FFCON21 Breaking Barriers May 11-13, 2021

Category Archives: Fintech Interviews and Podcasts

Hester Peirce on personal liberty, crypto regs and retail investor particiation

Investment News | Mark Schoeff Jr. | Mar 22, 2021

Hester Peirce - Hester Peirce on personal liberty, crypto regs and retail investor particiation

During her first three years on the commission, Peirce was part of a Republican majority. With the likely confirmation of Gary Gensler as SEC chair, Democrats will have the edge.

Securities and Exchange Commission member Hester Peirce will soon have a new experience on the five-person panel. During her first three years, she was part of the Republican majority. Following the likely Senate confirmation of Gary Gensler as chair, Democrats will have a 3-2 edge.

Peirce, a former senior counsel for an SEC commissioner and a former attorney in the Division of Investment Management, is poised to be a colorful voice of dissent who champions personal liberty over extensive regulation. Her speeches and statements at SEC open meetings often are peppered with rhetorical flourishes, such as relating regulatory action to a proverb about a nail and a horseshoe.

See:  Hester Peirce Says SEC Enforcement is Not the Way to Provide Crypto Clarity

IN: Some have said the SEC has become too political. Do you share that view?

HP: There is pressure from a lot of people outside of the agency, because we built this really wonderful system of disclosure by issuers, that then informs investors as they make their long-term financial decisions about where to put their money … And people say, ‘Well, let me think about how … to use it for some other kinds of objectives, other than objectives related to investments and capital formation.’ That’s where the problems arise. But I think to the extent that we can really keep focused, we can have a really productive upcoming set of years … under Chairman Gensler.

IN: How does your emphasis on personal liberty inform your approach to rulemaking and enforcement?

HP: I’m looking forward to convincing my fellow commissioners that personal liberty is something we need to be taking into account every time we make a regulatory decision. So, there’s a tension there, right? We have this job of protecting investors. But we’re not the parent of the investor, we’re a regulator. We let people spend money as they choose, if they earn it. And so I think we should be careful on the financial side not to overstep our bounds and tell people, ‘Well, this is how you should invest, or must invest.’

IN: Regulation of cryptocurrencies is one of your priorities. What would you like to see in that area?

HP: I think there are several areas where we need clarity. One is, I’ve set forth a framework for token distribution events that would allow people to do token distribution events under the cover of the safe harbor, which would require them to make certain disclosures to token purchasers, and would subject them to the anti-fraud parts of the securities laws, but … other parts of the securities laws wouldn’t apply for three years.

See:  GameStop Testimony: When Short Sellers, Social Media, and Retail Investors Collide

Another area I think we need to provide clarity is for broker-dealers and investment advisers looking to engage with this asset class, either for themselves, or more likely for their customers and clients. We really do need to provide them a framework within which they can do that … consistent with the securities laws.

And then a third area, and I get asked about this all the time, about when an exchange-traded product for Bitcoin will get approved. I think we’ve seen … that Canada has an exchange-traded fund that’s up and running. But I think it’s a reminder to us that there’s a lot of demand in the marketplace — and not only that, but there are other ways that retail investors and institutional investors are getting access to this asset class, and so at some point you’ve got to ask the question whether we need to rethink the approach that we’ve taken with respect to these exchange-traded product applications.

IN: To what extent should ordinary investors be allowed into the private markets?

HP: People come to me all the time and they say, ‘Hester, why is it that in the United States you have to be rich to get rich?’

Even if we open the doors and said anyone can participate in the private markets, I would be cautioning people: Make sure you know what you’re buying, don’t ever rush into a decision, make sure that you ask a ton of questions. If you don’t get answers to those questions, you should turn the other way, run away.

But I do think that people should be able to spend their money as they want, as long as it’s clear to people, yes, here you’re within this category of investments that doesn’t get the same kind of disclosure oversight [as] public company investments do. And so I do think that we need to expand the doors, open the doors wider.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Hester Peirce on personal liberty, crypto regs and retail investor particiation 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

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6 lessons on online privacy and digital authentication

Sifted | Tom Ritchie | Mar 23, 2021

online privacy and digital authentication - 6 lessons on online privacy and digital authentication

Digital fraud, from phishing to synthetic identity fraud, is increasing in frequency and sophistication. It’s more crucial than ever for startups to protect themselves using biometric identification, which uses AI and machine learning to analyse images — but just how good is verification tech, and where is it headed?

We asked this and more to our panel of privacy and security experts for the latest Sifted Talks, including: Stephen Ritter, CTO of digital identity verification and mobile deposit solutions business Mitek; Seun Oshinusi, head of financial crime prevention at Curve, a digital card and wallet app; and Dr Kate Coleman, CEO of iKey, a software provider that takes exploratory images of retinas for identification and health purposes.

1. Digital verification is in a constant state of innovation

As new technologies are introduced and adopted, bad actors are quickly adapting their strategies to defraud or extort businesses and their customers. Startups need to constantly iterate for the latest security technology — like near-field communication (NFC) chips, that hold our biometric data in our smartphones — to keep their customers’ data safe.

“As the technology advances, so too do the fraudsters. As we get smarter, so do they. They’re constantly looking at how to intercept the systems that we have… We try to stay in front of them.” — Seun Oshinusi, Curve 

See:  How Verifiable Digital Identity Will Protect Your Post-Pandemic Privacy

2. Startups need to choose a biometric that’s right for their product

The key to successfully implementing authentication is ensuring that it marries well with your product and userbase’s needs. Ritter suggests using a range of different biometric authentication points — like facial, iris or voice recognition — that mirror your onboarding process, to reduce UX friction and keep your customer in the process.

