Category Archives: FinTech and Alternative Finance

Meet the women who are making sure blockchain is inclusive

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FastCompany | By Lydia Dishman | Sep 20, 2018

When you have a technology that’s only 10 years old, women and underrepresented minorities have the chance to change this corner of the tech industry.

Yael Rozencwajg recently had an experience that was unusual for a woman in tech. Speaking at a conference for executives in the blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) space, Rozencwajg found herself explaining the digital ledger system that forms the basis of blockchain technology to about 200 people, most of whom were white, male CEOs. “There was a lot they didn’t know,” the founder of startup Blockchain Israel tells Fast Company.

The difference was that the audience was respectful and deferential, despite the prevailing reality that when women are outnumbered in a work setting like this, several studies show that they are talked over, interrupted, or simply ignored.

Rozencwajg chalks it up to the relative newness of the blockchain space. The technology is only 10 years old and was initially used to record bitcoin transactions. But its applications have since moved from solely recording bitcoin and other digital currency transfers to smart contracts and other transactions that need the security that an immutable record can provide. These applications are so new, in fact, that at another event, Rozencwajg spotted an error on a fellow presenter’s slide deck about smart contracts and was able to help him correct it before he delivered it to the group.

Although Rozencwajg admits she’s not afraid to speak up, even when she’s the only woman in the group, she’s gotten plenty of pushback over the years that she’s worked in technology. Not this time.

“There’s an acceptance that women know their stuff,” she asserts. The newness, she explains, “puts all of us on the same level.”

The related world of cryptocurrency roils with tales of “blockchain bros.” A recent Bitcoin Conference featured just three women out of 88 speakers. Another held official conference parties at strip clubs. Yet despite the overall lopsided gender balance in crypto, according to some measures, blockchain itself–while it also tilts toward being dominated by men– events like those at SXSW this year show that it’s emerging as a space where women can get in early and change the ratio.

Not as risky as it seems

The barriers to entry are mostly about perception, according to Emilie Choi. The former vice president and head of corporate development at LinkedIn joined Coinbase in March 2018, moving from the professional networking platform’s staff of over 13,000 to a startup with less than 500. “It is intimidating for outsiders to think about the crypto world,” she says. Not only that it’s a man’s world, Choi explains, but that media coverage around price volatility of virtual currency, “and the antics of certain personalities,” reinforce the crypto/blockchain bro myth versus reality. This Choi states, is “erroneous.”

See:  Slowly but surely, women are changing fintech

At Coinbase, she says there’s a more inclusive culture than other places she’s worked. Although Choi admits the learning curve was steep early on, there was no shortage of experienced people on staff to help her get up to speed. Additionally, she notes, the executive team at Coinbase is 1/3 female. On making the leap from the more established LinkedIn, Choi maintains, “I wanted another once-in-a-lifetime experience at a tech company.” That said, she admits, “The whole goal is to serve a diverse base. If I’d known [how inclusive Coinbase was inside and out], I would have jumped in faster.”

Potential in democratization

That’s precisely what drew attorney Paroma Indilo to work with blockchain companies. A lawyer specializing in advising companies on initial coin offerings (ICO), she started getting involved two years ago after attending a conference and dipping a toe into investing in bitcoin and ethereum. “As a lawyer, I am a bit risk-averse,” she admits. But she said she spent a lot of time reading about it and learned that the blockchain technology underpinning cryptocurrencies “had the potential to change the world economy for the better.”

The way Indilo sees it, it’s similar to the promise of the internet where everyone with access had the chance to be a participant. However, that democratization wasn’t totally realized as areas with limited access prohibited participation and the growth of large tech companies. The data created on the internet is a “huge asset essentially owned by few companies use for their own benefit,” she says. “We don’t even understand why they are doing certain things, and in many cases they hugely undermine privacy.”

But blockchain can deliver on that promise. Simply being able to send and receive money in a secure, transparent way has huge implications for both the banked and unbanked populations of the world. And it’s not just about money, Indilo contends. Opu Labs is a skincare web application built on the blockchain. It allows users to scan their faces and get analysis on skin conditions. Not only is this very personal information secure and unable to be tampered with, Indilo points out that people are getting paid to get something valuable. The platform pays you if they are sending your data to a dermatologist, but the choice is yours to share your data.

How to bring in more women?

Coming from a career culture steeped in the traditional bureaucracy and hierarchy, this approach was refreshing to Indilo. “For too long I felt like I wasn’t doing anything meaningful,” she confesses. Now, she says, she’s a passionate advocate to get more women into the mix. She’s tried to educate friends and family as well as her professional networks on the opportunities in blockchain, but Indilo says that sometimes all it takes is pointing out that she’s often the only woman in a group of men at startups. “Their consideration was on more important things like funding and skills, they aren’t thinking about gender discrepancy,” Indilo says. “But it just needs to go hand and in hand with educating the industry.”

See:  FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.3-Aug 3): Investing in Canadian Diversity with Peggy Van De Plassche, Founding Partner at Roar Ventures

Education is the primary challenge according to Susan Joseph, a cofounder and the executive director of Diversity in Blockchain. She believes the blockchain space is a reflection of the larger tech industry when it comes to gender imbalance, and that is because of lack of knowledge.

“People think they can’t do it,” Joseph contends, because it is considered a “tech” job. “You don’t need a university program in computer science,” she says. “What you need is curiosity and the ability to sift through public information.” There is plenty to do beyond coding, says Joseph, who is an attorney by trade.

She says those currently in the industry are willing to educate others and share their knowledge as long as someone asks. To encourage more women and underrepresented minorities to hop aboard the blockchain wagon, the organization is also hosting events like the one in which they partnered with the U.N.

Continue to the full article --> here


The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain and cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

