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Fintech Fridays EP41: 40% pandemic growth, taking risks and innovating Insurtech in Canada

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NCFA Canada | Sep 18, 2020

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NCFA FF Podcast Ep41 Danish Yusuf Zensurance Banner - Fintech Fridays EP41:  40% pandemic growth, taking risks and innovating Insurtech in Canada


EP41:  40% pandemic growth, taking risks and innovating Insurtech in Canada

GUEST: DANISH YUSUF, Founder and CEO, Zensurance

BIO:  Danish Yusuf is the Founder and CEO of Zensurance, a Toronto-based technology company focused on building curated insurance solutions for business owners.  Danish is a former leader in McKinsey & Company's Digital Insurance practice, supporting insurance clients globally on defining their digital strategy. Prior to McKinsey, Danish was a software architect and developer at IBM Canada, covering everything from mainframe development to web development.  Danish earned a bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering from the University of Toronto and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. In 2018, he was named by Canadian Underwriter as one of the Top 10 Brokers Under 40 in the Canadian Property and Casualty industry.  Enjoy!

Links:

Danish Yusuf, Founder and CEO, Zensurance (LinkedIn)

Zensurance  (websitetwitter)

 

About this episode: 

Danish Yusuf, Founder and CEO of Zensurance joins Craig Asano, Founder and CEO NCFA Canada for the kickoff episode of Season 3 of Fintech Fridays. They discuss Danish's entrepreneurial journey, the story behind the creation of Zensurance and dive into what it's like adding 40% new staff during the pandemic to sustain growth, and innovating B2B insurance products for small businesses in Canada.Zensurance - Fintech Fridays EP41:  40% pandemic growth, taking risks and innovating Insurtech in Canada

 

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Transcription of Interview

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.

 

Craig Asano: [00:00:20] Hello, everyone, my name's Craig Asano, the founder and CEO of NCFA welcoming you to Episode 41 of FinTech Fridays, a weekly podcast brought to you by NCFA and Partners, where we sit down with the incredible people in the fintech and funding community and talk about trends, product innovations, developments and challenges. Fintech Fridays is an evolving and innovative educational platform focused on delivering authentic personalities, content and storytelling on the journey of mainstream adoption of new financial technologies and their impact on the future of finance. We're super excited to welcome our guest today, Danish Yusuf, the CEO and co-founder of Zensurance to the show.  Welcome!

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:01:02] Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much for having me today.

 

Craig Asano: [00:01:05] Yeah. So let's get this interview started. We'd like to divide our podcast time up by, you know, getting into some background about you being an entrepreneur. Then we're going to flip over to all things insurance and Insurtech. And for the benefit of our our listening audience, we're going to let them know that we're going to wrap up with some rapid fire surprise questions. So how does that sound?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:01:30] Sounds great. Happy to be here. And let's let's get to it.

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:01:33] Ok, so let's just start off with an easy one. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how has the entrepreneurial journey been for you?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:01:44] Sure. So I was born in the Middle East. I spent about the first 15 years of my life moving around a fair bit. My my family was such that we moved around pretty much every year or two. And before I went to undergrad, I think I'd been to about 13 schools. So very used to change, used to getting used to new environments. And I never thought really I'd be an entrepreneur. For me, it was I went to the engineering, I did my MBA. It was very standard path for lots of people in undergrad. And I started working at a consulting firm. And for the first couple of years, I just loved what I was doing and never thought I would do anything else. I was at the time a lifer and after a couple of years I saw a number of my friends launching businesses in different parts of the world. Of course, 98 percent or so of these startups fail, but there was a lot of learning that they got from those failures. And there was a handful of wild successes that are now publicly traded companies and doing amazing things. And I was always intrigued by the ability to control my life. I have an idea and try and try and drive it to success. But I was just honestly quite risk averse. I thought my thought was I spent the last 15 years of my life getting to this job why would I give it up now? And one day I flip that, And I said, look, I just spent the last 15 years of my life getting me ready for the next phase, whatever that next phase is. And after a number of attempts and discussions, I finally said, look, if I if I don't quit my job now and try my luck, I don't think I ever will because I was about to get married and the responsibilities just grow after that. And so I finally, with a friend, spent three months while still at McKinsey, where I was doing consulting work on the weekend. We were piloting things. And finally I said, it's worth the risk. Let's quit, let's quit our jobs and give it a try. That was February twenty ninth. Twenty sixteen. And I don't know if I could ever go back to a traditional job again, given how much I've loved what I've done thus far. As hard as it is, it's it's very rewarding.

 

Craig Asano: [00:03:55] I love it. So you were an engineer. You're an MBA. I see on your bio that you were a Harvard alumni. Can tell us a little bit about that experience. It seems like out of reach for most and you've done that.  Did it better prepare you.  Do you think, for being an entrepreneur or making that key decision flipping from, you know, I'm a consultant at McKinsey and I have this great career path, but I'm feeling like I need more control. I need more more challenges like I was at Harvard or what was it? Was it all the change in 13 schools growing up?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:04:31] It's probably a combination of everything. Who knows what eventually triggered me to do it?  I think having done my MBA, I was I understood business a lot more. I had a lot of friends that had done it before that actually you know what, thinking about it, that's probably the thing that did it most, having that network of people that have tried the entrepreneurial route and failed. And my conversations with them and what they learned and the people that have tried and succeeded, having hundreds and hundreds of friends and colleagues that have tried different things, that was probably it. That gave me the confidence to think maybe I can do it as well, because without that, I was a very it was very standard path that you do engineering. I worked at IBM, you go into consulting and it's a very insular life where a lot of your friends are very much like you. You need to have that network outside of people that have done different things and you can learn from them. So that probably was it.

 

Craig Asano: [00:05:33] Yeah, absolutely. You often hear the quote, you're only as sort of valuable or impactful as your network.  So, you know, that's great to hear that Echoed so early on in that stage where, you know, you hadn't become a major success yet. You're looking, assessing, you're feeling confident in capabilities. And the time was right. There's a lot of, you know, trends out there. It's never been a better time to start a startup. What was what else was going through your mind after you left your company? Did you think, oh, crap, I totally regret this lost our paychecks. And what like how do you go from there to now I want to start a company. Did you have that idea right before you made decisions?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:06:21] Just one reflection on something you said. We're still not a big success. There's still so much more work to be done. It's an uphill battle for years to come. We're thankful for where we are, but there's a lot more work left to be done to your earlier question. For I think it was probably 2012 where with another friend, we actually hired a Waterloo co-op, a fantastic guy, we put them in an incubator and we had an idea round comparison shopping for services. There's a lot of competitors for products, but not as many for services. And we were both working full time jobs. We put five thousand dollars each into this and we said, let's give it a try and see if it gets somewhere. But after the summer, we realize it's just too hard to do it on the side. There's so much that has to be done. We ended up shutting the business. We had a couple of thousand dollars left from the ten thousand of seed money. And ever since then, a couple of times a year, we go for sushi and we're still trying to spend down that money, whatever is left, even though the business is done. And then late 2015, while I was still a consultant to large insurance companies, there was an idea that I was thinking about around business owners and insurance. You can see lots of examples in other countries about home and car insurance and how, for the most part, you can just buy it online and it's a kayak or Expedia like experience.  But in Canada, even home and auto insurance, you couldn't buy online at that time. But even now, in 2020, there's only one place where you can buy car insurance online, whereas in the UK no one buys in any channel other than onlinn today. There's a lot of differences, but that was my thought. Why isn't it that this has happened? And I spoke to a lot of my clients there and told them what I was thinking about people said it's a really, really hard problem. But if someone can solve it, that would be a huge thing. And so identifying that they the incumbents realize that there was a problem to be solved but weren't convinced that it was solvable. And then, on the other hand, speaking to friends of mine that were potential investors and a friend that was going to potentially join me, that made it real for me. And for the last second half of 2015, I had a lot more conversations convinced that friend of mine, friend of mine to quit his job. That gave me the confidence to say, OK, we're actually going to do it. And I still remember February, 29, 2016 was the first full time day on the job.  And I did feel what have I done. I quit my job. We don't have a product.  This has to succeed that I felt like one of those old generals where you land on shore and you burn your ships and you say the only way for success is to actually make this work. But I think that having quit and feeling like this has to work was really the only thing that made sure we felt like we we had to do everything in our power to make it work. And there were many nights where I thought I made a mistake, including the first version of the product that we launched. It was horrible. There's a saying in the startup world, if you've taken what is that? If you if you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've taken too long to release. And I was so embarrassed. I didn't want to show my friends. I didn't want to show my family. We tested it with strangers so that we didn't have to feel embarrassed about it. But that's just the way we had to start.