“It’s important to pick the right biometric at that moment in time, otherwise there’s too much friction and it’s not going to feel natural.” — Stephen Ritter, Mitek

3. Current tech is capable of even greater security

Our panellists all agreed that the infrastructure required for greater biometric identification is already largely in place. For example, Dr Coleman suggests retina authentication is already possible with current smartphone tech. While there is little demand for this tech at the moment, the constant threat of cyberattack and the spread of mimicking software such as deep fakes will create a need for more sophisticated authentication in the next few years.

See: Matt Warman’s speech on digital identity at Identity Week 2020

“The average phone is 125 times more powerful than the rocket we sent to the moon. The technology is there, it’s just that people haven’t asked for it yet.” — Dr Kate Coleman, iKey

Continue to the full article --> here

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - 6 lessons on online privacy and digital authentication 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

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Public and Private Cloud AI Digital Banking

The Financial Brand | Bill Streeter

Shanker Ramamurthy Global Managing Partner Banking for IBM’s Global Business Services group - Public and Private Cloud AI Digital Banking

The industry is entering a critical phase. Legacy technology will finally be superseded by a combination of cloud computing and AI, putting banks and credit unions closer to par with fintechs. But without phasing out the traditional product silo/back-office environment, that change won't happen.


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Public and Private Cloud AI Digital Banking 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

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N26 Co-founder Maximilian Tayenthal talks growing one of the fastest-growing mobile banks in the world

McKinsey Digital | Feb 26, 2021

N26 Maximilian Tayenthal - N26 Co-founder Maximilian Tayenthal talks growing one of the fastest-growing mobile banks in the world

Setting a bold vision, adapting the business to respond to market feedback, and putting customer satisfaction first has enabled digital-banking start-up N26 to grow rapidly into a global bank valued at $3.5 billion.

Creating a new, global business in a regulated industry such as financial services is challenging. Setting the organization up for global scale and turning it into one of the most successful digital disruptors comes with even greater challenges. In a conversation with McKinsey’s Jerome Königsfeld and Lukas Salomon, N26 cofounder and co-CEO Maximilian Tayenthal reflects on learnings from the company’s rapid growth and rollout across 25 countries.

Ability to Adapt

Lukas Salomon (LS): You launched N26’s banking product six years ago and have scaled rapidly. Looking back to your early days, how did you come up with the idea for the business?

Maximilian Tayenthal (MT): We originally started with a different idea: we were offering a prepaid card for teenagers. The card was connected to an app through which their parents could control the card. But when we launched a beta version of this product, we quickly discovered that parents weren’t actually using this product for their kids—they were using it for themselves. We then realized that we might be able to play in a bigger arena, as our product had all the elements of a digital-banking offering: cards, an app, and accounts into which people could deposit money. If we could build a strong product, we’d be able to compete with large incumbents in their core business.

See:  Banking on digital growth with Chris Skinner

LS: After identifying that opportunity, what were the first indicators that showed you’d actually be able to scale it into a billion-dollar business?

MT: There wasn’t one specific moment in which we really knew it’d be a success.

As soon as we launched the banking product, we saw strong excitement from customers and confirmed that there was a need for our product. We had a waiting list of 50,000 prospects.  Once we understood that potential, my co-founder and I set our long-term ambition.

We knew we didn’t want a quick exit. Instead, we wanted to build a global financial institution, impact the lives of 100 million customers, and compete with the biggest banks worldwide. I think setting this level of ambition early on is what differentiated us from many other start-ups—we always follow our North Star target of 100 million customers.

Navigating rapid growth requires experienced leaders, scalable back-office systems and full transparency in reporting

Jerome Königsfeld (JK): What were the organizational measures you took to enable rapid scale-up?

MT: That’s definitely been challenging. We started as a team of two in our living room in Vienna and knew every tab and cell of our business-case spreadsheet. But eventually you realize that you’ve grown so much that you can no longer do that and need to delegate.

See:  Versabank to Launch VCAD, World’s First Bank-issued, Deposit-based Digital Currency

In the beginning, you dedicate all your focus to the product, which means that back-office and organizational processes sometimes lag behind.

With our growth rates, it has been particularly hard to keep up with the pace. At times, we were doubling both our customer base and our employee count every six to eight months. This came with major challenges: new team members were sometimes onboarded by someone who had joined the company only four weeks before them. Somebody hired in a stand-alone role could find themselves managing a team of 20 direct reports six months later.

When you’re growing so quickly, it’s vital that your systems and organizational processes are scalable. Think about the situation you want to be in two years from now. Select systems that don’t just work for the 100 employees you have today but for the 500 or 1,500 you might have by then. Make sure that you also hire people who’ve seen big organizations before and who are able to lead others. We may be a young team, but today we’re hiring people with a lot of experience, especially for executive roles.

LS: While your role encompasses a broad set of responsibilities across the company, you also served as the CFO. How do you see the role of the finance function in a rapidly scaling business?

See:  3 Challenges of Scaling a Fintech Company Across Borders

MT: One of the key responsibilities is fundraising. At around $3.5 billion, we’re one of Germany’s highest-valued and most well-funded private start-ups, but we still have a very big vision and need to make sure that we find sufficient capital to fund our global expansion. We’ve greatly benefited from the liquid private markets of the past few years but are now also considering a potential IPO in the future.

JK: What about monitoring and reporting? How do you ensure you’re on track and establish transparency on plans and budgets when your business transforms so quickly?

MT: We’re passionate about data. We monitor dozens or even hundreds of key metrics such as sign-ups, churn, cross-sells, upsells, and subscriptions in real time. Live dashboards allow everyone to track progress every minute. On the financial side, we have a full P&L every month but monitor KPIs within the teams daily.

