund successfully, helped by our pan-European investor base.

See also:  Seedrs is an Iceberg Business. The Behind the Scenes Operation is Hugely Important

Over what period are you looking to invest?

Investors should be aware that early-stage equity is a long-term asset class, and investors won’t get quick gains straight away if at all. You are looking at between five-to-seven years before you might see returns.

On paper Seedrs’ portfolio is performing well, with a platform-wide internal rate of return of 14.4% and 49.1% on a tax-adjusted basis. However, in the interim, investors can seek liquidity by selling shares on Seedrs secondary market, which launched in June. In fact, a few investors have realised 19x returns already.

What’s the best way to approach you for investment?

We are very proactive, constantly out at networking events, speaking to exciting businesses. However, we’re always open to direct approaches, although warm approaches via introductions often help. Entrepreneurs can approach us at events - whilst we might be an online platform, we are still human!

We also have a lot of institutional investors introducing us to their portfolio companies who might be doing Series A or B rounds and want to top up from the crowd with co-investment from the VC.

What share of entrepreneurs who approach you tend to be successful?

First of all, we only accept around 10% of the businesses that apply to fund on Seedrs because we have very strict criteria to ensure that companies selected have the best chance to fund successfully, but also to ensure that we are presenting the best possible deals to investors. Our due diligence process is incredibly in-depth, but this is vital to protect our investors.

Once a company has successfully passed the due diligence checks and their campaign goes live on the platform, the real work begins. It isn’t as simple as going live and the money pours in, equity crowdfunding is hard work and relies on very proactive founders with an engaged community behind them. Seedrs investors are in the main sophisticated and have investment portfolios across many asset classes, so they are incredibly selective in which companies they back.

To be successful, it’s important to have a clear idea about why you’re raising - what’s it for? Why are you crowdfunding rather than raising offline? Why is it important? You need to have a clear rationale; 68% of businesses that go live on Seedrs successfully fund and they all share this clear, strong rationale.

How long does it normally take to get an investment?

From submission to funding takes two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half months. We aim to get business investment ready in three-to-four weeks, and those that go on to successfully fund tend to be 90% or fully funded in the first 30 days.

What’s the USP of your offering?

For ambitious growth businesses, we’re the most active equity investor in UK private companies, meaning Seedrs has a unique insight into the needs of early-stage companies. Commonly, the businesses we speak with are focusing on scaling through raising growth capital and marketing their products or services to increase revenues. Equity crowdfunding through Seedrs is a unique way for businesses to combine both of these crucial scale drivers in an efficient online process.

SyndicateRoom

SyndicateRoom is an equity crowdfunding platform. Beahurst data shows SyndicateRoom facilitated 23 deals in the £250,000 to £2m range last year.

Interviewee: Tom Britton, co-founder

Case studies: MITODYS, Saoty Movie, LerzTech, Axll, Nuine

How active are you in providing scale-up finance?

About 85% of our investments are in that range. We don’t tend to do many SEIS level investments or investments under £250,000 as we can typically find angels to take this because of tax benefits rather than needing the crowd.

So, around 80% of investments on SyndicateRoom are at EIS level, 10% SEIS, and 10% neither. It’s a strong boost to a company if it’s SEIS or EIS eligible, but we do have successful ones that run without it.

What are your criteria and specialism?

Healthcare and life sciences make up about one-third of the businesses we deal with. This is in part unintentional. It’s about their network and who they’re connected too in that space. B2B goods make up about 18%.

It’s highly unlikely we’ll invest at the idea or concept stages. Some form of traction or revenue is required with a realistic growth plan. Making sure financial history and forecasts are in order is really helpful. Similarly having legal in place. There’s a lot of things that companies should be doing anyway!

Over what period are you looking to invest?

Ideally, three-to-five years for them to be bought out, life sciences are 20 years, software seven years. That said, try not to get too caught up on this, it can be a bit of a red flag!

It’s very much about the life span, we will recommend VCs etc. for second rounds. Publically we work with brokers to refer for IPO.

See also:  ‘Crowdfunding is growing up’: SyndicateRoom just partnered with the London Stock Exchange

What’s the best way to approach you for investment?

