Category Archives: Entrepreneurs and Start-ups

VanFUNDING Brings Leading Blockchain, FinTech, RegTech, and Capital Innovation Experts to Vancouver #VF2018

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VANCOUVER, BC / ACCESSWIRE / November 15, 2018 / VanFUNDING 2018: CONVERGE, an annual innovation, technology and capital event organized by the National Crowdfunding and FinTech Association (NCFA), will take place in Vancouver on November 29-30 at Parq Vancouver.

The event showcases leading technologies and experts in blockchain, fintech, artificial intelligence and alternative finance that are making an impact on Canada, the capital markets and the world.

The event will feature over 50 speakers including Monique Morden, CEO of Judi.ai; Brady Fletcher, Managing Director, TSX Venture Exchange at TMX Group; Toufi Saliba, CEO of Toda.Network; Mark Wang, Director of Capital Market Regulation, BC Securities Commission; Paul Schulte, Managing Editor, Schulte Research; Rojin Nair, General Manager Fintech Solutions for Celero and more.

The event will also feature its annual pitching program that will award three "Front of the Line"Dragon's Den Golden Tickets and other prizes to the winning startups. Startups selected to pitch include Flux Network, Capiche Capital Technologies, Very Good Butcher, Squamish Canyon, Drive Hockey, Veme, Moca Estimator, Symend and HeyBryan.

As NCFA Canada CEO, Craig Asano states, ''We are witnessing unprecedented change that is already affecting our daily lives - how we interact with financial services, generate digital wealth, invest, evaluate, consume, vote, store, transfer, and purchase anything of value.''

The past year has been saturated with news about blockchain's capabilities and its potential to vastly alter traditional financial ecosystems. However, as Toufi Saliba, CEO of TODA Network, notes, ''The global penetration of [this technology] is less than 0.2 per cent, of which, the vast majority of blockchains are scams.'' While individuals should remain cautious about fraudulent businesses that have arisen from people looking to cash in on the hype, Saliba explains that the next wave of blockchain adoption and utilization will be ''like a tsunami, [where] you can partake in what's yet to be the most disruptive technology in human history, or ignore it and get disrupted."

This year's theme, CONVERGE, immerses participants in content covering new capital market innovation, decentralized models, computer intelligence, infrastructure, alternative investment opportunities and the evolution of the ICO and security token offering (STO).

''The ICO market has shifted towards securitized token offerings and we are pleased to be at the forefront of this change and enabling a true security token standard with Etherparty, which offers AML KYC controls on assets that are issued from financial institutions or companies looking to raise funds through equity financing,'' said Lisa Cheng, Founder and Head of R&D for Vanbex Group.

Save your spot: http://vanfunding.com/

Link to video: watch here

VanFUNDING wouldn't be possible without the generous support of The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA), Toda.Network, Judi.ai, Vanbex Group, Northern Block, FrontFundr, REITIUM, FintruX, Holt Accelerator, TIMIA Capital, JJ Human Capital, Schulte Research and more.

About the NCFA:

The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA) 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, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Learn more About Us or visit www.ncfacanada.org.

Media Contact:

Brittany Whitmore
Exvera Communications Inc.
Brittany@exvera.com

SOURCE: National Crowdfunding Association of Canada

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FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.17-Nov 9): How Artificial Intelligence is Optimizing Sales and the Future of Business AI with Asad Naeem, Co-founder and President, Fortuna.ai

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NCFA Canada | Nov 9, 2018

JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY.

Ep17-Nov 9:   How Artificial Intelligence is Optimizing Sales and the Future of Business AI

About this episode: On this episode NCFA Fintech Friday's our host Manseeb Khan sits down with the co-founder and president of Fortuna Asad Naeem. They chat about how AI can supplement salespeople, the excitement behind computer vision and the future of business AI. Enjoy!(see Transcript)

Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host

Guest:  ASAD NAEEM, Co-founder and President, Fortuna.ai (view Linkedin)

Bio: Asad is the Co-Founder of Fortuna.ai, a top of the funnel sales automation company. Prior to co-founding Fortuna, Asad spent time with a big 3 bank in Canada, first on the sales team covering the largest financial territory in Canada, and after, with the Data Analysis and Strategic Initiatives Team, providing insight and consulting on sales campaigns. A life long entrepreneur, Asad has consistently been feeding his entrepreneurial spirit ever since starting his first business in Grade 9 and starting and running a couple of start-ups throughout his university days. Having spent over 10 years in and around sales, he is intimately familiar with the problems being faced by sales professionals today and along with his Co-Founder Omer is positioning Fortuna to solve these problems utilizing Machine Learning and NLP.

 

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

Listen to more Fintech Fridays podcasts here

 


Transcription of Interview

Intro: Welcome fintech Friday's a weekly podcast brought to you by the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and partners.Covering all things fintech block chain be AI and alternative finance.

In this episode we cover how AI can supplement salespeople,  the excitement behind computer vision and the future of business AI.

Manseeb Khan: Hey everybody how is you doing today? Manseeb Khan here and you are tuning in to Fintech Friday. Today I have an absolutely incredible guest. Assad. OK from a Fortuna.ai Thanks so much for being here today. I mean this means the absolute world to me.

Asad Naeem: Yeah thank you so much for having me. It's an honor.

Manseeb Khan: So, could you just for a second. Give us a little bit more of what Fortuna is and a little bit more about you and your background.

Asad Naeem: Yeah absolutely. So, I'll start with me with my background so basically, I've done sales all my life I started out in the in the trenches at the future shop and some of the guys have done sales and you know they've gone through that process. They know exactly how that is. So, after that I went to school obviously once you know University  of Toronto for bio and then attended Carlton university for political science. There started my career in the bank. So, I've been all over the place. But with the bank basically stuck around started you know at the lowest level kind of rose through the ranks eventually ended up at CIBC Asset Management. Where I was doing third party broker dealer sales. I did that for about a couple of years and kind of had the genesis of the idea for Fortuna while I was there. Move over to Fortuna. Basically, what Fortuna does is it's top of the funnel sales process automation which is your client discovery and client qualification. So, the entire ethos behind our product and our company is that you know salespeople today are spending but 80 percent of their time doing mundane admin tasks we're using AI to automate that portion, so they can spend more time and you know more focus on higher value consultative of selling processes.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah no I mean I can definitely relate on the sales angle because my first job as a door salesman. So, its sales are brutal 100 percent. So, could you talk a little bit more on the AI the process of it. Do you map it a little bit towards the more to the salesperson like does the AI kind of work like okay  I'm Manseeb and this in my sales style? And I guess my chat bots or whatever we may have you might be tailored towards that. Or is it just more of a generic AI.

Asad Naeem: The way it works is we're employing AI in two spots right now and the first one is a little bit sandbox experimental the second one is actually we're using right now the client discovery portion is basically we're using to figure out exactly who is it that you should be going after. Now this happens by taking a look at your transactional. Let's say you’re a client of ours. We look at take a look at your transactional record, take a look at your sales campaign see where you are having the most amount of success. And then just building models based off of that to see exactly you should be going. Who you should be going after,  the second place where it's really my interest and where I'm paying more attention to is the NLP component of it. The natural language processing where we started the conversation with what your prospects are leads that are coming in. And then we basically lead them down the qualification funnel. we'll and find out you know the three things that you need for any sale to occur is hey is there any interest here. You know do they have the authority to make this decision and then the third one is do they have the budget to make that happen of course. So, we use a conversation and general AI chat bot to figure out those three things based on your own sales playbook for your company. And once we have that component done, we kind of handed off to a real-life human sales agent which will be your sales rep. So, we don't sit in a space where we go you know we're going to use AI to get rid of all sales people, but we actually say that no you know there is a space for AI, there is a space for real sales people. There's a because sales are a very high touch in a lot of industries very high touch. Oh absolutely. You know process, so we want to argument  that process and we want to help the sales people be more productive and more efficient.

Manseeb Khan: Right. So, I mean you guys are pretty much helping a lot of slack time when it comes to just like building a list prospecting, calling and everything you guys are just literally helping streamline that a little bit more.

Asad Naeem: Absolutely, absolutely. All the mundane admin tasks basically the salespeople and they just absolutely hate. Exactly. And that's not their forte. No not at all. Right now, I'm here to sell, I'm not here to put everything in my CRM and make double check and make sure what stage of the sales cycle their on. oh man.

Asad Naeem: At the end of the day if you look at it some sales people are especially high value industries like finance and you know even car sales. Yeah you know there are six figure employees. Absolutely. And then if you're expecting as a company that you're a six-figure employee to be doing admin tasks scraping LinkedIn and all that other stuff their value is really in being able to do that consultation process not do data mining right. But then what happens is companies started to realize this. So now they have you know SDR, as they have L.D. which is lead development reps and now you're paying these people 30 40 thousand dollars a year just to sit there and scraping lists, you know emailing back and forth to figure out if there's interest. Yeah this can be automated. And that's where we come from. And that's our perspective that you know hey let's get your people to do more high valued asked leave the mundane admin tasks to machines essential.

Manseeb Khan: So, I guess what's how do you see the trajectory from here?

Asad Naeem: So right now, you know where we're focused on finance, we're focused on some of the other high value nurses as well. We recently started expanding out. we're doing you know car dealership, we're doing you know automotive companies were doing, you know merchant accounts like alternative to finance things like that but eventually all of us you know like were our aim is to see how this solution fits in organically into other industries and slowly get there. But right now, we're very niche we're very focused because as you can imagine in a building any natural language understanding models you know industries being industry specific helps us because I come from finance, Omar my business partner comes from finance as well. So, we understand the language that's being spoken. Of course, you can train our models based on that as well.

Manseeb Khan: So, I guess how easily you integrate with the current CRM system like the HubSpot’s and the Salesforce is out there because you are seeing, out there that they are slowly trying to build their own model similar to you. How do you how you either integrating with them and how do you see yourself competing with them?

Asad Naeem: So right now, I wouldn't say we are competitors, so CRM I say you know we a more of an asset. Exactly it is more of an asset we hook in. If you look at any CRM system even if you look at HubSpot like HubSpot started out it was very pure it was very minimalist right I mean and you look at it today it's got all these different angles it's got a chat bot it's got a meeting scheduling thing just becoming very big and they're doing a lot of things. So, I haven't seen a direct focus for any of the CRM you know manufacturers right now that are going strictly down the path of just automating conversations using you know natural language understanding and processing. So, we're basically a perfect shoe in and we are  compliment to that strategy. We're not looking to replace a CRM we're looking to enrich the data that's already in there and basically anything else that you put in you know the qualification portion of it we want to handle it.

Manseeb Khan: No, I love that that's very comforting for a lot of the business owners out there knowing that. So, I mean given being AI it's an it's a brand new, it's a very disruptive industry and it's a brand new disruptive potential market. Just saying that you guys are just going to supplement everything else such as a breath of fresh air.

Asad Naeem: Oh absolutely. Absolutely we're not we're not of the mindset you know we're going to replace humans or we're going to you know destroy industries or whatever the case is you know we look at AI as something that can be used for good and you know it can be used to make people's lives easier as technology is supposed to do. Technically you know, and this is where our mindset comes from that we want to use AI and machine learning to help people be more efficient more productive and also just to help companies be more efficient more productive as well.

Manseeb Khan: Right. Right. I mean I can even see that the case of like just having thousands of data sets of sales like you guys could even like potentially pivotal actual sales learning platform. Absolutely right. Just like Hey these are the car dealerships these are everything. like these are the case studies, there are of all the potential objections that you are going to have, this is how you handle them all that kind of stuff, so the potential is there. It's definitely incredible.

Asad Naeem: Yeah absolutely. Building sales playbooks. That's a separate industry. Oh yeah no I mean there's organizations out there you can hire right now that look at your product, who you're selling to your target market. Build sales playbooks for you right. Yeah. So yeah hopefully. I mean that's our primary focus for sure is focused on what we're doing. But you never know what the future holds.

Manseeb Khan: No absolutely agree with you. I'm going to pass this off to you, so I guess you're in the space right. What about AI truly excites you?

Asad Naeem: Oh, the possibilities, the possibilities. Right. I mean we look at we look at natural language processing and  that's the least that I'm really interested in right. It's the we have the understanding component down packed like we can understand intent. we can extract you know what is it that somebody sort of say what is the intention behind it and we can't even go as far down as you know looking at what are the emotional cues, and somebody is writing. okay. You have a great company here in the DMZ shoot out to Trualt. You know they do they do emotional analysis on text. So, you know things like that but where we haven't been able to make a big breakthrough is the generation component. So right now, and you know like if somebody is going you know we use to generate e-mails, or we use to do generate text. Yes and no at the same time it's very vague and it's also a lot of it is template based. Yeah right. It's decision trees they're going OK if somebody says this. This is the intent, you know be extracted out you know use this template to reply back whereas organic language generation. It's still very nascent it's still in the labs, is very academic in its pursuit. So, we're not there yet. I want to see the possibilities of when that occurs where machines are able to communicate back you know organically without using any templates or you know any pre-determined schema in terms of how and what to say. That would be very interesting. I mean aside from that I'm a big fan of computer vision. I think there's tons of possibilities out there. There's a lot of great stuff happening right now. For example, you know crop analysis that's going on there's a new just we're just reading up on it recently as well. There's a company there's a new start up that basically  that that's building computer vision AI to help when people get lost in the woods to help you know like firefighters and forest rangers and things like that to be able to locate people so there's a lot of interesting stuff happening. I mean this is just the tip of the iceberg there's this stuff happening in mining there's stuff happening, and you know like pollution prevention you know doing surveying all sorts of different things. So, computer vision is also very, very interesting.

