NCFAs innovation and funding ecosystem

Category Archives: Fundraising and Investing

Report: Consolidation and the Changing Fintech Landscape

Shearman & Sterling, Rise by Barclays and S&P Global Markets Intelligence | Jul 21, 2021

Snapshot of MA themes and trends in fintech - Report:  Consolidation and the Changing Fintech LandscapeThe FinTech sector is going through a period of rapid consolidation that will shift the landscape for financial services in the US and around the world. We are excited to share with you a new report on M&A activity in the US FinTech sector that our FinTech Foundry team produced in partnership with Rise, created by Barclays and S&P Global Markets Intelligence. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of FinTech deal activity, discuss its drivers and offer insights into how financial institutions, FinTechs and investors can prepare for transactions in the remainder of 2021 and 2022.

Fintech MA consolidation - Report:  Consolidation and the Changing Fintech Landscape

Some of the report highlights include:

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Report:  Consolidation and the Changing Fintech Landscape 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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Non-Fungible Tokens in the media and entertainment industry

Herbert Smith Freehills | James Balfour, Ghislaine Nobileau and Vrinda Vinayak | Jul 22, 2021

NFT media and entertainment - Non-Fungible Tokens in the media and entertainment industry

Non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) have been dominating technology columns in the media lately. Items that would previously not have been considered traditionally ‘marketable’ or high value are now being sold for eye-watering sums. For example, a digital artwork by Beeple sold for US$69 million, a token of Jack Dorsey’s first tweet sold for US$2.9 million, a token of a GIF of the ‘Nyan Cat’ created a decade ago was auctioned for US$590,000, and a NFT representing Tim Berners-Lee’s original source code for the world wide web was recently sold for US$5.4 million. NFTs have also meandered into the musicsport and fashion industries among others.

See:  OpenSea best month ever, NFT Avatars trend continuation, and Web 3.0 tipping point

In this first article in a series of posts, we provide a high level overview to NFTs and some of the key legal issues arising from their unique nature. Subsequent posts will take a closer look at these and a variety of other key legal and regulatory considerations when applying existing concepts and regimes to NFTs and their underlying technology.

Application in the media and entertainment industry

In a move to counter the abundancy and availability of media content on the internet, NFTs have the potential of (i) reintroducing scarcity into an industry where the presence of intermediaries means that creators often take little part in the profit sharing and (ii) generating new revenues from content catalogues owned by media companies or investors.

Musicians have been venturing into NFTs as a way to increase revenue streams after a halt of live music performances due to the pandemic. Kings of Leon was one of the first bands to release a new album as an NFT along with a moving digital album cover and an exclusive physical vinyl, they also enabled fans to purchase a super token which granted them a golden ticket to access VIP seats at concerts. Earlier this year, musician and artist Grimes also sold 10 digital artworks at auction to raise a total of around US$6 million. In addition to authenticity and traceability, NFTs enable artists to cut out expenses of intermediaries which could solve the issue of musicians struggling to profit from their work. As the technology is still in its infancy, fans have complained of the poor user experience when purchasing NFTs which often requires purchasing crypto-currencies on an exchange, creating and accessing different crypto wallets and incurring a host of third party fees along the way, often doubling the purchase price of the token. However, this innovation is seen by some as an opportunity to generate revenue for artists with a smaller yet loyal fan base who receive meagre revenues from streaming services.

See:  TechCrunch Founder on Selling His Apartment as an NFT in Groundbreaking Deal

The NBA has been using NFTs to monetise its content by setting up its “Top Shot” marketplace powered by Dapper Labs, where fans can buy packs of NFTs featuring key highlights during games. Like Pokemon cards, the purchasers do not know which moments are included in the pack, but they have the ability to sell the NFTs on a secondary marketplace where the most sought after highlights have sold for up to $200,000 dollars.

The film industry has also been buying into the NFT craze as some filmmakers intend on seizing the opportunity to raise money for new productions by selling digital collectibles (such as artwork or sections of the film’s score), to publicise the release of a movie or to boost awareness of an issue. For example, in March 2021, Adam Benzine released 10 limited edition copies of his 2015 documentary “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah” on Rarible for an initial selling price of 100 ETH (approx. $260,000) – to this day 9 copies have yet to receive bids. Around the same time, Nick Box, a filmmaker, released a unique edition of his feature length art horror film called “Elevator to Insanity” on Mintable, he also attached the VOD distribution rights to the token – however it did not receive bids. While NFTs may create new revenue streams for filmmakers, potentially bypassing studios and distribution companies for financial contributions, these have yet to appeal to NFT purchasers and attract as much enthusiasm as other NFT use cases previously described. It is thought that this lack of success may be a direct result of an issue with low storage space on the blockchain. Until recently, the blockchain could only accommodate smaller files resulting in shorter video clips such as NBA sporting highlights mentioned above. However, a collaboration between companies VideoCoin and Filecoin has resulted in a recent announcement that they have managed to solve this storage issue by creating enough file capacity to store 725 million 1080p high resolution film NFT files. With news of this technological development, it will be interesting to see whether NFTs in the film industry gain more traction.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Non-Fungible Tokens in the media and entertainment industry 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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How decentralized finance will transform business financial services – especially for SMEs