Personal introductions and recommendations from other companies that are raising is the best route and this probably accounts for 60% of the businesses we work with.

We do get some through the website and scan them all regularly - it’s always good to get fans of the business involved. We try to get back to people within a few days.

What share of entrepreneurs who approach you tend to be successful?

We have a very high success rate - about 80% of businesses hit their target - because of the way people go through screening, we know what investors want and what the capacity is.

How long does it normally take to get an investment?

Businesses will need to engage for about three-four months total from an intro to done and dusted.

It takes about a month to go through the vetting and get onto the platform, providing they’re ready to get to the next stage.

"Ideally, three-to-five years for them to be bought out. That said, try not to get too caught up on this, it can be a bit of a red flag!" SyndicateRoom

You can raise for up to four-to-six weeks - no more than this. We’ve got a lot of history showing that if you stretch it out more than that it doesn’t help the campaign.

It takes about a month to close the round and confirm all investments.

What’s the USP of your offering?

We only have high-net-worth investors with experience, so if you’re after more than the money you’re more likely to get this from SyndicateRoom.

We don’t provide additional services in terms of setting up SEIS, but can certainly introduce people to contacts. All investors go into a nominee structure.

Scottish Investment Bank

The Scottish Investment Bank is part of Scotland's main economic development agency and is supported by the Scottish Government. Beahurst data shows it was involved in financing 20 investments in the £250,000 to £2m range last year.

Interviewee: Spokesperson

Case studies: IOmet, Berwickshire Community Renewables, CelluComp

How active are you in providing scale-up finance?

In the 2015-2016 financial year, we invested £52m in 133 Scottish companies. This helped companies leverage £277m of private investment.

We operate two co-investment funds that provide financing in this range. Through the Scottish Co-investment Fund, we can match accredited investment partners up to a maximum of 50% of the total funding package. We can provide from £10,000 to £1.5m, as part of a total deal size ranging from £20,000 to £10m.

Through the Scottish Venture Fund, we can invest alongside a range of private sector investors, again investing up to a maximum of 50%. We can provide from £10,000 up to £2m, as part of a total deal size ranging from £20,000 to £10m.

What are your criteria and specialism?

We invest in businesses with high growth and export potential. Our investments are made into businesses across a number of sectors – with the majority tending to be in technology and life sciences companies.

See:  The UK government invests £85 million in peer-to-peer lending sector where the watchdog has ‘concerns’

Over what period are you looking to invest?

We have been an active investor in high growth businesses since 2003 through a variety of co-investment funds and this will continue to be the case through our current equity funds and any future funds we put in place to address identified supply gaps in the risk capital market.

What’s the best way to approach you for investment?

There are different ways in which you can get in touch with us. If you are unsure about the finance that is right for your business you can get in touch with our financial readiness team to find out more about our offering and the different funding options available.

"We only accept around 10% of the businesses. We have very strict criteria to ensure that companies selected have the best chances." Seedrs

Alternatively, if you have a general enquiry you can contact us through our website or if you have already engaged with a private sector investor they can get in touch with us to find out more about our co-investment approach.

How long does it normally take to get an investment?

Every deal is different and this depends on individual circumstance.

What’s the USP of your offering?

In addition to the investment, we are focused on ensuring that companies have the opportunity to access the more-than-money support required to grow their business, both from Scottish Enterprise and the partners that we work with in the wider investment community.

After investment, our portfolio management team work alongside the companies we invest in to ensure that the outcomes of investment are maximised for the company, the investors and the Scottish economy.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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Canada’s fintech adoption rate doubles in18 months; yet ranks 18th of 20 countries in EY Global Adoption Index

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Canadian Underwriter | by Angela Stelmakowich | July 25, 2017

Customer wants, needs and demands are guiding players in Canada’s fintech space toward developing simpler, more transparent and customer-centric financial services products, with insurance expected to see a big increase in uptake in future, suggests new research released Tuesday by Ernst & Young (EY).

EY’s Fintech Adoption Index 2017: The rapid emergence of FinTech shows Canada’s fintech adoption rate has increased from 8% to 18% since 2015, notes a statement from EY Canada, which provides assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services.