Continue to the full article --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - N26 Co-founder Maximilian Tayenthal talks growing one of the fastest-growing mobile banks in the world 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

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Banking on digital growth with Chris Skinner

The Finanser | Chris Skinner

Chris skinner interview - Banking on digital growth with Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner:

Traditional banks tend to push products through channels to get greater share of wallet and cross sell. Whereas, digital banks start with the customer journey and need, and then build the user experience to be part of a relationship interaction digitally, rather than trying to actually sell them anything.

James Robert Lay:

Greetings and hello. I am James Robert Lay and welcome to the 67th episode of the Banking on Digital Growth podcast. Today’s episode is part of the Exponential Insight series, and I’m excited to welcome Chris Skinner to the show. Chris is an author, speaker, and troublemaker, according to his LinkedIn profile. I like that. And Chris has written 14 books, most recently Doing Digital: Lessons from Leaders. He also writes a daily blog and consults about the future of banking. Hello, Chris, and welcome to the show.

Chris Skinner:

Hi, James. Thanks for inviting me. Great to be here.

James Robert Lay:

Yeah. And I think you mentioned before you do a lot of thinking about the future and when we think about the future, particularly through the lens of financial services, it can be hard to let go of the past. This idea of being built on the cloud natively, it’s operational, it’s mindset. And you share in your book Doing Digital, that banks must create a burning platform to ignite change for transformation, to spark change of transformation. Can you expand on this thinking about creating a burning platform? Is this really about first principles thinking, starting over instead of duct taping something that’s really falling apart, or just trying to hold things together for the old world?

See:  Are you measuring these 5 metrics of digital progress and success?

Chris Skinner:

Well, there’s over 30 lessons in the book that I sort of outlined from the interviews I made over six months with these five big banks. But you start with obviously working out what to do and how to do it and getting a vision around how to digitally transform. And then you have to disturb people and make the organization uncomfortable. This is what Jamie’s doing with this “I’m scared shitless about FinTech.” He’s been doing it for a number of years in fact. I think his first time was about 2014, “Silicon Valley’s coming to eat our lunch.” And there’s been regular mantra from Jamie around effecting change and disturbing people. That’s quite funny, because when you look and track what he’s been saying about Bitcoin, for example, it’s turned around from, “Bitcoin is just a Ponzi scheme for criminals” to, “It’s worth $146,000 by the end of this year and we should invest in it.”

So it’s interesting how things change. And I think the critical thing is it’s great to have a burning platform and say, “We’re all going to die unless we change,” which actually is another thing I heard from two of the banks. You know, if we don’t transform, we die. But you have to then say, “What are we transforming to?” And I use the quote often of Charles Darwin, which is “It’s not the fittest, the fastest, the most intelligent or the strongest who survive. It’s the ones who are most adaptable to change.”

See:  Economic performance associated with digitalization in Canada over the past two decades

But the thing is, and my challenge to most banks, is are you adapting to change in the right way?

If you’re delegating digital transformation to a CFO or CTO, CIO, CDO, giving them a budget and a project to implement in a line of business that’s fragmented, you’re really not going to survive. Because you have to digitally transform as a company with a leadership team who are passionate about making the whole company change.

And you really have to adapt, not necessarily in a way that’s rigid. In a way that says, “Well, we have to have a vision of the way forward, so this is where we need to try and get.” It’s not a fixed destination. It’s a continuum of change to make this organization fit the 21st century based on the internet and born on the internet. And that’s the huge challenge for any bank leadership team, because most banks are led by bankers who don’t understand technological requirements.

James Robert Lay:

We’re burning the ships. We’re either going to survive or we’re going to die, and we have to keep moving forward.” But what’s holding bank leadership teams back the most, or maybe a better question is about specifically vision, is what’s blinding them to begin with in the first place?

See:  Has fintech made banking better?

Chris Skinner:

Well, I think, and again, going back to Jamie Dimon’s comments. He points at Square, Pay Pal, but also Ant Group and Amazon and says, “You know, these guys are going to be taking all of our business.” And that’s the disturbance, but then you have to then say, “So how are we going to change? And what do we have to change into?” And it’s a metamorphosis. It’s not a reengineering. It’s a complete reinvention, renewal. And I think what blinds them and holds them back is the challenge of doing that is humongous. It’s really not easy.

There’s a couple of great books that I’ve used through my years of talking about this. One is How Do You Make the Elephant Dance? by Lou Gerstner, talking about turning around IBM in the 1990s. But more recently Satya Nadella’s book about Microsoft. When you look at Microsoft and the turn around there, you go,

“That’s amazing that you can take a company that’s stubborn, saturated, sinking, and suddenly make it nimble and quick and turn around.”

How did they do that? It’s really about recognizing the cultural needs. Digital transformation has nothing to do with technology. It’s about people. It’s about making people understand that they have a voice, and they have an ability to enable change. They’re not just being told what to do, but they can tell us what to do.

Continue to the full article --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Banking on digital growth with Chris Skinner 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

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Middle-aged crypto-king Anthony Di Iorio wants people to create something positive

Financial Post | Joe O'Connor | Feb 24, 2021

anthony - Middle-aged crypto-king Anthony Di Iorio wants people to create something positiveAnthony Di Iorio, co-founder of Ethereum, is plotting a way out of cryptocurrency to tackle a project he hopes will help change the world for the better

Anthony Di Iorio wears the same thing every day, call it his uniform: a white t-shirt, which he orders in bulk at $10 a pop, blue jeans and white sneakers. The outfit isn’t a fashion statement, rather, it’s a time-saving measure, since he tends to have a million thoughts reeling through his mind when he wakes up in the morning and the last thing he needs to worry about is figuring out what to wear.