 

Craig Asano: [00:09:54] Wow. Yeah, it's like having an Excel sheet with an old VBA macro button. Hey, guys, look what I built.

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:10:01] Yeah. And it spits out Hello World. And you're so excited about it, but it's just hello world.

 

Craig Asano: [00:10:06] Well, it kind of gives me goose bumps thinking to the you know, that key moment doesn't matter what an entrepreneur does, but they know they're doing it right if they feel that that pressure that, you know, question, because if it were easy, everybody would be doing it. And it's it's this this idea that now once you get out, let's say, in a boat and out to waters, you mentioned something interesting about you know, you might never be able to go back to say, McKinsey or, a large incumbent organization that has a lot of structure. There's this this dichotomy. This point in time where you start thinking more about iterations and MVP's and value and staking your claim as an entrepreneur, which has value to a large incumbent organization that sees that value can work with it within the parameters of large organization. But do you still feel with where you're sort of at or maybe at the at the time that you could never go back? Where were you so confident that you thought, you know, even if this fails, I have enough cash, I have some resources, just amazing Harvard network...just want to get more insight into the folks about how to go about making that decision and digging in and understanding really what those risks are, because I think it's case by case. But there's there's some some lessons here.

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:11:37] Yeah, I was fortunate in some ways that I took a long time to take the plunge. I was in my early thirties, so I'd been working for 10 or so years. I'd save some money and I could have gone 18 months or so without getting another paycheck and have been OK. That helped me. That gave me that courage that, you know, if it doesn't work over the 18 months, the only thing I would have really lost was that 18 months of cash that I spent. But I was pretty comfortable that I could go back and find another job, whatever that would be, and I probably would have been better equipped to do whatever I did next, given the experience I had. And I always tell myself I wish I had left my job a few years earlier because it's unlikely that the first attempt at entrepreneurship would succeed, such a high failure rate. I've been quite fortunate that so far it's been working out, but if this didn't work out, I don't know if I'd have the time or the energy to try again. But if you leave earlier in life, you might have the cycles to do two or three iterations and hopefully hit a home run in one of those. Also, when you're younger, you're you're more amenable to living in your parents basement, eating ramen noodles and and taking the bus. It's just so much easier to live like that. And that real scrappy feeling, if it translates to the way you do business, there's a lot of value to it. And people that have that grit, that tenacity to just go after it and get things done, they would be so valuable to any organization that I think someone can can do that and even fail there's a high likelihood that some large company would absolutely value it and they would do fantastic at something else, too.

 

[00:13:29]

 

Craig Asano: [00:13:31] Well, you know, at that point in your your journey, you know, you're in the boat, you must have come up across some pretty monstrous obstacles in your life because you were transforming that even though you might be willing to eat ramen noodles. You know what what were the the major obstacles and how did you overcome it or did you come up with another plan? Like what? How did that work?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:13:56] Yeah. So a few big obstacles in our early days was around. I think the investor side was OK. We convinced them that if there was an opportunity, we would be the ones to figure it out to. The initial investment side was OK. The big challenge, which continues todayfour and a half years in, is convincing the insurance companies that we know what we're doing or that we know enough about what we're doing, that we can figure out the rest. And I always thought I read this in a couple of books. The big upside outcomes at the end are dependent on you being right. You're either right or you're wrong. And if you're right, if you're wrong, then maybe the outcome is not for you, but you have to be right. And then at the same time, most people have to think you're wrong, because if everyone thinks you're right, like you said earlier, things would have already been done and the alpha would have been arbitraged away. And so I had to keep telling myself the fact that people are saying they don't believe us, the fact that we're getting pushed back and resistance is a really good sign because it means that we may be on to something. We still have to prove that we're right, at least have gotten to the point where people think I'm wrong. And so as an insurance broker and we're technology enabled broker, we partner with the insurance companies so continuously trying to convince them to work with us that we're not out to get them, that we we are generally a genuine value add to the industry and customers want to buy online.  That was and continues to be our biggest pain point. Also, I'd say roughly every nine months where a brand new company, initially we were to and then we became five and 15 and then forty five and now we're about one hundred and five and 40 percent of our staff has joined during the covid lockdown. So there's a rapid growth just in the last six months. So every nine to 12 months we're a brand new company. Most of the staff is new, the processes are new, and it's a real balancing act between keeping that freewheeling spirit that got us here, but having the processes necessary that people know what they're accountable for and that they have enough guidance to do what's right. A really simple example. In the early days, if we had an expense, anyone could just go and buy the printer or buy the monitor that's needed or a keyboard. There's really no questions asked. You look around, you do what's right. Off you go. We can't do that. Now is one hundred person company. So now you have to ask your manager. Your manager has authority. They have to get approval from finance. We had to put that in place just to be proper about it. So keeping that balancing act of flexibility and process is, I'd say, probably the second biggest challenge that we were always trying to balance it and do what's right.

 

Craig Asano: [00:16:54] Do you still, as the CEO of that ship that, you know, were were instrumental, you were the story of the creation of zensurance, took the risks. Do you find that you make those decisions 50% / 50% for you thinking as a startup CEO/founder or more, I'm the head of this company, we're responsible for one hundred staff. And your company has a policy. It has an identity. It has an existence. How do you how do you approach those decisions?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:17:28] Certain things will have a very strong view and will just do what I think that's one of the benefits of being the CEO, if I feel very strongly about it, will do it. But most of the time it will do is depending on where the decision lands. There's somebody else that would have the primary accountability for that thing, be it the finance department or sales. They'll they'll have that primary view. And if it's something small or mid-sized, they'll just do it. If it's something more meaningful, we'll debate it and we'll we'll see what what's the right outcome. I forget which book I was reading recently. This is a great analogy. The the Knights of the Round Table, it was a round table. There was no heads. So everyone had to sort of come to a decision together but behind the table, there was a throne. So if the table couldn't decide it, the one person would break the tie at the end. And it's sort of like that for us. It's rare that I'd like to break the tie. But if there is a logjam and I have a strong point of view, we'll just move forward for the sake of efficiency. Not to say I'll always be right, but it may be better to be wrong and fast than to be right and move slow.