Looking at past, current and anticipated future use of fintech, the report detailing study findings indicates the percentages for Canada are 8%, 18% and 34%, note the Canadian findings of the report.

Findings further indicate that insurance, money transfer and payments are expected to see the biggest hikes in uptake, the statement adds. Telematics and wearables, regulatory changes and the inclusion of rate comparison services in this year’s survey “will all contribute to the insurance fintech adoption rate of 24% in the future.”

Related: Competition Bureau suggests Canadian FinTech sector’s slow growth due to regulation, consumer complacency

The report notes “insurance has expanded into telematics and wearables (helping companies to predict claim probability better), as well as premium comparison sites in certain markets.”

In fact, “insurance has moved from being the least commonly used service in 2015 to the second most popular service this year, largely due to the inclusion of insurance premium comparison services.” This is an improvement, but still lags things like money transfer and payments fintechs.

The 2017 research reflects input from 20 markets and more than 22,535 online interviews with digitally active adults. The markets are Australia, Belgium and Luxemburg, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“Globally, fintech users have moved from early-adopters in our 2015 study to early majority in 2017, with 33% of the surveyed population indicating they are regular users of fintech services,” states the report.

The research shows the following:

  • 33% of respondents cited adoption of fintech compared to 15% in the 2015 study (fintech firms build traction into the heart of their business model by focusing on the customer proposition and enabling technologies, with a combination of traditional and non-traditional tools driving growth until they are able to reach sustainability);
  • 64% of fintech users prefer using digital channels to manage all aspects of their life compared to 38% among non-users (as well, 40% of fintech users regularly use on-demand services and 44% participate in the sharing economy); and
  • 13% of surveyed consumers are regular users of five or more fintech services, dubbed super users.

“We now find that, on average, one in three digitally active consumers use two or more fintech services. That is significant enough for us to suggest that fintech has reached early mass adoption,” suggests the report.

In EY’s 2015 study, 16% of “surveyed consumers had used two or more fintech services in the prior six months, with adoption potentially doubling in the near future. The 2017 study reveals this has happened in just 18 months,” it states.

“Fintech firms have reached a tipping point, and are poised for mainstream adoption across our 20 markets,” the report concludes.

See:  Commissioner Piwowar Shares Insight into Securities Rulemaking, Fintech & SEC Direction on Capital Formation

Overall, four key consumer themes emerge from the index:

  • fintech has achieved initial mass adoption in most markets;
  • new services and new players are driving higher adoption (while 50% of digitally active consumers surveyed have used this type of service for money transfer and payments, insurance services have also seen significant increases, overtaking both savings and investments, and borrowing, with 24% adoption);
  • fintech users prefer using digital channels and technologies to manage their lives; and
  • fintech adoption will continue to gain momentum (on the basis of anticipated future use, the research expects that fintech adoption could increase to an average of 52% globally).

EY points out, though, that the 52% only reflects “the 17 services included in our survey, whereas we can expect the fintech industry of the future to include services that are currently insufficiently mature or yet to be developed.”

“Banks are increasingly looking for improvements across the entire value chain – from gamification of compliance training to surveillance software,” notes the EY Canada statement.

“We believe that the financial services industry has considerable unexplored potential, and are excited to continue monitoring how fintech and financial services evolve in future years,” states the report.

“Established financial services firms face both ‘unbundling’ and ‘rebundling, of their propositions resulting in disruption of traditional customer relationships,” it suggests. “We are moving to a world where products are unbundled from full-service incumbent firms and rebundled by wraparound platforms that let consumers manage their finances on the go via mobile, disrupting traditional customer relationships,” it explains.

This “creates opportunities for start-ups and established firms to collaborate.”

Get Discount to:LendIt Europe 2017 (Oct 9-10): Don’t Miss Europe’s Largest International Lending & Fintech Event

For Canada, however, it has one of the lowest fintech adoption rates around the world. “Only 18% of survey respondents in Canada have used two or more fintech services in the last six months, compared to 33% globally,” EY Canada reports.