Manseeb Khan: So, I guess how you see. I mean or just AI sales in general how fundamental do you think it is when it comes to AI business?

Asad Naeem: The thing is deploying AI is becoming kind of a priority for a lot of big enterprises and big businesses. And you know I think sales is an untapped market when it comes to machine learning and being able to learn from historical transactions, online, retail sales you know sales campaigns, marketing campaigns. So slowly we're going to see a lot of activity in this space. Marketing is already kind of seeing it. You know there's a lot of great companies out there that are basically deploying AI to fine tune and help you really personalize the marketing that you're doing. But slowly you're going to see it happening in sales, direct sales as well and whether it's inbound , outbound or whatever it is you need to find people for your business to sell too. Of course. You need to qualify them right. Right now, that is a very human, very labor-intensive job. So eventually I see it being a space where machines excel. where they help you find the people, qualify them and then you know once the actual sales process kicks off a human agent takes on and is able to basically close that process. So, the end result here is that you're going to compress your sales cycles. You're going to make sales more efficient and you know you're going to make your entire organization more efficient because of that.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah and you're going to have a lot of more harder numbers to work off of.  because that's a very tricky thing about sales because since it is so labor intensive and since it's the human error when it comes to sales it's so astronomically high. And it's also laziness, too right? I mean yeah no absolutely, no I absolutely agree with you there just like again like we talked about just manually inputting everything into the CRM it's like OK I emailed them back, it's third touch booking a call-in next Thursday at 4 and let's  see how it goes. And then we just wait.

Asad Naeem: Absolutely dude there's a lot of research out there that says you've got to reach out to your potential prospect like five to seven times, like five to seven touch points and I'm a salesperson. Yeah so have you. I mean how many times can you honestly say that you did seven touch points. It's a lot of work. It's a huge emotional toll too because you're if your hearing no's all day. oh, my goodness. Yeah. The twenty or the twenty fifth or the fiftieth. No, it's like you cringe a little bit. Yes.

Manseeb Khan: So, I mean especially during the day. Right. Depends like you mentioned car dealerships. Right. Like cold calling 150 people if not more. And it just here. No, no ,no, no, no. It's definitely gets to like cleaning that out. cleaning process out definitely it's going to make it a lot streamline a lot more  easier. I mean you guys are not even like what a year and a half year old. Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean what is the next five years a Fortuna to look like for you and the company?

Asad Naeem: Yeah absolutely. So, like you said you know we're still a very young company so we're in the throes of you know full blown product development now. we had our version one you which the market was  really receptive to. You know we've had the fortune  of being you know revenue positive since day one, since we launched you know where we're making money as well. So  it's a very exciting time to be because we're really taking the feedback that we're getting from our initial batch of clients and fine tuning the product making sure we're you know adding features that there's an actual market demand for and just basically making sure that it's a seamless experience for the sales teams that were getting on boarded and even the individual sales people that we have right now you know they just having a good experience. So right now, we're fully focused on building a product that our customers love and that our customers and our clients are recommending to their friends and they're the people that they have in their network. So that is the short-term goal right now. The next five years honestly it can go a lot of different ways but what  we're aiming at is we're growing our team really rapidly you know 11 people right now the company. But a we're probably going to double by mid-2019. So, you know we're full blown aiming at making sure that we're doing all the right things for our customers making sure that you know our product is on point. And then also just making sure that we're helping as many sales professionals and sales teams as possible you know reduce the workload become more efficient become more productive and hopefully in the next five years you know you can you can hear us as a household name helping sales out everywhere and you know cutting down on the manual boring admin stuff that a lot of sales guys have to do.

Manseeb Khan: I'm very excited of like just more of a personal stand point like from a salesman to a salesman like I'm very excited to like oh thank god like. hey me too you. You're saving I mean the countless number of hours of just you're going to be saving it's just again it's astronomical. Absolutely. Really is it just like it just going to make sales so much more. Salesperson you really use this term lightly because much easier. Oh yeah for sure. And it just a lot more stress-less and just like streamlined right.

Asad Naeem: I mean as long as sales is it going to be hard. even once you qualify somebody there's a lot of you know nuances that go into actually closing the sale. So, it's always going to be hard but as long as we can make the the front-end grunt work a little bit easier and you know at least taken us somewhat off the shoulders of the actual sales people. It gives them the flexibility to be able to focus more on the actual sales process and then being able to you know really being consultative and helping rather than you know just rushing through everything and trying to get to the next guy right. So, the aim really here is that we want to make sure that sales is as it stays as human as it possibly can. But at the same time, you know removing everything that is mundane and basically admin work that that can be automated.

Manseeb Khan: This is probably more of a nitty gritty question but like when it comes to qualifications and just building your models. What is your data sets look like, like where are you really pulling it from and ideally where do you want to start pulling from to get even more tactical data to work with?

Asad Naeem: Yeah absolutely. So right now, presently we're building all our data sets our self because I mean we started out by running the entire sales process for us manually. You know this is this is before we had a product, we were basically kept a record of every communication we've sent out. All emails all, the you know like social media messages whatever it is the response is we've had we've had them tagged internally because we have, we've been lucky enough to work with a with a very brilliant data scientist as well. And she's helped us. You know tag this data, clean this data, and built our models on top of it. So, you know right now we're generating our own data sets and also our clients for the first batch that signed up with us and even the second batch sent out with us. They're helping us build some of these models on as well because you know they've given us permission to use some of the data anonymized obviously to see what the sales process looks like what types of objections you get. What does a rejection look like? What does an ambiguous response look like. So, figuring out are all of these things where we would hope we could get more data is basically you know doing a partnership with a larger organization that has a very heavy focus on sales which I would think it would be every organization. Yeah no. I mean ideally every business should be focusing on sales. Exactly. And then being able to see some of the sales campaigns they have run, and you know using that transactional data essentially to be able to better our models because the more data we can feed into our model they just make the model so much about exact. Yeah exactly. It's a data play

Manseeb Khan: 100 percent is a data plan that's I'm glad you guys realize that. I mean it's a sales thing right. Exactly. It's a numbers game. All it is a numbers game. Law of Averages really. So, Assad. So just to quickly wrap this up would be the best way for people to either contact you Fortuna. Do we e-mail you? Do we tweet you? Do I send you a snapchat? What would be the best way to contact you?

Asad Naeem: Yeah absolutely. If anybody wants to get a hold get in touch with us. Just go to Fortuna.ai. So that's www.fortuna.ai, I just contact us there or you can just directly email me, my e-mail is asad@fortuna.ai.

Manseeb Khan:  Asad thank you so much for again sitting down with me today. I mean this is this has been a very fun conversation  I mean salesmen on other salesmen. And again, I'm very excited for your trajectory you guys are definitely inbounds of doing really incredible things.

Asad Naeem: Thanks so much. Appreciate it. Thanks for your time.

Manseeb Khan: Absolutely man cheers. So, on the behalf of Canada's leading international fintech and crowdfunding association. I wish you an amazing fintech Friday and weekend.

Outro : you've been listening to fintech Fridays brought to you by NCFA and partners. Tune in weekly for the latest fintech Friday podcast by subscribing to this channel. The National crowdfunding and FinTech Association of Canada is a non-profit actively engaged with social and investment fintech sectors around the globe and provide education research industry stewardship services and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers. For more information please visit and see if a Canada dot org. Oh yea.

 

End of Podcast

 

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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!

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

 


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, 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


NEXT WEEK! DON'T MISS IT SEE YOU IN VANCOUVER
LAST CHANCE FOR TIX


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CBC News | Nov 23, 2018 More than 3,000 people contributed to campaign to buy new installation from renowned Japanese artist LET'S SURVIVE FOREVER. That's the name of the infinity mirrored room the Art Gallery of Ontario plans to purchase from world-renowned artist Yayoi Kusama — that is, if its crowdfunding campaign is successful. And yes, it's always spelled in all-caps, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) said. Over 3,000 people have already chipped in a contribution to permanently acquire the brand new Kusama installation, even though they hadn't seen it until now. The AGO said its campaign has brought in around half of the $1.3 million it needs to buy the work, but it's hoping more people donate on next week's "Giving Tuesday," a day devoted to donations following "Black Friday" shopping. Here's a look inside the room: The major installation, which will be given a special place at the downtown Toronto gallery, features mirrored orbs on the ground and suspended from the ceiling — similar to the work Narcissus Garden, which dominated a large room in the AGO during last year's ultra-popular Kusama exhibit. There's also a mirrored rectangular column inside the LED-lit room, which creates what's said to feel like an infinity room inside an infinity room ...
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Art Gallery of Ontario shows off the Yayoi Kusama infinity room it's crowdfunding to buy
CNBC | Eric C. Jansen, president and chief investment officer of Finivi | Oct 31, 2018 The many big companies disrupted by blockchain have now made it a priority to harness this technology. Large firms such as Accenture, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft are developing patented products and services based on blockchain's digital-ledger open-source technology that can be accessed and adapted by anyone. Ironically, the whole raison d'etre of blockchain is to circumvent the very type of centralized authority these traditional tech companies represent. Development efforts in both private and public blockchain are seeking to forge new business models. As is typically the case when faced with disruption, large companies are seeking to defend their territory by adopting the very tool that threatens them. With blockchain there's a lot at stake. The global market for blockchain-related products and services is about $700 million and is projected to exceed $60 billion annually in 2024, according to Wintergreen Research. Among the big corporate blockchain players are Accenture, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft. These firms are developing products and services based on blockchain's digital-ledger open-source technology that can be accessed and adapted by anyone. Blockchain enables global transactions between parties without going through ...
Read More
Blockchain's potential will continue to spur public and private investment
CFO Innovation | by Eric Cheung, Unit4 Asia Pacific | March 15, 2018 The world as we know it is changing. Rapid technological advancements are altering industries and creating new market opportunities. As the business world accelerates towards what arguably is looking like an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) economy, the next few years will be pivotal for finance departments in making the transformations necessary to update their service offerings and deliver service excellence. Several trends are converging over the next few years that could set the stage for a service-economy shift that will keep CFOs more than ever in the driving seat. This year, 2018, may turn out to be an important turning point for the finance function as three disruptive technologies begin to be widely adopted – as the finance function of Unit4 Asia Pacific, which I lead as CFO, is finding out. In the finance function, we are developing blockchain-enabled distributed ledgers that we plan to link to our Unit4 Financials single-ledger system in 2018 Blockchain and Self-Driving Finance As the foundation of cryptocurrencies, blockchain has already played a vital role in next-generation finance tools. It is also gaining traction in a wide range of industries across Asia Pacific. In ...
Read More
A Tech CFO on Three Disruptive Technologies Transforming Finance
Cointlegraph | By Marie Huillet | Nov 20, 2018 The cryptocurrency market crash has eased pressure on the U.K.’s financial regulator to introduce hasty new rules for the sector, Reuters reported Nov. 20. As Reuters outlines, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had been pressed to expedite new regulation for the rapidly growing crypto space, raising the risk of a heavy-handed approach that could impede investment and stifle development. Now that the sector has settled, government officials and FCA representatives indicate they will be taking more time to fine-tune the balance between investor protection and fostering financial innovation. See:  House Finance Committee Urges Canadian Government to Regulate Cryptocurrencies Speaking at a conference dedicated to crypto regulation in London yesterday, Nov 20., Gillian Dorner, deputy director for financial services at Britain’s finance ministry, said: “We want to take the time to look at that in a bit more depth and make sure we take a proportionate approach.” British regulators reportedly told the conference they are analyzing over 2,000 crypto assets to see whether they can be regulated under existing rules before considering whether reform might be necessary. Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s executive director for strategy and competition, is quoted as saying ...
Read More
Crypto Bear Market Gives UK Regulators Breathing Space to Finalize Crypto Regulation
Crowdfund Insider | Cali Haan | Nov 19, 2018 After holding a series of 18 meetings to review Canada’s Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA), the House Finance Committee has recommended that the Government of Canada regulate cryptocurrency businesses to prevent criminal use, iPolitics reports. The committee has been conducting meetings to review PCMLTFA laws since February, something required of at least one parliamentary committee every five years. See:  OSC introduces new cryptoasset educational tools The committee has heard from over 70 expert witnesses since it started the review last February, including representatives from the financial advisory firm IJW & Co. and the law firm Durand Morisseau LLP, both of which submitted 65-page reports. In its report to the government, the committee said that both firms warned: “(I)n the absence of some degree of regulatory oversight, cryptocurrency transactions may be used by parties to swiftly move large amounts of wealth across borders.” The committee said that its three recommendations to parliament accorded with those suggested by the firms: Cryptocurrency exchanges handling crypto-to-fiat conversions must be legally classed as money services businesses (MSBs), which are required to follow strict financial-reporting guidelines, “…in compliance with the PCMLTFA.” Cryptocurrency exchanges should be licensed ...
Read More
House Finance Committee Urges Canadian Government to Regulate Cryptocurrencies
NCFA Canada | Nov 16, 2018 JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY. Ep18-Nov 16:  Bridging the AML/ATF Gap with Financial Institutions and the New Economy About this episode:   On this episode, NCFA Fintech Fridays host Manseeb Khan sits down with Charlene Cieslik the Chief Anti-Money Laundering Officer at Coinsquare. They talk about not everyone using crypto is a terrorist, regulatory uncertainty, cape shopping and guidance in the crypto space. Enjoy! Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host Guest:  CHARLENE CIESLIK, Chief AML Officer, Coinsquare (view Linkedin) Bio:  Charlene Cieslik is the Chief Anti Money Laundering Officer of Coinsquare, Canada's most secure digital asset exchange for buying bitcoin, ethereum, and other digital currencies.  During her 20-year career, Charlene has held roles as the Chief Compliance Officer, Chief Anti-Money Laundering Officer, Chief Anti-Bribery Officer, and Chief Privacy Officer at several Canadian and Foreign scheduled banks, where she was responsible for the development, remediation, and execution of AML/ATF, anti-bribery, regulatory, and privacy programs.  Charlene has worked with several “Big 4” accounting firms and a Canadian fintech company, where she has assisted global financial institutions with AML/ATF program development, particularly with post-regulatory exam remediation and AML/ATF investigations. Charlene holds a Master’s degree ...
Read More
FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.18-Nov 16): Bridging the AML/ATF Gap with Financial Institutions and the New Economy with Charlene Cieslik, Chief AML Officer, Coinsquare

 

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Innovative tech is shaping the future of financial services

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BNN Bloomberg | November 9, 2018

#VF2018 promises to be a comprehensive overview of emerging technologies and alternative financing options

  • The #VF2018 Conference features blockchain, AI, fintech, funding innovations, and alternative finance options for investors and businesses
  • This year’s theme, CONVERGE, engages participants and builds bridges across the most disruptive emerging technologies
  • Immersive educational content, over 50 speakers, and a multitude of networking and partnership opportunities

The 2018 VanFUNDING Conference comes at a perfect time for investors and enthusiasts alike to dive into the vast world of fintech, blockchain, artificial intelligence, digital banking, and much more. Held at Parq Vancouver from November 29-30, this event promises to be the epitome of innovation and knowledge.