 

Craig Asano: [00:18:37] Mhm. Absolutely. Yeah. No that's well said. What do you know. There's this story here in Canada. I'm sure it's all around many markets and countries around the world, you know, the lack of women leaders or women in, you know, women founders, also women leaders that are part of that key internal decision making round table. You know, if you're going to the executive team by decision. Do you see it as a problem in Canada and around, like, how can we overcome this? And there's obviously an incentive to do so. I mean, you roughly have 50 percent men in the world, 50 percent women, the world. What's going on?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:19:17] Yeah, it's it's it is a problem, I'll tell you. Definitely is a problem. The gender balance is one thing and there's all other sorts of diversity and inclusion. You want have a good balance to represent holistically having a well balanced company essentially from from various metrics. It's it's a lot of debate, a lot of discussion. I'm not sure what the solution is ourselves. We're not great at the gender balance, at the at the senior level. That's something we are aware of and we're working on. I'd say when you go down to middle management, we are better. They'll still have more work to be done. One of the things we've recently done is tracked the applicants that we're getting in for all types of roles and looking at the diversity of the applicants and making sure that at a minimum, we are attracting a very diverse range of applicants. So at least we're not shooting ourselves in the foot right at the top of the funnel. And we're then making sure that as much as we can, that all of our evaluation processes, the even the words that we use in the job descriptions, the fact that the people that are participating in the interviews, we want to make sure even from our side, people that are interviewing, they are a diverse group and trying to see is there something we're missing in that conversion funnel from applicants to offer to hire. And we're making a really concerted effort to evaluate ourselves and make sure that we're holding ourselves up to a higher standard and hopefully things balance out. Personally, I'm not a fan of having hard quotas that you must have X or Y, because how far do you go with those quotas? We know there certain best practices and we want to get to that, but we have to fix from the top of the funnel down and and work towards getting to a nice balance split.

 

Craig Asano: [00:21:10] Very smart, very smart cookie, earlier before that last question you touched upon covid got to ask it.  You know, this and another interesting thing you talked about every nine months, every 15, whatever it is, you're almost like a chameleon. You come out of this shell and you reinvent yourself with covid reinvention and the size of the company you have with with one hundred do you have policies like are you allowing employees to work remotely, permanently, or is it a hybrid model? What are the trade-offs? And then maybe just what's the whole how are you approaching covid? And we're like, it's not over. We know it's not. But what what are your thoughts on covid?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:22:00] Yeah. So we I was amazed when we when we were planning for covid all of our employees have laptops and my first job was at IBM in 2003 as a as a co-op or as they called it. And I had a laptop at the time and I didn't realize that the vast majority of insurance employees that either brokerages and insurance companies don't actually have laptops. It's a very desktop culture and a remote token with a VPN token. I didn't realize that was the case. Luckily for us, we were started as a digital company. And so for us technologically, it was very easy. On a Friday morning, we said, all right, that's it. Trudeau came out and announced a lockdown and it was declared a pandemic. Everyone was told to go home and not come back. And all people had to do is pick up their laptop and whatever else. And they went home. And we literally, over the coming weeks sent monitors and equipment by Uber to everyone's homes because we said, please do not come into the office. And to this day, we've told people don't come into the office. And in fact, we will never force anyone into the office ever. If you're not comfortable, work remotely. We are only now starting to allow people back into the office if we as we created all of the necessary tooling, you have to book a desk. You we have to get it cleaned. We have to have distancing one way past all of that we're setting up right now. But I think we are changed forever, as there are now. There's now somebody living in Vancouver and working here and there's somebody that we hired out of Calgary. We've never done that before. We've talked about it. But now we have the ability to hire anywhere in the world and we're going to take advantage of it. We're not confined to the small space in downtown. We also have had to spend a lot of money learning how to on board employees virtually. We we have forty percent of our staff that has joined during covid. We haven't met most of them yet. They have to feel like they're part of the company. They have to learn the culture. They have to work with their colleagues. They have to learn to use all of the tools and on the sales side and learn how to sell insurance and manage customers. So we've had to really learn that muscle of how to on board people and also, unfortunately, off board people. We had to part ways with somebody. We we did it over remotely. And five minutes later, we had an Uber waiting outside their home so that they can return the company equipment. And the Uber came back to the office and off we went. So there's a number of really interesting twists that I believe that this new model is here to say in some way or another. I don't think we're going to be one hundred percent remote forever, but we'll probably be largely remote forever because it helps us attract talent from anywhere. And I think that's the future of our business and for many startups, that's the case.

 

Craig Asano: [00:24:58] Yeah, the global resourcing is is critical. I wish in some cases that remoteness, the benefit of it, could hit areas like regulation and living in a global world were digital first.

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:25:14] So we haven't even touched on the regulation side. It's something I've thought about. So typically as a business, you buy a general liability policy and that covers you for workers at the office. Now, let's say someone's working from home in Calgary and something happens and they're working out of their house. Whose insurance policy covers that desert. Is that their home or is it the business? Or if they're flying here and it's partly vacation and partly visiting the office, what happens to all of these questions haven't been answered of the contract covid. And something happens. Who's responsible? It's all of these regulatory legal type things will have to go through the courts to get settled before we know where things will land.

 

Craig Asano: [00:25:59] Wow. Is there a model there where you could have, you know, like doctors are running their own small business, yet they're paid and organized and regulated by the government. And could it be that in Calgary, your employees all over the world, they run and you give them a pack and a policy and say here's how to get your business off the ground and we'll sell you insurance, too, because we're an insurance company, but you're actually running your own business and and you're working as a self-employed model. And, you know, that could be interesting because there's companies at that size. They have to start going through that sort of policy thinking.  very interesting.

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:26:42] They know the gig economy is sort of like that.  You're anywhere you log into this platform and you and you start working. So there are examples of that already. Or you you go via a staffing firm and the staffing firm helps you with your insurance and payroll and banking. So there's some examples out there that people can latch onto and use is all new to us, because for now, everybody has been employees and they've been in downtown Toronto or a commuting distance from downtown. We have to figure this out as we go. And I've been quite, quite a bit more active on LinkedIn over the last month. And I post about our learnings and our experiences and my thoughts on insurance. So as we learn more, I'll be posting stuff online.

 

Craig Asano: [00:27:25] Yeah, that's fantastic. Well, I'd like to get in a little deeper into the actual Zensurance business model. Can you talk to us a little bit about who your primary customers are, the stakeholders, the traction, what are the latest product innovations? What's going on? Or are you just who are you disrupting? Is it all the incumbents?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:27:46] So we we're we're with the equivalent of a Kayak and Expedia for insurance for businesses, insurance, insurance can be split into Life health benefits, that's one half. And then there's property and casualty. We're in that half and then property and casualty can be split into insurance for people. So your home and your car or your cottage, and then there's insurance for businesses. We're on the business side and specifically on the small business side. And that hasn't changed for like 50 years. You still walk into a broker's office or you get on the phone, you get a 15 page document, you fill it in, you fax it over, you go back and forth for weeks sometimes and you often can't pay by credit card. It's it's cash or cheque or or something like that. And it amazes me that in twenty twenty you can't buy a five hundred dollar insurance policy online. Because presumably the incumbents say it's too complicated and it can't be done, but if planes can fly themselves and cars can drive themselves and you can buy all kinds of things online, why can't you buy a five hundred dollar policy online? It's really just data and algorithms applied, decision made, policy issued. And so that's the problem we're solving. And it's it's not a simple problem for sure. If it was, people would have already done it. But our whole philosophy is there's so many conflicts of interest in the current business. There's so many so much manual transaction and waste in there. How do we use an advanced platform, a technology platform to eliminate the waste, make the customer actually like the experience to buy insurance as much as possible? Nobody likes buying insurance, but make it as simple as possible and educate them about what they're buying.  Give them advice as to how to reduce the risk in their business and be that adviser, but in a very digital manner. We're still 50 licensed brokers. If someone wants to get on the phone and talk to us, we can do that. But it's that self-service model where half our customers come to us after business hours because they're busy running their business during the day that it would make it easy for them. And on the conflicts of interest, we haven't solved all the problems ourselves, but we're looking at it. And there's this really interesting concept of the loyalty penalty where probably and most often the longer you are with the same provider, the more likely it is that you're going to pay more than you need to, because every year you bump up the price by five percent, five percent the next year and five percent, you really don't do anything. And lo and behold, after a couple of years, you're paying 20 percent more than you were. But a brand new customer comes in with the exact same profile. They will be offered a thousand dollar policy, whereas you're paying twelve hundred only because you've been there for a while and you and you're not bothering to shop around. That's a big thing we're trying to solve for by having no difference between the price for a new customer and an existing customer, we're equal across the board and we believe that's the way it should be.