Specifically, China led the 20 markets at 69%; India at 52%; the U.K. at 42%; Brazil at 40%; Australia at 37%; Spain at 37%; Mexico at 36%; Germany at 35%; South Africa at 35%; the U.S. at 33%; Hong Kong at 32%; South Korea at 32%; Switzerland at 30%; France at 27%; the Netherlands at 27%; Ireland at 26%; Singapore at 23%; Canada at 18%; Japan at 14%; and Belgium and Luxemburg at 13%.

Not knowing about fintechs is likely the primary reason the adoption rate is not higher in Canada, the statement suggests. Survey findings, for example, indicate 22% of respondents report they had not heard of any fintech – far lower than the 49% of respondents two years ago – but still considerably lower than respondents globally.

All that said, EY Canada expects awareness is poised to increase dramatically, propelling the adoption rate here to 34% in the future.

Overall, EY points out that lack of awareness of fintechs in the six aforementioned markets has dropped since 2015. Overall, respondents who cited this factor as a barrier to using fintech services have declined from 38% to 16%, the report notes. “The average across all 20 markets is 86%,” it points out.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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How fintech companies are trying to make cryptocurrency investments safer

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The Next Web |By:  | July 18, 2017

Trading in cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin can be complicated and not without risk. Fintech companies are offering easier and safer methods.

Remember when cryptocurrencies used to be straightforward, revolutionary and weirdly romantic-capitalist? A bunch of cypherpunks was going to topple the monetary system from a subreddit and everything would be all sunshine and rainbows? It doesn’t seem that fun anymore. There’s infighting, hacks, distrust mixed with a pinch of pure greed.

What happened?

The main thing that happened is that these idealistic cypherpunks met cold capitalism in the form of well funded, hyper-organized cartels that weren’t interested in the culture behind the cryptocurrency movement, but just cold dead profit.

Satoshi Nakamoto had accounted for a lot, but Ukrainian botnets of involuntarily mining computers probably weren’t on his radar when he wrote his manifesto in 2008. Even though cryptocurrencies have lost some of their innocence, there is still a lot to love. Altcoins like Ether, Litecoin, Ripple, Zcash and Monero each have their own special character and strength. And even though the pioneers of the cryptocurrency market still prefer Bitcoin or the classic Ether, everyone with some playing money can find a cryptocoin that’s right for him to invest in.

See: ICOs Going Mainstream? Chat App KIK Launches Token Sale

The mainstreaming of digital money, pioneered by Bitcoin, has made investing in them even more popular. But what most people don’t realize is that when you enter this area you are up against a Chinese whizzkid with his own server park and a supercomputer whose algorithm’s have made 2.5 million decisions by the time you’ve had your morning coffee.

You will lose that fight. Even when you’ve done your homework and religiously read everything there is to read about Bitcoin: when swimming with sharks, chances are you may get bit.

If you want to trade you may as well arm yourself to the teeth. Some of the risks in trading with cryptocurrencies are perfectly avoidable if you use the right tools.

Cryptocurrency exchanges, for example, are not regulated like traditional financial companies are and are less transparent. Buying and storing cryptocurrencies can be a complicated process with a learning curve that requires technical skills. And there’s no guarantee that your exchange won’t get hacked from the in- or outside.

Some of the more well-known exchanges have decent reputations. But remember Mt Gox, the most trusted and biggest BTC exchange in 2014 handling 70 percent of all bitcoin exchanges worldwide? It inexplicably “lost” 850 thousand Bitcoins overnight. Don’t come asking for your money back when things go south: these are unregulated assets.

See also: Fintech Regulation: Achieving the right balance to foster innovation

This is where a service like Exante’s comes in. This European fintech company offers a trading platform that allows access to more than 50 markets and over 45,000 financial products. Starting this week, it offers its clients opportunities to trade in Litecoin and Ripple with Ethereum, Monero and Zcash following next month. Instead of having to buy these currencies directly Exante lets its customers trade in funds that follow the exchange rates of the altcoins directly. An added bonus is that a trading platform makes it easier for you to hedge your bets – in case your cryptocoin crashes like they did over the weekend. With the same account that you use to buy Ethereum, you can also buy tech-stocks on the Nasdaq – just in case you feel the altcoins are getting a little too hot to handle.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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How SMBs can easily accept electronic payments

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Financial Post | By Danny Bradbury | July 10, 2017

Setting up with a credit card processor can be costly and time consuming. There are other options, such as PayPal and Square.