Emerging, Disruptive Technologies

Our world is undergoing a period of unprecedented change, especially when it comes to emerging technologies in the financial realm. For instance, we have seen how AI has been adopted into various industries where it powers chatbots and self-driven vehicles. We have also seen how digital commerce has been at the forefront of eliminating the need for paper. Most importantly, we have come to the clear realization that blockchain’s momentum is not slowing down anytime soon and that its capabilities for revolutionizing the financial industry go beyond merely eliminating the “middleman.”

The VanFUNDING 2018 Vancouver Conference comes at a perfect time for investors and capital market participants to learn more about these burgeoning technologies, which together make up the future of finance and other key industries in our modern world.

Apart from the major news that we have heard about blockchain, the advancement of AI projects has been paramount in efforts to further automate work processes and mitigate human error and oversight. With the power to improve fraud detection, enhance financial management, and generate unique trading strategies through historical data observation, the potential here is limitless.

As NCFA CEO, Craig Asano states, “We are witnessing unprecedented change that is already affecting our daily lives — how we interact with financial services, generate digital wealth, invest, evaluate, consume, vote, store, transfer, and purchase anything of value.” With this in mind, it is clear that the need for comprehensive, educational fintech events has never been higher.

In order to provide a holistic analysis of these emergent technologies, #VF2018 will boast workshops, presentations, and mentorship opportunities to encompass the breadth and depth of knowledge these essential topics necessitate. The focus of the conference will be to provide immersive educational content, highlighted by over 50 expert speakers and abundant networking possibilities for attendees, while also providing a pitching platform for emerging players to connect with investors and scale their profile.

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Toufi Saliba, CEO, TODA Network is a pillar in industry helping blockchain technologies achieve massive scale.

Building Bridges

In addition to helping companies understand the best practices of raising capital in public and private markets, the conference will also build bridges between these technologies that are empowering our markets. For instance, what are the key connections between blockchain and AI? How can FinTech utilize blockchain to overhaul obsolete banking systems? How can blockchain make our payments and wealth more secure? What are the technical impediments to mass adoption? These are just a few of the pertinent questions #VF2018 will set out to address.

Moreover, the past year has been especially saturated with news about blockchain’s capabilities and its potential to vastly alter traditional financial ecosystems. The technology has shown immense potential to push us closer towards a utopian financial world, but as Toufi Saliba, CEO of Toda, notes, “The global penetration of [this technology] is less than 0.2 per cent, of which, the vast majority of blockchains are scams.” While individuals should remain cautious about fraudulent businesses that have arisen from people looking to cash in on the hype, Saliba explains that the next wave of blockchain adoption and utilization will be “like a tsunami, [where] you can partake in what's yet to be the most disruptive technology in human history, or ignore it and get disrupted."

To echo and expand on Saliba’s thoughts, over 1,200 blockchain patent applications were filed in 2017, up from 594 in 2016 — many of these applications were submitted by blue-chip financial institutions like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and others.

What’s Next

Overall, #VF2018 is set up to be a tremendously apropos event for the modern world. The global fintech realm continues to experience disruption on a daily basis via modern technologies such as blockchain and AI. The innovations of today could become antiquated as soon as tomorrow, given the rate at which these technologies are evolving. As such, the demand for immersive, educational content that examines these emerging technologies and their future outlook has skyrocketed. Events such as #VF2018 are essentially acting as a portal into the future, where attendees can stay ahead of the curve to pragmatically anticipate what tomorrow will bring.

To get tickets to this event, click here.

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UK banks publish fintech collaboration toolkit

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Finextra | Nov 7, 2018

A collective of top UK banks and and financial technology firms have helped to craft a set of guidelines designed to improve engagement between fintech startups and financial institutions.

The new guidelines have been developed by the British Standards Institute through sponsorship from the government-backed Fintech Delivery Panel as part of HM Treasury’s Fintech Sector Strategy.

The document has been jointly created by the UK’s top retail banks - Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, HSBC UK, Lloyds Banking Group, and Santander - and vendors, such as MarketInvoice, The ID Co., and iwoca, with the aim of addressing the issues that prevent fintechs and financial institutions from becoming successful allies.

The Publicly Available Specification - PAS 201:2018 - will be freely available not only to the 1,600 fintech companies currently operating in the UK but also to those international startups wanting to engage with UK-based financial institutions.

See:  Fintech Reports and Research

The PAS provides a number of pointers for companies to bear in mind when pitching to banks, and an explanation of both the commercial considerations and the necessary checks and controls that need to be satisfied to meet business and regulatory demands. This includes recommendations on preparation, data gathering, due-diligence, on-boarding, commercial and contractual processes, as well as data protection and information security considerations.

John Glen MP, economic secretary to the Treasury says "We need to make it as easy as possible for newcomers to collaborate with the bigger players. That’s why we helped to set up the Fintech Delivery Panel, and thanks to the guidelines published today the industry will be able to work closer together, benefiting customers across the country.”

MarketInvoice, which struck a deal with Barclays Bank to roll out its online invoicing platform to the bank's SME client base earlier this year, says the guidelines provide a lot of learnings for startups to marshal their relationships with banking partners.

Anil Stocker, CEO and co-founder at MarketInvoice, says:

"There is a lot of guidance that can really help young fintechs. For me, culture is key.

Continue to the full article --> here

Download the toolkit and guidelines --> Now

 


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, 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


NEXT WEEK! DON'T MISS IT SEE YOU IN VANCOUVER
LAST CHANCE FOR TIX


Coindesk | Nikhilesh De | Nov 30, 2018 Members of VanEck, SolidX and the Cboe BZX Exchange met with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) staff earlier this week to present a new argument on why the bitcoin market is ready for an exchange-traded fund (ETF). In the latest push to convince the regulator to approve a rule change which would open the door for the country’s first bitcoin ETF, the three firms met with the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, Division of Trading and Markets, Division of Economic and Risk Analysis and Office of General Counsel. Notably, Monday’s effort differed from previous presentations, which took more of a regulatory focus. See:  OSC approves Canada’s first blockchain ETF Instead, the proponents’ argument centered around the idea that the bitcoin market is mature enough to support an ETF, and at present looks similar to markets for other assets which already have such products. The presentation gave several examples of assets that already have ETFs, including crude oil, silver and gold. The presentation specifically tied the idea of futures markets with spot markets, noting that for money substitutes such as gold and silver, this connection between the two can be proven with empirical ...
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Bitcoin ETF Seekers Met With SEC Monday In Latest Pitch for Approval
Investment Executive | By James Langton | Nov 23, 2018 Many hurdles remain for the CMRA before it becomes a reality Canada’s regulatory landscape faces a transformation as politics, shifting priorities and new legal realities push the investment industry’s overseers in new directions. Most obviously, the prospect of a fundamental reshaping of the regulatory framework in Canada now is, at least, a possibility – given the Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) long-awaited decision on Nov. 9, which reversed a lower court’s ruling in Quebec, that declared that a proposed federal/provincial model for a co-operative capital markets regulator is constitutional. But while this decision knocks down a basic legal obstacle for the new model for overseeing the securities industry, that doesn’t mean that the adoption of a co-operative regulator is imminent – or even inevitable. Indeed, the SCC’s decision hints at the significance of the hurdles that still must be cleared before the proposed Capital Markets Regulatory Authority (CMRA) can become a reality in Canada. Although the SCC has found that the proposed CMRA model is constitutional, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good idea. “It’s up to the provinces to determine whether participation is in their best interests,” the ...
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Not yet a done deal
Forbes | Lawrence Wintermeyer | Dec 2, 2018 If your professional interests take you to the crossroads of financial services, regulation, compliance, and digital - especially data analytics and machine learning - which altogether is known as regtech, you are in the right place. You are part of statistically small and very geek-oriented professional community, but you know this, and though you might choose not to admit this to strangers at this year's festive parties for fear of causing great pain by boredom, you are in good company with this Contributor and my interviewee. I first met Jo Ann Barefoot when I was chairing the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Industry Sandbox Consultation, where she provided excellent guidance and insights. Jo Ann is one of the most dedicated and busiest advocates of the regtech space on the planet and is truly outstanding in both her knowledge and passion in this area. She dedicates her time to a number of global bodies and initiatives related to regtech: she is a Senior Fellow Emerita at the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Business & Government, a Senior Advisor to the Omidyar network, sits on the fintech advisory committee for FINRA, is an Executive Board Member of the International RegTech ...
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A Regulation Revolution In Financial Services
NCFA Canada | Nov 23, 2018 JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY. Ep19-Nov 23:  Future of Business Tokenization - How Blockchain Challenges Concept of Money About this episode:   On this episode, NCFA Fintech Friday's host Manseeb Khan sits down with Alan Wunsche the CEO of TokenFunder. They chat about ICO's funding startups, tokenization of businesses and buying real estate through tokens. Enjoy! The future of business tokenization How tokenization is going to disrupt real estate and auto industry How blockchain challenges the concept of money Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host Guest:  ALAN WUNSCHE, Founder and CEO, TokenFunder (view Linkedin) Bio:  Alan Wunsche is CEO & Chief Token Officer of TokenFunder, a regulatory-compliant blockchain venture funding platform with Ontario's first regulated Initial Token Offering. He is also Chair & Co-Founder of Blockchain Canada, a Canadian federal not-for-profit corporation with a mission to connect Canadian Blockchain Innovators and to help Canada be a leader in blockchain technology. Alan is a finance technologist focused on new blockchain business models and the disruptive impacts of blockchain on global wealth distribution. He brings hands-on technology experience as a finance and risk transformation executive at a global bank (Scotiabank), management consulting (Deloitte, PwC), and ...
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FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.19-Nov 23):  Future of Business Tokenization - How Blockchain Challenges Concept of Money with Alan Wunsche, Founder and CEO, Token Funder
CBC News | Nov 23, 2018 More than 3,000 people contributed to campaign to buy new installation from renowned Japanese artist LET'S SURVIVE FOREVER. That's the name of the infinity mirrored room the Art Gallery of Ontario plans to purchase from world-renowned artist Yayoi Kusama — that is, if its crowdfunding campaign is successful. And yes, it's always spelled in all-caps, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) said. Over 3,000 people have already chipped in a contribution to permanently acquire the brand new Kusama installation, even though they hadn't seen it until now. The AGO said its campaign has brought in around half of the $1.3 million it needs to buy the work, but it's hoping more people donate on next week's "Giving Tuesday," a day devoted to donations following "Black Friday" shopping. Here's a look inside the room: The major installation, which will be given a special place at the downtown Toronto gallery, features mirrored orbs on the ground and suspended from the ceiling — similar to the work Narcissus Garden, which dominated a large room in the AGO during last year's ultra-popular Kusama exhibit. There's also a mirrored rectangular column inside the LED-lit room, which creates what's said to feel like an infinity room inside an infinity room ...
Read More
Art Gallery of Ontario shows off the Yayoi Kusama infinity room it's crowdfunding to buy
CNBC | Eric C. Jansen, president and chief investment officer of Finivi | Oct 31, 2018 The many big companies disrupted by blockchain have now made it a priority to harness this technology. Large firms such as Accenture, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft are developing patented products and services based on blockchain's digital-ledger open-source technology that can be accessed and adapted by anyone. Ironically, the whole raison d'etre of blockchain is to circumvent the very type of centralized authority these traditional tech companies represent. Development efforts in both private and public blockchain are seeking to forge new business models. As is typically the case when faced with disruption, large companies are seeking to defend their territory by adopting the very tool that threatens them. With blockchain there's a lot at stake. The global market for blockchain-related products and services is about $700 million and is projected to exceed $60 billion annually in 2024, according to Wintergreen Research. Among the big corporate blockchain players are Accenture, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft. These firms are developing products and services based on blockchain's digital-ledger open-source technology that can be accessed and adapted by anyone. Blockchain enables global transactions between parties without going through ...
Read More
Blockchain's potential will continue to spur public and private investment
CFO Innovation | by Eric Cheung, Unit4 Asia Pacific | March 15, 2018 The world as we know it is changing. Rapid technological advancements are altering industries and creating new market opportunities. As the business world accelerates towards what arguably is looking like an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) economy, the next few years will be pivotal for finance departments in making the transformations necessary to update their service offerings and deliver service excellence. Several trends are converging over the next few years that could set the stage for a service-economy shift that will keep CFOs more than ever in the driving seat. This year, 2018, may turn out to be an important turning point for the finance function as three disruptive technologies begin to be widely adopted – as the finance function of Unit4 Asia Pacific, which I lead as CFO, is finding out. In the finance function, we are developing blockchain-enabled distributed ledgers that we plan to link to our Unit4 Financials single-ledger system in 2018 Blockchain and Self-Driving Finance As the foundation of cryptocurrencies, blockchain has already played a vital role in next-generation finance tools. It is also gaining traction in a wide range of industries across Asia Pacific. In ...
Read More
A Tech CFO on Three Disruptive Technologies Transforming Finance
Cointlegraph | By Marie Huillet | Nov 20, 2018 The cryptocurrency market crash has eased pressure on the U.K.’s financial regulator to introduce hasty new rules for the sector, Reuters reported Nov. 20. As Reuters outlines, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had been pressed to expedite new regulation for the rapidly growing crypto space, raising the risk of a heavy-handed approach that could impede investment and stifle development. Now that the sector has settled, government officials and FCA representatives indicate they will be taking more time to fine-tune the balance between investor protection and fostering financial innovation. See:  House Finance Committee Urges Canadian Government to Regulate Cryptocurrencies Speaking at a conference dedicated to crypto regulation in London yesterday, Nov 20., Gillian Dorner, deputy director for financial services at Britain’s finance ministry, said: “We want to take the time to look at that in a bit more depth and make sure we take a proportionate approach.” British regulators reportedly told the conference they are analyzing over 2,000 crypto assets to see whether they can be regulated under existing rules before considering whether reform might be necessary. Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s executive director for strategy and competition, is quoted as saying ...
Read More
Crypto Bear Market Gives UK Regulators Breathing Space to Finalize Crypto Regulation
Crowdfund Insider | Cali Haan | Nov 19, 2018 After holding a series of 18 meetings to review Canada’s Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA), the House Finance Committee has recommended that the Government of Canada regulate cryptocurrency businesses to prevent criminal use, iPolitics reports. The committee has been conducting meetings to review PCMLTFA laws since February, something required of at least one parliamentary committee every five years. See:  OSC introduces new cryptoasset educational tools The committee has heard from over 70 expert witnesses since it started the review last February, including representatives from the financial advisory firm IJW & Co. and the law firm Durand Morisseau LLP, both of which submitted 65-page reports. In its report to the government, the committee said that both firms warned: “(I)n the absence of some degree of regulatory oversight, cryptocurrency transactions may be used by parties to swiftly move large amounts of wealth across borders.” The committee said that its three recommendations to parliament accorded with those suggested by the firms: Cryptocurrency exchanges handling crypto-to-fiat conversions must be legally classed as money services businesses (MSBs), which are required to follow strict financial-reporting guidelines, “…in compliance with the PCMLTFA.” Cryptocurrency exchanges should be licensed ...
Read More
House Finance Committee Urges Canadian Government to Regulate Cryptocurrencies
NCFA Canada | Nov 16, 2018 JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY. Ep18-Nov 16:  Bridging the AML/ATF Gap with Financial Institutions and the New Economy About this episode:   On this episode, NCFA Fintech Fridays host Manseeb Khan sits down with Charlene Cieslik the Chief Anti-Money Laundering Officer at Coinsquare. They talk about not everyone using crypto is a terrorist, regulatory uncertainty, cape shopping and guidance in the crypto space. Enjoy! Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host Guest:  CHARLENE CIESLIK, Chief AML Officer, Coinsquare (view Linkedin) Bio:  Charlene Cieslik is the Chief Anti Money Laundering Officer of Coinsquare, Canada's most secure digital asset exchange for buying bitcoin, ethereum, and other digital currencies.  During her 20-year career, Charlene has held roles as the Chief Compliance Officer, Chief Anti-Money Laundering Officer, Chief Anti-Bribery Officer, and Chief Privacy Officer at several Canadian and Foreign scheduled banks, where she was responsible for the development, remediation, and execution of AML/ATF, anti-bribery, regulatory, and privacy programs.  Charlene has worked with several “Big 4” accounting firms and a Canadian fintech company, where she has assisted global financial institutions with AML/ATF program development, particularly with post-regulatory exam remediation and AML/ATF investigations. Charlene holds a Master’s degree ...
Read More
FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.18-Nov 16): Bridging the AML/ATF Gap with Financial Institutions and the New Economy with Charlene Cieslik, Chief AML Officer, Coinsquare