 

Craig Asano: [00:30:49] Mm. Yeah.  When I think about the opportunities in insurtech, number of years ago this idea of uberized-insurance, let's not charge the company a standard insurance policy that covers them for a year that looks like the big companies because they're a small company. And let's try to right size. Let's try to Uberize. Let's try to. But is it that technology that allows them through sort of filter by filter and then the data side where they can assess the risk more accurately. I guess what the question is, how are the products themselves being innovated on as opposed to the, market like the gig economy, the new trend. But what about those products? Is that where most of the innovation is happening or is it more on the market side?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:31:41] Yeah, it's a great question. I think most of the innovations thus far generally has been happening on the distribution side. How do you buy the product? Innovation on the product itself is coming. There are companies out there that have pay per use type insurance or different things like that. But we have been doing is taking those traditional policies that have been geared towards midsize businesses that might be 10 or 20 million in revenue. And if you're buying a policy made for that business, you're going to pay based on that. So what we're trying to do is figure out how do you remake that policy so that it's more geared towards what that small business needs. You take out the stuff that they don't need. You add a few more things that they do need you right size it. You pay the appropriate amount, but it covers you for what you need. That hasn't been done a whole lot. We're only a year into that journey right now and we think the product innovation is critical. And you can't just take an old school product and put some lipstick on it and sell it online and hope you're successful. You have to innovate from from the front all the way to the back. But so far, most of the work has been on the distribution side.  In general, when you look at various insurtechs out there.

 

Craig Asano: [00:33:01] Insurtech in Canada can you talk to us a little bit about that? How many are actively pursuing innovation on that product side and is it growing? Is it is it mostly based here in Ontario? Is that all over the place? What where is the opportunity? What are the challenges to how do we know what is the future growth path look like?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:33:24] Yeah, insurance is a massive industry. It's the property and casualty side to 60 billion in revenue per year. Just in Canada. It's six hundred billion in North America and a couple trillion in the world. It's a massive industry, lot of opportunity in terms of innovation, unfortunately, like in many things in Canada, where we are a little bit behind, there aren't too many businesses in insurtech at scale and there are a handful that are have raised a couple of million dollars and doing really interesting things. I think the innovation is following GDP. Ontario's Big, BC and Alberta's next. There's some of the Maritimes and the prairies, but it'll follow GDP and we're quite excited. I'm personally very excited every time I see a new startup in the space, we need more people lot. We need a lot more smart minds trying to figure out how to make it better. And we need enough critical mass to give what we're doing credibility and convince the big guys that there's something to it and they need to rethink their traditional philosophy of digital doesn't work. It's a traditional business. It's a handshake business that people don't want to buy online. The more companies out there knocking on that door, hopefully we convince some of them. But I think there's still a lot more work to be done. Many more startups are needed because we are behind, a fair bit behind the US and a lot behind the UK. The UK is probably amongst the furthest in the world.

 

Craig Asano: [00:34:56] Why is that is that because there's some regulation that's slowing the sort of Canadian adoption and interest in the space, or is it because it's so tightly controlled by incumbents and there's no incentive for that change and it's tough to break in?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:35:15] There is some regulation. I don't think that's the reason. If you look at across verticals, we tend to be a very conservative culture here. This has changed in the last few years. But traditionally, if someone wants to convince or acquire customers quickly, they'd rather go to the US where people are a bit more of a risk taker. You'll have people sign up and try things. It traditionally hasn't been as much here. We also have a very cosy enterprise culture. You have five banks, three telcos. There isn't that much of an incentive for the big folks to really move the needle because it's quite comfortable versus in the US you have thousands and thousands of banks. That has changed, but that probably has a lot to do with it. For the UK and insurance in particular, regulation was a big part of it. It's much more lax. For better or worse, there's arguments on both sides and insurance, particularly much more lax in the regulation which facilitated the rapid rise of auto insurance online. So Canada is a bit more regulated in the US is much more particularly when it comes to auto insurance.

 

Craig Asano: [00:36:27] I mean, we have these a lot of discussions right now about the prospects of open finance, open banking on open-X, if and when that comes down to Canada. I mean, we've already seen a number of jurisdictions that were behind. But when that comes down in Canada and this focus around, consumer access to data and the privacy standards, how does that blend into Insurtech and are you preparing for that eventuality? Will that help you? Hinder you? What what do you think?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:37:01] I am a huge supporter of that, giving the control of a consumer's data back to the consumer and in some ways encouraging or enforcing the opening of the platforms to allow new players to come in and run on the existing rails. No one's used the word that I've heard open insurance. I'm not sure quite what that even means, but anything that is talking about greater transparency, greater control for the consumer, that's what we stand for. And we're big supporters of that. Essentially, what we're doing is bringing transparency to products and pricing of commercial insurance to the customer. And we get a lot of push back from incumbents saying you're just commodatizing the market. If you make it easy to compare products and pricing, prices come down. And I say, yes, probably. But if that's the only reason you're in business, which is the lack of transparency, you're not running a good business. Let the commodity products trade as commodities and then you go and add value in other ways. You can buy a Dell machine for seven hundred bucks, but I paid two thousand for my Mac. They do similar things they're both computers. I could do Zoom calls on both, but the Mac just is so much better in many ways and I'm willing to pay more. And I think the same with insurance. If all you're doing is selling a commodity, it deserves a commodity price. Add some more things in it that people are willing to pay for and they will pay for it.

 

Craig Asano: [00:38:34] Yeah, absolutely, yeah, I know very well said, if if there is a partnership that's out there or an investment, perhaps, what is Zensurance looking?  What does Zensurance need and where do you see Zensurance as well as yourself being in five years? So, you know, is there a partner and how do you how do you get to that next iteration of growth? You said earlier on that, you've had some success as a long way to go to want to get into the future a little bit.

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:39:06] Sure. covid has been good to us in many ways. We have a lot more volume than we can even handle. We had 10 people, 10 new employees start on Monday. We have a bunch more starting. So if you'd asked me this pre-Covid, I would have said the thing that will one of the things that will help us is connecting to pools of businesses where we can get more customers and learn more from them. That will always be the case, but it's not the highest priority at this point for us. It's just being more connected to the insurance insurance company community and sharing more with them what we're doing and figuring out ways to get more insurance companies on our platform. We work with 50 today. There's probably one hundred and fifty in Canada, so we represent one third of the market. There's a lot more to be done there. As a broker, we support choice and the more choice we can provide the customers, the better our experience to them until the future is more insurance companies, more insurance products, more tailored products, and eventually tapping into bigger, bigger and bigger pools of businesses and getting them to even just to use to learn about insurance, even if they buy elsewhere that's fine. We want to be that central place where businesses, particularly the smaller businesses, come to learn about managing risks and running a more effective business. If we accomplish that in the next five years, I will be able to sleep happy every night.

 

Craig Asano: [00:40:33] Absolutely.  Is there any insurance product specific for the fintech industry that you see as a potential area of interest?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:40:42] Fintech has been a really hard space for insurance because of the perceived risk. If you're sure if you're moving money, your your insurance policies are issuing mortgages. It was extremely hard. We've been fortunate over the last two months to work with a couple of our partners to come up with insurance products specifically built for the fintech community be that electronic crime coverage or coverage for the directors coverage for you, you make a big round of incorrect credit score guesses and you lend money that you shouldn't have and your algorithm goes haywire. So there's a number of things that we've we worked on with a couple of partners geared towards the fintech community. And I think anyone that's beyond a certain level of scale should really consider that product just because the the downside risk is huge. We had one customer that had some sort of theft digitally and they lost well over a million dollars over it and they had insurance and so they were OK.