So, a white t-shirt and jeans it is. As for those morning thoughts, numbered among them lately are being sure to visit regularly with his 70-year-old-plus parents, Lino and Lynne, pondering how to fix corporations that only care about the bottom line, occasionally fretting about his own personal safety and working on his “white paper,” which he plans to have peer reviewed.

The paper details Di Iorio’s next big idea. It is something the 46-year-old is not ready to discuss quite yet, but he hints that the project to come is geared to altruistic ends, will be of benefit to Canada, tackle big and seemingly intractable problems and, perhaps, somewhere down the road, see him remembered for being something other than the thing he is most famous for today, especially among the cryptocurrency crowd.

See:  Life after blockchain: Why Ethereum mastermind Vitalik Buterin doesn’t want to be a founder again

Di Iorio is one of the co-founders of Ethereum, a made-in-Canada, open source cryptocurrency platform whose units, known as ether, are second only to Bitcoin in terms of global popularity. He was also an early adopter of Bitcoin, buying up coins back when they were trading for $9.73.

Five years ago, ether traded for a measly loonie. Today, the digital currency is hovering around US$1,700. Bitcoin, meanwhile, rocketed past US$53,000 last week, achieving another vertiginous height in a notoriously volatile space that recently landed Di Iorio and fellow Canadians/Ethereum founders, Joseph Lubin and Vitalik Buterin, on a Crypto Rich List created by Traders of Crypto, an online information site.

The list pegged Di Iorio’s net worth at US$750 million. In 2018, a Forbes article did him even better, referring to him as a billionaire, hence all his fretting about personal safety.

“The whole cryptocurrency space, the whole concept is that you are your own bank,” Di Iorio said from his 5,000-square-foot condominium with a closet full of t-shirts in Toronto’s financial district. “When people know I’ve got crypto, it’s a little more of a risk profile than traditional things, because the money is not in a bank.”

Bad guys take note: Di Iorio is not, was not, nor has he ever been a billionaire. The bulk of his fortune, post-Ethereum, has gone into Decentral Inc., his blockchain technology startup, and developing Jaxx, a cryptocurrency “wallet.” If all goes according to plan, he hopes to sell the wallet and the blockchain business in about a year’s time for … a billion dollars.

See:  Billionaire investor Ray Dalio on capitalism’s crisis: The world is going to change ‘in shocking ways’ in the next five years

The hockey-loving kid from the suburbs, often hailed as a crypto-king, is planning to get out, not because he doesn’t believe in digital currency, but because he is 46 and wants to focus on addressing the particulars of that white paper he is not quite ready to talk about yet.

“I am a technologist,” Di Iorio said. “But what scares me the most is technology.”

The world, he said, has some pretty profound problems: Fake news; anti-vaxxers; conspiracy mongers; monster social-media companies and search engines gobbling up personal data; algorithms pushing out ads tailored to the individual and nudging them to buy crap they don’t really need; companies crowing about shareholder returns at the expense of ordinary people.

It is a big, daunting mess, and perhaps a relatively old crypto-guy can be part of the solution, at least that is what he hopes.

“We need to shift peoples’ focus towards creating positive impacts — towards helping their neighbours,” he said.

Di Iorio comes from a long line of problem solvers. His Italian grandparents didn’t see a future in Italy, so they solved it by immigrating to Canada with pennies to their name and hacking out a good life in the construction industry. The second generation started a patio door company in 1978, growing it from eight employees to 120 employees.

Di Iorio’s father, Lino, was that business’s resident troubleshooter, working in product development, ironing out kinks. In his spare time, he built classical guitars and in 1994 he took up curling.

See:  What do the next ten years hold?

Di Iorio also read a lot, and got hooked on the Austrian school of economics, a central tenet of which holds that a product’s true value is only determined by its usefulness to the consumer. He had always fooled around with computers, but he experienced an “ah-ha” moment in 2012 when he heard Bitcoin mentioned on a podcast.

“I saw it as the next coming of the internet,” Di Iorio said.

Soon after, he founded the Toronto Bitcoin Meetup Group, and began hosting gatherings at a downtown office space. His parents organized the snacks.

Continue to the full article --> here

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Middle-aged crypto-king Anthony Di Iorio wants people to create something positive 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

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Fintech Fridays EP50: Compliance to the Moon

NCFA Canada | Feb 12, 2021

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FF EP50 Mark Binns BIGG Digital Assets banner - Fintech Fridays EP50:  Compliance to the Moon


EP50: Compliance to the Moon

Featured Guest:

MARK BINNS, Chief Executive Officer, BIGG Digital Assets Inc.  (LinkedIn);

BIGG CEO, Mark Binns Quote:  “BIGG is a compliance-first crypto company that believes Bitcoin offers the best store of value for its free cash flows. This has led us to adopt an initiative of reinvestment into the underlying asset of our industry. Of late, we are seeing a surge in the number of corporations buying Bitcoin to hold as a treasury reserve asset. We have held Bitcoin on our balance sheet since 2017, and foresee the next evolution being the investment of fiat profits into crypto. BIGG aims to be at the forefront of this movement. Profits from Netcoins’ trading and Blockchain Intelligence Group’s software sales earned in fiat will be converted into and held in Bitcoin, until such time as required by operational demands. The decision to roll forward our profits into Bitcoin, where we anticipate returns to outpace fiat values, is easy and highly strategic.

About BIGG Digital Assets Inc.

BIGG Digital Assets Inc. (BIGG) believes the future of crypto is a safe, compliant, and regulated environment. BIGG invests in products and companies to support this vision. BIGG owns two operating companies: Netcoins (netcoins.ca) and Blockchain Intelligence Group (blockchaingroup.io).