The Globe and Mail | Clare O’Hara | Sep 20, 2018 Cryptocurrency trading platform Coinsquare is moving into the exchange-traded fund business as its investment management division launches two new technology funds. Coin Capital Investment Management Inc., a portfolio management subsidiary established in July, has become the 30th ETF provider in Canada with the launch of two new ETFs focused on global emerging technologies. With a management fee of 0.64 per cent, the Coincapital STOXX Blockchain Patents Innovation Index Fund (LDGR) and the Coincapital STOXX B.R.AI.N. Index Fund (THNK) began trading Thursday morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange. “Canadians know technologies like AI and the blockchain are going to change the way we live and work, but it can be difficult to access high-quality investments in these sectors without deep domain expertise,” said Coin Capital CEO Lewis Bateman. Blockchain is an online digital ledger. Once a transaction is completed, it goes into a blockchain database and is kept as a permanent, secure record. It is most commonly known as the technology behind the booming cryptocurrency bitcoin, which soared above US$18,000 last December. See:  Coinsquare launches Coin Capital Investment Management Inc. to help Canadians invest in emerging technology LDGR will aim ...
Read More
Coinsquare moves into ETF business with two new funds
FastCompany | By Lydia Dishman | Sep 20, 2018 When you have a technology that’s only 10 years old, women and underrepresented minorities have the chance to change this corner of the tech industry. Yael Rozencwajg recently had an experience that was unusual for a woman in tech. Speaking at a conference for executives in the blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) space, Rozencwajg found herself explaining the digital ledger system that forms the basis of blockchain technology to about 200 people, most of whom were white, male CEOs. “There was a lot they didn’t know,” the founder of startup Blockchain Israel tells Fast Company. The difference was that the audience was respectful and deferential, despite the prevailing reality that when women are outnumbered in a work setting like this, several studies show that they are talked over, interrupted, or simply ignored. Rozencwajg chalks it up to the relative newness of the blockchain space. The technology is only 10 years old and was initially used to record bitcoin transactions. But its applications have since moved from solely recording bitcoin and other digital currency transfers to smart contracts and other transactions that need the security that an immutable record can provide ...
Read More
Meet the women who are making sure blockchain is inclusive
Blockchain is here – so what next? The Blockchain Developer Opportunity If you are a software engineer interested in emerging high growth project opportunities, you’ll want to ensure your technical skills are polished and you have access to proper training and resources. There is a significant shortage of skilled Blockchain developers unable to meet the demand of emerging projects! NCFA is pleased to announce an inaugural educational partnership with the Blockchain Learning Group offering a special introductory rate to attend an immersive, 2-day Blockchain developer training course on decentralized application development to help fill the gap of skilled engineers while connecting graduates to project opportunities. According to a recent 2018 PwC survey, 84% of 600 executive responders confirmed some involvement with Blockchain technology from proof of concepts to well capitalized international scale-ups and incumbents looking to modernize legacy systems. Distributed and immutable ledger applications are evolving rapidly with uses cases that improve trust and transparency for many business processes while distributing transactions to a decentralized network in a way that reduces costs and eliminates intermediaries. While crypto markets have exceeded $200 billion in just the last 2 years alone, the underlying technology is forecasted to disrupt almost every vertical with ...
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Immersive 2-day Blockchain Developer Training Course (Nov 10-11, Toronto): Decentralized Application Development
Incipient Industries | Steven Dryall | Sep 19, 2018 Incipient Industries Releases Whitepaper Describing How Cryptocommodities  Are Created and Used As The Basis For A Stable Cryptocurrency Toronto, ON, Canada, September 17, 2018 - Incipient Industries Inc. announces the release of the definitive whitepaper on the subject of cryptocommodities. Following years of development combined with the dissemination of information related to cryptocurrency viability and asset- based cryptocurrencies, an actual description of how to deploy a cryptocommodity  is now available. This is a first in the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry and represents a significant step towards a stabilized digital economy. The cryptocurrency industry is still developing and discovering ways to integrate with traditional financial systems or to replace them altogether. The introduction of cryptocoomodities into the cryptosphere creates a new category of opportunities for pioneers in the space. For those seeking a solution to a stable cryptocurrency, this is the best path to success. See:  3 Clever Ways To Reach Crypto Price Stability, And One Giant Leap Of Faith “This is a perfect use case for cryptocurrency and also follows the Three Pillars of a Viable Cryptocurrency framework.” says Steven Dryall, CEO of Incipient Industries, who has pioneered several key concepts of ...
Read More
Whitepaper Provides Information About Cryptocommodities As The Basis For A Stable Cryptocurrency
Bloomberg | Joshua Brustein | Sep 4, 2018 With fewer than 100 residents, Ocean Falls is looking for a revival after almost four decades of industrial false starts. In 1971, an 11th grader named Greg Strebel wrote the introduction to a book about Ocean Falls, the tiny town in the British Columbian hinterlands where he lived. Strebel mentioned the odd fact that many of the town’s roads were made of wood, said the weather wasn’t as bad as some people made it out to be and noted that it had just gotten a new school building. But the one thing that mattered above all, according to Strebel, was the paper mill. “To most, 'the mill’ imparts a sense of security by its presence,” he wrote. “A low throb of power is audible throughout most of the town as long as the mill runs, accompanied by voluminous exhalations of steam.” The security provided by the mill turned out to be fleeting. It went silent when Strebel was in his 20s. Most of the buildings in Ocean Falls that haven’t been demolished over the decades are crumbling in place, and Strebel, along with most everyone who once lived there, is long gone. A ...
Read More
The Bitcoin Boom Reaches a Canadian Ghost Town
Australian Financial Review | Michael Bailey | Sep 12, 2018 Businesses wishing to raise money from retail investors will no longer have to convert to an unlisted public company structure, after an amendment to 2017's equity crowdfunding legislation passed federal Parliament. The legislation, which takes effect in 28 days from Wednesday, allows proprietary companies or unlisted public companies with annual turnover or gross assets of up to $25 million to advertise their business plans on ASIC-licensed crowdfunding portals, and raise up to $5 million a year to carry them out. Investors can put up to $10,000 a year each into an unlimited number of ideas. Australian private companies are typically limited to a maximum of 50 non-employee shareholders. However, under these reforms, investors acquiring shares through a crowdfunding portal are excluded from this cap, allowing private companies to raise funds from potentially hundreds or thousands of investors. See:  Australia and UK set up FinTech Bridge to deepen collaboration between governments, regulators, and industry bodies Proprietary companies with crowdfunded shareholders will have to prepare annual financial and directors' reports in accordance with accounting standards. Only large proprietary companies, defined as those with any two of either $25 million turnover or above, $12.5 million of gross ...
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$5 million Equity crowdfunding extended to private companies
NCFA Sponsored guest post | Sep 18, 2018 “You are such a worry-wart.” This is the common reaction I get whenever I tell people about how I like to plan ahead. They tell me that I’m too overreacting, that I live too much for the future and not for the present, and that I really don’t get the concept of YOLO. I really don’t give a darn about what these people say. They’re impractically wasting their time, breath, and energy trying to change how I live my life. What if I’m so gung-ho about planning for the future? What if I’m too overly prepared even my future dogs and cats will be feasting every single day? It’s still better than having no insurance. It’s still better than having my children carry my weight. Lastly, it’s still better than being ill-prepared. See:  What Can Traditional Banks Learn From Fintech? If I were to choose between too much and too little, I’d choose too much any day. After all, what’s wrong with having so much you could spare a ton? It’s a thousand times better than having to ask for financial aid because you have so little. Do you get me? I ...
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Why Life Insurance Policies Matter
Forbes | Michael del Castillo | Sep 17, 2018 People keep asking me, what’s the deal with stablecoins? With two prominent regulatory approvals to issue the blockchain-based tokens, many have heralded them as the next evolution of cryptocurrency, while others say they’re perfect evidence of why no one ever needed cryptocurrency in the first place. On a basic level, a stablecoin is a token that has a mechanism in place to minimize its price fluctuations. Unlike traditional cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether, which are directly tied to their wildly fluctuating demand, a stablecoin can rely on four methods to constrain its fluctuations. See:  One SEC commissioner is establishing herself as the voice of innovation for the crypto market The first and by far most popular way to achieve this stability is to peg the price of the token to a more stable asset like the U.S. dollar. This is what both the Gemini and Paxos cryptocurrency exchanges received permission to do from the New York Department of Financial Services last week. Unlike bitcoin and ethereum, which are created through a mining process that also ensures the blockchain’s accuracy, these stablecoins are only created when someone buys them with U.S. dollars. Gemini and Paxos ...
Read More
3 Clever Ways To Reach Crypto Price Stability, And One Giant Leap Of Faith
NCFA Canada | Sep 14, 2018 Ep9-Sep 14: Curexe's New SmartPay Product & Front-line of Global Digital Payments About this episode:  On this episode our host Manseeb Khan sits down with the CEO And founder of Curexe, so chat about their new product called SmartPay! They also talked about how A.I is going to touch the payments and every other industry, regulations that could be in place when accepting crypto and many more. Enjoy! Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host Guest: Johnathan Holland, Founder and CEO, Curexe Bio:  Johnathan Holland's experience comes from a decade of learning about capital markets and a relentless pursuit of providing better customer experiences in the payments and currency exchange industry. Johnathan’s advantage has been to look at the currency exchange industry in a new light, which enabled him to create a new, better way to empower the businesses that are underserved by their current solutions.  Johnathan graduated from the 2016 cohort of the Next 36 accelerator program that helps young entrepreneurs build high impact businesses and is currently running the company out of the DMZ.  LinkedIn profile Join NCFA's weekly Podcast series 'FINTECH FRIDAY$' where we sit down with the incredible people ...
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Bloomberg | By Natalie Wong and Gerrit De Vynck | June 20, 2018 A cryptocurrency baron has bought the largest and one of the most expensive condos in Canada, paying for it partly with digital money. Anthony Di Iorio purchased the three-story penthouse for C$28 million ($21 million) at the St. Regis Residences Toronto, the former Trump International Hotel & Tower in the downtown business district. The unit totals 16,178 square feet (1,502 square meters) and includes a wrap-around patio overlooking the city’s skyline at the corner of Bay and Adelaide Streets. Di Iorio didn’t take out a mortgage for the property because he doesn’t “like being in debt.” Instead, he cashed out some of his cryptocurrency and made a wire transfer to pay the price. “I don’t remember exactly which ones I cashed in but this is my safety net, real estate right?” he said in an interview with Bloomberg at his new condo. He now owns two condos units in Toronto for a total investment of about C$34 million, he said. “I decided to take a bunch out and put it in real estate.” The hotel is owned by InnVest Hotels LP and operated by Marriott International Inc. as ...
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Crypto Pioneer Buys Penthouse in Former Toronto Trump Tower

 

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Whitepaper Provides Information About Cryptocommodities As The Basis For A Stable Cryptocurrency

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Incipient Industries | Steven Dryall | Sep 19, 2018

Incipient Industries Releases Whitepaper Describing How Cryptocommodities  Are Created and Used As The Basis For A Stable Cryptocurrency

Toronto, ON, Canada, September 17, 2018 - Incipient Industries Inc. announces the release of the definitive whitepaper on the subject of cryptocommodities. Following years of development combined with the dissemination of information related to cryptocurrency viability and asset- based cryptocurrencies, an actual description of how to deploy a cryptocommodity  is now available. This is a first in the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry and represents a significant step towards a stabilized digital economy.

The cryptocurrency industry is still developing and discovering ways to integrate with traditional financial systems or to replace them altogether. The introduction of cryptocoomodities into the cryptosphere creates a new category of opportunities for pioneers in the space. For those seeking a solution to a stable cryptocurrency, this is the best path to success.

See:  3 Clever Ways To Reach Crypto Price Stability, And One Giant Leap Of Faith

“This is a perfect use case for cryptocurrency and also follows the Three Pillars of a Viable Cryptocurrency framework.” says Steven Dryall, CEO of Incipient Industries, who has pioneered several key concepts of the emerging digital economy.  According to the whitepaper, cryptocommodities are an essential part of a complete digital economy;

"The functional decentralized equivalent of all financial tools do not exist. Lack of these instruments is a significant contributor to the overall volatility of cryptocurrency markets. Solutions to fill these gaps are needed to forge a viable, global digital economy.”

The next stages for Incipient Industries, after the publication of the whitepaper, include the deployment of cryptocommodities and proving use cases for a carefully selected cluster of digital assets. These deployments will follow methods that are both compliant and viable. A significant influx of cryptocommodities projects that are not initiated by Incipient Industries are also expected to enter the market following the publication of the whitepaper.

The whitepaper is available for download at the Incipient Industries website as well as other platforms where Incipient Industries has a presence.

White paper intro:

The purpose of this document is to explain the implementation and purpose of a cryptocommodity.  This document will explain what a cryptocommodity  is and outline the necessary considerations for a functional ecosystem. The ecosystem is intended to support a single type of cryptocommodity  using a predefined underlying resource. This ecosystem is designed to be replicable to enable expansion and reusability for other underlying resource quantities and types.  Regulatory or legal structure is beyond the scope of this document. Elements of a cryptocommodity  implementation will likely reach beyond a single territory so regulatory and legal structures are based on the jurisdiction of the deployment logistics.  This document is intended to be “resource-neutral”, meaning that knowing the nature of the underlying resource used in the creation of the cryptocommodity  is not required for understanding the information presented.  This document is “platform-neutral”  with regard to technology solutions. The technology platform options are specific to deployment logistics and are not necessary for understanding the information presented.  The examples provided contain elements that are interchangeable. Parts that are specific to cryptocurrency deployment are also replicable and potentially interchangeable.