 

Craig Asano: [00:41:49] Well, I just think about all these, you know, the automation and the smart contracts and transactions that are happening while everybody's sleeping at night, it's going to be a certain, certainly interesting challenge to to look at insurance in those automated spaces. But I think we're we're going to start moving into that rapid fire question round. I could talk to you all day, man, this has been awesome. But I know, you know, you've got ten new people waiting for Ubers at the door to start work.  So let's get into these rapid fire questions, just like a one word quick response not. And you can you can pass it. It's just, you know, let's let's finish it with some fun here. So you you ready for for these rapid fire questions?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:42:33] I feel like it's coming whether I'm ready or not. So let's do it.

 

Craig Asano: [00:42:35] It's come in and you don't need insurance for this. Here you go. What keeps you up at night?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:42:43] Keeping people engaged, all our employees engaged as we double and triple in size and making them feel like they're still at a startup.

 

Craig Asano: [00:42:51] Nice. What's your favorite book?

 

Danish Yusuf:  I just read it. Awesome book, You Are What You Do by Ben Horowitz.

 

Craig Asano: [00:42:59] Oh, I don't know that I have to get it. What new technology will transform the future?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:43:07] Oh, well, what one new technology will transform the future, I may have to pass on this one. There's so many things I can think of, right?

 

Craig Asano: [00:43:17] So what is so that's a pass what is one piece of advice that you'd give yourself if you went back in a time when you were a university student?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:43:26] Take a lot more risk much earlier in life. The downside is limited, but the upside could be massive. Not only because you can form a company out of it, but the amount that you could learn by taking that risk.

 

Craig Asano: [00:43:39] Good answer. Good answer. What epic experience in your life will you never forget?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:43:48] Closing the first round of funding for Zensurance, the day Trump was elected.

 

Craig Asano: [00:43:54] Oh, you won't forget that one.

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:43:57] I'll never forget it.

 

Craig Asano: [00:43:59] I should probably add a rapid fire question. Who's going to win the US election?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:44:04] The American people?

 

Craig Asano: [00:44:06] The American people which one  so the last rapid fire question, What motivates you each and every day?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:44:17] Every time we hire a new batch of people, we had a new batch this week, they tell us how excited they are to be with the company and how cool they think what we're doing. They That's really inspiring to hear after after four years, you sort of forget what you're doing and it's day to day. But when someone new comes in and they make you step back and think, yeah, really, it is cool what we've all built together. It's not just me, it's the whole team hearing that every once in a while makes it all worthwhile.

 

Craig Asano: [00:44:50] That's fantastic. Is there any last message you want to to part with the Fintech Fridays audience that are listening here?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:44:59] There will be many incumbents that are not happy with what you do, take that as a positive sign and just keep plugging away persistence. In my mind, persistence is a huge factor in success, not not necessarily being the smartest or being the most well-connected, just having that grit to keep going and keep going. There's probably a huge correlation between that and success.

 

Craig Asano: [00:45:26] Very wise words. Well, everyone, that's a wrap, folks, on behalf of the Fintech Friday's podcast, we'd like to thank Danish for joining us on the show. I had a blast and really enjoyed a convo. Please come back any time and before you go. Last thing is, can you tell the audience how to get in touch with you if they have any questions? Want to learn more?

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:45:46] Yeah, absolutely, you can find me on LinkedIn, I've been quite active recently, and then the company Twitter handle @zensurance, I'm plugged into that as well.

 

Craig Asano: [00:45:56] Ok, everybody, there you have it. If you have any questions hit up Danish on LinkedIn or check out the Zensurance platform and I'll of course, be sure to include the contact information, what we can, as well as his bio and all the links in the show notes. So thanks again, everyone, for joining us. And episode forty one with Danish Yousef, the CEO and co-founder of Zensurance. If you're new to FinTech Fridays, please check out some of the incredible past episodes on the site. I'm sure you'd be surprised at what you find. We look forward to seeing you next Friday for another episode of Fintech Fridays. Have a great weekend, everyone.

 

Danish Yusuf: [00:46:33] Thank you.

 

Craig Asano: [00:46:35] Thank you.

 

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

 

Subscribe and Listen to more Fintech Fridays podcasts here

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

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech Fridays EP41:  40% pandemic growth, taking risks and innovating Insurtech in Canada 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 Podcast: Season 3

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JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY:  SEASON 3

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EP41:  40% pandemic growth, taking risks and innovating Insurtech in Canada

NCFA FF Podcast Ep41 Danish Yusuf Zensurance Banner - FINTECH FRIDAYS Podcast:  Season 3

 

GUEST: DANISH YUSUF, Founder and CEO, Zensurance (Linkedin)

BIO:  Danish Yusuf is the Founder and CEO of Zensurance, a Toronto-based technology company focused on building curated insurance solutions for business owners.  Danish is a former leader in McKinsey & Company's Digital Insurance practice, supporting insurance clients globally on defining their digital strategy. Prior to McKinsey, Danish was a software architect and developer at IBM Canada, covering everything from mainframe development to web development.  Danish earned a bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering from the University of Toronto and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. In 2018, he was named by Canadian Underwriter as one of the Top 10 Brokers Under 40 in the Canadian Property and Casualty industry.

Enjoy! (Full TRANSCRIPT)

PAST SEASON 2 EPISODES:

Ep20-Jan 11:  Bitcoin Backed Loans and 2x Credit - Putting Your Crypto to Work (Mauricio Di Bartolomeo)

Ep21-Jan 18:  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration (Hussein Hallak)

Ep22-Jan 25:  Reducing Regulatory Burden by 25% in Ontario (Amar Nijjar)

Ep23-Feb 1:  Getting Smart About Crypto and Insurtech Snapchat Models (Justin Hartzman)

Ep24-Feb 8:  Re-imagining Philanthropy (Daryl Hatton)

Ep25-Feb 15:  Unlock the World (Kate Guimbellot and Jason Sosnowski)

Ep26-Feb 22:  Investing in Private Canadian Companies (Peter-Paul Van Hoeken)

Ep27-Mar 1:  Blockchain Gaming and esports (Shidan Gouran)

Ep28-Mar 8:  Rethinking Brokers (Muhammad Rashid)

Ep29-Mar 22:  The Future of Securities (Richard Carleton)

Ep30-Apr 12:  The Future of Canadian Crypto (Andrei Poliakov)

Ep31-May 14:  Blockchain Law (Jason Saltzman)

Ep32-May 24:  Rallying behind Bitcoin (Frederick T. Pye)

Ep33-May 31:  Indexing Consumer Loans and Financial Literacy (Phillip Postrehovsky)

Ep34-Jul 6:  Accelerating Fintech Growth (Brendan Holt Dunn)

Ep35-Aug 9:  Autonomous Alternative Lending (Vit Arnautov)

Ep36-Aug 22:  Techfins (Michael King)

Ep37-Sep13:  Funding is Female (Jill Earthy)

Ep38-Mar25: Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment (David Lucatch)

Ep39-Apr23: The Power of Digitization and How to Get Exponential (James Wallace)

Ep40-May22:  Why Bitcoin Exists and Education for the Masses (Austin Hubbell)

FINTECH FRIDAY$ is a weekly podcast brought to you by NCFA and partners, where we sit down with the incredible people in the Fintech and Funding community and talk about trends, product innovations, developments and challenges!

Fintech Fridays is an evolving and innovative educational platform focused on delivering authentic personalities, content and story telling on the journey of mainstream adoption of new financial technologies and their impact on the future of finance.