Are you missing a trick by not taking online or mobile payments? PayPal Canada recently surveyed 1,000 Canadian small business owners, and found that more than 80 per cent didn’t accept payments either online or on the go. A little more than 70 per cent said they would never consider selling online. It’s a confusing world, and concerns over paperwork, technology and security worries can be daunting.

Signing up for a credit card merchant account can be difficult enough, involving background checks and legal contracts that can put small businesses off. For several years now, though, fintech companies have been offering alternatives for those wanting to accept credit cards online, or in person, or both.

U.S.-based Square is one example, providing a low-friction option to get up and running with in-store or mobile point of sale solutions. It lets merchants sign up quickly for an account and will sell them a mobile reader that plugs into a mobile device. Canadian merchants can swipe or tap their customers’ cards for a 2.65 per cent transaction fee. Entering digits as part of a cardholder-not-present transaction costs 3.4 per cent plus 15¢.

Those fees may be close to those paid by Canadian merchants dealing directly with credit card processors, who vowed in 2014 to keep their rates at 1.5 per cent for five years. However, merchants are paying Square for easy-onboarding and extra services such as retail analytics, said a spokesperson for the firm.

See: Fintech Regulation: Achieving the right balance to foster innovation

Whereas Square comes from the PoS world, PayPal cut its teeth in online electronic payments, allowing businesses to take payments from credit cards or other PayPal accounts over the internet from customers here or out of the country.

PayPal tried to squeeze into PoS services in Canada before, launching its PayPal Here competitor to Square in 2012. This clearly didn’t catch on, as the firm acknowledges that it doesn’t offer the service north of the border today. Paul Parisi, president of PayPal Canada, says the company is concentrating on ecommerce services for now.

As other payment options gain market traction, PayPal is also working to add value for ecommerce merchants through partnerships with other organizations, including Canada Post.

“Accepting payments online is just one aspect of a what a small business is,” he says. “When you think about how they get their product to the door of their customer, the shipping solutions required to do that in an efficient way are complex for a small business.”

In June, PayPal launched an integrated payment and shipping solution in conjunction with Canada Post. The service allows small businesses selling online to track their orders, print shipping labels automatically, and pay for shipping via their PayPal account.

See: PayPal launches Slack bot for peer-to-peer payments

The system then keeps both seller and customer automatically updated with tracking information and delivery confirmation after the label has been printed.

The biggest advantage for Canadian businesses, though, will be the pricing. If they have a Canada Post Solutions for Small Business account, they will save “up to” 36 per cent on domestic shipments, and 47 per cent on international ones.

PayPal also launched its Return Shipping on Us service in Canada last year, which refunds return shipping costs on eligible online purchases for Canadian businesses.

PayPal may have the branding, but there are other options for businesses wanting to experiment with different payment methods. Interac Online lets Canadian businesses accept payments made via Canadian financial institutions (and also enables in-person debit payments at far lower costs than credit cards), while several fintech firms have made the payments process smoother.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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Yacht Ownership in the Sharing Economy

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Finews | Claude Baumann | Jul 8, 2017

The sharing economy has roiled the luxury property and private jet markets. Now, co-ownership is also hitting the high seas.

When Belgian businessman Matty Zadnikar (pictured below, right) sold his security firm Z-Safety Services four years ago, he fulfilled one of his life-long dreams: he bought a luxury yacht and spent months cruising the Mediterranean.

Harboring in marinas overnight, he not only met others pursuing similar high sea dreams: the 56-year-old Zadnikar also quickly became acquainted with the problems of yacht ownership, he tells finews.com.

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«The cost of maintaining a yacht are enormous, especially if you are only using it for a few months or weeks every year. Marina fees, maintenance, winter storage, insurance and taxes and not least for a crew add up fast. Not to mention the managing everything for the vessel and the time it takes to find good staff.»

No Sweet Idleness

The experience sparked a business idea for Zadnikar, who eventually tired of his sweet idleness on the high seas: why not buy a yacht and share it with several other co-owners?