Download the 12pg whitepaper (PDF) --> here

###

About Incipient Industries Inc.:

Incipient Industries is a company based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Incipient Industries has been involved with many pioneering cryptocurrency initiatives and continues to create innovative solutions for the cryptocurrency industry. The company website is http://incipient.ca.  Steven Dryall is the CEO of Incipient Industries and Co-founder of Nikola Tesla Unite Ltd. He is also co-author of The WealthTECH Book, published by Wiley, and a lecturer for The FinTECH Circle Institute. He can be followed on Twitter at @SDryall

 

 


The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain and cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

The Globe and Mail | Clare O’Hara | Sep 20, 2018 Cryptocurrency trading platform Coinsquare is moving into the exchange-traded fund business as its investment management division launches two new technology funds. Coin Capital Investment Management Inc., a portfolio management subsidiary established in July, has become the 30th ETF provider in Canada with the launch of two new ETFs focused on global emerging technologies. With a management fee of 0.64 per cent, the Coincapital STOXX Blockchain Patents Innovation Index Fund (LDGR) and the Coincapital STOXX B.R.AI.N. Index Fund (THNK) began trading Thursday morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange. “Canadians know technologies like AI and the blockchain are going to change the way we live and work, but it can be difficult to access high-quality investments in these sectors without deep domain expertise,” said Coin Capital CEO Lewis Bateman. Blockchain is an online digital ledger. Once a transaction is completed, it goes into a blockchain database and is kept as a permanent, secure record. It is most commonly known as the technology behind the booming cryptocurrency bitcoin, which soared above US$18,000 last December. See:  Coinsquare launches Coin Capital Investment Management Inc. to help Canadians invest in emerging technology LDGR will aim ...
Read More
Coinsquare moves into ETF business with two new funds
FastCompany | By Lydia Dishman | Sep 20, 2018 When you have a technology that’s only 10 years old, women and underrepresented minorities have the chance to change this corner of the tech industry. Yael Rozencwajg recently had an experience that was unusual for a woman in tech. Speaking at a conference for executives in the blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) space, Rozencwajg found herself explaining the digital ledger system that forms the basis of blockchain technology to about 200 people, most of whom were white, male CEOs. “There was a lot they didn’t know,” the founder of startup Blockchain Israel tells Fast Company. The difference was that the audience was respectful and deferential, despite the prevailing reality that when women are outnumbered in a work setting like this, several studies show that they are talked over, interrupted, or simply ignored. Rozencwajg chalks it up to the relative newness of the blockchain space. The technology is only 10 years old and was initially used to record bitcoin transactions. But its applications have since moved from solely recording bitcoin and other digital currency transfers to smart contracts and other transactions that need the security that an immutable record can provide ...
Read More
Meet the women who are making sure blockchain is inclusive
Blockchain is here – so what next? The Blockchain Developer Opportunity If you are a software engineer interested in emerging high growth project opportunities, you’ll want to ensure your technical skills are polished and you have access to proper training and resources. There is a significant shortage of skilled Blockchain developers unable to meet the demand of emerging projects! NCFA is pleased to announce an inaugural educational partnership with the Blockchain Learning Group offering a special introductory rate to attend an immersive, 2-day Blockchain developer training course on decentralized application development to help fill the gap of skilled engineers while connecting graduates to project opportunities. According to a recent 2018 PwC survey, 84% of 600 executive responders confirmed some involvement with Blockchain technology from proof of concepts to well capitalized international scale-ups and incumbents looking to modernize legacy systems. Distributed and immutable ledger applications are evolving rapidly with uses cases that improve trust and transparency for many business processes while distributing transactions to a decentralized network in a way that reduces costs and eliminates intermediaries. While crypto markets have exceeded $200 billion in just the last 2 years alone, the underlying technology is forecasted to disrupt almost every vertical with ...
Read More
Immersive 2-day Blockchain Developer Training Course (Nov 10-11, Toronto): Decentralized Application Development
Incipient Industries | Steven Dryall | Sep 19, 2018 Incipient Industries Releases Whitepaper Describing How Cryptocommodities  Are Created and Used As The Basis For A Stable Cryptocurrency Toronto, ON, Canada, September 17, 2018 - Incipient Industries Inc. announces the release of the definitive whitepaper on the subject of cryptocommodities. Following years of development combined with the dissemination of information related to cryptocurrency viability and asset- based cryptocurrencies, an actual description of how to deploy a cryptocommodity  is now available. This is a first in the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry and represents a significant step towards a stabilized digital economy. The cryptocurrency industry is still developing and discovering ways to integrate with traditional financial systems or to replace them altogether. The introduction of cryptocoomodities into the cryptosphere creates a new category of opportunities for pioneers in the space. For those seeking a solution to a stable cryptocurrency, this is the best path to success. See:  3 Clever Ways To Reach Crypto Price Stability, And One Giant Leap Of Faith “This is a perfect use case for cryptocurrency and also follows the Three Pillars of a Viable Cryptocurrency framework.” says Steven Dryall, CEO of Incipient Industries, who has pioneered several key concepts of ...
Read More
Whitepaper Provides Information About Cryptocommodities As The Basis For A Stable Cryptocurrency
Bloomberg | Joshua Brustein | Sep 4, 2018 With fewer than 100 residents, Ocean Falls is looking for a revival after almost four decades of industrial false starts. In 1971, an 11th grader named Greg Strebel wrote the introduction to a book about Ocean Falls, the tiny town in the British Columbian hinterlands where he lived. Strebel mentioned the odd fact that many of the town’s roads were made of wood, said the weather wasn’t as bad as some people made it out to be and noted that it had just gotten a new school building. But the one thing that mattered above all, according to Strebel, was the paper mill. “To most, 'the mill’ imparts a sense of security by its presence,” he wrote. “A low throb of power is audible throughout most of the town as long as the mill runs, accompanied by voluminous exhalations of steam.” The security provided by the mill turned out to be fleeting. It went silent when Strebel was in his 20s. Most of the buildings in Ocean Falls that haven’t been demolished over the decades are crumbling in place, and Strebel, along with most everyone who once lived there, is long gone. A ...
Read More
The Bitcoin Boom Reaches a Canadian Ghost Town
Australian Financial Review | Michael Bailey | Sep 12, 2018 Businesses wishing to raise money from retail investors will no longer have to convert to an unlisted public company structure, after an amendment to 2017's equity crowdfunding legislation passed federal Parliament. The legislation, which takes effect in 28 days from Wednesday, allows proprietary companies or unlisted public companies with annual turnover or gross assets of up to $25 million to advertise their business plans on ASIC-licensed crowdfunding portals, and raise up to $5 million a year to carry them out. Investors can put up to $10,000 a year each into an unlimited number of ideas. Australian private companies are typically limited to a maximum of 50 non-employee shareholders. However, under these reforms, investors acquiring shares through a crowdfunding portal are excluded from this cap, allowing private companies to raise funds from potentially hundreds or thousands of investors. See:  Australia and UK set up FinTech Bridge to deepen collaboration between governments, regulators, and industry bodies Proprietary companies with crowdfunded shareholders will have to prepare annual financial and directors' reports in accordance with accounting standards. Only large proprietary companies, defined as those with any two of either $25 million turnover or above, $12.5 million of gross ...
Read More
$5 million Equity crowdfunding extended to private companies
NCFA Sponsored guest post | Sep 18, 2018 “You are such a worry-wart.” This is the common reaction I get whenever I tell people about how I like to plan ahead. They tell me that I’m too overreacting, that I live too much for the future and not for the present, and that I really don’t get the concept of YOLO. I really don’t give a darn about what these people say. They’re impractically wasting their time, breath, and energy trying to change how I live my life. What if I’m so gung-ho about planning for the future? What if I’m too overly prepared even my future dogs and cats will be feasting every single day? It’s still better than having no insurance. It’s still better than having my children carry my weight. Lastly, it’s still better than being ill-prepared. See:  What Can Traditional Banks Learn From Fintech? If I were to choose between too much and too little, I’d choose too much any day. After all, what’s wrong with having so much you could spare a ton? It’s a thousand times better than having to ask for financial aid because you have so little. Do you get me? I ...
Read More
Why Life Insurance Policies Matter
Forbes | Michael del Castillo | Sep 17, 2018 People keep asking me, what’s the deal with stablecoins? With two prominent regulatory approvals to issue the blockchain-based tokens, many have heralded them as the next evolution of cryptocurrency, while others say they’re perfect evidence of why no one ever needed cryptocurrency in the first place. On a basic level, a stablecoin is a token that has a mechanism in place to minimize its price fluctuations. Unlike traditional cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether, which are directly tied to their wildly fluctuating demand, a stablecoin can rely on four methods to constrain its fluctuations. See:  One SEC commissioner is establishing herself as the voice of innovation for the crypto market The first and by far most popular way to achieve this stability is to peg the price of the token to a more stable asset like the U.S. dollar. This is what both the Gemini and Paxos cryptocurrency exchanges received permission to do from the New York Department of Financial Services last week. Unlike bitcoin and ethereum, which are created through a mining process that also ensures the blockchain’s accuracy, these stablecoins are only created when someone buys them with U.S. dollars. Gemini and Paxos ...
Read More
3 Clever Ways To Reach Crypto Price Stability, And One Giant Leap Of Faith
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$5 million Equity crowdfunding extended to private companies

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Australian Financial Review | Michael Bailey | Sep 12, 2018

Businesses wishing to raise money from retail investors will no longer have to convert to an unlisted public company structure, after an amendment to 2017's equity crowdfunding legislation passed federal Parliament.