Subscribe and tune in each Friday to check out the latest movers and shakers with hosts Manseeb Khan, Tristram Waye, Anna Niemira, and others coming soon.

Want to get involved?  Contact us about partnerships opportunities, hosting and more:  info@ncfacanada.org

NCFA Fintech Fridays podcast - FINTECH FRIDAYS Podcast:  Season 3

NCFA Jan 2018 resize - FINTECH FRIDAYS Podcast:  Season 3 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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CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2020 FINTECH DRAFT PITCHING AND DEMO COMPANY WINNERS!



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Global News Radio Interview with Michelle Beyo: Alipay – Moving Money Between Countries

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NCFA Canada | Michele Beyo | Aug 19, 2020

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Checkout NCFA Advisor - Payments, Michelle Beyo's interview on Global News Radio

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Global News Radio Interview with Michelle Beyo:  Alipay - Moving Money Between Countries 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

Latest news - Global News Radio Interview with Michelle Beyo:  Alipay - Moving Money Between CountriesFF Logo 400 v3 - Global News Radio Interview with Michelle Beyo:  Alipay - Moving Money Between Countriescommunity social impact - Global News Radio Interview with Michelle Beyo:  Alipay - Moving Money Between Countries

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2020 FINTECH DRAFT PITCHING AND DEMO COMPANY WINNERS!



FFCON20 Pitching and Demo Winners - Global News Radio Interview with Michelle Beyo:  Alipay - Moving Money Between Countries



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Rebank Podcast: How to Build a Profitable Digital Bank with Tinkoff

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Rebank Podcast - Banking the Future| June 19, 2020

Tinkoff building a digital bank - Rebank Podcast: How to Build a Profitable Digital Bank with Tinkoff

Oliver Hughes is the CEO of Tinkoff Group, one of the world’s most successful digital banking groups with over ten million customers.

Tinkoff is publicly listed, which brings clarity to its operating model in a time when many noteworthy consumer digital banks are pursuing customer acquisition at the expense of profitability.

Oliver has led Tinkoff through three financial crises, so brings experience and perspective to the current COVID crisis.

Listen to this podcast --> here

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Rebank Podcast: How to Build a Profitable Digital Bank with Tinkoff 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

Latest news - Rebank Podcast: How to Build a Profitable Digital Bank with TinkoffFF Logo 400 v3 - Rebank Podcast: How to Build a Profitable Digital Bank with Tinkoffcommunity social impact - Rebank Podcast: How to Build a Profitable Digital Bank with Tinkoff

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2020 FINTECH DRAFT PITCHING AND DEMO COMPANY WINNERS!



FFCON20 Pitching and Demo Winners - Rebank Podcast: How to Build a Profitable Digital Bank with Tinkoff



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Innovate Finance: Spotlight on Innovation: Canada Fintech Podcast

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The Global City | Jun 4, 2020

Powering the fintech revolution - Innovate Finance:  Spotlight on Innovation: Canada Fintech PodcastWelcome to part two of Spotlight on Innovation, a series of discussions that look in detail at fintech in global markets recorded in partnership with Innovate Finance.

This episode will look in detail at the fintech landscape in Canada. Lord Mayor Alderman William Russell and Innovate Finance’s Head of Commercial and Business Development Caroline Vaughan are joined by two guests to discuss everything from investment into Canadian fintech and emerging trends to the effects of Covid-19 on innovate firms.

With special thanks to Jennifer Reynolds, President & CEO of Toronto Finance International and Robert Baldassare, Senior Advisor – Fintech at MaRS for their time and insights.

Listen now - Innovate Finance:  Spotlight on Innovation: Canada Fintech Podcast

Continue to the full article --> here

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Innovate Finance:  Spotlight on Innovation: Canada Fintech Podcast 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 EP40: Why Bitcoin Exists and Education for the Masses

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NCFA Canada | May 29, 2020

JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY.

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EP40: Why Bitcoin Exists and Education for the Masses

HOST: Manseeb Khan, Fintech Fridays podcast episode

GUEST: AUSTIN HUBBELL, Founder and CEO, Consilium Crypto (Linkedin)

About this episode: On this episode our host Manseeb Khan sits down with Austin Hubbell from Consilum Crypto. They chat about how quarantine is going, the state crypto and much more. Enjoy!

 

BIO:  Austin is the CEO and co-founder of Consilium Crypto (https://consiliumcrypto.ai/), a big data company developing institutional grade investment analytics and liquidity access tools for the digital asset markets, helping funds find alpha and place large orders efficiently in times of thin liquidity. With a background in software development and machine learning, as well as previous tech startup experience, Austin brings a skillset balanced between the technology and business worlds. He previously worked with a distributed team based in L.A./San Francisco to build predictive models for crime hotspotting in major US cities, before transferring to the FinTech world to build machine learning based trading systems for currency markets. Enjoy!

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

Listen to more podcasts here: Season 1 | Season 2

 


Transcription of Interview

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

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:00:19] Hey everybody Manseeb Khan. Thank you for tuning into another fantastical episode of the Fintech Fridays podcast, Quarantine Edition. Hopefully you guys are staying safe, but also staying said it might feel like the movie Groundhog Day. I know it does for me personally. Everyday feels like Sunday and also Tuesday. It's very weird, very strange. But you know what? It is what it is. On this week's episode, we have Austin Hubbell from Consilium Crypto to kick off the first episode of the Fintech Friday Qurantine edition. So enjoy it. Awesome. Austin, Thank you so much for joining me today.

 

Austin Hubbell: [00:00:56] Thanks a lot for having me, Manseeb. Great to be here.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:00:58] Awesome. So awesome. Give us a little bit of who you are and what you do.

 

Austin Hubbell: [00:01:03] Absolutely. So I'm a CEO and co-founder of Consilium Crypto.  Consilium s a big data company that captures siloed data sets from digital asset markets around the globe and brings them into one system where they can be easily transformed into valuable insights for investors. Every month we capture and analyze more transactions than the Toronto, London and Hong Kong stock exchanges all combined. And we're a B2B company, so we work with funds, exchanges and ATC desks to provide machine learning powered trading tools.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:01:35] That's awesome. So how have you been holding up during this whole quarantine thing? I know I'm definitely getting a little star crazy. You know, before before we jumped on me, my best friends jumped on a Zoom call, and we all watched the NFL draft together just to get some sort of semblance of human interaction. How have you been holding up how is especially being a CEO especially working remote? How's that transition been going?

 