Netcoins develops brokerage and exchange software to make the purchase and sale of cryptocurrency easily accessible to the mass consumer and investor with a focus on compliance and safety. Netcoins utilizes BitRank Verified® software at the heart of its platform and facilitates crypto trading via a self-serve crypto brokerage portal at Netcoins.app.

Blockchain Intelligence Group (BIG) has developed a Blockchain-agnostic search and analytics engine, QLUETM, enabling Law Enforcement, RegTech, Regulators and Government Agencies to visually track, trace and monitor cryptocurrency transactions at a forensic level. Our commercial product, BitRank Verified®, offers a “risk score” for cryptocurrencies, enabling RegTech, banks, ATMs, exchanges, and retailers to meet traditional regulatory/compliance requirements.

For more information and to register to BIGG’s mailing list, please visit our website at https://www.biggdigitalassets.com.

Trade Symbols:  CSE: BIGG | OTC: BBKCF | WKN: A2PS9W

 

BIGG Digital - Fintech Fridays EP50:  Compliance to the Moon

About this episode:

On this milestone episode, our host Manseeb Khan sits down with Mark Binns CEO of BIGG Digital Assets. They cover the rally behind bitcoin, big tech investing in crypto, and giving your kids crypto instead of fiat for allowance money.  Enjoy! 

Subscribe and tune in each Friday to check out the latest movers and shakers in fintech. Listen to more podcasts here:

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Fintech Friday Transcript of Episode 50:  Mark Binns of BIGG Digital Assets Inc.

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

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:00:00] For Episode 50, I got Mark Binns. Mark, thank you so much for sitting down with me today.

 

Mark Binns: [00:00:34] Yeah, great to be here. I'm excited to talk with you today.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:00:37] Awesome. So, Mark, could you just for, I guess, the five or six people that may not know who you are and what BIGG Digital Assets is could just give us a rundown of what big is and a little bit of background of who you are.

 

Mark Binns: [00:00:52] Yeah, absolutely. So BIGG Digital Assets, publicly-traded company on the CSC in Canada under the ticker BIGG. We're a compliance first crypto company. And what that means is BIGG is a company that has found a way to make money in the compliance and regulatory space around cryptocurrency. We own two operating businesses. One is called Blockchain Intelligence Group, and it's a crypto forensics software company. We make products that help track crypto through the blockchain and the other companies called Netcoins. And that coins is a crypto exchange in Canada, mainly focused in the Canadian market. And both of those companies together make up BIGG Digital Assets. My background and how I got involved is I actually did an undergrad in computer science. I'm a tech guy first and foremost. I used to write code for a living and then I got interested in the business side of technology. So I got my MBA from Western and started a consulting company and built and grew a couple of different consulting companies doing marketing and growth advisory to tech companies. And around twenty thirteen, the world's first Bitcoin ATM was launched in Vancouver, where I'm where I live. And it was a big, exciting event in the tech scene. And everybody was going to see this first-ever Bitcoin ATM. And I went down, had a look and said, wow, that's pretty cool technology. And there was a guy there named Mitch Demeter who was actually launching that machine. And funny enough, it got me interested in crypto started paying attention. I got into the space in about twenty seventeen with Netcoins and one of the very first hires I made was Mitche Demeter, the guy who opened that Bitcoin A.T.M, and he's now the president of the Netcoins division of big digital assets. So, you know, it's it's an exciting place to be. And I couldn't be happier that I ended up here in the crypto world.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:02:48] Yeah, it's it's kind of crazy how things worked out in that unheard of. Like, who would have thought that you'd meet the guy that first launched Bitcoin ATMs and then later down the line you're like, hey, you know what? Let's make something. Let's make something together.

 

Mark Binns: [00:03:02] I think he was so successful. He put those ATMs all over the world and he started an early crypto exchange called Bitcoiniacs and sold those and retired. And I had to convince him in twenty seventeen. I said, come on, give out a retirement, get back in the game. Crypto is getting exciting again. Like you're right. Let's do it.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:03:20] No, it's honestly it's a very it's an amazing move on your end.  So when you talk about compliance first crypto. Right. Why is compliance so important in crypto now that now that crypto is getting more attention, as it seems like by hour?

 

Mark Binns: [00:03:37] Yeah, absolutely. Compliance is important to protect the retail investor, the institutional investor. But the little guy, that's sort of why there is rules in financial services all over the world and it's for protection. So if you're buying Bitcoin on an exchange, you're spending two hundred dollars as an individual, that might be a really important two hundred dollars to you. You don't want to find out that that exchange was actually a pyramid scheme or something and fraudulent in your your two hundred dollars of the bitcoin disappears. So compliance isn't there to try to de-anonymize the blockchain or anything of the sort. It's there to protect the endpoints, which are usually the exchanges and the investors in the ecosystem, and make sure that the companies that are taking their money are are legit. And it also helps law enforcement. So we make products at Blockchain Intelligence Group that help law enforcement investigate crypto crime. And if you have these tools that will reduce the likelihood people will commit crimes and they know there is law enforcement, there's rule of law. So all of it really ties together for protection of people in the ecosystem. And, you know, there's a great market opportunity for us in that space by being leaders in the regulated and the compliance side of crypto.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:05:01]  Yeah, it's actually very amazing to see we're going on three years of having Fintech Fridays, and like if honestly, if I had you on two years ago and we talk about regulation and like all government getting involved, like honestly, like it was really a joke because like it was these are conversations just now starting to happen. But really there was no headway. There was no direction. But now, you know, with Blockchain intelligence, what you guys are doing with law enforcement, even with Secret Service in and of itself, we've come so far and it's only the beginning. And that that to me is just incredible and also wild at the same time.