The legislation, which takes effect in 28 days from Wednesday, allows proprietary companies or unlisted public companies with annual turnover or gross assets of up to $25 million to advertise their business plans on ASIC-licensed crowdfunding portals, and raise up to $5 million a year to carry them out. Investors can put up to $10,000 a year each into an unlimited number of ideas.

Australian private companies are typically limited to a maximum of 50 non-employee shareholders. However, under these reforms, investors acquiring shares through a crowdfunding portal are excluded from this cap, allowing private companies to raise funds from potentially hundreds or thousands of investors.

See:  Australia and UK set up FinTech Bridge to deepen collaboration between governments, regulators, and industry bodies

Proprietary companies with crowdfunded shareholders will have to prepare annual financial and directors' reports in accordance with accounting standards.

Only large proprietary companies, defined as those with any two of either $25 million turnover or above, $12.5 million of gross assets or more, or 50 employees or more, have previously had to prepare such reports.

Those private companies accessing equity crowdfunding will also become subject to related party transaction rules and takeover rules, and will have to include details about the offer and the shareholders as part of their company register.

Some compliance relief has been provided to the unlisted public companies already eligible to use equity crowdfunding.

Now, all companies raising money via the crowd will only have to have their financial statements audited when they have raised $3 million or more, up from $1 million previously.

The cost and compliance of converting to an unlisted public company had previously deterred most businesses from considering equity crowdfunding, said Jonny Wilkinson, co-founder of one of the ASIC-licensed portals, Equitise.

 "Having a formalised structure and process for smaller proprietary companies to raise funds from the crowd - their customers, friends and family - will be a huge boost to small businesses and the economy, driving both growth and employment," he said.

"In turn, it also gives everyday investors the opportunity to invest in these companies and potentially make a return."

See:  Equity crowdfunding is eroding the best returns VC funds used to enjoy

The performance of equity crowdfunding has been mixed in its most established market, the UK, where it has been legal since 2011 . A 2016 study by licensed platform Seedrs of the 250 companies that had used it to raise money found they had produced an overall 14.4 per cent internal rate of return, but 41 per cent of the deals had lost money or collapsed altogether.

The quality of companies seeking funding on equity crowdfunding  platforms was questioned by 2018 research from Belgium's Ghent University and France's SKEMA School of Business, which compared data from 277 firms that sought financing on UK-based Crowdcube with two sets of similar firms that didn't list on crowdfunding platforms.

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The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with fintech, alternative finance, blockchain, cryptocurrency, crowdfunding and online investing stakeholders globally. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, services, and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding and fintech industry. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.9-Sep 14): Curexe’s New SmartPay Product & Front-line of Global Digital Payments with Johnathan Holland, Founder of Curexe

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NCFA Canada | Sep 14, 2018

Ep9-Sep 14: Curexe's New SmartPay Product & Front-line of Global Digital Payments

About this episode:  On this episode our host Manseeb Khan sits down with the CEO And founder of Curexe, so chat about their new product called SmartPay! They also talked about how A.I is going to touch the payments and every other industry, regulations that could be in place when accepting crypto and many more. Enjoy!

Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host

Guest: Johnathan Holland, Founder and CEO, Curexe

Bio:  Johnathan Holland's experience comes from a decade of learning about capital markets and a relentless pursuit of providing better customer experiences in the payments and currency exchange industry. Johnathan’s advantage has been to look at the currency exchange industry in a new light, which enabled him to create a new, better way to empower the businesses that are underserved by their current solutions.  Johnathan graduated from the 2016 cohort of the Next 36 accelerator program that helps young entrepreneurs build high impact businesses and is currently running the company out of the DMZ.  LinkedIn profile

Join NCFA's weekly Podcast series 'FINTECH FRIDAY$' where we sit down with the incredible people in the Fintech community and talk about leading fintech products innovations developments and challenges!

Subscribe and tune in each Friday to check out the latest movers and shakers in fintech.

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Transcription of Interview

Manseeb Khan: Hey Everybody Manseeb Khan here and you are tuning in to the NCFA's  newest podcast series Fintech Fridays. Today I have an absolutely incredible guest. I know I say this every week, but I truly, truly do have an incredible guest today. Today I'm Johnathan Holland the CEO and founder of Curexe and he's my boss. So, everybody please play nice.

Johnathan Holland: Johnathan how are you doing today man? I'm doing well Manny how's it going?

Manseeb Khan: I'm doing really well.

Manseeb Khan: So, for the audience who don't know who you really are could you just for a minute give us a little breakdown of who you are and essentially what Curexe does?

Johnathan Holland: So yes, basically I look at the world of banking like know technology hadn't really affected it in a meaningful way, it’s as one of the last industries to really be innovated. So about four years ago I decided to build this business basically out of necessity. I applied to all the banks. I wanted to be an investment banker. Nobody would give me an interview. So out of that I decided to build a foreign exchange business and out of that business. We essentially help small companies in need to send money to different countries and different currencies and then we launched another product which allows them to accept debit card payments online when I say debit card. I don't mean to Interac rails and definitely avoiding Visa, Mastercard rails and it allows any e-commerce business to integrate our one line of code. And you can accept debit card payments in 10 minutes. So, kind of built those two businesses and now we're starting to roll and feels good.

Manseeb Khan: Awesome, so the secondary product is under a whole different name which was originally. So, it's under SmartPay right. So initially started a SmartPay then you changed it to Curexe. Now back to SmartPay I guess. Why do you go back and forth like why don't you just kind of stick to one topic and is it? Are you building two different companies. Is it under a whole umbrella? How does it really work?

Johnathan Holland: Honestly Manny it’s a mess bro, so basically what I did is it started out as student currency exchange. So, I started the business it was to help international students pay for tuition around the world of course. From there I realized that it was hard enough to get banking relationships in our own country here in Canada let alone get relationships globally. Because I'd have to set up to accept money from India for someone in India to come to school in Canada and make those payments. So, it was student currency exchange and then it basically pivoted to what I called SmartPay. It ended being our legal name SmartPay incorporated and that was basically an online foreign exchange business for the small business owners that are out there. And then from there it essentially kind of changed. We kind of did it doing business under a name called Curexe C.U.R.E.X.E that ran for you know a number of years. And then when we launched this new debit card payment processing company which is still the same company is two different products now but because you know we still use that SmartPay name before, so that's what we brought back, we have a logo. You know we got the domain. So, it was easy to kind of jump into it. So, there's no real rhyme or reason it's just hop and the like name changes and pivots  and all that kind of good stuff for the start-up.

Manseeb Khan: So, could you talk a little bit more of the whole debit processing side because I'm pretty sure probably not many people know of the fees that entails. If you're using Visa MasterCard and or PayPal as an online merchant, as an online seller. could you talk a little bit more of why you decided to just build a whole different system and kind of why we're doing this whole David versus Goliath.

Johnathan Holland: Yes definitely. Yeah like it came out of necessity from our customer. so, all of them had a need to make payments to international suppliers in different currencies that was Curexe the after the first product and then they all kept complaining about accepting PayPal payments and it wasn't necessarily PayPal that was the problem. The system works fine. The problem is the fees for the business keep in mind this should be clear. If you're an online shopper out there you don't ever pay anything. You never pay anything to PayPal or credit cards. When you're online shopping and the business owners always charge this two-point nine percent of their revenue that never seems to go away. But if you're accepting money from different countries PayPal is going to force you to exchange those different currencies from say U.S. dollars accepting U.S. customer payments back to Canadian if your bank accounts are in Canada. But with that conversion there's an added cost of three and a half percent, two to three and a half depending on different credit cards and stuff as well. So, a six-point four percent of your topline revenue. And if you look at a business with a net profit margin of 10 percent you're eating into a profit. So, the businesses were complaining we realized that we had the technology to basically make it easy to collect the information we needed, and we had the bank accounts and the bank relationships to be able to pull funds from an online shoppers account. So that's what we've done. We've made it very simple putting in your credit cards easy. I'll be honest I have good credit. I don't even think I would ever use my product. I always use credit card. I'm not a points junkie like some people. some people care about their points other people there's a percentage of the population that don't like getting in debt because they're starting to learn more or they don't even own a credit card at all for that reason they just don't want to be in debt but there's no option that's not viable to buy a product online, outside of credit card or PayPal. So, what do you do have to sign up for a PayPal account or if they don't offer PayPal you have to get a credit card. So, some people just don't shop, or they drop off in check-outs.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah, I think it's I think it's a lack of education thing. right? I think it's like now kind of what you have mentioned of what you mentioned right. Like people are getting a lot more smarter and knowing a little bit more of how credit score works. What you should and shouldn't do when you get a credit card and just like what good credit really doesn't like how much it opens so much more doorways right. So, it's incredible. You guys are ,we are kind of providing a not only a great system to help business owners save a crap ton of money that can go right back into the business. Help them grow but you're also providing a very good education behind them and like teaching people. hey that's not the only way you can do it. There’re other ways you can do it and we're building a system to help you understand that.

Johnathan Holland: That's definitely right

Manseeb Khan: Could you talk a little bit  more of the regulations behind this and just regulations being a money service business in general?