 

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FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.15-Oct 26): Gearing up Hyperion Exchange, Hybrid Models and Security Tokens with Michael Zavet, CEO and Founder, Hyperion Technologies

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NCFA Canada | Oct 26, 2018

Ep15-Oct 26:  Gearing up with Hyperion Exchange, Hybrid Models and Security Tokens

About this episode:   On this episode, our NCFA Fintech Fridays host Manseeb Khan sit's down with Michael Zavet the CEO of Hyperion Exchange a crypto securities exchange. They talked about the importance of security token offerings( STO), how to regulate STOs, and the potential marriage of cannabis and crypto. Enjoy! (see Transcript)

Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host

Guest:  MICHAEL ZAVET, Founder and CEO, Hyperion Technologies Inc. (LinkedIn)

Bio:  Michael Zavet is a serial entrepreneur with a track record of success. Coming from the lucrative but challenging real estate development industry, Michael executed over $1,000,000,000 worth of real estate projects and in the process was groomed to think critically and be an aggressive negotiator. He went on to co-found one of Canada's most successful publicly traded Cannabis companies Emblem Corp (EMC.V) and several successful fintech startups. Michael was an early adopter of Cryptocurrencies and found success in the space having invested and advised in a number of high profile projects including Ethereum, HIVE, Polymath, Paycase, Global Blockchain and Shyft. He leveraged his success, vision, and unique relationships to assemble Hyperion – the future of Crypto and Securities trading.

 

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

Listen to more Fintech Fridays podcasts here

 


Transcription of Interview

Intro: Welcome fintech Friday's a weekly podcast brought to you by the National crowdfunding and FinTech Association of Canada and partners.Covering all things fintech block chain be AI and alternative finance.

Manseeb Khan: Hey everybody. How are you doing today. Manseeb Khan here and you are tuning in to Fintech  Fridays brought to you by Canada's National Fintech and Crowdfunding Association also known as the NCFA. Today I have an absolutely incredible guest if you guys are very versed in the industry might know who he is. We've got Michael Zavet from Hyperion Exchange. Michael thank you so much for sitting down with me today.

Michael Zavet: Thank you for having me.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah no absolutely. So just for the audience for I guess the three or four people that don't know who you are essentially what a company does. Could you just give us a little rundown of who you are and what Hyperion Exchange is ?

Michael Zavet:  I've been in the crypto space for about two years now I entered the space through sort of the lens of traditional finance. So, think all the issues that are kind of now becoming the focus of regulators and things like that I decided to look for certain solutions that involve sort of you know compliance first kind of model and that will lead me to establishing Hyperion as sort of a compliance first exchange. And what Hyperion is or aims be is a Crypto Securities Exchange. so, an exchange that offers STO's which would be similar to an IPO in essence.

Manseeb Khan: You guys like to call yourself a hybrid exchange right. Like you just mentioned  you want to focus a little bit more on security tokens and stable tokens could you talk a little bit more of what a hybrid exchange looks like to you guys and where you kind of see. Do you see this becoming more of a trend you see more companies going into what could you just talk a little bit more about that?

Michael Zavet: So as a hybrid exchange we're initially launching with you know sort of the traditional tokens that exist right now the Bitcoins and the Ethereum and other what are called utility tokens and the reason being that you know that that's where the market is today. But what we feel is going to happen is there is going to be this evolution of asset backed and tokenized securities and a lot of the ICOs that exist today. I mean in reality they actually are securities and took advantage of this time and framework that was very new, and regulators didn't understand in order to raise funds but we're seeing that is no longer than a fly and a lot of these projects are now being scrutinized. So, what we're seeing is that companies now  are being compliant offerings for what would be an STO. So, while we're launching with sort of the utility tokens that slipped by under the old framework we're aiming to start listing these new vehicles which would be STO.

Manseeb Khan:  Awesome so I guess this is more of a temporary shift and that hopefully like I mean everybody else in the space it just goes full exchange mode right. like it's not this Frankenstein kind of exchange.

Michael Zavet: I wouldn't say temporary. You know there's a huge appetite for the top market tokens and the reality of the space. So, we're going to take advantage of that and get investors they want. But I think that as the shift starts happening it will be very interesting to see the new products that that will arise.

Manseeb Khan: I've definitely covered some of the past episodes of essentially stable coins are secured coins are, but we've actually never really gotten depth for a second. Could you just give a little bit more of understanding why people in the industry it be  investors be it actually crypt verse people are kind of pushing for stable coins to security  coins compared to like this the quote unquote traditional ICOs.

Michael Zavet: Yes. So what stable coins I think well the main thing is when you're investing on an exchange you need something to sort of you know secure your investment so when you exit say and you take your gains from a bitcoin or any other token for example you a park them somewhere temporarily unless you're withdrawing them from the exchange which takes time right. And that's why there's this push stable coins because essentially you know the dollar value will be at par with currency that is stable coin represent so there's huge appetite for. And the other thing is that the first stable coin let's say Tether probably the first one or at least the most popular one that came out has now caught a lot of slack and is under scrutiny. So, this created opportunities for companies to produce their own stable coins and some have very creative methods. You know Tether was tied to USD. Even now we're seeing stable coins that are tied to gold and other products and there's a huge appetite. With regards to STO's what's happening with STO's essentially very similar to traditional security offerings in the United States. A lot of Reg-D offerings coming out as STOs as Reg CS possibly down the road Reg A plus and in Canada there will be an OSC compliant offering. So, what we're seeing is essentially a very similar path to raising equity for a traditional company except through tokenized vehicles . And the reason people do this is because they're opening up to the crypto investors and looking for other liquidity methods.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah no that beautifully goes into I guess the next question I was going to ask of you are actually seeing I mean being part of the startup space you're seeing a lot of startups actually consider instead of just going through the traditional either VC or angel investor route out there actually thinking of launching an ICO and just seeing how it goes there. Do you think. Do you see any stability when it comes to a company you see like a more of a permanent future of companies actually launching ICO's or do you think this is just a hype? Because Crypto and Blockchain and just everything has been very much hyped up for the past 18, 24 months. So, do you see this actually having a legit runway and companies are actually going to just go "nope we are just going to raise completely from ICO's".

Michael Zavet: I think that we're at a very critical kind of phase right now. The market's been bearish over the last while so their confidence has come down. I think that there's going to be an evolution definitely we're seeing a lot of projects now sail doing the ICO route. And that being that there were a lot of I would say non-legitimate companies or bad actors who took advantage of the hype and raised money and had to deliver no product. So, there is definitely a lot of investors that were left holding the bag so to speak. And that kind of painted a negative picture of the ICO in general. So, I think that it's be up to sort of the good actors as well as the regulators to produce good products that return value to investors in order to validate the method and the space in general. This sort of the critical time and that's yet to happen. I'm confident that it will but I think only time will tell. And you know on that note there have been a lot of amazing projects that have done ICOs successfully and have created a lot of value.

Manseeb Khan: It is again like  you have mentioned it's just a matter of time and like hopefully regulators either be the government, or I guess other third-party validators to hopefully see that "ok like there's actually some kind of validity to this". Do you see ICOs suppose replace IPOs in the future. If so what would be the benefits of it?

Michael Zavet: I think that could happen. What I see more likely is sort of a merger if the technology is adopted by major exchanges like Nasdaq in the world then I think that it would make sense to do sort of tokenized offerings. I mean even now you see the blockchain is used in a lot of ways that aren't necessarily user facing for example in the background. And the technology behind ICO or tokenized offering is that it makes sense over paper securities, traditional way right because it's a programmable unit which can be modified on the fly and it's a lot more adaptable. It's a lot more adaptable and it's essentially taking what we do now and stepping into the next level because paper securities  have not changed in hundred years. So, it's very possible that in the future every exchange will adopt the technology. But again, hard to say.

Manseeb Khan: Yes, because it's a very  I mean we've mentioned a couple times in the show that it's very much it's a grand experimentation and we're just kind of seeing what sticks or what doesn't stick, and it falls into like  what regulations looks like. Is crypto a  security, is it a commodity like what are we kind of classified as like what do whatever define it as we move forward to.

Michael Zavet:  That's exactly it and on that note a lot of the bigger institutional players are taking note. I mean we had a meeting with S&P recently and they have actually use CITS. So essentially, they're giving us the validation that we're looking for in other institutions turn off and then know it's stuff like this  builds good self-confidence for the space.

Manseeb Khan: I know we had  we mentioned like Galaxy digital a couple of times in the show. Like how you're having all these like big players like institutions just kind of slowly come into the market. And I guess that's going to help even more with validity and just a lot more it's going to be a hybrid of the old world meets New World and kind of seeing that it's the middle now.