Austin Hubbell: [00:02:02] It's been it's been an adjustment for sure. I think our company, as long as well as a lot of other tech companies, are in a better position than a lot of other small businesses just because we continue to operate despite some of these restrictions. It definitely has had an effect on communication with the team. I think there's a few things going around right now apart from Corona. So a few of our our team members have been sick and out of work for a little while. But apart from that, things are going fairly well. We're also fortunate to have a little bit of practice with the remote work just because we do have a team in Toronto and a team in Montreal. So we do have a little bit of practice kind of keeping that team cohesion from a distance. But there's no doubt that it's had a lot of negative impacts on our business, just like everyone else's.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:02:48] Yeah, I know for sure. It's definitely a very interesting shift and it should be very interesting to see how businesses are going to currently adapt by working remotely.  You know, some companies are going to thrive from working remotely like, you know, hopefully you guys are and some are not. But, you know, let's let's let's dig into the how did how did you get started into the whole crypto realm, as you say?  I mean, you know, for me, I was just a you know, my crypto journey probably started two years ago. I was just Googling a bunch of things and just found this crypto thing fun to watch people on LinkedIn. And then I kind of jumped up like, honestly, that's the whole purpose of this show, is to sit down with amazing experts like you so I can kind of learn more and, you know, let my audience learn more as well.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:03:33] Well, it's a bit of a winding path. Like most people are getting into crypto previously worked at a proprietary trading firm in Montreal focusing on forex. So global currencies, we were looking at G10 spot markets and trying to do some interesting things with machine learning to get an edge in that market for trading purposes. At the time, I had a few friends that were very involved and then blockchain and crypto and they kept kind of bugging me about it more or less. They kept coming to me and saying, You have to check this out, you have to check this out. And so near the end of 2016, I started studying for the C4 certificate. So it's the crypto currency certification consortium. I'm missing one of the C's in there, but that's one of the really great. Yeah, exactly. Well, it's one of these online courses that teaches you the fundamentals of Bitcoin and blockchain. And one thing that I thought was really cool about that, course is in the end, you take this test and if you pass, you can get a certificate, but they force you to pay for that certificate in Bitcoin. You can't use PayPal, you can't use your credit card. So you have to actually go get some Bitcoin somehow, create a transaction and actually pay for it in Bitcoins. So that was my my intro into the crypto world. And then about seven or eight months later would have been around Q3 2017. The opportunity just kind of presented itself to make the leap over from Forex and start something new in cryptocurrency. And basically what I saw was the opportunity to collect this amazing dataset of raw transaction data, bids and ask to order book data, from these exchanges and distill it into value for investors. And that's something that would be incredibly expensive to do in traditional markets and within crypto. It was a lot easier at the time, at least.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:05:25] Yeah, no, that's That's. Wow, that's awesome. The fact that you have to actually purchase is difficult in Bitcoin That's.  Wow, that that's amazing. You know.  Creating a system or creating a program that helps funds understand Crypto more, I guess what would be your, I guess know, diluted tips and tricks of the trade that you can share with our audience, that things that there should be kind of looking for things that you've picked up along the way.  I mean, granted, you're definitely a lot better now at understanding and like analyzing these assets than you were from day one. Were there like a couple of things that you kept in mind that's helped you stay the course?

 

Austin Hubbell: [00:06:12] Well, I think it's important to treat these things as a technology first and an investment second, so really understanding how these things operate. The risks involved, especially the tail risk involved with these things. For example, vulnerabilities in smart contracts, things like that. Companies that operate in the cryptocurrency world, if they're not very careful about how their funds are managed and that the security protocols in place, it really creates a price on your back for hackers. So I would say that for people who are just coming into crypto, don't treat it as a speculative investment, treat it as a new technology. So think of buying an individual crypto asset as buying an app on the app store. So put in five to ten dollars, play with it for a while until you have a thoroughly understanding of how it works and then decide if you want to go up a tier or how you want to actually engage with this if you want to use it for its intended purpose of kind of maybe remittances or transferring payments or peer to peer cash or if you want to use it as an investment. And so once you've kind of made that decision, I would say at some point the next step would be to manage your own wallet. So it's a very powerful process to control your own private keys and understand the signing process works and really just go slow and steady, ask for help at every step in the process if you need it, and just focus on education and really understanding the tech side rather than just treating it like some kind of slot machine.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:07:41] Yeah, I know for sure. I mean, understanding that, you know, it is not a lot like looking much is not speculative.  The app, the app things, it was it was a great example. Education is going to be the key education's That's. Hey, that's that's the purpose of this show, right. Of letting people know what it is. What's the purpose of it?  You know you know, us being a global pandemic right now is a really interesting test case of, you know, banks are shutting down. ATMs are going to have limited cash like, you know, like three months ago you might have wanted to buy a house. Guess what? You can't. You want to buy that. You can't. Right. Like, it's everybody's everybody's money is now held up. This is why crypto came into place, right, so the should be very interesting test case for Crypto.

 

Austin Hubbell: [00:08:28] Absolutely. Yeah. I'm glad you brought that up, actually, because I have a little anecdote from the last two weeks. Oh, perfect. You were just trying to. Sorry. We were just trying to convert some USD to CAD within our own bank account. So it's not not a complex transaction. Should be very simple. I couldn't do this through the online system with our bank. I called their their their support number and they said that there's super long wait time. I waited for about an hour and a half on there. Got transferred between different departments and their final say was, I'm sorry, you have to go into an actual branch to do this. And that's crazy. So I said, OK, well, I don't want to do that. No. One, because that's just what the opposite of what everyone's supposed to be doing right now. This is really not an essential thing for my life to be done. And then secondly, I looked up at my branch was completely closed. So what do you do now? You know, this is just craziness, but how do the funds been in stable coins, for example? So a Canadian dollar stable coin and a U.S. dollar stable coin. I would have been able to go to any number of exchanges and go make that transaction instantly and get those funds and move on with my life. And so I think that's one area that that hopefully banks will take a second look at one, this whole storm passes and they kind of revisit these processes.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:09:51] Yeah. No, I mean, hopefully it's something Banks again, hopefully some people actually look into, right of education is gonna be the key. Knowledge is power in a sense of understanding. They're like, hey, you know what the current economic systems are in are extremely vulnerable. This is exactly why new digitalization of money is coming in. This is why it is going to such a huge push from people in our industry for the digitization of money. Cryptocurrency blockchain because in the next world pandemic, which is now inevitable of, you know, now just the countdown of what is going to happen. Hopefully the next time around, a lot of people have more money and assets where they're not wasting half an hour on call to transfer funds. I mean, anecdote, for me was a couple days ago, I ran to the local bank to the ATM just to get up, get money out.  Unfortunately I wasn't with that bank and that ATM was locked. So I'm like, OK, I need cash. I had to walk to walk to the actual drive through of the ATM to pull out cash. And I was like, OK, well, this is it. This is ridiculous. Like, what are we doing here?

 

Austin Hubbell: [00:11:02] And 2020, to have that be the process, just to go buy something with your own money that you should control at all times. It seemed a little bit crazy to me.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:11:10] Yeah, no, it's it's just it's ridiculous. So aside from the new digitilization of money. What are you most excited about when it comes to the space? When it when it comes to fintech? What are you most excited and what are you most passionate about?

 

Austin Hubbell: [00:11:28] I think that the education side, when it comes to personal money management or wealth management, having people understand the different ways that a portfolio can be created, whether that's gold based investing, where you're you're actually looking towards a certain thing that you want to purchase in the future, whether it's a vacation or house or something like that, and really just diving into how people can retain control of their money. Well, still manage it and sophisticated, smart ways. So I think the ability for technology to do a little bit more hand holding with the end user or with the person whose funds are being managed as opposed to just kind of completely handing it off and hoping for the best and hoping that you're either financial adviser or robo advisor does a good job without really understanding the underlying principles. I think that's a huge opportunity for FinTech. And then the second one, I would say just to circle back the blockchain a little bit, would be the digitization and tokenization of assets. So I think fractional ownership in assets and the ability for people to trade these things peer-to-peer around the world and really bring the kind of less fortunate emerging markets, third world, whatever you want to call it, and bring that into the capital market system and give them access to capital and give investors access to those amazing opportunities and ideas without the friction of the financial systems and different countries and having their own infrastructure and kind of payment rails and whatnot. I think that's a huge opportunity.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:13:04] Yeah, 100 percent.  The fact that opening up micro investments into like into like, hey, you know, you can own a fraction of a classic car or a condo or or a commercial like real estate like opening up those little markets is going to make and break is going to be make the biggest difference in the world. Right. Especially now where, you know, a lot of people want to be a lot more liquid. A lot of people want are definitely rethinking where to put their money. I mean, are you going to put on stocks or not? Probably not going to buy a house for enough. Good luck. Are you gonna do that?  Like, it's like having the access of, hey, buying a 67 Camaro. Pretty, pretty awesome right now. You realize that that's a young, dumb investment that I definitely make right now. If I had that. If I had the ability to for sure.