WEF | Rebecca Liao | Jul 19, 2021

DeFi and Bitcoin - How decentralized finance will transform business financial services – especially for SMEsDecentralized finance had a resurgence last summer. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether are now becoming more widely accepted for payments and USD Coin (USDC) has made significant progress towards being an asset that will maintain its value without future depreciation.

Since its inception, DeFi – literally decentralized finance or blockchain-based forms of finance that do not rely on centralized intermediaries such as banks – has been adopted to some extent by smaller businesses in developing markets whose needs are unmet by the traditional banking system. For example, some businesses use payment companies like BitPesa in Africa, Tranglo in ASEAN and the major DeFi exchanges to either make direct payments or convert payment amounts to USD-backed stablecoin for cross-border remittance.

Virtually all major international commercial banks have at least piloted the use of blockchain for transaction banking services – which remain slow and cumbersome – but none of these pilots have involved DeFi. Rather, they focus on making bank processes more efficient and replacing traditional financial instruments with standardized digital assets. That means the approval and execution of transactions still ultimately go through the framework of traditional banking or more established fintechs. For example, a business’ credit risk is assessed based on financial statements and only applies to that specific business, without the ability to distribute risk across its system. The infrastructure around client support is also quite extensive, which means clients cannot be serviced without a high threshold cost. These practices hamper capital opportunities for larger enterprises and freeze out SMEs.

See:

DeFi platforms provide an alternative system, not simply a plug-in to existing banks. Their decentralized nature means transaction onboarding and market-based risk assessments are much easier to scale across a business’ wider system because access to relevant information is not dependent on centralized processing or a prior relationship. Prior to DeFi, a business would have to complete anti-money laundering and “know your customer” checks for every source of capital and convince their counterparts to onboard to the same transaction banking programmes. They also would not be able to present evidence of performance on their debt or payables outside of financial statements.

DeFi allows for the exchange of trustable data across a system, mitigating these barriers to business financial services. Until now, however, most companies did not seriously consider DeFi as a viable alternative to their bank’s services because of the volatility of crypto-assets, regulatory uncertainty and the immature technology involved. Even Tesla’s purchase of $1.5 billion in bitcoin was motivated by the direct financial value of bitcoin as an asset, not by its transaction banking needs.

While DeFi previously solved the complex requirements around portable digital ID for businesses and has a roadmap for providing access to financial performance track records in transaction banking, it completely lacks two crucial elements: a one-to-one exchange with fiat currency; and interoperability between different blockchains so that counterparties could freely interact with one another. The former is necessary for cryptocurrency to offer a stable store of value that can be used as currency and to have an easily accessible interface with the traditional financial system. Interoperability is crucial for transactions to occur at scale in the highly fragmented blockchain space.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - How decentralized finance will transform business financial services – especially for SMEs 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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Ethereum co-founder says safety concern has him quitting crypto

Bloomberg | Olga Kharif | Jul 16, 2021

Anthony Di iorio quitting crypto - Ethereum co-founder says safety concern has him quitting crypto

Anthony Di Iorio, a co-founder of the Ethereum network, says he’s done with the cryptocurrency world, partially because of personal safety concerns.

Di Iorio, 48, has had a security team since 2017, with someone traveling with or meeting him wherever he goes. In coming weeks, he plans to sell Decentral Inc., and refocus on philanthropy and other ventures not related to crypto. The Canadian expects to sever ties in time with other startups he is involved with, and doesn’t plan on funding any more blockchain projects.

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

“It’s got a risk profile that I am not too enthused about,” said Di Iorio, who declined to disclose his cryptocurrency holdings or net worth. “I don’t feel necessarily safe in this space. If I was focused on larger problems, I think I’d be safer.”

Back in 2013, Di Iorio co-founded Ethereum, which has become the home of many of the hottest crypto projects, particularly in decentralized finance -- which lets people borrow, lend and trade with each other without intermediaries like banks. Ether, the native token of the network, has a market value of about US$225 billion.

He made a splash in 2018 when buying the largest and one of the most expensive condos in Canada, paying for it partly with digital money. Di Iorio purchased the three-story penthouse for CUS$28 million (US$22 million) at the St. Regis Residences Toronto, the former Trump International Hotel & Tower in the downtown business district.