Johnathan Holland: So, we have these special bank accounts that essentially that allow us to pull money from any Canadian or U.S. bank account. now because we have that capability there's a lot of responsibility that goes with that. So, we're registered what's called a money service business as a money service business. We're very highly regulated it's Fintrac in Canada, FinCEN in the U.S. They basically have very strict rules that apply when you're dealing with money launderers out there, terrorist financing. There's a lot of like global sanctions list that we scrape, screen names that we need to make sure that the bad guys aren't able to move money around with our system and the regulations make sure that we're reporting and at least giving them all the information that they need that if there was a deep investigation that they would be able to at least maybe track down those individuals the bad guys, the bad actors and then do something about it. So, what happens is Fintrac or FinCEN and we'll collaborate with law enforcement and they'll be able to essentially help stop terrorism or funding I guess of terrorism and money laundering. as well which is obviously a big issue with lots of criminal organizations and the bad stuff that can happen with that. So, we're very regulated. We have annual reviews there's like every two years we ever review from our federal regulator which is a very serious kind of event and we just always have to make sure we're on top of this stuff for moral issues and for the laws that we have to follow the law.

Manseeb Khan: So being a money service  business you're definitely going to deal with a lot of fraud or have you have a way higher potential risk of fraud. Could you talk a little bit more what fraud prevention you're putting in place and talk a little bit more of what you're seeing that's there. And like pretty much the loopholes or fraud prevention your kind of hoping that kind of gets filled in moving forward?

Johnathan Holland: Yeah, no absolute fraud happens. money service business is a broad term, so money service business could be that little kiosk in the mall. where you can go to exchange or Canadians in euros before you go to Europe. I mean you could wash money through that stuff, but fraud is probably less prevalent. Assuming they check the Bills under lighting and everything because there could be against counterfeit. But with online money transfer businesses there's always that risk right. I mean you can create a business fairly easily get it registered open up an online store start accepting payments with no intention of paying the people basically just ripping off shoppers never send in products out. So, us as a business we have to be able to combat against this stuff, so we have a really strict analysis on the business. How long have they been in business? Identify all the individuals in the business pull Corp reports from different sources who can make sure the business is legitimate. We'll even go as far as talking to their end customers making sure that things are smooth. So we do a lot of in-depth stuff that a fraudster pretty much can't avoid which is what really helps us kind of combat against these guys and then outside of that a lot of fancy technology stuff or we track IP address as we screen different computers we have different recording systems and being very vague here for a reason because the deeper I go, the more knowledge I'm giving out there and then these fraudsters because there's an entire industry around the stuff that there's conferences that I've been that, that explain to me there's conferences for hackers and how to rip off credit card lists like you know all this stuff that's happening so the conventions in Vegas to teach people how to rip people off with their credit cards right.

So, the credit cards are very easy to rip off. Luckily your credit card company reimburses you of course at no cost to them. And shoppers don't realize it. But if somebody steals your credit card but has a product from the store. Visa MasterCard or not out the money. That's why their stock charts a 45 degree angle up and to the right. Essentially the business owner loses that money. So, this could be a small business owner. You know you name it. That are now out funds and that's a loss of they have on their books. so, it's definitely a serious thing. That's why people should be very diligent about making very secure passwords my passwords are anywhere from 25 characters to 64 characters. Random numbers letters and symbols. It has to be that way. Use a password manager that makes it easy. You don't have to be typing anything off the piece of paper and type it in and it makes your life easier and safer and then you're helping business owners that are out there as well because the fraud that happens in this industry it's amazing what they've came up with to fraud systems and everything so that there's a lot of stuff that we do.  I just want to make sure I don't give away too much. Yeah nation's nerve. Can somewhat crack the code which they sill. We have endpoints that are manually can't but still helps.

Manseeb Khan:  Right .Canada has been on the up of A.I. so do you see I guess A.I playing a role in helping Curexe and other businesses like Curexe in the future

Johnathan Holland: No absolutely. I mean AI is going to touch every industry I think in a very meaningful way especially in the payment side now. The ones that have the most advantage are the ones with the most data. So, you have to work with banks, you have to work with organizations that are willing to share data.  Visa ,MasterCard have built some pretty good rules you'll notice now if you go on a trip oftentimes will say you don't have to call the credit card company. It's because you probably booked it through flight through a booking thing and they're sharing the data back and forth. There's such a good thing for the end customer. But yeah, I mean in general there's a lot of interesting things going on in the space from that angle and we're all just doing. We can I mean A.I will change a lot of this and I've haven't seen a lot of very developed A.I that really has helped us this besides maybe Visa MasterCard and what they do. Keep in mind online shopper it doesn't matter how you pay you never to charge anything. you never get frauded any money. You'll ultimately get your money back. I mean if there is a unique scenario where there was big complications that just make sure like I said Protect your passwords securely. What happens is we'll take a longer period of time for the resolution to happen if it was something bigger. So, if you're wealthy individual and you listen to this just be very secure with all your passwords and stuff. which you probably already are because you probably had an incident happened at some point. For anybody that's just using typical credit card .they just give your money back off the work. So, there's no stress about buying something online and that's why the market's growing 15 percent year over year with online shoppers everybody is going online. It's easy. You know people are starting to order groceries online. It's becoming a more convenient world. And I think that there'll be more shopping online.

Manseeb Khan: Yes, speaking of online shoppers you are seeing a growth maybe not. Nothing too crazy. We were seeing a growth of people buying items through crypto. Right. So, do you see how do you see crypto playing a role in this do you. Do you guys see that. Later on, accepting crypto. Do you guys see maybe launching an ICO like what's your take on servicing cryptos.

Johnathan Holland: So, the reason I love cryptocurrency is because I started studying it in 2014. I looked at crypto like this is going to be the next thing that could rip away my business. Now a lot of interesting things have happened with Bitcoin the way it took off it is honestly like magical is the best word to describe it because for the network effects and everyone to get that on board with you know really what it is. Now finally someone can compete with money transfer businesses and banks and stuff like that. So, it was very exciting to see the way it took off. It still hasn't proven itself to be viable in the market. And what I mean by that is the volatility. And I'll explain if a lot of viewers aren't very finance savvy but the volatility. so, Bitcoin can move 5 percent in a day. If you're a business owner accepting 100 bucks with crypto and within that day it drops to 95 that literally with the PayPal fees as well could cripple a good or 10 percent net profit margin like we discussed before. So, the volatility in the movement of it can go in your favor and you make 105 bucks. But it could also go against you. the business orders aren't typically comfortable with our kind of risk. So what needs to happen and any bankers listening please push for this within your banks, become a market maker for crypto and market makers. Basically, you provide a lot of liquidity a lot of dollars like billions of dollars and buy and sell and take both sides of the trade. So, you sell side buy side in any given market and that's why you have a very liquid market get in and out in seconds.

So, for example you could buy a Wal-Mart stock your order executes instantly, if you buy a small cap company meaning they're you know a smaller size company who might only trade three times throughout the day. so, you can only have three times where a buyer and seller are willing to agree on a price. And then and then a change happens. So, a crypto more liquidity spreads are still crazy like the volatilities moving about 5 percent a day. So, if you have market makers come in it basically reduced that volatility not 5 percent but smooths it out. And if it's more smooth then at least the business can accept the crypto and then you know convert back to fiat and not have to worry, ideally in a perfect world for like I'm talking to consumers, business owners everybody adopts crypto and everybody just uses that as a currency because the fees are much lower. The system is very secure. It's a secure network of nodes and all those nodes literally have to agree on all the transactions that happen, or it doesn't go through. There's no duplicate of money. There's oftentimes the SWIFT network our international payment network gets hacked and money gets lost. You hear about it, but they keep it very quiet as the like. What's actually happening around the world. crypto and bitcoin has risks like this as well because it's early, but it does have the potential to become something that would be very viable. I personally didn't invest in crypto because it's a it's a buy sell thing. It's like Warren Buffet says why would you buy a piece of gold. And the reason he says have a bar of gold and you have to buy things so what you do is you clip off a little piece of gold. And you paid for your groceries at a clip of a piece of gold and he buys clothes for the day of your family whatever it is that you clip off in a little piece of that bar. You don't even have a gold bar at the end of it. Warren Buffet would rather do is buy a piece of land that has a store value  you which is what crypto kind of has. I mean bitcoin with the scarcity of the coins gives us somewhat of a perceived value like the scarcity of diamonds and gold. Right. So, if you have a piece of land and that produces you crops every year you can mine those crops then buy your food and beverage and you still have a piece of land you still have that store value. with Bitcoin. You're saying it's worth 10000 but you're only saying we're 10000. Everybody's agreed it's 10000. If everybody agreed that tomorrow that it's worth hundred it'll go to a hundred or go to 100k some people are predicting. So, I'm unsure where the price of crypto will go. But I love the fact that it could actually come in and start to transact the businesses have to accept that widely. And individuals have to start paying with it and then hopefully we see the network effects take off and maybe commerce will begin.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah, I mentioned in a couple of episodes past you're seeing a lot of institutions and banks started to get on the crypto market like trying to in a sense bring both worlds together where you have like the regulations unlike the traditional marketplace into the new marketplace the whole decentralization everything. So, you're seeing like a bridge if not a maybe arranged marriage being built around it. So yeah it should be very interesting to see how it goes the next 18 to 24 months to wrap this up. What would be other than make sure you secure your passwords make sure you're paying attention to where your money is going. What would be your advice to either online merchant’s small business owners and anybody else that's in the industry.