He found Mike Costa (pictured above, left), an American who maintains a fleet of luxury yachts in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Costa had launched his firm, Seanet, 14 years ago after seeing the success of private jet travel firms like Netjets, which sells fractional ownership of private business jets.

European Expansion

The two agreed last year that Zadnikar would become a Seanet partner and roll out the yachting co-ownership concept in Europe. His experience in providing security services to the oil and gas industry proved particularly useful.

«Besides the complete equipment for short- or long-term rentals, my previous firm provided highly-qualified and experienced security staff. All of this experience was extremely useful,» Zadnikar says.

Private Chef Included

A 30- to 40-meter luxury yacht – Zadnikar exclusively prefers Italian boat-builder Benetti – costs roughly 10 million Swiss francs, without maintenance or crewing costs. Seanet's co-ownership model allows up to four co-owners to share all the costs that a luxury yacht entails.

See:  Slock.it secures $2 million seed funding to build Sharing Economy Platform

The firm takes care of the yacht's maintenance, and of managing the asset. A four-person crew, including a private chef, is ready to go at a moment's notice. Zadnikar himself bought 25 percent of Seanet's first European yachts in Croatia/Montenegro, Sardinia, Côte d'Azur and the Balaeric Islands.

Personalized Yacht

Europe's boating seasons begins early in April and ends in October. Depending on their share, co-owners can spend between two and six weeks on the yacht in peak season and at least five outside of the peak. On-board stays are coordinated through an online reservation system.

If a co-owner is traveling with as many as eight other guests, Seanet «personalizes» the yacht beforehand with touches including own bedding and toiletries, paintings or sculptures, exercise equipment and other preferences like a particular vintage of wine or cigars. The personal touches are meant to give co-owners the feeling of owning a yacht – but without the capital outlay and hassle.

Trading Yachts

Another perk of yacht co-ownership is the option to trade in time shares in, for example, the Med, for another Seanet yacht in the Caribbean.

«It's an inexpensive way to experience new destinations, new waters, coasts and bays,» Zadnikar says. A one-quarter yacht share already covers its costs with a two-week stay in peak season, he says.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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$232 Million: Tezos Blockchain Project Finishes Record-Setting Token Crowdsale

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Coindesk | Stan Higgins | July 13, 2017

The Tezos blockchain project has completed its initial coin offering, or ICO, bringing in a record-smashing $232m-worth of bitcoin and ether.

At close, Tezos had netted 65,627 BTC (worth roughly $156m at current prices) and 361,122 ETH (worth about $76m). The crowdsale, which didn't have a cap on the total amount of tokens sold, began on July 1, and was timed with the passage of 2,000 transaction blocks on the bitcoin network.

The total represents the most collected via an ICO to date, topping the amount raised by Bancor, a platform for launching new blockchain tokens, which raised $150m at then-current prices in mid-June.

At its heart, Tezos tackles the question of governance and development in the context of a decentralized network composed of different entities with possibly varying incentives and goals. The project has been described in the past as a "self-amending" blockchain, given that one of its central concepts is the ability for network-wide changes to be decided upon at the protocol level by stakeholders.

See:  $150 Million: Tim Draper-Backed Bancor Completes Largest-Ever ICO

In a conversation with CoinDesk earlier this year, Tezos co-founder and technology chief Arthur Breitman explained that those mechanics would act as a kind of "rule of law" that could work to prevent conflicts like the ethereum blockchain split following the collapse of the smart-contract funding vehicle The DAO last summer.

He told CoinDesk in February:

"What we're trying to bring, in some sense, is a rule of law that is, OK, if we have to have these changes because the network needs to evolve, at least we need to have a clear, decentralized procedure for making those changes."

When launched, Tezos will support smart contracts, using proof-of-stake as a consensus algorithm. With proof-of-stake, validators essentially set aside a portion of their tokens to increase their chances of being chosen to create the next block of transactions.

The Tezos team

Tezos, co-founded by Breitman and his wife, Kathleen, has been in development since mid-2014, when the project's white paper and position paper were first published.

Kathleen, who is CEO of the project, previously worked as senior strategy associate for distributed ledger startup R3CEV, according to her LinkedIn profile, a role she took after spending close to two years with professional services firm Accenture.