In recent years, Di Iorio jumped into venture-capital investing and startup advising. He was also for a time chief digital officer of the Toronto Stock Exchange. In February 2018, Forbes estimated his net worth was as high as US$1 billion. Ether’s price has more than doubled since then.

Read:  Crypto Pioneer Buys Penthouse in Former Toronto Trump Tower

“I want to diversify to not being a crypto guy, but being a guy tackling complex problems,” Di Iorio said. He is involved in Project Arrow, run by a high-school friend that’s building a zero-emission vehicle. He is also consulting a senator from Paraguay.

Decentral is a Toronto-based innovation hub and software development company focused on decentralized technologies, and the maker of Jaxx, a digital asset wallet that garnered about 1 million customers this year.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Ethereum co-founder says safety concern has him quitting crypto 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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How to get into angel investing with ‘no’ money

Sifted | Kim Fai Kok | Jul 15, 2021

Kim on angel investing opinion - How to get into angel investing with ‘no’ moneyEven if you don’t have a lot of capital to invest, you can start investing in companies just by giving your time, and gradually transition to investing with your money.

Four months ago, I stepped down after a decade at Swedish unicorn Truecaller to become a full-time angel investor. That’s something I never thought I’d do, especially considering I didn’t know what an angel investor was before joining a startup.

I was once intimidated by the idea of becoming an angel investor — and in particular by the thought of how much money I thought it required — like so many other people I talk to.

Sure, my experience at Truecaller has now given me capital to invest, but it’s possible to get into angel investing with a small amount of money — because that’s exactly what I did.

It all starts with learning 

When I joined Truecaller in 2011 as employee number two, I had just graduated from university and had no clue what to expect from working in a startup. Back then, the ecosystem was not as developed as it is now, so finding advisors and people you could learn from was much harder before. However, I reached out to other companies, people and investors I looked up to from all over the world. I looked for the best people in their field — from finance, communications, product management to angel investing.

See:  Advisors Seek Venture-Investing Gold in Fintech

I spent hours crafting personal notes about why I wanted to speak to them and what I wanted to learn. You’d be surprised how helpful people are as long as you’re genuine and are clear about what you need help with. (Of course respecting people’s time and learning when to accept a ‘No’ is also important!)

Those meetings made me a more confident operator and helped me build a strong network across the tech and startup community. This network is what helped me start to see dealflow for potential angel investments and get closer to founders.

Once you have a network, start investing your time 

As I started to build up experience of my own, I stopped always being the person asking for advice. Instead, people started coming to me to exchange ideas.

No matter how busy I was, I carved out two to three hours per week to either help or learn from entrepreneurs and operators, be it over lunch, phone calls or walk-and-talks. These exchanges helped me get out of the day-to-day chaos of startup life, to reflect and collect my thoughts systematically.

See:  AngelList Pioneers Rolling VC Funds in Pivot to SaaS

Along the way, I realised that the advice and encouragement that I gave to entrepreneurs I met is exactly what they look for with angel investors. Founders started to treat me as a trusted friend and advisor, someone they wanted to text or hop on a call with when they had a conundrum. And they introduced me to other founders. In short, by investing time, if not money, I had landed the kind of dealflow great angels have.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - How to get into angel investing with ‘no’ money 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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Tiger vs. SoftBank: Inside the investing playbooks that upended Silicon Valley

Protocol | Biz Carson | Jul 12, 2021

Tiger Global vs softbank - Tiger vs. SoftBank: Inside the investing playbooks that upended Silicon Valley

The two firms invested the most money into startups so far in 2021. But how they do it is completely different.

Nylas CEO Gleb Polyakov had been following the Silicon Valley playbook for raising money: meet with firms; deal with associates, then partners; and try to clinch funding for his developer-tools startup.

Then Tiger Global handed over a term sheet.

When Polyakov alerted other firms interested in investing in his hot API maker to Tiger's offer, one of the more traditional firms he had been talking to abandoned the deal.

There's an "old boys' club" and a "process" Silicon Valley VC firms like to follow, said Polyakov. "And if you don't follow the process they get very upset and very insulted, which seems a little silly."

The last firm to turn the tables on Sand Hill Road before Tiger was SoftBank. The Japanese conglomerate had raised a $100 billion fund to invest in tech startups, and its "capital cannon," as Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called it, became a thing entrepreneurs wanted behind them in support, not facing them as a threat. The investment strategy set off an arms race of firms raising larger and larger growth funds to compete in deals.

See:  Tiger Global: what happens when ‘normal’ returns?

Now in 2021, there's been an explosion in venture capital investment as all that cash has sought places to land. The first half of 2021 shattered records with $288 billion invested in startups globally.

Leading the pack is Tiger Global Management, which has emerged as this year's funding jockey, setting a blistering pace with venture firms racing to keep up. Tiger Global has invested in over 120 startups already this year, according to an analysis by PitchBook for Protocol, and shows no signs of slowing down with a $6.7 billion fund announced in April and a rumored $10 billion fund on its heels.