Johnathan Holland: I mean it depends it's a very broad questions of we can go in a number of different ways but online merchants there are other services available like now because we've launched this debit card solution. I know there's going to be several other players that are coming in and they're going to build there a new type of credit card or different type of payment systems using crypto to make online payments. That's some exciting areas that can move into. So, I would say the online merchants especially if you're doing big volume that 2.5 percent and then FX stuff as well that you're getting dinged that matters to your business so look for other solutions it doesn't necessarily have to be lower cost and sacrifice quality. Right because there's products out there that can still have the same quality, but you also get to save a bit of money while you're doing it. So, the merchant should do that, online shoppers I mean ultimately you know your personal finances are important. Do what you can to save your money and getting into debt is obviously not that smart. Interac in Canada a lot of ads but this like back in the black meaning you know back in the positive. I don't think the general population you know is that black is positive and red is negative. But you know maybe this is where that degree maybe I'm given them you know some food for thought there but, so you know it's good I think as a consumer to make sure that you're saving your money. so be mindful of what you're spending on. And when you do spend it I would say use debt but I'm biased. I think it's better to not get in debt.

Manseeb Khan: Awesome. So, Johnathan thank you so much for sitting down with me today. This has been very educational for me even though I'm in the company but I'm pretty sure a lot of people might have learned a thing or two and hopefully it will change the passwords like I'm going to in the next 30 seconds and I can't we talking on the show going man.

Johnathan Holland: Happy to be here Manny. Cheers.

 

End of Podcast

 

Interested in getting involved as a partner or participant? info@ncfacanada.org

 


The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with fintech, alternative finance, blockchain, cryptocurrency, crowdfunding and online investing stakeholders globally. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, services, and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding and fintech industry. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: ncfacanada.org

The Globe and Mail | Clare O’Hara | Sep 20, 2018 Cryptocurrency trading platform Coinsquare is moving into the exchange-traded fund business as its investment management division launches two new technology funds. Coin Capital Investment Management Inc., a portfolio management subsidiary established in July, has become the 30th ETF provider in Canada with the launch of two new ETFs focused on global emerging technologies. With a management fee of 0.64 per cent, the Coincapital STOXX Blockchain Patents Innovation Index Fund (LDGR) and the Coincapital STOXX B.R.AI.N. Index Fund (THNK) began trading Thursday morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange. “Canadians know technologies like AI and the blockchain are going to change the way we live and work, but it can be difficult to access high-quality investments in these sectors without deep domain expertise,” said Coin Capital CEO Lewis Bateman. Blockchain is an online digital ledger. Once a transaction is completed, it goes into a blockchain database and is kept as a permanent, secure record. It is most commonly known as the technology behind the booming cryptocurrency bitcoin, which soared above US$18,000 last December. See:  Coinsquare launches Coin Capital Investment Management Inc. to help Canadians invest in emerging technology LDGR will aim ...
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Tech Nation startup programme demonstrates richness of UK fintech

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Computer Weekly | Karl Flinders | Sep 13, 2018

A Tech Nation programme to support the UK's financial technology startups demonstrates the increasingly diverse range of business-to-business products and services available through the country's fintech community

Financial technology (fintech) is providing a market where IT professionals in the finance sector and beyond can find answers to their business challenges through specialist tech startups.

UK-based CIOs have the benefit of having these fintech startups on their doorstep.

UK government-backed startup network Tech Nation has selected 20 such fintech startups to take part in a five-month programme that aims to scale up early-stage companies.

The programme’s business-to-business (B2B) focus demonstrates that beyond the high-profile digital challenger banks and payments companies targeting consumers with funky apps, there is a deep source of niche financial services IT innovation in the UK.

Fintech solutions begin life as an idea about how to use technology to solve a particular financial services problem. The speed of software development today means products can quickly follow.

See:  UK Government Ups Crowdfunding without Prospectus to €8 Million – Matching Germany

But the challenges really begin when it comes to turning a great idea into a commercial success. This is where the likes of Tech Nation come in.

Growing appetite for fintech

In its first guise, Tech Nation was launched in Shoreditch in 2011, by then prime minister David Cameron, to support the East London tech cluster known as London Tech City. It initially offered broad support across the UK tech startup sector, but such is fintech’s rise, Tech Nation has introduced a dedicated fintech support programme.

This not surprising, as the appetite for fintech products among financial firms, their customers and investors is insatiable – and the UK finds itself on the top table.

Fuelled by the $12.9bn deal that saw Vantiv acquire WorldPay, investment in UK fintech in the first half of 2018 reached $16bn, compared with $14bn in the US and just more than $15bn in China.

Meanwhile, the take-up of financial technology, and its impact on the global finance sector, is overt. Recent figures from the European Banking Federation revealed that European retail banks shut down 5,900 branches in 2017. This was brought about by the arrival and widespread acceptance of online banking and mobile banking apps. Banks simply do not need as many branches because people prefer the convenience of managing their money on their smartphones.

See:  Ontario government invests in fintech to boost small-business lending

But financial technology isn’t all about banking on a smartphone. While challenger banks such as Starling carry the fintech torch to consumers, there is a huge opportunity in the vast nooks and crannies of the finance sector.

Helping fintech startups level up

Tech Nation is providing a guide rope to early-stage UK fintechs trying to find their footing. These small companies already have some customers and are generating revenues, but need to move to the next level.

With a background in the trading sector, fintech and venture capital, Greg Michel is heading up that support programme at Tech Nation.

He told Computer Weekly the latest programme was focused on fintech firms that supply other businesses, rather than those going direct to consumers like many of the better known fintech operators.

When choosing participants for the programme, it sought fintech startups that had already raised a bit of money, had some customers on board and were generating revenue. “They are viable propositions, not just two men and a dog in a garage or [bigger] with 30 people in their own office,” said Michel.

“They have a product, they have sold it so have some traction, and are making a bit of money. So they have something going for them, but they need to be accelerated.”

Learning the ropes

The 20 fintech startups taking part in the Tech Nation programme will receive coaching in how to scale a business. At the moment, the participating companies each have 15 staff, on average, with average revenues of £250,000.

Coaching in scaling involves teaching entrepreneurs how to build a more established business, which will include the likes of human resources management, incentivising salespeople and finding the right partners. This can be a significant challenge for startups, which often have a background in technology or another specific area of business.

See:  Canadian governments must double-down to foster tech boom here

Michel said the programme was “a vector of knowledge transfer” from those who have previously built unicorns and large companies to those who aspire to do the same.

“We hope the entrepreneurs will take lessons from this that would normally take years of experimentation,” he added.

Continue to the full article --> here


The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with fintech, alternative finance, blockchain, cryptocurrency, crowdfunding and online investing stakeholders globally. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, services, and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding and fintech industry. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: ncfacanada.org

The Globe and Mail | Clare O’Hara | Sep 20, 2018 Cryptocurrency trading platform Coinsquare is moving into the exchange-traded fund business as its investment management division launches two new technology funds. Coin Capital Investment Management Inc., a portfolio management subsidiary established in July, has become the 30th ETF provider in Canada with the launch of two new ETFs focused on global emerging technologies. With a management fee of 0.64 per cent, the Coincapital STOXX Blockchain Patents Innovation Index Fund (LDGR) and the Coincapital STOXX B.R.AI.N. Index Fund (THNK) began trading Thursday morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange. “Canadians know technologies like AI and the blockchain are going to change the way we live and work, but it can be difficult to access high-quality investments in these sectors without deep domain expertise,” said Coin Capital CEO Lewis Bateman. Blockchain is an online digital ledger. Once a transaction is completed, it goes into a blockchain database and is kept as a permanent, secure record. It is most commonly known as the technology behind the booming cryptocurrency bitcoin, which soared above US$18,000 last December. See:  Coinsquare launches Coin Capital Investment Management Inc. to help Canadians invest in emerging technology LDGR will aim ...
Read More
Coinsquare moves into ETF business with two new funds
FastCompany | By Lydia Dishman | Sep 20, 2018 When you have a technology that’s only 10 years old, women and underrepresented minorities have the chance to change this corner of the tech industry. Yael Rozencwajg recently had an experience that was unusual for a woman in tech. Speaking at a conference for executives in the blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) space, Rozencwajg found herself explaining the digital ledger system that forms the basis of blockchain technology to about 200 people, most of whom were white, male CEOs. “There was a lot they didn’t know,” the founder of startup Blockchain Israel tells Fast Company. The difference was that the audience was respectful and deferential, despite the prevailing reality that when women are outnumbered in a work setting like this, several studies show that they are talked over, interrupted, or simply ignored. Rozencwajg chalks it up to the relative newness of the blockchain space. The technology is only 10 years old and was initially used to record bitcoin transactions. But its applications have since moved from solely recording bitcoin and other digital currency transfers to smart contracts and other transactions that need the security that an immutable record can provide ...
Read More
Meet the women who are making sure blockchain is inclusive
Blockchain is here – so what next? The Blockchain Developer Opportunity If you are a software engineer interested in emerging high growth project opportunities, you’ll want to ensure your technical skills are polished and you have access to proper training and resources. There is a significant shortage of skilled Blockchain developers unable to meet the demand of emerging projects! NCFA is pleased to announce an inaugural educational partnership with the Blockchain Learning Group offering a special introductory rate to attend an immersive, 2-day Blockchain developer training course on decentralized application development to help fill the gap of skilled engineers while connecting graduates to project opportunities. According to a recent 2018 PwC survey, 84% of 600 executive responders confirmed some involvement with Blockchain technology from proof of concepts to well capitalized international scale-ups and incumbents looking to modernize legacy systems. Distributed and immutable ledger applications are evolving rapidly with uses cases that improve trust and transparency for many business processes while distributing transactions to a decentralized network in a way that reduces costs and eliminates intermediaries. While crypto markets have exceeded $200 billion in just the last 2 years alone, the underlying technology is forecasted to disrupt almost every vertical with ...
Read More
Immersive 2-day Blockchain Developer Training Course (Nov 10-11, Toronto): Decentralized Application Development
Incipient Industries | Steven Dryall | Sep 19, 2018 Incipient Industries Releases Whitepaper Describing How Cryptocommodities  Are Created and Used As The Basis For A Stable Cryptocurrency Toronto, ON, Canada, September 17, 2018 - Incipient Industries Inc. announces the release of the definitive whitepaper on the subject of cryptocommodities. Following years of development combined with the dissemination of information related to cryptocurrency viability and asset- based cryptocurrencies, an actual description of how to deploy a cryptocommodity  is now available. This is a first in the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry and represents a significant step towards a stabilized digital economy. The cryptocurrency industry is still developing and discovering ways to integrate with traditional financial systems or to replace them altogether. The introduction of cryptocoomodities into the cryptosphere creates a new category of opportunities for pioneers in the space. For those seeking a solution to a stable cryptocurrency, this is the best path to success. See:  3 Clever Ways To Reach Crypto Price Stability, And One Giant Leap Of Faith “This is a perfect use case for cryptocurrency and also follows the Three Pillars of a Viable Cryptocurrency framework.” says Steven Dryall, CEO of Incipient Industries, who has pioneered several key concepts of ...
Read More
Whitepaper Provides Information About Cryptocommodities As The Basis For A Stable Cryptocurrency
Bloomberg | Joshua Brustein | Sep 4, 2018 With fewer than 100 residents, Ocean Falls is looking for a revival after almost four decades of industrial false starts. In 1971, an 11th grader named Greg Strebel wrote the introduction to a book about Ocean Falls, the tiny town in the British Columbian hinterlands where he lived. Strebel mentioned the odd fact that many of the town’s roads were made of wood, said the weather wasn’t as bad as some people made it out to be and noted that it had just gotten a new school building. But the one thing that mattered above all, according to Strebel, was the paper mill. “To most, 'the mill’ imparts a sense of security by its presence,” he wrote. “A low throb of power is audible throughout most of the town as long as the mill runs, accompanied by voluminous exhalations of steam.” The security provided by the mill turned out to be fleeting. It went silent when Strebel was in his 20s. Most of the buildings in Ocean Falls that haven’t been demolished over the decades are crumbling in place, and Strebel, along with most everyone who once lived there, is long gone. A ...
Read More
The Bitcoin Boom Reaches a Canadian Ghost Town
Australian Financial Review | Michael Bailey | Sep 12, 2018 Businesses wishing to raise money from retail investors will no longer have to convert to an unlisted public company structure, after an amendment to 2017's equity crowdfunding legislation passed federal Parliament. The legislation, which takes effect in 28 days from Wednesday, allows proprietary companies or unlisted public companies with annual turnover or gross assets of up to $25 million to advertise their business plans on ASIC-licensed crowdfunding portals, and raise up to $5 million a year to carry them out. Investors can put up to $10,000 a year each into an unlimited number of ideas. Australian private companies are typically limited to a maximum of 50 non-employee shareholders. However, under these reforms, investors acquiring shares through a crowdfunding portal are excluded from this cap, allowing private companies to raise funds from potentially hundreds or thousands of investors. See:  Australia and UK set up FinTech Bridge to deepen collaboration between governments, regulators, and industry bodies Proprietary companies with crowdfunded shareholders will have to prepare annual financial and directors' reports in accordance with accounting standards. Only large proprietary companies, defined as those with any two of either $25 million turnover or above, $12.5 million of gross ...
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What Can Traditional Banks Learn From Fintech?