Michael Zavet: Absolutely. I mean even just two weeks ago Fidelity announced that they were going to start offering custodies solutions. So, you know as more of these players kind of pop and then I think that that will definitely help push us towards where we want to go.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah no absolutely. So, let me speak of regulations you guys are a regulated with the SEC and you guys were with the OSC right. Because I remember that there was a 100 day. There's 100 a limit or 100-day countdown. I don't know if you guys cleared it doesn't really seem much on us yet.

Michael Zavet: So, in Canada we are dealing OSC right now. we are we're actually in the process of applying for an MSB. Which hopefully we will have in the next few weeks after which we're going to seek to acquire and an APS license either through application or acquisition in the U.S. we acquired and ATS and  broker dealer, so we're regulated by FINRA and the FCC.

Manseeb Khan: So, I mean dealing with regulations and just dealing with the government in general because you guys are since you guys are going a little bit more the securities route. you guys are tied down geographically. How do you see government regulations put in place? What regulations are you hoping that either the Canadian government or the U.S. government are going to put in place to make it a fair game for everybody but still be innovative?

Michael Zavet: Yes. So, we're hoping that there will be some kind of framework laid out within the next year or so. You know it's taken a while some of these bodies to respond because you know they're collecting their information and doing their diligence and you know given how large these institutions are how much is resting on their decisions. I think that it will not happen overnight. We are hoping that in the next few months we'll see more light shed on how they watch the STOs offered  and the system will change just currently for example Reg-D offerings we can only offer them to  credited investors. And that's mostly what we're seeing through STOs currently. But that leaves that a lot of the retail investors should be able to get involved and benefit from early stage investments. So, we're hoping that these kinds of regulations would change will change over time and be more inclusive.

Manseeb Khan: I guess would governments in general adopting these emerging technologies Would that be a factor like is that an also hope that you guys are. I mean you like other companies in the space are hoping I mean the best way to understand something is to be in it right.

Michael Zavet: Absolutely and I think that there's no doubt that they're looking into it as we speak and there is a lot of test projects and adoption happening. It's just the pace of it is quite slow and you know for good reason  they're also trying to protect investors.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah because he was the one to do the due diligence behind it right and you don't want to just me again. You want to with the hype and then realize like this this whole short term burst  just ruining the  long-term plan when it comes to just fully adopting

Michael Zavet: That's absolutely right. I mean if something catastrophic  crash happens. Now it would be hard to recovery. There's a lot of value that will be lost in the market. It's over 200 billion dollars. And you know there's a lot of value to erase so fingers crossed.

Manseeb Khan: So, to go a little bit more nitty gritty what regulations are hoping that can make Canada a little bit more competitive because you know compared to the Asian markets and maybe in the U.S. market themselves we are falling behind. Would it be regulations that are going to help us stay competitive or is it a mindset thing like what in your in your eyes what do you think can help Canadians become a lot more competitive in the space?

Michael Zavet: It's a combination of adoption and of course regulation. I don't think like the OSC is too bad with regulating the space compared to some of the other institutions SEC for example. And a lot harsher on the crypto space in general. So, I think Canada actually does maintain a fairly good competitive edge and there's a lot of amazing projects that have come out of Canada and continue to come out of Canada. So, I think that Canada will be a big player in the blockchain space in the future. And as long as we know strives to regulate and moderate the space it will continue to grow.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah, I believe  it just a matter of time situation for I guess the Canadian space because it's Canadian themselves  in general like to play by the rules and stay within the lines. So, it makes sense that they get it right. Right. It makes sense with the kind of wait it out a little bit and see where it leads right.

Michael Zavet: Absolutely and traditionally the OSC does kind of look to the SEC to see how they respond and react to things so naturally I think that's going to happen in this situation too. But that being said up till  now the OSC has been fairly welcome to crypto and innovation in general and I think that's a really great competitive edge for Canadian companies.

Manseeb Khan: I mean I guess the fear would be that you have the old institutional world would be a little bit more maybe to be kind of like touching us with a 10-foot pole. When it comes like this new innovative technology so it's kind of comforting to hear that like no they're actually willing to work with us. They are willing to like to go through the regulations and actually like fully to adopt this and see. See what the hype is really about.

Michael Zavet: Yes, I'm confident that that Canada will be the hub for blockchain and it already is that will continue to be so.

Manseeb Khan: I'm excited because Canada is already slowly becoming a hub for AI technologies, so it should be more exciting like it's also has the potential of becoming a blockchain hub as well. The other industry that gets very much slammed together with crypto and blockchain would be the cannabis space which is something that are actually well versed and right you've recently ran a publicly owned company. How do you see the cannabis space and the crypto space I guess working together? Call it a marriage. And what does that marriage look like.

Michael Zavet: Yeah, I think that you know cannabis and  crypto are often kind of lumped together because they're both such nascent industries. That said there's a lot of perils and there's a lot of differences. They're not the same. by any means there are a lot of projects that do kind of intermingle with the two. I think that there have been a lot of challenges when it comes to creating products in the space through crypto. It seems like people were kind of targeting the low hanging fruit that didn't have too much value. But that being said I think that I mean already I know that some cannabis companies are utilizing crypto or things like supply chain management and more back end uses and that's sort of how I see it going forward. And possibly also from an STO perspective. We know that a lot of US cannabis companies for example they can go public in the US because federally they're still considered illegal and due to that they have no means of accessing liquidity in a very challenging time acquiring capital. And so, I think that is actually a very interesting marriage between crypto and cannabis being a vehicle for cannabis companies to be able to fundraise and access liquidity.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah and should be interesting to see cannabis and like and other emerging startups too later adopt like when like us when it when it becomes federally legal if it becomes federally legal in the states. of just being like a supplementary fund. We're going to launch a kief tokens and it's going to help us blow or whatever it.

Manseeb Khan: Totally and the other thing is that they can issues some unique  you know financial products that are hard to access right now. For example, they can offer instead of just traditional equity, revenue streams things like that. So, it gives investors sort of you know different products to play with.

Manseeb Khan: How do you see that shift happening because it's quite a shift of like and sort of offering equity offering revenue stream streams instead. I guess what that conversation looks like.

Michael Zavet: Yeah, I think these products already exist. I mean you know there's other things similar to bonds and things like that and it's really just about tokenizing them and you know making them accessible to retail investors. I think that's really kind of the main thing that retail investors currently. Though many don't know how to access products. I mean you know opening brokerage accounts is simple enough. Sure. But getting into some of the more complex vehicles is not so much. Buying equities is pretty straightforward but I don't think that your average retail investor necessarily understands that. You know access some other products that don't rely on equities.

Manseeb Khan: I've definitely dinged on this a couple of times, but I think it's an education thing right like we have amazing companies like. As long as you guys are educating and  like you guys out of other exchanges you guys are making security tokens a focus. And you hear about here  and there  you'll see a blog post you will see an article of why security tokens would be important but by having companies like having sole focuses on certain areas and like educating on certain areas retail investors and just like us traditional investors in general are going to have better understanding of what they want to put their money in and not put their money in.

Michael Zavet: Yeah and I think that there's going to be a kind of massive curve that has to happen. You know people need to be made aware of these products and understand them. And really also not fear them because you talk to probably your average person that's heard of crypto. Odds are they've heard negative things they don't understand. There's definitely been you know some negative press surrounding space in general . So, there's a lot of education that has happened has to be up to the companies to do that.  For adoptions happen people need to be made aware properly.

Manseeb Khan: Hey I mean I try to use. I run a financial tech podcast and I'm and I mostly have crypto guys as an icebreaker on dates and that's oh boy, like that gets a little tricky. like wait don't  criminals use bitcoin. I'm like well they do but you can also use it too.

Michael Zavet: The amount of times that you know explain that Silk Road is just that company a few years ago that is no longer around and it’s not the only use case for crypto.

Manseeb Khan: So, I mean what are you most excited about in the blockchain. And I'll even extend it out even in the cannabis space now that I recently got legal right. I mean being a being a former cannabis guy and now being a crypto guy. So, what are you most excited about in these two spaces?

Michael Zavet: Yes. So, for cannabis I'm most excited about you know the prohibition ending in Canada which is you know phenomenal and a huge landmark. and then hopefully the same happened in the U.S..I think the federal government will definitely address the issue sooner than later. So that's sounds exciting in the cannabis space and it’s definitely going to be a  huge proliferation the U.S. Canada continues to evolve in the market's maturing. You've seen new products and new businesses just great for everyone, the economy, and  creating jobs while creating a lot of value for shareholders. On the crypto side naturally, I'm very excited about the proliferation of tokenized securities and of course some bias there but.

Manseeb Khan:  Totally fine , totally fine I was like of course you are going answer like that. No worries

Michael Zavet: Yeah. I mean honestly, I think that this new market is really exciting and being able to sort of educate people and eventually bring them new products and instruments is really exciting.

Manseeb Khan: I can't wait for more of a focus on I guess just securities in general just like understanding that like okay now that everybody is going to go more crypto and go more digital. Security aspects can be a huge factor in understanding how to be safe, how to protect your assets, how to protect investments and just moving forward from that right?

Michael Zavet: Absolutely.

Manseeb Khan: Any anything else that you. Something that you curious on something that been like that you've been trying to like rattling your brain on that you want to share. Other than the core stuff that we that we discussed today?

Michael Zavet: Bear markets  keep me up at night

Manseeb Khan: Really bear markets interesting. Tell to me more.

Michael Zavet: Well I mean in the crypto the market has experienced the a massive a price squeeze  and you know the values receded quite a bit in the last few months. I think that it could be a healthy correction and we haven't seen it move very much one way or another which tells me that investors are scared is probably holding on because they've experienced pretty big losses and I'm hoping that this will you know pass.

Manseeb Khan: It just that specific sect? .

Michael Zavet: A lot of investors now become I think more bearish and then before. You are not seeing much good news coming out or not seeing much movement. It's funny because cannabis is such a big focus. You know two three years ago and then crypto came out and really took the spotlight for a while as you saw the massive price increases. And then now that the crypto prices have come down and stayed relatively stagnant. Cannabis is sort of back in the spotlight.

Yeah, I mean I think it's a little bit more of like we talked about it's like it's the bad actors that have been in the space right. In the past two three four or five years and just running massive pump and dumps. Of like water bottle coin just raise the 100 mil and disappear it it's just like OK. You hear those stories, so it makes sense like why investors would be fearful but again it ropes back what we just talked about like education is the key.

Manseeb Khan: Absolutely. I mean like there was an iced tea company you know just to curb down their name and raise a small fortune just based on that. Right. It's like a joke. And obviously I'm happy that investors are wising up but at the same time it's unfortunate some of the good actors are being dragged out with them. As traditional investors have a better understanding of what it is and like its sort of like companies just throwing AI and blockchain and ICO on the pitch deck. and actually, ok we'll like how you're actually going to utilize it ? Like investors are starting ask smarter questions those B CD players are just going to pander out and the cream of the crop could raise interest again just as a matter of type.

Michael Zavet:  Oh, totally it's a market evolution and not to mention that there are a number of sorts of pump and dumps and things like that definitely left a sour taste investor mouth. You know companies that are ARTO to venture change had blockchain in their description and raised a whole bunch capital  and you know pretty much disappeared.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah, I mean again it's thanks to you guys doing your due diligence actually showing that like hey like is actually a good actor. There's actually good in this industry and we're going to show you how.

Michael Zavet: Yeah absolutely.

Manseeb Khan: Well the best way for people who have any questions they want to get to know Hyperion a little bit more. What would  be the best way to either contact  you or just contact Hyperion. Would it be do we Snapchat you .Do we e-mail you would be the best way to contact you?

Michael Zavet: Yes, we're in the process of setting up sort of our social media and actually we're doing some you know very public facing marketing in the next little bit. We've engaged a really cool branding and ad firm to do that with us. In the meantime, our Web site is livehyperion.xyz or Hyperion. Exchange. And through that you can go to our info link and send us an email.

Manseeb Khan: Ok awesome. Thanks so much for sitting down with us today. And I mean I've  learned a lot more about security tokens than I ever thought I would.

Michael Zavet: Thank you very much for having me. Very engaging.

Outro : ou've been listening to fintech Fridays brought to you by NCFA and partners. Tune in weekly for the latest fintech Friday podcast by subscribing to this channel. The National crowdfunding and FinTech Association of Canada is a non-profit actively engaged with social and investment fintech sectors around the globe and provide education research industry stewardship services and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers. For more information please visit and see if a Canada dot org.  Oh yea.

 

 

 

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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, 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


NEXT WEEK! DON'T MISS IT SEE YOU IN VANCOUVER
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FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.14-Oct 19): The Convergence of Data Intelligence and Money Algorithms with Ali Pourdad, Founder and CEO Senso.ai

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NCFA Canada | Oct 19, 2018

Ep14-Oct 19:  The Convergence of Data Intelligence and Money Algorithms

About this episode: On this episode, NCFA Fintech Friday's host Manseeb Khan sits down Saroop Bharwani. Founder of Senso, a data intelligence platform for the financial services industry. They chat about regulations in the AI space, fears of AI taking over the world and how screens and machines are as important as the birds and the bees. Enjoy!

Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host

Guest: SAROOP BHARWANI, Co-founder and CEO, Senso.ai (LinkedIn)

Bio:  Saroop is the Founder of Senso, a data intelligence platform for the financial services industry. Curious about intelligent machines from an early age, Saroop pursued degrees in both Computer Engineering and Neuropsychology to explore the intersection between machines and the human brain. Saroop then spent over a decade building technology teams for global Fortune 100 companies with a focus on leveraging predictive modelling to automate consumer engagement. Having supported Toronto's startup ecosystem since the early 2000's, Saroop was well positioned to start Senso to solve an industry-wide problem which he identified through the use of advanced forms of artificial intelligence.