Arthur, per LinkedIn, served as a vice president for Morgan Stanley between 2013 and 2016, working as a portfolio manager for New York-based family office White Bay Group before that.

Supporting the project is the Tezos Foundation, which is based in the city of Zug, Switzerland. The group is one of a number of blockchain-focused entities to make their home in Zug, which has emerged as a hub for the industry within Europe.

Check out:  ICO Tracker – Crowdfunding Coins, Tokens and Validator Keys

According to an overview for the Tezos crowdsale, the foundation – distinct from Dynamic Ledger Solutions, the startup that developed the project – will help drive activity at the community level, organizing meetups around the world and hosting an online forum for discussion.

Bets on blockchain protocols

In some ways, the success of the Tezos fundraise points to the willingness on the part of investors and speculators to throw their support behind, not only specific applications like Status or Brave, but whole new protocols as well.

Indeed, it was the crowdsale for ethereum – itself a new kind of blockchain at the time of its appearance – that represented one of those early bets. Ethereum's ICO brought in about $18m at then-current bitcoin prices and, today, the network's total market capitalization sits around $20bn.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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Blockchain Will Disrupt Every Industry

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Huffington Post | Vala Afshar | July 10, 2017

I continue to read articles and see example of the disruptive nature of Blockchain. Recently, one of our Salesforce higher education customers demonstrated a persistent, progressive student profile that was built on top of a blockchain chain-script, linking student credentials to potential employers in a real-time using a mobile trusted framework. Trust is foundational to all businesses, and Blockchain enables entities to seamlessly establish trust and transparency at scale. Today, The total market capitalization for the world’s crypto-currencies, led by Bitcon on Blockchain, is more than $100 billion.

In this role of Solutions CTO, Colbert leads the customer-facing Salesforce Enterprise Architecture team which helps customers and prospects strategically transform their business systems. Previously, Colbert was IT CTO and Vice President of Enterprise Architecture at Salesforce. In this role, Brett was responsible for Salesforce IT strategy and Enterprise Architecture. Colbert has been researching Blockchain for more than three years, leading customer implementations and collaborating with blockchain industry thought leaders.

What is Blockchain? “A Blockchain is a digital, distributed transaction ledger, with identical copies maintained on multiple computer systems controlled by different entities.” Blockchain owes its potential to its many valuable characteristics: Reliable and available, Transparent, Immutable, Irrevocable, and Digital.Here a high-level summary illustration of blockchain:

Bitcoin or other digital currency isn’t saved in a file somewhere; it’s represented by transactions recorded in a blockchain—kind of like a global spreadsheet or ledger, which leverages the resources of a large peer-to-peer bitcoin network to verify and approve each Bitcoin transaction. Each blockchain, like the one that uses Bitcoin, is distributed: it runs on computers by volunteers around the world; there is no central database to hack. The blockchain is public: anyone can view it at any time because it resides on the network, not within a single institution charged with auditing transactions and keeping records. And the blockchain is encrypted: it uses heavy-duty encryption involving public and private keys–like the two-key system to access a safety deposit box–to maintain virtual security.” — Don Tapscott, Author of Blockchain Revolution

Why is Blockchain a disruptive technology? Blockchain is a disruptive technology because of it’s ability to digitize, decentralize, secure and incentivize the validation of transactions. A wide swath of industries are evaluating blockchain to determine what strategic differentiators could exist for their businesses if they leverage blockchain.

See:  $150 Million: Tim Draper-Backed Bancor Completes Largest-Ever ICO

Soon to be disrupted industries will include Financial Services, Healthcare, Aviation, Global Logistics and Shipping, Transportation, Music, Manufacturing, Security, Media, Identity, Automotive, Land Use and Government. Blockchain is garnering a lot of attention because blockchain will fundamentally change many of the industries listed above.

“The “killer app” for the early internet was email; it’s what drove adoption and strengthened the network. Bitcoin is the killer app for the blockchain.” Harvard Business Review

Examples of Blockchain use by Industry - The answer isn’t in the technology, but in how the technology can improve inefficient business processes. The processes that we use to ship goods globally, buy and sell things, determine ownership of things or identify ourselves are typically slow, error prone, paper-based and heavily people-dependent.