 

Mark Binns: [00:05:37] Yeah, absolutely.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:05:38]  So Bitcoin is back in the news. I mean, people people thought I was going to crash, you know, people I've had my group chats have been blowing up my friends are like what's going on, like what are we doing? you told us to put money in this? So can you just walk us through what's going on with Bitcoin right now and like, what's your take on it?

 

Mark Binns: [00:06:01] The big thing happening in Bitcoin and crypto overall overall right now is institutional buy in. This is what's changing the fall of twenty seventeen crypto on its last run before the current one, when Bitcoin went up to nineteen thousand USD, and then it turned around and went all the way back down to something like thirty five hundred. That was a total retail rally. So that was small investors buying small amounts of bitcoin. The rally that happens is happening now since about mid last year and particularly the early stages of twenty twenty one is because of institutional involvement. It started with PayPal saying that they were going to get involved in crypto and let the individual person spend crypto on purchases day to day and then big buy-in on Treasury. That's the other big one. So company called MicroStrategy Nasdaq listed company said we're going to buy four to five hundred million dollars with a Bitcoin and keep our reserve cash in Bitcoin instead of US dollars. And part of that is because of the money printing going on in the US dollar, the Canadian dollar, the pound tied to the pandemic and covid. There's a huge lack of store of value in fiat currency right now. So they said we can do better, we're going to put this money into Bitcoin and we believe that will give us better returns. And then people started wake it up because it was half a billion dollars in a Nasdaq listed public company. And then Square went out and bought fifty million dollars. And That's Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, a lot of attention on it. And then it started a bit of an institutional rally where companies realized, oh, yeah, that might be a good store value. And just last week, Tesla bought one point five billion dollars worth of crypto to just a store on their balance sheet instead of holding it in US dollars. The current rumor is that Apple might actually step in and start buying Bitcoin on its balance sheet. And this is the difference is now an institutional investment rally, institutional involvement on spending, institutional involvement on saving. And it's bringing real credibility to Bitcoin in particular. But crypto overall as a store of value.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:08:12] Mm hmm. So, yeah, no, this is this is actually incredible, right. Because, you know, majority of cryptocurrency is the people that have been kind of rallying behind it, like you said, were many retail investors. Right. People just, you know, seeing what's going on with fiat currency, if you will be able to understand the market a little bit and seeing that, hey, you know, having money in just traditional assets like cash, it doesn't make any sense. Right. Especially now with the pandemic, everything is kind of a lack of a better word is going to shit. You know, they need to have more control of their money. Right. So cryptocurrency is a great place to do it. So what's BIGG Digital's play in this right now?

 

Mark Binns: [00:08:52] It's a two-pronged approach. So first of all, yeah, we have Netcoins. Right. Which is our exchange. And people need to get into crypto. You need an onramp. So Netcoins is an on-ramp. You can email money, wire money, bill pay money into the platform, traditional fiat currency. And with that, you can buy crypto, you can buy your bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, whatever you're looking for. So as adoption is rising, values are rising. Investors looking to access the space can use Netcoin's platform to onramp into the space. And with blocks intelligence group, it's the law enforcement side. So the more involvement the everyday consumer has in crypto, the unfortunately, the more crime will tend to rise, the more use of crypto through the ecosystem. There will be just like the crime. There will be crime involving crypto and our tools are extremely valuable. Some of the only tools in the world that you can use to properly track the movement of crypto through the blockchain so you can do law enforcement. So our customers are everyone from the US Secret Service down to Singapore Police Department, Hong Kong police department. Canadian law enforcement and we're helping market participants stay safe.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:10:06] Yeah, and that's one of the biggest, I guess, knock on crypto is the fact that, you know, criminals use it, terrorist organizations use it like you can you know, you can put money in today, and then tomorrow it's gone. Right. That's the fact that you guys are spending a lot of time and energy to work with law enforcement of some countries to make sure that's not the case and to make sure that it is accessible for everybody because we're having new investors come in by the hour and to make sure that the money just doesn't disappear. That in and of itself is very incredible.

 

Mark Binns: [00:10:39] Yeah, thanks. I mean, it's a fast-moving ecosystem, it's growing quickly, it's changing every day. And again, we want to be part of the future and the growth and the prosperity of the industry. So we're doing our part.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:10:54] Yeah, that's awesome. So, you know, you mentioned what with one of your pronged approach is you have you know, you're having more and more people invest in crypto. What is your take on these Meme coins, such as dogecoin? Right. You see it, Elon Musk's tweet out the wazoo about, you know, like going to the moon. I'm getting my friends literally just moon emojis and rocketships emojis every morning when I wake up, like, what's your take on that? You see, I guess organizations like yourself later on having like meme coins on your sheets for people to buy?

 