 

 

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Transcription of Interview

Manseeb Khan: Today I have an absolutely incredible guest. I got Saroop Bharwani from Senso.ai. Saroop Thank you so much for sitting in today.

Saroop Bharwani: Yeah pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me onboard.

Manseeb Khan: No absolutely. So, for the audience for a minute could you just tell us a little bit about yourself and the inside track of Senso.ai.

Saroop Bharwani: Sounds good. We're dated intelligence platform for the retail banking industry. Essentially what we've done is we've aggregated market wide data such as credit data, real estate data location and geospatial data. And we basically predict When every Canadian consumer is about to switch a credit product such as a mortgage or a credit card from one financial institution to another this really helps sales and marketing teams at retail banks get in front of their customers sooner to be to be able to provide better offers better experiences helping them save money while keeping their wallet share increasing over time and outside their book as well. And we've been successful today to networking with a number of financial institutions in the Canadian market and not only helping them identify sales. Internal sales opportunities within their portfolios but also help consumers save money while increasing their bottom line at the same time. It's been super exciting for us the Toronto startup ecosystem has been tremendously helpful in launching and getting to the stage that we're at. And now we are planning a U.S. expansion

Manseeb Khan: That's also incredible can't wait for the U.S. expansion. So, your story is a little bit more unique than any of the other startup founders out there. You actually turned your former employer to your customer. Could you share a little bit more of that story because I think that story is super fascinating on what you did there.

Saroop Bharwani: You know it feels like a long time ago. My first customer. One of the big prime banks in Canada. I actually used to contract for about three years ago and I've been around the block. And usually when I get into a situation where I work for a financial institution whether it be a full time, or a contract position I have built relationships all throughout the organization. But I also I've always stayed in touch with the Toronto startup ecosystem. I've witnessed the Toronto startup system grow to where it is right now since the early 2000s back in the day when it was just a few people in a room demoing our products to all of these crazy hype events today and all the great hype around tech. I've always managed to stay close to the great people and startup community. One thing I realized when I was at the tail end of my contract at this particular financial institution was I wanted to get back into the startup game and I had a particular idea of what space I wanted to play in, but I just needed to hone in a bit. And so, on my lunches and after work was the last six months that I was on that particular project. I met with anyone and everyone I could on that knew something about the space that I wanted to launch a startup in. And you know 10 meetings turned to 50 and that turned to 100. And by that time, I had sort of honed down on a very particular insight that I'm not about a lot of other people have been thinking about at the time and that's when I knew I was ready to jump ship. I had met my co-founder through those 100 meetings and I called many of my team members that I've worked with over the years in the retail banking space and that's literally how Senso I was born I jumped ship and we got started to building and that because I maintained great relationships at all the financial institutions I worked with I essentially went back to the one that I previously left and pitched them the idea and they loved it. And essentially the rest is history. They took us on board and instead of being a contractor/ full time employee I ended up being a vendor.

Manseeb Khan: That's also incredible. The whole within 50 meetings or so you find your co-founder at 75. I might be messing up the numbers, but I wasn't 75. You actually meet your mentor which was when you broke it down that way. I was like wow that makes a lot of sense. That makes total sense of like 75 meetings and you feel good. You know exactly what you want to do, you know exactly what you what your vision is, and you can definitely find a mentor to help guide that.

Saroop Bharwani: Yeah. And the other side of it is just managing risk. You know people just want to kind of jump into the startup world really not knowing that. It is not as glamorous as you see in the media. Right. You got to go through you know a couple of years of, you know painful sort of figuring out what you're doing and that's just the beginning. So that uncertainty only realized after jumping ship and I was very thoughtful of the fact that in order to mitigate that risk I needed to build a certain amount of runway to survive for a set period of time in my case was 18 months and get my family on board. You know my wife ticklers has been a great supporter along the way.  It's important to have that co-founder of life as some I call it, I might be the only one in that sense. So, to jump right into this AI is an absolute behemoth of a topic right. When you think of AI conjure up images between IBM the big blue player and the I guess its kind of like the world's biggest chess game right. You have like players like IBM of Amazon Facebook have all these big guys coming into it right. So, I guess for the purpose of the show what it means to you. What are the key problems the AI will solve in FinTech over the next few years. And what does this mean for incumbents, businesses, And  just a general.

So look put it this way. Mean having come from a banking background. Where me and my team and built these types of predictive models for a number of years. these types of models the machine money models in particular have been around for a long period of time. In the past five years, we've really hit a tipping point and this convergence of bigger data sets more sophisticated algorithms and more computational power which have enabled this new wave of technology that's really created this hype and a lot of it is hype. But the concepts of these algorithms have been around for like 40, 50 years. We just haven't been able to make use of them until very recently due to the convergence that I just spoke about. Now when I think about AI in general is I do think that the most difficult part for me and many people that I see especially wanting to get into AI is just seen through the noise of who's actually simply doing what was always done in the past versus cutting edge actual AI. I would say right. when it comes to any of this to break it down what all of this is just lines through a bunch of dots and simply put it is just using statistics and a lot of great data and computation power to come up with these results that get better over time. You know we've hit that tipping point where a lot of this stuff is useful for enabling computer vision and these other sensory tasks that we see all this magic happening. For me it's exciting to see that we've hit that tipping point. But it's no different from the path that people who have worked with machine learning for many years. It's that same path we're going down and is getting more exciting because new doors are opening up through the convergence of many of these many of these things that I've spoken about. But to me I always question who's actually doing this stuff versus all the hype out there. And from a marketing perspective and it's hard to differentiate that. And while I would say it's super exciting and breakthrough it's also hard to understand you know what is going on the market from who is actually doing cutting edge stuff it was not.

Manseeb Khan: It is all hype right. This whole fintech space this whole boom is all hype. So, it should be interesting to see who panders out and who actually sticks through it and who the real players are in the next 10,15,25 years. Running an AI focused company. What does it mean to you? From all the mentors and all the meetings, you've had. How did that change from day one of starting an AI focused company to know that you've actually been through the next 36, ran through TechStars and just had so much more acceleration.

Saroop Bharwani: Yeah. So, I mean whether it was using machine learning and AI to solve the problem or not. One thing we knew from the very beginning is. We knew intimately what the problem was that we wanted to solve. And that's what we really focused on. It just so happened that we got access to it very early on a dataset that enabled us to prove this worked in a very controlled environment. I think that the support of the AI community in Toronto was perfectly timed for us in that the doors that were open for us in terms of resources in terms of getting data sets in terms of accessibility to customers who were open to testing this out. So, all happened at a perfect time for us. But when it comes to being an AI company I would say it all comes down to the data set you're working with. And if that data set is pure enough to produce the outcomes that you're looking for or that provide business value to solve that problem or it achieve that task you're in a good spot. But I would say that my recommendation to anyone wanting to start an AI company is if you want to start in an AI first company understand what data you have access to because if you don't have access to data you're not going to be able to do much at the get go. And that's where I would really think about approach and what type of business you want to become. Because you don't want to get into an AI business because of the hype of AI and putting that in a flashy deck. You want to get into it to solve real problems and achieve real tasks that drive business value. And then if AI happens to be a mechanism to enable that that's great and that's what we realized very early on and we were just supported by the right advisers and people to be able to bring it to fruition and get to where we are today.

Manseeb Khan: I mean you want to make sure that your models make sense and you have enough data to back it up right because the main reason big business are going into AI it's because I have so much data to pull from and that's why Facebook and Amazon are going. And even IBM are going into the because years and years of data pools they can just are pulling from and to start testing and learning and building models.

Saroop Bharwani: Yeah, I mean that both those companies have been data driven from the ground up. So, they have an inherent advantage in taking advantage of the most cutting-edge technology. I would say the many of the enterprise firms out there haven't invested the dollars into really streamlining their data to be able to enable a lot of these things and a lot of the things we do on a daily basis is ensuring that data purify to be able to enable the outcomes that we want to achieve. And look some of the customers that we have and partners that we have invested very early on into their data and they're in a position similar to you know the big four you know Amazon, Google, Facebook, Amazon to be able to really deliver value outside of this. And I see this on a day to day basis kind of companies that are doing this well and companies that are not. And that is very interesting to see my insight is the reason why this taken so long for many of these enterprises to do this is for the very reason that the data is really all over the place and it needs to be brought together and streamlined into sort of an automated process to enable the models to learn vs decay.

Manseeb Khan: So, I guess what are the immediate and future opportunities when it comes to AI and as a community what does the foundation of AI look like?

Saroop Bharwani: Yeah. So, the immediate opportunities I think are. The cutting-edge opportunities I think are happening in things like computer vision, language processing. Even the some of the things we do with more sophisticated and algorithms in financial services are proving to deliver better results than some of the models that we built from within financial institutions. I think what I'm excited about is once you purified the data and aggregated the data in a way where you can produce better results using these new algorithms. it's far more  accurate than if you just kind of threw a bunch of sparse data into an old school decision tree and that's been going on for a while. So, I think we hit that tipping point to me the  enablement about actually doing that is the most difficult thing. And again, like a model may work really well. you know the first couple of times but if you don't have that automation and that sort of pipeline. I think that your models are ultimately going to decay and they're not going to be able to keep up with many of the changes that occur in the market whether they be economic or behavioral or whatever the case may be. We see that on a day to day basis when we test some of the more sophisticated models and pipelines we are with some of the other ones that we B test against which are currently being used by many of these companies out there to enable their predictive analytics engines. So, I think that's immediate future. I think that if it comes down to the mediums we're going to be interacting with today we interact with our mobile phones. But I think tomorrow they could be completely different devices Thalmic labs is launching their new smart glasses and I think that you know once the development community starts building on top of those platforms. It's going to start opening up opportunities for entrepreneurs to build new experiences using AI, using computer vision and all these great things. And I think that's scary because a lot of the stuff you see going on here in terms of research the exciting research that's happening is also the scariest in the sense that you know being able to mimic someone doing something that isn't actually them. I think that opens up a lot of privacy questions that we're going to have to face in this in this century. And I think that privacy the way it is today ultimately isn't the way it's going to be in the next century. And I think it's going to open up some really interesting debate. some sort of solution is going to be necessary in order to resolve the privacy concerns. And that's a whole different discussion that I'm happy to get into in more detail if you'd like.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah no absolutely so I guess it's a we've talked in a couple past episodes of the whole digital identity thing right and how companies are pushing people are pushing for this whole digital identity that you deserve to own your identity and use like your digital identity right. You decide to share and not share whatever information businesses might need. And now that now let's head out guys can kind of mimic that. That puts that whole sovereign identity thing into question because that gets a little scary.

Saroop Bharwani: Yeah. Absolutely and I think that that's when people hear you know Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking talk about A.I. taken over the world. Everybody pictures like Terminator robots and things like that. But I think that in the immediate future. It is really these breaches of privacy that you have no control over that are ultimately going to really bring up big questions and make people forget about. Everything else that existed before because nothing else will matter. When certain countries are mimicking other political leaders just say something about another country that isn't actually them right. And I think that it is scary when I think about children and bullying in schools and on social media. You don't get the ability to mimic someone doing something that they're not actually doing. That being so accessible to us today that is something that's going to bring up a lot of questions and I'm on the camp that data. Your data should be in your hands. And that is a concept that is very great today and I think that that's going to be one of the biggest things we're going to have to solve for in the 21st century.

Manseeb Khan: It's going to be a slippery slope of  how we take the human experience and put it digitally. And what do we decide to like to input it and not input when it comes to building these AI's right because ideally, we want them to be as agnostic as possible,  but we still want them to have human traits of them because there are amazing things about humans with are also very devastating things about human. So that's going to be a weird balance that we're going to be that that's happening the next coming years when it comes to building out these

Saroop Bharwani: It's going to be disruptive  without necessarily our control because you know it's in the hands of developers and entrepreneurs who are really enabling these experiences for good or for not good. Right. Like you know there's both sides of the equation. We've seen this in cybersecurity for years. There’re people who are protecting and there are people who are attacking right. And that that is not going to be a different concept when it comes to the use of AI in these sorts of public settings.

Manseeb Khan: No I absolutely agree with you so I mean you've already touched a little bit of Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking so I'm going to jump into this question a couple of weeks ago you saw Elon Musk go on Joe Rogan and one of the questions that Joe asked you on was his fear of a AI and Elon's been saying for years he's been warning the public it's warning people about the dangers of AI and how we're moving a little too fast when it comes to AI. we've got to be pretty much pulling the reins like slowly analyze everything making sure we're doing this for the right reasons and not jumping because like you've mentioned a couple of times not because of the hype right. Even Stephen Hawking. I'm going to quote the development of a full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It could even take off on its own and redesign itself as an ever-increasing rate. Humans are limited by slow biological evolution cannot even compete and will be superseded. So that's in and of itself we are seeing all these entrepreneurs all these amazing visionaries saying that like if we don't. Take a very close look at what we're doing with AI and not believing the hype. They could very much if eviscerate  the human race and just completely take over because they are revolving within microseconds. So, my question is. What are you what are you at Senso.ai doing priority wise to make sure none of these fears come to reality and. Hoping that other startups like yourself are doing to make sure these fears don't come into reality?