Here are a few examples of the opportunities that exist to improve processes in a variety of industries using Blockchain:

  • Land Use - Ownership and history of property currently requires the investigation of many different document sources such as Grantor-Grantee index, Land Records or Deed Records. The goal is to find any records related to property liens, easements, covenants, conditions and restrictions(CC&Rs), agreements, resolutions and ordinances. This a time consuming and laborious process in which it is easy to miss important information. Sweden is leveraging blockchain to track land registries called the Lantmäteriet. They estimate a taxpayer savings of $106 million per year based on reduction of fraud, eliminating paperwork and accelerating the process.
  • Identity - Across the globe we use passports to identify people, which are paper-based identity cards similar to your driver’s license and therefore counterfeitable. ISIS is reported to have the ability to manufacture fake passports. In 2013, almost 40 million “travel” documents were reported as lost or stolen since 2002, according to Interpol. Dubai is working on a digital passport with a London-based company called ObjectTech. The digital passport is based on Blockchain. “This is an identity that is fit for the digital age,” said Paul Ferris, co-founder and chief executive of ObjectTech. “Not only will it make international travel quicker and safer, but it also gives people back control of their personal digital data.”
  • Global Logistics and Shipping - The second largest port in Europe, Belgium-based Port of Antwerp, announced a blockchain pilot to automate and streamline the port’s container logistics operations. “According to the terminal authority, moving containers from point to point often involves more than 30 different parties, including carriers, terminals, forwarders, haulers, drivers, shippers and more. This process results in hundreds of interactions between those parties, conducted through a mix of e-mail, phone and fax.” Maersk is investigating blockchain to track global trade and shipments (see video below).

 See:  From IPO to ICO: blockchain’s finance revolution

  • Automotive - German automaker Daimler AG has issued a corporate bond worth €100m as part of a Blockchain pilot project. “According to Daimler, the entire transaction cycle – from origination, distribution, allocation and execution of the loan agreement, to the confirmation of repayment and of interest payments – was automated digitally through the blockchain network. Lending technical support were the IT subsidiaries of Daimler and LBBW, which also adopted the Blockchain’s cryptographic signature to prevent manipulation of transactions.” Jan Brecht, Daimler’s CIO said, “We see blockchain as a promising technology, not fully mature yet, but continuously growing. Now is the right time to get into it, build up knowledge and form a network of like-minded people to share experiences.”
  • Aviation - Accenture’s head of Aerospace and Defense said about Blockchain, “I really see this coming in, in a couple of years”, speaking at the Paris Air Show in June 2017. “Through all that life cycle of the engine, the original parts, the replacement parts and configuration are all being tracked, and it is being done by a number of different companies. “Blockchain is in effect a single federated ledger that everybody who uses and touches that engine could use it as a single point of truth of what has happened to the engine,” he explained. “It is something we can see clearly in terms of the benefits and we effectively have a patent pending on how to leverage blockchain in the aftermarket.”
  • Manufacturing - The manufacturing industry uses QR codes and bar codes to identify products. These methods are notoriously insecure given the ease at which someone can copy or duplicates these codes. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the “imports of counterfeit and pirated goods are worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year, or around 2.5% of global imports.” Imagine if luxury goods were tracked in an immutable blockchain.
  • Prescription Drugs - Worldwide sales of counterfeit medicines could top US$ 75 billion this year, a 90% rise in five years, according to an estimate published by the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest in the United States of America (USA). The FDA’s Drug Supply Chain Security Act, signed into effect in November 2013, creates a requirement to ‘develop an electronic, inter-operable system to identify and trace certain prescription drugs as they are distributed in the United States.’ A San Francisco-based startup called Chronicled has launched a ‘track and trace’ pilot using blockchain to build an electronic, inter-operable system to identify and track prescription drugs as they are distributed in the United States.
  • Finance - Visa has a blockchain effort called “Visa B2B Connect” partnering with Chain to analyze the possibility of optimizing near real-time funds transfer system for high value bank-to-bank and corporate payments. A company called Ripple is working with banks to optimize how they send money around the world, with the goal of new revenue models, lower processing costs and better overall customer experience. IBM Global Finance is working on one of the largest blockchain implementations.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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