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Forbes |

The growing popularity of fintech and the emergence of competitors in different phases of the cycle, from new banks such as Germany’s N26 to partial service providers such as Revolut and others, or niche competitors such as Shine, highlights not just the inability of traditional banking to compete with them, but even to understand the most basic implications of the phenomenon.

The banks’ problem is not competing with these types of companies, or at least, not for now. We talking here about vastly different magnitudes, of scale: a service with strong growth like Revolut, for example, expects to reach three million customers by next month, which is nothing to Santander’s more than 113 million customers in more than ten countries worldwide. The idea that fintech companies represent some kind of threat seems absurd, seen in the context of size.

Obviously, this does not mean that the traditional banks should ignore the phenomenon — and they aren’t. Ignoring change and hoping that size will continue to matter is risky. The big banks are aware that the growth of the fintech phenomenon is mainly due to their own shortcomings, to the strong tendency towards industry isomorphism, and to the need for a replacement highlighted by the fact that fintech attracts younger people. Clearly, if nothing is done, there is a risk that many customers who today resort to competitors from the fintech world for relatively specific needs such as making a transfer or traveling abroad will end up seeing them as a more and more attractive option to the big banks, who are burdened by a specific approach to banking and many years of bad image.

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So what should the big banks do about fintech? Study how they do things and use them as external innovation laboratories. For a traditional bank, the news is not that a fintech closes a round of successful financing or grows its client base, but that it is able to present itself as a “bank without commissions” when in a reality, their freemium service is very limited, and access to a real range of services requires paying between €7.99 and € 13.99 a month. For a traditional banking executive, the idea that those same customers who protest their operation-by-operation commissions every day may consider paying those amounts because “they are not a commission but an extra service” should be very interesting. If we add seemingly more superficial elements to the equation, such as the new tendency towards heavier metal cards than the usual plastic, supposedly higher status, the question seems obvious: is there a demand for a type of client who not only wants a bank that offers traditional banking services, but also “feels” different in some way. Absurd? Image? A mere fad? The point is that a certain number of people go from protesting about daily commissions from traditional banks to religiously paying a monthly or annual fee for a metal credit card, and the banks need to ask themselves why.

Believe it or not, the new Revolut card’s marketing emphasizes its careful manufacture as if it was some sort of luxury item, while N26’s has no less than an inner tungsten layer. But what they’re really about are services such as cashback systems paid in a cryptocurrency of your choice, special advantages for users of work centers like WeWork, or access to insurance, along with highly customized services for certain customer segments. France’s Shine, for example, is particularly interesting: a specialized approach for freelancers offering services ranging from legal registration to tax payments (a real pain in terms of bureaucracy in France), and with a sign up process pretty similar to a social network’s. For certain groups, a Shine account offers advantages that, whether you’re a Deliveroo runner, somebody offering your services in Upwork or who works directly with your clients, allow you to enter your Shine IBAN on the platform to regularize the entire process, or create a page from which to manage your billing and that allows your customers to pay you with a card.

What do we look for in a bank? Increasingly, services far beyond traditional banking operations, and with much higher tolerance for payment derived from a perception of added value, of simplifying a process. Pay for convenience, not by decree, for what we really value, be it a service or a perception. Where can you expect these kinds of trends to start, where is the right place to see and understand them? Not in a traditional bank that launches them as “another project” by someone who competes for the attention of senior management with a thousand similar projects, but in small fintech companies that treat these services as a matter of identity or even life and death.

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How many senior banking executives are curious enough about fintech to have bothered to open an account with a fintech and then to use it to the full to learn from their practices? How many are thinking about what it would take for their organizations to launch similar products or services? How many people in the traditional banks are studying fintech as a source of ideas for innovation at all levels? Or are they too busy with other, supposedly more important things?

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The lending revolution: How digital credit is changing banks from the inside

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McKinsey&Company | By Gerald Chappell, Holger Harreis + | Aug 2018

Faster credit decisions, vastly improved customer experience, 40 percent lower costs, and a more secure risk profile. Here’s how to get there.

Today in traditional banks, the average “time to decision” for small business and corporate lending is between three and five weeks.1 Average “time to cash” is nearly three months. In our view, these times will soon seem as antiquated and unacceptable as the three weeks it once took to cross the Atlantic. Leading banks have embraced the digital-lending revolution, bringing “time to yes” down to five minutes, and time to cash to less than 24 hours.

That’s the profound result of a top priority for banks around the world: the digital transformation of end-to-end credit journeys, including the customer experience and supporting credit processes. Credit is at the heart of most customer relationships, and digitizing it offers significant advantages to banks and customers alike. For the bank, successful transformations enhance revenue growth and achieve significant cost savings. One large European bank increased win rates by a third and average margins by over 50 percent as a result of slashing its time to yes on small- and medium-enterprise (SME) lending from 20 days to less than ten minutes, far outpacing the competition. Our analysis suggests that a bank with a balance sheet of $250 billion could capture as much as $230 million in annual profit, of which just over half derives from cost efficiencies (such as less “touch time” and lower cost of risk), and the remainder comes from revenue gains (increased applications, higher win rates, and better pricing). In this article, we will look at the six design principles that successful banks have used to build digital-lending capabilities and transform their institutions.

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The variety of digital ambition

As digitization proceeds apace, the dimensions of banks’ digital ambitions vary among segments and products. Digitization is becoming the norm for retail credit processes. Personal-loan applications can now be submitted with a few swipes on a mobile phone, and time to cash can be as short as a few minutes. Mortgage lending is more complex due to regulatory constraints, yet banks in many developed markets have managed to digitize large parts of the mortgage journey. More than one bank has set an aspiration to automate 95 percent of retail underwriting decisions.

Banks are now treating SME lending as a digital priority. The reasons are clear: costs are high, and the opportunities to improve customer experience are significant. Furthermore, both traditional banks and fintechs already offer compelling digital propositions in SME lending, featuring dramatically shorter approval and disbursement times—a key factor for customers when choosing a lender.

Digital is also advancing in corporate lending, though naturally corporate banks are moving with greater caution and less urgency (given the relatively lower transaction volumes in this segment). Rather than reworking the entire customer experience, banks are enhancing common processes—for example, digitizing credit proposal papers and automating annual reviews to improve both time to yes and “quality of yes.”