Saroop Bharwani: Yeah. So. You know in answer to an end to your question it's really, we run our models and  our pipeline in a very controlled setting. And we're constantly monitoring the biases which exist in the you know historical data is only good as the humans that put it at it or the process that input it. Right. But there are ways to rebalance these models to be able to reduce bias. And I think that is a responsibility that every AI company needs to take like we heard about you know Amazon recently brought lunch to recruit recruitment tool which was like bias  I think that was a bit premature for Amazon to launch that because they had to think about their historical data and how to rebalance that data to ensure that. And I'm not talking about statistical bias I'm talking about just general human like bias rate like the bias you would have towards a gender or race. Right. And those are things we see every day when. We use our data. And that's where the rebalancing of the data is very important and there are techniques to do that. And I think it's the responsibility of every AI company or company that's using any sort of predictive analytics to make decisions which impact humans. That's a responsibility they take on. You don't from a more broader perspective in terms of what Musk and Hawking are talking about. I question whether it's even we're even in a position to control. Right. And you know while it is scary  I think all of us have some sort of an addiction towards social media. You know in putting information in the internet searching on google where those are tools that we have we rely on these days to get information to see what's going on with your friends to just have that instant gratification. Right. And you know as generations passed and the younger generation Z and even younger than that they don't even question sharing their data. It's inherent in the way that they were raised, and they grew up because they grew up with this technology. can that input of information stock because if it doesn't. Ultimately the training of these models and these algorithms is not going to stop. And they are going to get more sophisticated over time. And I think that that exponential increase in inputs that we're feeding in to these systems is essentially what Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are talking about and I feel that as humans were bad predictors in how soon or how soon things are going to happen and you know whether it's sooner than later or later than sooner. I think it's an inevitability that it's going to happen. I think all we can do is be responsible prepare and reduce these biases that exists in our models so that we assure that it's more of an oddment in symbiotic relationship versus ones where you know the AI's goals are different from our own.

Manseeb Khan: No, I absolutely agree with you on that. I guess if we're not if we're not careful of social media everything else it's going have a way bigger pull towards us for not even our generation but for the future generations if we are not careful.

Saroop Bharwani: Every like, every post, every tap. Everything is training right. It's training their models. When you look up the Easter bunny on google and it presents you with a bunch of pictures of Easter bunnies you clicking on that image of the right Easter bunny. You know is training their models even more. Right. Think about that that's happening with every single interaction and where the direction that Amazon. And Google and all these companies are going you know eventually and maybe it's the case right now we know but maybe there are algorithms and their models are much more sophisticated than we think. They may just be controlling it in a way where they are taking a responsible approach but that is questionable. Then you get into the whole conversation of regulators actually treating them like the oil companies. Back in the early 19s hundreds. Are they too big? Do they have too much data? Do they have too much oil to stand on their own or do we need to break them apart.

Manseeb Khan: So, speaking of regulation we're seeing a huge push. Of regulation when it comes to the crypto and blockchain space but we're not really seeing that much. Regulatory push when it comes to machine learning. I guess my question to you would be what some of the regulations are you'd like to see put in place. And I guess what the role of government is. Because you're seeing a role in government. Starting to form when it comes to block chain and crypto we want the exact same thing when it comes to AI?

Saroop Bharwani: I think that the Government's got to really think about how to put the right rules in place to be able to ensure that models being released are not biased towards one human outcome or the other and are making the right ethical decisions. But at the same time without hindering innovation and I think those are the two tradeoffs. That is tricky right because I'm a big proponent of faster innovation and I love this whole concept of entrepreneurs. You know being able to actually create the next Facebook or Uber or whatever the case may be out of their bedrooms. But at the same time based on  Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking's and their concerns and  my feelings towards that too and what's to come.  I do think it is a dangerous path that we go down without some sort of rules being in place. And I think that that moment is going to be more evident. And it's going to get the attention of regulators at a certain point in the future. And I don't think we're too far away from that. So, I know you didn't specifically answer your question but for me it's more of a tradeoff. Innovation versus making sure that these models are built in a responsible way.

Manseeb Khan: Right. So, it's finding that happy medium of still having regulators be the government or be it some other body making sure that everything's OK everything's on the up and up So new players can actually have some kind of structure to work with. But at the same time not hindering innovation because. That's the whole reason why you're seeing such a huge hype behind AI, blockchain and any crypto because it's very agnostic it's very decentral right?

Saroop Bharwani: Yeah. And I wouldn't even say that it has to be regulators to put these rules in. You want Musk as a guy that what matters into his own hands right. I don't know. It's going to be regulators like is government going to be able to move fast enough and implement regulations based on the real facts. Right. And ultimately that's the biggest question for me right. And that well we'll see. I think in the very near future what the outcomes going to be of that.

Manseeb Khan: How we started the whole episode is that you got very lucky when Canada was just getting on the AI boom right. So, Canada's emerged as a global leader in AI. How did it happen? And I guess what it means for innovators and investors entering the space and is it too late to get into the game or is this just the beginning.

Saroop Bharwani: Yeah so, I mean when we got into it the AI Buzz wasn't I When I decide to do this we really mean think about AI. It was a consideration that we were going to use predictive analytics and machine learning really. I mean I think about eight months into it really this whole AI boom started, and we were fortunate enough to be very well timed and being supported by the community very early on when they were still figuring it out. Now it's at a stage where  I think it's fairly it's grown. But I think it's still got a long way to go. The community still figuring things out and that's going to take a while. I encourage anyone who sees it sees a problem a big problem that they could potentially solve as being prime candidates towards starting their own companies. And I think they'll do great again as long as they're focused on the problem and ensure they have the right tools the team necessary to execute. That opportunity is always going to be there. I think from the challenge right now is for entrepreneurs and innovators has higher levels of competition. And that's something that we're going to continue to see. And from an investor standpoint again I think there's a lot of noise over companies that are doing truly innovative stuff and have a good go to market plan versus companies that are just putting A.I. in their deck because it's hype right. They may be great companies not doing anything related to this stuff, but they may be putting it in there that basically to get investors’ attention. And I think that that's come to a point where it will work against you if you just say you're doing AI without having some sort of a fundamental proof that your technology is based on some sort of. Cutting edge technology that's been accessible to us over the last that say three to five years.

Manseeb Khan: What's going to change that would be the education factor towards the right like you're saying Hey you're seeing a lot of startups even throw ICO and even just tokenize their whole business even though they may or may not even actually need one. It's the lack of education. I think in the next three to five years they are amazing companies like you and some of the other ones in space educating people teaching people that like hey this is what AI is, this is what AI means to us. And the more informed the general public just innovators and investors are when it comes to that space. It's just going to start weeding out all the B, C, D players.

Saroop Bharwani: It is yeah people are just going to become as you said more educated on this and I think that the great thing about these podcasts that you're doing is it enables people to become more in the know when it comes to .What is actually real versus what's not, what's worth investing time and money into versus not. And look I'm very sympathetic towards all entrepreneurs and I encourage even first-time entrepreneurs to go for it and really think through and mitigate your risk in starting this and you'll be supported by the community. But ultimately you know entrepreneurs usually have to go through a road of paying their dues in order to realize what this game is all about. But everybody's got to go down that path. Right. but I think that as people get more educated through podcasts like this and through the community. It's going to be easier to differentiate. Between ones that are real and not.

Manseeb Khan: There's no shortcuts when it comes entrepreneurship even though podcast and blog posts and videos on YouTube are definitely going to greatly help who still have to pay your dues. Still go through many obstacles fail, try again, fail try again right. there's no there's no shortcuts. And again these B.S. CD players are going to learn that sadly the hard way. But again, that's life. Man, versus machine. I know we touch this we touch a little bit of what is this going to look for the generations to come. So, man versus machine. Who's winning. And I guess what the future look will like for our kids. Right we're already seeing this rise of you seeing babies just being drawn towards tablets and I don't know if you see the cute little video of this baby who had a tablet and that the mom took away the tablet and then She was just on the table. And then it was a glass table. And she was to swipe, and she couldn’t it and she was like she's looking at the parents like whoa what happened like they give her books you can swipe on the book like she's losing her mind I guess is that is that the future for kids like is it only going to go downhill from here. Like what's your opinion on that ?

Saroop Bharwani: Yeah, I mean look I don't know. It's downhill. I'm more I'm an optimist when it comes to technology enabling us to do better. That's right I also see the other side of it. And look I look at it from the perspective of my dad you know like having a young daughter at home. Really. I see her older cousins. And all the people that are around are the kids that are around her really being attracted towards technology. And I think generation after generation it's just becoming more and more natural for these kids to resonate towards technology and I think it's inevitable. The path that we're going to go down I don't see anything stopping it. Maybe regulation can come in. But technology has always found a way to break through. It may pause it for a little bit or it may slow it down but it's inevitable that one day something incredible is going to happen. And it's also scary too right. So, I think our kids are going to grow up in a very different world. And we grew up and I remember when I was a kid and it wasn't about sitting at home you know playing videogames or anything like that it was playing outside and not coming home until dinner time right. Like I was I was like literally my summer vacation. You know it was. It was never in front of screens or anything like that. Kids today are very different in that technology is part of their lives from the minute, from the minute they're born. And you know I think that that's something that we need to accept. And I think that based on our discussion the last question on educating entrepreneurs and venture capitalists on what startups are real or not. We also have to educate our children. From a very early stage about things like what are the costs and consequences about sharing your data. Don't just freely share your data. Think about the fact that when you share your data someone needs to give you something in return and you have control over that data. Understand that everything that you post or everything that you display publicly is accessible to a man or a machine that could use that data for good or for evil. Right. And these things could have consequences to you as you get older. And I think that it should be a part of our education system and teaching our kids to be very conscious about the way they look at interacting with machines. On the other side of it I think that machines. Being a part of our lives, we wouldn't be where we are today, and we wouldn't be able to do all of these things these virtual podcasts or anything like that without the augmentation of machines. And I think it's incredible the fact that anyone can create this out of their bedroom or their garage. And I'm excited for that. I'm excited to teach my kids to be entrepreneurs and to use technology to create, and to make and to build for their entire lives. Because when you think about the future of work I see it more like being an entrepreneur versus working in a cubicle for 30 years and a large corporation. And that is the future that I find exciting and I think if our kids are educated they'll grow up in a way we'll harness this technology and use it for good in a controlled way where they'll protect themselves at the same time.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah, I think having the talk of just understanding the both the positives and the consequences of technology and the new waves of technology I think that's a very important talk for parents’ teachers. Like any anybody with like younger siblings or younger kids and making them understand like Hey the terms and conditions that everybody skips over is very important to  actually understand having these free services and you freely sharing information that there might be consequences and repercussions in the future and just understand that like right like everything on the internet forever and you have to be cognizant of like even though you're a kid you have to be still be cognizant of what you say and what you don't say.

Saroop Bharwani: Absolutely. And look I hope our education system is thinking about embedding these sorts of learnings consistent learnings throughout the process from a very early stage. Look I think that in the future even now that the talk with your kids about screens and machines is as important as the birds and the bees.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah no absolutely agree with you. And it might not even be school systems it just might be another educational entity. You're seeing a rise of online courses  everything. I learned business wise and marketing wise I learned online what I learned through YouTube and like Udemy and all these other courses compared college, so you might be seeing a shift when it comes to kids as well of like. If they want to learn how and what the  Decentral AI looks like boom, there's 15 YouTube videos I'll just give you step by step walk through of what that looks like.

Saroop Bharwani: On that on that note right. I think you know one of the other fundamental shifts that's going on right now is that if you're not a lifelong learner. ultimately, you're going to fall behind because things are changing at an exponential pace. It's not about getting a university degree anymore and working at the same job for like 30 to 40 years. your graduation from a university is just the beginning of your learning path for the rest of your life. And I think that society needs. To go more towards that than anything else and that is essentially why entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs because their inherent value ultimately is going to increase along the way at a much faster pace than if you're in an environment that doesn't enable that type of forced learning. Based on the situations that you're put in front of that you really got to dig yourself out of. And that's what entrepreneurship is great for and all about despite how hard it is. Your inherent value increases at a much faster pace. Yup no I totally .

Manseeb Khan: There's a really great Muhammad Ali quote when he said that if I think the exact same way that I thought 30 at 50 then I wasted 20 years of my life.

Saroop Bharwani: I know that one all too well. I know it's great quote. And that's exactly what I'm talking about.

Manseeb Khan: Saroop, thank you so much for sitting down with me today. I cannot wait to have you on the show again.

Saroop Bharwani: Awesome pleasure. Thanks so much for doing this.

 

 

End of Podcast

 

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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, 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


NEXT WEEK! DON'T MISS IT SEE YOU IN VANCOUVER
LAST CHANCE FOR TIX


Coindesk | Nikhilesh De | Nov 30, 2018 Members of VanEck, SolidX and the Cboe BZX Exchange met with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) staff earlier this week to present a new argument on why the bitcoin market is ready for an exchange-traded fund (ETF). In the latest push to convince the regulator to approve a rule change which would open the door for the country’s first bitcoin ETF, the three firms met with the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, Division of Trading and Markets, Division of Economic and Risk Analysis and Office of General Counsel. Notably, Monday’s effort differed from previous presentations, which took more of a regulatory focus. See:  OSC approves Canada’s first blockchain ETF Instead, the proponents’ argument centered around the idea that the bitcoin market is mature enough to support an ETF, and at present looks similar to markets for other assets which already have such products. The presentation gave several examples of assets that already have ETFs, including crude oil, silver and gold. The presentation specifically tied the idea of futures markets with spot markets, noting that for money substitutes such as gold and silver, this connection between the two can be proven with empirical ...
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Investment Executive | By James Langton | Nov 23, 2018 Many hurdles remain for the CMRA before it becomes a reality Canada’s regulatory landscape faces a transformation as politics, shifting priorities and new legal realities push the investment industry’s overseers in new directions. Most obviously, the prospect of a fundamental reshaping of the regulatory framework in Canada now is, at least, a possibility – given the Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) long-awaited decision on Nov. 9, which reversed a lower court’s ruling in Quebec, that declared that a proposed federal/provincial model for a co-operative capital markets regulator is constitutional. But while this decision knocks down a basic legal obstacle for the new model for overseeing the securities industry, that doesn’t mean that the adoption of a co-operative regulator is imminent – or even inevitable. Indeed, the SCC’s decision hints at the significance of the hurdles that still must be cleared before the proposed Capital Markets Regulatory Authority (CMRA) can become a reality in Canada. Although the SCC has found that the proposed CMRA model is constitutional, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good idea. “It’s up to the provinces to determine whether participation is in their best interests,” the ...
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Not yet a done deal
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Share

SEC Launches Fintech Hub To Engage With Cryptocurrency Startups And More

Share

Forbes | | Oct 18, 2018

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is launching a portal for engaging with companies using blockchain, artificial intelligence and more.