"Their strategy right now seems to be hinging a lot on 'Money is still cheap.' The public markets are still accepting these unicorns and VC-backed companies and sustaining those high valuations that they're seeing in the private markets," said PitchBook analyst Kyle Stanford. "Sometime last year [Tiger Global] saw the opportunity to just put as much money to work in the market right now as they can, and that's what they did."

SoftBank, meanwhile, has returned to the market after the WeWork deal's fallout cooled outside investors' interest in its Vision Fund 2. The firm rebounded after mega-hits like Coupang and DoorDash, and is now as much of a player as when it first shook up the venture capital world. SoftBank recently upped the size of Vision Fund 2 to $30 billion of its own money and has made 90 investments from the fund.

See:  SEC has an active and ongoing investigation on Softbank ‘Nasdaq whale’

Tiger Global and SoftBank are now the two largest investors when it comes to dollars invested in startups for 2021. But the approach to how the two deploy capital is incredibly different.

Kings and nerds

SoftBank is a kingmaker, led by internet emperor Masayoshi "Masa" Son. All of the investments involve a pitch to the chief of SoftBank, who is said to back founders who inspire him and reward CEOs who have the biggest, most audacious plans.

Tiger Global doesn't have the same kind of frontman. Don't try Googling it: Its website presents all of three pages to the public internet, hiding the rest for investors. It prefers to stay out of the press. Instead, it's known for studying its prey and then pouncing on a deal. Its relentless speed is a result of having done much of the diligence on an investment before it even approaches a company. Once it's invested, it remains largely hands-off — a big contrast to SoftBank, which will take board seats and hasn't been afraid to switch up management when needed.

Look Back 2013:  Borderless Investments: The Top US Venture Capitalists Investing in Canadian Startups

What they have in common — and what makes them both symbols of this golden age of venture investing — is being open-checkbook investors who aren't afraid of pouring hundreds of millions into a startup with a desire to hold that position into the public markets. As such, they've both shaken up the venture capital market in 2021 and are the new forces driving deal speed and price in late-stage investing.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Tiger vs. SoftBank: Inside the investing playbooks that upended Silicon Valley 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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Worldwide gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 to 135.6 years

WEF | Natalie Marchant | Jul 14, 2021

women and STEM by the numbers - Worldwide gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 to 135.6 yearsBy the numbers: Women in STEM

Women made up a third (33%) of researchers in 2018 and have achieved parity when it comes to numbers in life sciences in many countries, the report says.

But women make up just 28% of graduates in engineering and 40% of those in computer sciences – skills vital for the jobs of the future, it added.

Female workers also account for just 22% of people working in artificial intelligence (AI) worldwide, although there are regional differences, according to UNESCO.

Countries such as Singapore, Italy and South Africa were leading the way with each having women make up about 28% of professionals with AI skills, compared to just 14% in Brazil, 15% in Mexico, and 16% in both Germany and Poland.

Gender gap at top tech companies

Women are also under-represented at the top of multinational tech companies, despite efforts to close the gender gap in technical and leadership roles, the UNESCO report warns.

Facebook leads the way with women accounting for 23% of technical roles, and 33% of leadership positions.

See:  Women In Fintech Will Play A Crucial Part In The Covid-19 Recovery Plan

Apple has been implementing measures to hire more women and under-represented minorities since 2014, but women still only make up 23% of technical roles and 29% of leadership ones.

Meanwhile, Amazon has been working to correct the gender imbalance since 2018, when it realised that its AI system was not ranking women candidates for software developer and other technical roles.

The online retail giant has since committed $50m to supporting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programmes for under-represented communities, but still only 27% of its managers around the world are women.

Women less likely to access funding

Women in science and tech are also less likely than men to access funding.

Start-ups led by women received just 2.3% of venture capital in 2020, according to a report from Harvard Business Review, citing data from Crunchbase.

women founder only funding - Worldwide gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 to 135.6 years

Women in academia were also found to receive less grant funding despite being twice as productive.

And though women account for four in 10 academics globally, they often face an impenetrable glass ceiling, says UNESCO.

Women ‘must not be left behind’ with jobs for the future

In a digitally driven future, advances in technologies such as AI will blur the boundaries between male and female that form the basis of the gender gap, says UNESCO.

See:  Why venture capital firms need more women partners and entrepreneurs

COVID-19 prompted changes in work-life balance and these need to be translated into policies that ensure women do not spend a disproportionate amount of time as unpaid carers, educators and home-makers, it adds.

Women must be given equal access to education and information that will enable them to compete equally with men for the jobs of the future, says UNESCO.

The time it will take to close the worldwide gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 to 135.6 years.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Worldwide gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 to 135.6 years 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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