Some banks’ digital strategies let corporate-transaction approvers focus their time on those clients and deals that matter the most. Low-risk credit-line renewals, for example, can be automated, while valuable human review time is focused on more complex or riskier deals. And data aggregation can be automated so that relationship managers (RMs) have the most relevant data and risk-monitoring scores at their fingertips—including financial performance, industry performance, market and sentiment data, and pertinent news and external risk factors.

Avoiding slow starts and piecemeal results

While most banks are digitizing parts of their business and operations, many are dissatisfied with progress, especially in credit. A few familiar frustrations include legacy IT systems; a general lack of trust in automated decision making; insufficient cooperation between businesses and risk, IT, and operations functions; limited data access; and scarce digital talent. Moreover, there is no single “owner” of the credit process with the discretion to drive change at scale. A number of stakeholders need to align and remain constantly aligned over a prolonged period (two to three years in banks that have executed ambitious programs successfully).

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These barriers have caused more than one bank to delay or sidetrack digitization efforts. Programs launched with great executive attention and focus lose momentum as the initial excitement of chief risk and lending officers evaporate. Investments needed to sustain programs are partly or wholly withheld. Incremental changes are sometimes substituted for planned end-to-end transformations.

However, numerous banks successfully digitized the credit journey. In the following pages, we offer the practical lessons that have emerged from these experiences, with special emphasis on SME lending, the area that is currently getting the most attention and investment.

Designing a successful digital lending transformation

Experience has shown that successful transformations rely on some basic principles.

An end-to-end journey but with limited scope

Many banks have found that an end-to-end view of the entire customer journey, including a target state set according to the customer experience, was crucial to success. For example, a Benelux bank redesigned its business-lending process from end to end, allowing it to eliminate numerous handovers. The result was about 30 percent greater efficiency. Without an end-to-end orientation, on the other hand, banks have seen disappointing results. Attempts to improve the credit process piece by piece tend to become incremental, lose customer focus, and miss the big-picture opportunity to deliver a fundamental step change in performance and approach. One Northern European bank found such an opportunity by shifting its focus for SME customers from selling products to fulfilling customer needs. As a result it radically rationalized its lending-product range down to just three simple products, massively reducing complexity. This would not have happened with a piecemeal approach.

While taking an end-to-end view, however, successful banks have learned that it pays to limit the scope of the first wave of the transformation and focus on a minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP is scoped to be substantial enough to drive real value, momentous enough to create excitement within the organization, and simple enough to be designed and implemented rapidly. Improvements can then be made progressively in waves of rapid subsequent releases.

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At one Scandinavian bank, as many as half of all credit decisions concerned SME customers with existing loans seeking additional credit. The bank decided to focus on improving their experience, since the cost to serve them was significant, but the decisions involved were less complex, as most of the necessary data were already available in the systems. Over an intense 20-week period, the bank designed a new end-to-end digital journey, including an online application process, a framework for making new credit decisions, a revised credit process with automated decision making and fast-track handling for simple cases, as well as radically simplified credit-paper and collateral-review processes. Certain features of the new journey were not included in the MVP but scheduled for later releases. This kind of approach avoids too much early-stage complexity so that a transformative solution can be implemented more quickly, establishing momentum for future change.

Building momentum for full automation

With good reason, risk managers can be wary of a fully automated approval process for business loans. Long-standing policies and decision processes often depend on manual reviews and cross-checks. Years of root-cause analysis of defaults and assessments of soft factors have proved reliable but would be missed in an automated approach.

At one bank in central Europe, the long-standing business-lending process features a decision checklist incorporating thousands of criteria and covenants for contracting and disbursement. While time consuming and costly, the process does achieve the desired risk outcome. In fact, risk functions at many banks successfully use experience-based subjective assessments to achieve low default rates. While the accuracy of data-driven model-based decision making continues to improve, risk managers are correct in taking a cautious approach to automation.

Leading banks express this caution in two ways when introducing automation. First, to establish accuracy, many banks test models on past decisions. A bank in Scandinavia ran its newly developed decision engine on all applications from the past five years. The tests proved that the automated engine based on data-driven assessments and a structured credit “decisioning” framework was better at predicting default risk than the subjective human assessments had been—and far more consistent, which was a key factor in approving the model for use on new cases.

Second, banks start small, at first directing only a few cases to the fully automated straight-through digital process flow (sometimes called the “swim lane”). One Northern European bank recently opened the swim lane for fewer than 15 percent of applications, mainly the less complex cases. As the engine proves itself, the bank will gradually increase the flow.

In the most sophisticated examples, about 70 to 80 percent of SME-lending decisions are fully automated, with the remainder referred for credit review, allowing valuable expert time to be focused on complex or marginal cases.

Embrace relationship managers

RMs play an important role in SME lending. Digitization doesn’t replace this. While for some segments it makes sense to steer customers into a mostly self-service approach, successful banks have typically opted for a “multichannel, single application” route for SME lending, where customers can complete digital applications on a shared screen with their RMs. This allows the RM to guide the customer through the process, explain results of automated risk assessments, and quickly ask any follow-up questions required.

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A Scandinavian bank went this route, for four reasons:

  • in customer testing, it was clear this is what SMEs in the region wanted
  • it allowed the strengthening of RM–customer relationships, and greater cross-selling
  • it allowed the new digital journey to be introduced alongside legacy processes, giving RMs the option of using the old process to give them reassurance (and manage the small number of cases that could not be treated with the new process)
  • the digital solution set the right incentives to discourage discounts and lowered the pressure on RMs (by delivering offers in near real time through the digital process, RMs and the bank could gain market share and margin)

Ultimately, RMs were able to provide loan approval in five to ten minutes about three-quarters of the time; more complex cases are decided in an average of 90 minutes (and not more than 24 hours) following a manual review.

Big data—but not too big

To develop models, many banks have expressed interest in using external data (when legally permissible), including novel sources such as social media. While creative use has been made of unusual data sets, it is usually best to begin with readily available data. Transactional data have proved especially powerful. A number of banks and fintechs have developed tools to process transactions from primary operating accounts line by line, classifying them into detailed revenue and expense items. Advanced analytics can use these rich risk data to generate simplified financial statements, affordability ratios, customer- and supplier-concentration analyses, and so on, in real time. These transactional data offer substantially richer and more up-to-date insights about company performance than out-of-date annual accounts. With the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and other open-banking initiatives now coming into force, similar analyses can now also be performed on new customers.

Pragmatic data solutions can create real impact quickly, building momentum for subsequent, gradual data-management improvements.

Ambitious data-aggregation plans or multiyear data-lake projects are rarely good bases for digital-lending transformations. Such plans are frequently abandoned before completion. Successful transformations generally rely on existing data sources, sometimes using imperfect, robotics-based data integration (such as screen scraping) to get started. Recently, a major bank in Southern Europe successfully completed the early stages of its transformation using readily available demographic and behavioral data. That experience shows how pragmatic data solutions can create real impact quickly, building momentum for subsequent, gradual data-management improvements.

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By incorporating regulatory models in their new credit-decision engines, banks can satisfy regulatory requirements in less time and start reaping the benefits of digitization more quickly. A Northern European bank did just this, after applying the existing internal ratings-based system for business lending and building new automated analyses for affordability and cash flow.

The need for an agile approach

The divergent interests of business and risk management—not to mention operations and IT—will create inherent tensions for banks in redesigning credit processes. One Eastern European bank found that its months-long project to simplify the corporate-lending process had made little headway, ultimately due to legitimate but conflicting internal interests. The project became bogged down with individual silos optimizing for their own interests rather than collaborating on optimizing the customer’s experience. It lacked an agile approach.

Agile project delivery is essential for successful credit digitization. The starting point is a set of colocated, cross-functional, full-time, dedicated teams empowered with decision-making authority and tasked to deliver products on deadline in intense bursts of effort called “sprints.”

However, while most executives are actively talking about agile, not many are actually doing it. Worse, we see many firms adopting “cosmetic agile,” where traditional project-management approaches are peppered with agile lingo and walls filled with Post-it notes, but necessary fundamental changes in ways of working are not adopted and organizational commitments are not made.

A common failure is the inability to overcome organizational silos. A cross-functional team with business, risk, IT, and operations is simply essential, for several reasons:

  • collaborating across all functions helps strike the balance of customer-journey and business objectives with robust credit decision making and risk control
  • bringing critical-path IT-development work into the control of the agile team allows rapid iteration and testing of journeys, data integrations, and results
  • maintaining agile’s customer and “time to market” focus helps quickly assess trade-offs and work-arounds for IT and process bottlenecks as well as design solutions that allow rapid value delivery to customers

The agile redesign process is sometimes referred to as a “zero-based” approach. Teams begin with a blank sheet rather than thinking about marginal improvements to the existing process and the restrictions of existing policies. They define the essential mission, often working from the customer backward. This mode of operating can initiate deep changes that exceed incremental process adjustments and see beyond the constraints of legacy systems.

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A further powerful aspect of agile is the iterative, sprint-based approach to developing solutions. Emerging prototypes are continually tested with RMs and usually clients as well. Teams gather their feedback early on, so that less compelling ideas can be quickly discarded and attention focused on experientially successful ideas—which are also revised as needed. The working relationships fostered in agile teams create enormous engagement among colleagues from all areas of the organization, which ultimately translates into better ideas and faster results.

In a best-practice agile example, a leading European bank built a “digital lab” to enhance its credit processes systematically. Business, IT, and risk came together to align on objectives and incentives, while a dedicated organizational unit (the “digital factory”) was empowered to make decisions with quick cross-functional escalation mechanisms. The teams developed a safe IT environment to test changes before reshaping processes on a wider scale.

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