Available today, the new fintech hub, or FinHub for short, is designed to bring the SEC’s existing services to a single access point and provide an easier way for companies to communicate with the public.

As startups building with blockchain increasingly come under the SEC’s attention, the new portal has the potential to streamline the process of building compliant platforms prior to launch.

The SEC’s FinHub will be led by Valerie A. Szczepanik, senior advisor for digital assets and innovation and associate director in the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance.

“We’ve been doing these things for years,” Szczepanik told Forbes. “This is going to bring it all together.”

The FinHub will be staffed by representatives from the SEC’s divisions and offices who have expertise and involvement in fintech-related issues.

See:  Canadian securities regulators provide additional guidance on securities law implications for offerings of tokens

In addition to asking questions of the SEC, those who use the site will be able to request meetings. To increase engagement, a binary code “Easter egg” message has been hidden on the page.

Over the past year the number of cases being publicly pursued by the SEC has increased. As a result the U.S securities regulator earlier this year published a webpage that spoofed scam websites as a way to educate potential investors and blockchain builders. The new portal appears to be an extension of that strategy.

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, 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


NEXT WEEK! DON'T MISS IT SEE YOU IN VANCOUVER
LAST CHANCE FOR TIX


Coindesk | Nikhilesh De | Nov 30, 2018 Members of VanEck, SolidX and the Cboe BZX Exchange met with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) staff earlier this week to present a new argument on why the bitcoin market is ready for an exchange-traded fund (ETF). In the latest push to convince the regulator to approve a rule change which would open the door for the country’s first bitcoin ETF, the three firms met with the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, Division of Trading and Markets, Division of Economic and Risk Analysis and Office of General Counsel. Notably, Monday’s effort differed from previous presentations, which took more of a regulatory focus. See:  OSC approves Canada’s first blockchain ETF Instead, the proponents’ argument centered around the idea that the bitcoin market is mature enough to support an ETF, and at present looks similar to markets for other assets which already have such products. The presentation gave several examples of assets that already have ETFs, including crude oil, silver and gold. The presentation specifically tied the idea of futures markets with spot markets, noting that for money substitutes such as gold and silver, this connection between the two can be proven with empirical ...
Read More
Bitcoin ETF Seekers Met With SEC Monday In Latest Pitch for Approval
Investment Executive | By James Langton | Nov 23, 2018 Many hurdles remain for the CMRA before it becomes a reality Canada’s regulatory landscape faces a transformation as politics, shifting priorities and new legal realities push the investment industry’s overseers in new directions. Most obviously, the prospect of a fundamental reshaping of the regulatory framework in Canada now is, at least, a possibility – given the Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) long-awaited decision on Nov. 9, which reversed a lower court’s ruling in Quebec, that declared that a proposed federal/provincial model for a co-operative capital markets regulator is constitutional. But while this decision knocks down a basic legal obstacle for the new model for overseeing the securities industry, that doesn’t mean that the adoption of a co-operative regulator is imminent – or even inevitable. Indeed, the SCC’s decision hints at the significance of the hurdles that still must be cleared before the proposed Capital Markets Regulatory Authority (CMRA) can become a reality in Canada. Although the SCC has found that the proposed CMRA model is constitutional, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good idea. “It’s up to the provinces to determine whether participation is in their best interests,” the ...
Read More
Not yet a done deal
Forbes | Lawrence Wintermeyer | Dec 2, 2018 If your professional interests take you to the crossroads of financial services, regulation, compliance, and digital - especially data analytics and machine learning - which altogether is known as regtech, you are in the right place. You are part of statistically small and very geek-oriented professional community, but you know this, and though you might choose not to admit this to strangers at this year's festive parties for fear of causing great pain by boredom, you are in good company with this Contributor and my interviewee. I first met Jo Ann Barefoot when I was chairing the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Industry Sandbox Consultation, where she provided excellent guidance and insights. Jo Ann is one of the most dedicated and busiest advocates of the regtech space on the planet and is truly outstanding in both her knowledge and passion in this area. She dedicates her time to a number of global bodies and initiatives related to regtech: she is a Senior Fellow Emerita at the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Business & Government, a Senior Advisor to the Omidyar network, sits on the fintech advisory committee for FINRA, is an Executive Board Member of the International RegTech ...
Read More
A Regulation Revolution In Financial Services
NCFA Canada | Nov 23, 2018 JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY. Ep19-Nov 23:  Future of Business Tokenization - How Blockchain Challenges Concept of Money About this episode:   On this episode, NCFA Fintech Friday's host Manseeb Khan sits down with Alan Wunsche the CEO of TokenFunder. They chat about ICO's funding startups, tokenization of businesses and buying real estate through tokens. Enjoy! The future of business tokenization How tokenization is going to disrupt real estate and auto industry How blockchain challenges the concept of money Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host Guest:  ALAN WUNSCHE, Founder and CEO, TokenFunder (view Linkedin) Bio:  Alan Wunsche is CEO & Chief Token Officer of TokenFunder, a regulatory-compliant blockchain venture funding platform with Ontario's first regulated Initial Token Offering. He is also Chair & Co-Founder of Blockchain Canada, a Canadian federal not-for-profit corporation with a mission to connect Canadian Blockchain Innovators and to help Canada be a leader in blockchain technology. Alan is a finance technologist focused on new blockchain business models and the disruptive impacts of blockchain on global wealth distribution. He brings hands-on technology experience as a finance and risk transformation executive at a global bank (Scotiabank), management consulting (Deloitte, PwC), and ...
Read More
FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.19-Nov 23):  Future of Business Tokenization - How Blockchain Challenges Concept of Money with Alan Wunsche, Founder and CEO, Token Funder
CBC News | Nov 23, 2018 More than 3,000 people contributed to campaign to buy new installation from renowned Japanese artist LET'S SURVIVE FOREVER. That's the name of the infinity mirrored room the Art Gallery of Ontario plans to purchase from world-renowned artist Yayoi Kusama — that is, if its crowdfunding campaign is successful. And yes, it's always spelled in all-caps, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) said. Over 3,000 people have already chipped in a contribution to permanently acquire the brand new Kusama installation, even though they hadn't seen it until now. The AGO said its campaign has brought in around half of the $1.3 million it needs to buy the work, but it's hoping more people donate on next week's "Giving Tuesday," a day devoted to donations following "Black Friday" shopping. Here's a look inside the room: The major installation, which will be given a special place at the downtown Toronto gallery, features mirrored orbs on the ground and suspended from the ceiling — similar to the work Narcissus Garden, which dominated a large room in the AGO during last year's ultra-popular Kusama exhibit. There's also a mirrored rectangular column inside the LED-lit room, which creates what's said to feel like an infinity room inside an infinity room ...
Read More
Art Gallery of Ontario shows off the Yayoi Kusama infinity room it's crowdfunding to buy
CNBC | Eric C. Jansen, president and chief investment officer of Finivi | Oct 31, 2018 The many big companies disrupted by blockchain have now made it a priority to harness this technology. Large firms such as Accenture, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft are developing patented products and services based on blockchain's digital-ledger open-source technology that can be accessed and adapted by anyone. Ironically, the whole raison d'etre of blockchain is to circumvent the very type of centralized authority these traditional tech companies represent. Development efforts in both private and public blockchain are seeking to forge new business models. As is typically the case when faced with disruption, large companies are seeking to defend their territory by adopting the very tool that threatens them. With blockchain there's a lot at stake. The global market for blockchain-related products and services is about $700 million and is projected to exceed $60 billion annually in 2024, according to Wintergreen Research. Among the big corporate blockchain players are Accenture, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft. These firms are developing products and services based on blockchain's digital-ledger open-source technology that can be accessed and adapted by anyone. Blockchain enables global transactions between parties without going through ...
Read More
Blockchain's potential will continue to spur public and private investment
CFO Innovation | by Eric Cheung, Unit4 Asia Pacific | March 15, 2018 The world as we know it is changing. Rapid technological advancements are altering industries and creating new market opportunities. As the business world accelerates towards what arguably is looking like an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) economy, the next few years will be pivotal for finance departments in making the transformations necessary to update their service offerings and deliver service excellence. Several trends are converging over the next few years that could set the stage for a service-economy shift that will keep CFOs more than ever in the driving seat. This year, 2018, may turn out to be an important turning point for the finance function as three disruptive technologies begin to be widely adopted – as the finance function of Unit4 Asia Pacific, which I lead as CFO, is finding out. In the finance function, we are developing blockchain-enabled distributed ledgers that we plan to link to our Unit4 Financials single-ledger system in 2018 Blockchain and Self-Driving Finance As the foundation of cryptocurrencies, blockchain has already played a vital role in next-generation finance tools. It is also gaining traction in a wide range of industries across Asia Pacific. In ...
Read More
A Tech CFO on Three Disruptive Technologies Transforming Finance
Cointlegraph | By Marie Huillet | Nov 20, 2018 The cryptocurrency market crash has eased pressure on the U.K.’s financial regulator to introduce hasty new rules for the sector, Reuters reported Nov. 20. As Reuters outlines, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had been pressed to expedite new regulation for the rapidly growing crypto space, raising the risk of a heavy-handed approach that could impede investment and stifle development. Now that the sector has settled, government officials and FCA representatives indicate they will be taking more time to fine-tune the balance between investor protection and fostering financial innovation. See:  House Finance Committee Urges Canadian Government to Regulate Cryptocurrencies Speaking at a conference dedicated to crypto regulation in London yesterday, Nov 20., Gillian Dorner, deputy director for financial services at Britain’s finance ministry, said: “We want to take the time to look at that in a bit more depth and make sure we take a proportionate approach.” British regulators reportedly told the conference they are analyzing over 2,000 crypto assets to see whether they can be regulated under existing rules before considering whether reform might be necessary. Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s executive director for strategy and competition, is quoted as saying ...
Read More
Crypto Bear Market Gives UK Regulators Breathing Space to Finalize Crypto Regulation
Crowdfund Insider | Cali Haan | Nov 19, 2018 After holding a series of 18 meetings to review Canada’s Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA), the House Finance Committee has recommended that the Government of Canada regulate cryptocurrency businesses to prevent criminal use, iPolitics reports. The committee has been conducting meetings to review PCMLTFA laws since February, something required of at least one parliamentary committee every five years. See:  OSC introduces new cryptoasset educational tools The committee has heard from over 70 expert witnesses since it started the review last February, including representatives from the financial advisory firm IJW & Co. and the law firm Durand Morisseau LLP, both of which submitted 65-page reports. In its report to the government, the committee said that both firms warned: “(I)n the absence of some degree of regulatory oversight, cryptocurrency transactions may be used by parties to swiftly move large amounts of wealth across borders.” The committee said that its three recommendations to parliament accorded with those suggested by the firms: Cryptocurrency exchanges handling crypto-to-fiat conversions must be legally classed as money services businesses (MSBs), which are required to follow strict financial-reporting guidelines, “…in compliance with the PCMLTFA.” Cryptocurrency exchanges should be licensed ...
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House Finance Committee Urges Canadian Government to Regulate Cryptocurrencies
NCFA Canada | Nov 16, 2018 JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY. Ep18-Nov 16:  Bridging the AML/ATF Gap with Financial Institutions and the New Economy About this episode:   On this episode, NCFA Fintech Fridays host Manseeb Khan sits down with Charlene Cieslik the Chief Anti-Money Laundering Officer at Coinsquare. They talk about not everyone using crypto is a terrorist, regulatory uncertainty, cape shopping and guidance in the crypto space. Enjoy! Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host Guest:  CHARLENE CIESLIK, Chief AML Officer, Coinsquare (view Linkedin) Bio:  Charlene Cieslik is the Chief Anti Money Laundering Officer of Coinsquare, Canada's most secure digital asset exchange for buying bitcoin, ethereum, and other digital currencies.  During her 20-year career, Charlene has held roles as the Chief Compliance Officer, Chief Anti-Money Laundering Officer, Chief Anti-Bribery Officer, and Chief Privacy Officer at several Canadian and Foreign scheduled banks, where she was responsible for the development, remediation, and execution of AML/ATF, anti-bribery, regulatory, and privacy programs.  Charlene has worked with several “Big 4” accounting firms and a Canadian fintech company, where she has assisted global financial institutions with AML/ATF program development, particularly with post-regulatory exam remediation and AML/ATF investigations. Charlene holds a Master’s degree ...
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FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.18-Nov 16): Bridging the AML/ATF Gap with Financial Institutions and the New Economy with Charlene Cieslik, Chief AML Officer, Coinsquare

 

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