Mark Binns: [00:11:32] Well, we it's an it's exciting, I guess, is what you would say. I mean, the meme coins bring a little bit of excitement to the industry. They certainly create interest. They get people talking. They get dogs. Images of dogs flying on rockets to the moon sent around. Elon is waking up and I'm tweeting about it. It's creating PR and awareness for space. And that's the part I like about it. It's getting more people going. What is this thing about? Oh, it's crypto or what is crypto. Right. And getting more people involved in the ecosystem and paying attention, whether there's a real future for these coins or not, it's very up to debate. I mean, buying Dogecoin right now is a lot like going to the casino, right? It could triple tomorrow. It could also easily get cut in the third tomorrow. Right. It's based on nothing but speculation. And there isn't a traditional custody for a lot of these meme coins and coins. What I mean by that is a proper institutional grade, cold storage, insurance, etc. So because of that, they won't be adopted the same way as a Bitcoin Litecoin, Ethereum will be most likely. So the jury's out on where they go. I think they're interesting for the excitement of the space, but I certainly do not believe they're a safe bet for a store of value. They're much more like a lottery ticket.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:12:57] Yeah, of course. Yeah. I think you got a really good point. They do bring an amazing amount of attention to it. Is it the right kind of attention? I mean, the jury's still out on that, right? Because it's still a very ever-expanding and rapidly growing space. But the fact but like all attention is good attention at this point, especially in a space where the more people, the more eyeballs that we can get on the space, the better, because that we can show. Yeah, you know, like there's dogecoin, there's everything else. But there are so many other amazing, like companies out there that that are just using that using crypto for the greater good. Right. Be it through loans, be it through buying a house, just like the tech aspect of what you can kind of build on top of these cryptocurrencies. That in and of itself is very amazing. So kind of tying back to what I previously I was like. So we have companies like Tesla with Tesla-like you said, square of rumors of Apple, you having all these big names, you know, take some of the cash reserves and put into cryptocurrency. Right? Do you see more big brands doing the same thing and do and I guess and secondarily the fact that they would be doing the same thing? Do you think having these big companies? Own cryptocurrency, you think that's going to push the government or speed up the government regulation when it comes to cryptocurrency?

 

Mark Binns: [00:14:24] Yeah, absolutely. So first and foremost, I think there's going to be continued adoption of large corporations, public companies, private companies, insurance companies, you name it, buying crypto. I think Tesla's the start. There is the rumor Apple will buy crypto for the balance sheet. If Apple does buy every publicly traded company, the United States will have free reign to do the same, just sort of like no one gets fired for buying. IBM was the same back in the day. Now it's like if you say, Hey, Apple, Apple bought Bitcoin and you're the CFO of a public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq, you can do it, too. Now, you can say, look, Apple did it and they're one of the most reputable companies in the world. So it's not a fly by night type of decision. They truly believe in the store value. They wouldn't do it. So I think you will see a continued adoption. You're going to see more and more insurance companies doing it. MassMutual about one hundred million dollars. And someone said, why so much? And the CEO is quoted as saying, well, that's a tiny amount. We manage billions. One hundred million. It's just a test. So you're going to see a lot more adoption of crypto on balance sheets. I truly believe that there's even discussion that the bond market might move towards crypto underlying assets of the trillion-dollar bond market, which is supposed to be sort of the longer-term stable store of value for Fiat, could start taking positions in crypto or crypto, could supplant the bond market or supplement the bond market. So I think that is all coming. I really do believe that. And that's why you're going to see a continued increase in the value of their currencies, namely Bitcoin because when you have that kind of adoption is only ever going to be twenty-one million Bitcoin. So you'll expect to see a continued rise in the valuation as demand goes up. The supply is not changing.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:16:19] That's. Yeah, I agree with you. There's always I always forget that the sort of finite amount of bitcoin because the prices have skyrocketed. Oh yeah. There's only so much bitcoin that you can purchase. So why would a company want to put the cash reserves in crypto? I mean, aside from big names buying into it, I guess like from a company perspective, like, you know, you being a CEO of a company, you having balance sheets you have in cash reserves, why why would companies put their money in cryptocurrency then cash?

 

Mark Binns: [00:16:51] I think there are two reasons. No. One is truly a store of value. It's like putting your money in an interest account except for an interest account might make you a percent or half a percent a year. Whereas you look at Bitcoin, it's been the best performing asset over the past one to five and 10-year time horizons. If you put it in to keep it and feel it. All you're seeing right now is a continued printing of money by world governments, US government, the Canadian government, the Canadian US governments have printed more money this year than they did in the last hundred years combined. And that is going to be incredibly. Bad situation for the value of those dollars, right, long term. So as a corporation, it's just a smart, safe place to keep your financial reserves. So they're buying power, stays where it is or grows as opposed to shrinking. So that's I think that's a big part of the secondary part is there are some companies using it as a way to make their company more valuable in the eyes of investors. So MicroStrategy for sure, but crypto, so people would buy MicroStrategy stock as a proxy for owning crypto or owning a bitcoin and crypto miners valuations, are generally based on how much Bitcoin they're holding on their balance sheet, or hodling, as they say, and other regular companies can do the same thing. You can buy Bitcoin, have it on the balance sheet. And if you're a publicly traded, people will buy into your company because they know it'll be worth more in the future for them today because it has Bitcoin on the balance sheet,

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:18:28] Of course. Yeah, that makes sense. You know. You know, it reminds me of talking to like we had we've had VCs on the on previous episodes. And of one of the things that they've mentioned was like how you have companies now they'll put like cryptocurrency and like AI got their pitch just to name just to see more value. Like even though the company has nothing to do with AI, there's no AI involvement whatsoever. There's no cryptocurrency involvement. There's no blockchain involvement whatsoever. But the fact that they have these buzzwords in their pitch like it's it just increases their value.

 

Mark Binns: [00:19:05] You know, there was a big twenty seventeen thing. I remember the juice company Iced Tea Bottling Company of New York, USA became the blockchain ice tea company or something. They literally just put it in their name and they got all this attention to this like value. But yeah, just a PR stunt that one.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:19:24] So how do you see I mean, now we have big companies coming into the market? All of us are getting more retail investors day to day. How does this accelerate innovation in the space? And I guess what innovation do you see happening in the space?