 

Austin Hubbell: [00:13:56] Amazing, yeah. Everybody's got their own their own 67 Camaro that they want one day. So I'll think with the right education, the right tools. We can all get there.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:14:06] 100 percent. So what do you see? The biggest shifts being in the industry post-covid.  Right. You know, businesses are definitely become more remote. This is I mean, aside from the whole money aspect of it, how companies are gonna start working and interacting. You're going to see a lot more virtual teams, right? A lot of crypto companies, a lot of blockchain companies are in all aspects. They're global. Right. So unfortunately, can't all be in a room, but they all can be in a virtual room. So how do you see the shift happening in the industry? Post this pandemic?

 

Austin Hubbell: [00:14:41] I think one of the biggest things will be automation. I think right now and for the next few months, there will be a lot of belt tightening among big companies and small companies that really just kind of taking a step back and looking at the business and saying, OK, what part of these processes can be automated? How much is it gonna cost me to build out those automation's and how much am I going to save in the long term? So I think this has been a big accelerate towards automating all these processes and kind of removing humans from parts of the process where they're just simply not needed. And then the second interesting point that kind of ties into that a little bit is we are doing a little bit of a soft test right now as a society with UBI. So this isn't technically universal basic income, but the amount of support coming from the government right now. This is a little bit of a trial run to see how people react to this, to see how the economy reacts, to see how society reacts. I think the intersection of automation and potentially some form of a few UBI down the road might be really interesting to see how that plays out.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:15:47] Yeah, 100 percent. I mean, it should be. What we're running, like you said, was running a test. This is just a trial run to see, you know, what works, what doesn't work. I believe the automation thing that should be very interesting of seeing how companies are going to come out, come out of this and reassess, hey, what in our definition or whatever you want to call it, qualifies as an essential worker. Right. And can we automate these things right? Your SLOWLY seeing it right now or with restaurants, grocery stores, everybody is doing this stuff online.  A lot of people are waking up, knowing, missing, hey, I could do a lot of these things online and out to actually be there in person, which is amazing. Absolutely. For sure. Yeah. Which is incredible. Austin is there any is there any like, finals like things has been top of mind for you since this like pandemic. Anything that I guess popped in your head that hasn't popped before before we before we wrap this up.

 

Austin Hubbell: [00:16:51] Well, at Consilium, we we spend a lot of time looking at markets and whether that's crypto currency markets or traditional markets. I think the biggest takeaway from this is find a way to manage your tail risk or at least be aware of what tail risk can look like because this thing came out of nowhere. There was I would say that there's no real regulation or government policy that could have prevented this, unlike some kind of things like the global financial crisis in 2008. This was something that came out of nowhere that no policy could have prevented. And that's a true kind of black swan or tail risk event. And we're all feeling it in terms of our day to day lives. Also in our portfolios and also just how society as a whole is reacting to this. So just be aware of what tail risks that tail risk can happen. And just just re-examine everything in your life and think about how can I manage this? How can I hedge against this, even if it's in some small way so that you can sleep at night when this next event comes? Hopefully not anytime soon. But I think the way that the trend is that these things will be happening more often throughout the next few decades.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:18:01] Yeah. Awesome. Austin thank you so much. Would be the best way for our audience to either reach out to you if there's any questions about Consilium, if they have any any questions of, you know, mitigating the tail risk.  How would I would on audience contact with you?

 

Austin Hubbell: [00:18:16] Well, as a company, we try to be very active on LinkedIn. So I'd say the first thing would be to follow our company page on LinkedIn. And then also just feel free to reach out through through the Web site contact form. We always reply to everybody that comes through there. So, yes, please feel free to reach out anytime if you have questions or you're looking to learn more about the company or crypto assets as a whole.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:18:37] Awesome, Austin thank you so much for sitting down with us today. And I'm excited to sit down with you, hopefully in a real room after this pandemic.

 

Austin Hubbell: [00:18:46] Sounds great. Thanks a lot for having me. Manseeb take care.

 

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

 

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech Fridays EP40:  Why Bitcoin Exists and Education for the Masses 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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CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2020 FINTECH DRAFT PITCHING AND DEMO COMPANY WINNERS!



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Podcast: When Currencies Fail: A Primer on the Dollar Crisis in Lebanon

share save 171 16 - Podcast:  When Currencies Fail: A Primer on the Dollar Crisis in Lebanon

Coindesk | Nathaniel Whittemore | Apr 29, 2020

Crisis in lebanon - Podcast:  When Currencies Fail: A Primer on the Dollar Crisis in LebanonA massive shortage of dollars is instigating economic chaos, including a more than 50% loss of value in the Lebanese pound and what looks like an enormous local premium for bitcoins. Presented in podcast and full-transcript formats.

The Lebanese pound has lost at least 50% of its value against the dollar since last year. About 220,000 people have lost their jobs. Food prices are up 58%. An estimated 75% of the population needs assistance of some kind. And over the last two nights, at least a dozen banks have been torched by protesters.

See:  Living on Defi: How I Survive Argentina’s 50% Inflation

The catalyst? Not coronavirus but a massive dollar shortage destroying an economy that relies on inflows of U.S. dollars to function.

In this episode, NLW breaks down how Lebanon models what it looks like for a currency to fail, and why this likely isn’t the last emerging market currency to experience a similar crisis in the months to come.

A few Snippets from the full transcript

It is Wednesday, April 29th and today we are going to be talking about Lebanon, specifically the currency crisis overlapping a political crisis overlapping a larger economic crisis that is engulfing Lebanon and I think has relevance for how we understand the dollar in the world, the dollar's role in the world and the fallout from COVID-19. I wanted to bring this episode to you because I noticed last week Lebanon start to emerge in the crypto sphere and there were two contexts:

The first was Dan Tapiero. He picked up on a piece by newsBTC noticing that Bitcoin seemed to be trading at fifteen thousand dollars in lebanon via localbitcoins.com which is a peer to peer platform for trading Bitcoin between people. He said the classic emerging market funding crisis was made worse by deflationary dollar peg that is breaking. Study this case as it will be modeled for other weak emerging markets. It will be a key part of the macro story behind the upcoming Bitcoin price rally.

Banks start to limit withdrawals, which is exactly what happened.

Banks started to limit how much could be withdrawn in USD and that creates more demand for dollars. All of a sudden that activity moves to the black markets because if banks won't allow people to withdraw money or get access to dollars, black markets will, but the black market price is not going to stay the same as that official peg.

See: 

This keeps going on. As people start to see the peg fall further, they want to minimize loss.

They go from, "I don't want to lose the value that I would have had at that official peg going on the black market" to "The black markets, the only place I can get those [US] dollars

if it's 2000 Lebanese pounds to the dollar, now, I want to lock in that loss rather than worry or take the risk of a loss of greater debasement of the value of the Lebanese pound in months to come.

Continue to the full article --> here

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Podcast:  When Currencies Fail: A Primer on the Dollar Crisis in Lebanon 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

Latest news - Podcast:  When Currencies Fail: A Primer on the Dollar Crisis in LebanonFF Logo 400 v3 - Podcast:  When Currencies Fail: A Primer on the Dollar Crisis in Lebanoncommunity social impact - Podcast:  When Currencies Fail: A Primer on the Dollar Crisis in Lebanon

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2020 FINTECH DRAFT PITCHING AND DEMO COMPANY WINNERS!



FFCON20 Pitching and Demo Winners - Podcast:  When Currencies Fail: A Primer on the Dollar Crisis in Lebanon



NCFA COVID 19 letter to government to support Fintechs and SMEs - Podcast:  When Currencies Fail: A Primer on the Dollar Crisis in Lebanon

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share save 171 16 - Podcast:  When Currencies Fail: A Primer on the Dollar Crisis in Lebanon