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:19:41] Well, innovation comes from corporate involvement, right? So most innovation has to do with a company that's looking to create a financial opportunity for themselves through some new technology. And then you get more and more corporations involved in whatever way with crypto and aware of it, the more likely they're going to drive forward and create innovations and put investment into the space. You look at companies doing things like helping build the Lightning Network for faster transaction processing and payments on top of Bitcoin. That's coming because more and more corporations are involved. So I really believe that corporate involvement in the institutional involvement we see now will put more money into innovation and searching for more ways to exploit the opportunity around crypto, which will just naturally move the market forward.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:20:30] Mm hmm. Yeah, no, I mean, that makes total sense. Or you need these big movers and shakers in the space to move and shake anything at all. Right. Like, you know, the Lightning Network is something I've been hearing about for like two years now, and it's still going. There hasn't been any any any system in place yet. So it definitely makes it makes a lot of sense, I guess. Where do you see just crypto as a general heading in the future? Do you see I mean, Do you see like your kids or any of these Tik Toc kids using cryptocurrency. Like where do you where you see cryptocurrency heading?

 

Mark Binns: [00:21:11] And I see a general adoption both in payments and also in-store value. So a cross between gold or people own it just to have it as is value that will increase in the future. And Fiat which people are using to buy goods and services. I hear about lots of parents now that pay their kids allowance and crypto because they believe that I mean, you could give them twenty dollars and in three years it'll still be worth twenty dollars, or you can give them twenty dollars worth of Bitcoin that in three years will probably be worth one hundred dollars. That's theory. So you see a movement of all sorts of. Yeah. Investment, payment, daily use. I think it really is going to infiltrate our lives. As you see PayPal making it available to twenty million Americans to buy goods and services. That's pretty exciting. And you see merchant adoption and acceptance. Now there are all sorts of merchants that will accept payment. Tesla just announced as part of their acquisition of Bitcoin, also that accept payment in Bitcoin for cars. Big corporations are starting to do it. I know Dell does it. Overstock.com does it. I believe Microsoft does it. I think Amazon is. Or talking about it, so as soon as people can spend it and in the meantime when they're not spending, I believe they'll get a bigger return on their investment than sitting in a fiat currency. It'll just be a self-perpetuating situation. So I really do see crypto over the coming years becoming part of your daily life financially.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:22:51] Yeah, no, I mean, paying me the allowance and crypto, that's a very wild, wild, a very amazing idea. And it makes sense. I like living in like, you know, living in a post covid world. It makes sense that you'd want to invest in something digital. Right. You want to make sure you have at least as many touchpoints as you possibly can. Cash is one of them. Right. Not like the ATM, taking it out, touching. It just so many light touchpoints, like, I don't want it. I don't want my change back.

 

Mark Binns: [00:23:18] Like, take it. Look, I don't want I have friends who gave their kids crypto as Christmas presents on ledgers. And I have there are all sorts of examples now of the use of crypto in the store, crypto becoming part of everyday lives like two and three-year-olds. I have crypto in my kids. RESP's is now the new financial instruments where you can buy it in RSPs and TFSA and RESPs and yeah, like basically savings accounts that are tied to crypto with underlying derivative assets. It's pretty exciting.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:23:53] Yeah. I mean especially like tiebacks where you sort of like if the bond market summerlike has a little bit of crypto into it and oh my goodness, I know my grandmother would be super happy with all the bonds that she was buying me if I could change them over to crypto.

 

Mark Binns: [00:24:09] There you go. Yeah. Awesome. So, Mark, is there, you know, aside from everything, what else is aside from Bitcoin and what's going on in big tech? what likes what are the things that you find interesting in the market? What what are the things that are like keeping you up at night or things that you're very excited to buy in the next coming years?

 

Mark Binns: [00:24:35] Yeah, I think it's an I'm excited about the things we don't know anything. Right. So we know what we know. But there's the old saying. You don't know what you don't know. There's there are innovations happening in every corner of blockchain. And I haven't, of course, seen them all. But every day I wake up and see some new novel way to use crypto or new novel technology to crypto. And I don't know where it's going to go. And that's sort of what's exciting. Nothing's changing, really, in the fiat world. Crypto, you're getting things like exchange-traded funds starting in futures trading. And like I talk about people giving it to their kids with allowance, but the technology around payments and processing transactions like the Lightning Network on top of Bitcoin, it's all just moving so quickly that it's as I have friends say, it's hard to sleep at night. You want to wake up every day and see what's changed and what's moving in the news tied to crypto. You're going to see governments get involved. I think there's this move towards central bank digital currencies, which is really just the digitization of their existing currencies, not true crypto occurrences that are decentralized. But I do think you will see governments start to get involved in true crypto decentralized currencies. There's an example of a small town in Ontario that you can now pay your property tax and get to it. Yeah, Innisville, all they do is take the crypto and sell it immediately and put the cash in the bank. But it does open up more cool uses for the technology. And you're going to see more and more governments getting involved one way or another. And that's just going to help accelerate the adoption.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:26:16] Yeah, no, I mean, I'm excited to have more. Yeah, I'm excited to. You know, when we open back up and so I can travel around Canada, I got to just pull up in like a small town in Alberta and just pay for my Tim Hortons coffee in the of Bitcoin that I think that they'll be amazing.

 

Mark Binns: [00:26:33] You're going to tap your Visa card and it's going to withdraw instead of fiat it from an account. It's going to basically convert some crypto into payment instantly and give it to the guy at Tim Hortons.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:26:45] Yeah, so that'll be amazing. Mark, thank you so much for sitting down today. What would be the best way to either get in touch with you or even get in touch with BIGG?

 

Mark Binns: [00:26:57] Yeah, you can check out our website, Bigg Digital Assets dot com, and be more than happy to hear from anyone mark@biggdigitalassets.com is my email address. Happy to talk about crypto. Happy to talk about BIGG and reach out any time.

 

Manseeb Khan : [00:27:11] Awesome. Thanks so much, Mark.

 

Mark Binns: [00:27:12] My pleasure.

 

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 ncfacanada.org. Oh yeah.

 

End of Podcast

 

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