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  • Thu, August 30, 2018 4:37 AM | Deleted user

    A delegation of UK fintech specialists joined Prime Minister Theresa May on her first official trip to Africa and will visit South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya to meet with entrepreneurs to establish trading and export ties in these emerging markets.

    Representatives from Azimo, the Financial Conduct Authority, Standard Chartered, Farm.ink, the London Stock Exchange Group and the Prime Minister’s Ambassador for Fintech were just some of the 29 leaders that accompanied May on the trip in order to forge connections with the African fintech community.

    Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The scale of opportunity for the capital’s businesses across Africa is huge. 111 African companies have already come to London to raise the funds they need to invest and grow, and now we want to go further to ensure that the UK is the partner of choice for African nations.

    “The London business representatives accompanying me on this visit are a fantastic showcase of the depth of world-class expertise and breadth of innovation which the capital is home to,” she said.

    Alastair Lukies, May’s Ambassador for FinTech added that the “UK’s bilateral trade figure with the continent are only the tip of the iceberg - as African countries embrace technology, improve infrastructure, education and healthcare and combine that with a continent-wide passion to reduce poverty, improve stability and to achieve long-term growth, we will have an opportunity to build significant partnership opportunities between the United Kingdom and the countries of Africa.

    “Specifically, Financial Technology is transforming the world around us. There can be no better example of an environment that can benefit from the FinTech Industry than the amazing continent of Africa.

    “Our ability to partner with African nations, to create modern day platforms that level the playing field and enable hundreds of millions of consumers to trade their way into a better life, can never be underestimated.”

    Another representative on the trip, Joshua Siaw, Partner at White & Case, said: “I feel honored to be invited to join the Prime Minister on this important and historic visit. This visit plays a fundamental role in continuing to strengthen alliances between the UK and the many countries, peoples and cultures of the diverse African continent.

    “As a Ghanaian living in the UK I believe there is much more that unites us than separates us.” According to the International Monetary Fund, African economies are amongst the fastest growing in the world, making it an excellent and important trading and investment partner for the UK as well as the perfect place for fintech to blossom.

    Michael Kent, CEO and Co-Founder, Azimo was also one of the delegations who traveled to Africa and will showcase the best of UK business on the trip to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. This news comes after the fintech announced a $20 million Series C investment round.

    The funding round, which was led by Rakuten Capital, was so that Azimo could finance global expansion and focus on the European diaspora who send money back to the emerging markets.

    Kent said: “We are the only established FinTech player to be joining the Prime Minister on this trade delegation to Africa – a testimony to how quickly we have established ourselves as a FinTech leader in the global money transfer sector.”

    He continued to say: “UK FinTech generates billions of pounds to the economy and we are leading the world in financial innovation. It’s important we showcase the valuable contribution of this sector.”

    Azimo is among the fastest growing fintechs in Europe and has expanded its $600 billion global cross-border payments market, after having built a platform that enables payments in over 80 currencies, to more than 190 countries.

    Now able to reach over 5 billion potential customers with cash, bank deposits and mobile wallets, many of the recipients of the remittance payments are in Africa, specifically Nigeria and Kenya. Kent commented on this.

    “Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have been leading lights in FinTech innovation, and with their collective population and economic potential, there’s many opportunities for UK FinTech. This includes collaborating with regional partners to provide excellent services to consumers that have been historically underserved, and to build a better and more inclusive future for financial services.”

    But what does the fintech landscape look like in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa and what can the UK learn from these startups that have been successful in the emerging markets.

    Writing in the Financial Times, Uzoma Dozie, CEO of Diamond Bank, said that fintech is significant to the success of Nigeria’s economy, in addition to the modernization of the traditional banking sector in the country.

    Dozie said: “We are already seeing huge breakthroughs in digital banking and the adoption of fintech-based services by Nigerian consumers — be they retail or business customers. But this expansion must be encouraged by policies that will see greater inclusion of women and rural communities into mainstream banking activity.

    “The adoption of wider business-friendly policies through the reform of our regulatory and fiscal approach is imperative too, if Lagos as a city, and Nigeria as a whole, is to fulfill its enormous potential.

    “Nigeria is already Africa’s largest economy and enjoys many of the elements of success. But we cannot rest on our laurels. Lagos can be Africa’s 21st-century city but only if we recognize the opportunity and act decisively to realize that vision.”

    But isn’t this message applicable to every developing country or area where there are many who are left unbanked? In my opinion, financial inclusion was a term that many of those working in the fintech space heard in relation to M-Pesa, but more about that fintech later!

    What Dozie also commented on was how while the capital Lagos is a “21st-century city”, its banking sector needs to start acting like one, but it is also important to discuss how those in other, perhaps smaller cities, or even villages, manage their money.

    These African countries need investment and support through collaboration to succeed and May’s visit could be the start of something great. Just recently, big players Tencent and Visa were part of those who were involved in raising $8 million for the Nigerian fintech PayStack; the round was also led by Stripe.

    As reported on Tech City, Paystack will now invest the funding and will attempt to scale its engineering team, deepen its payments infrastructure and accelerate their expansion across the continent.

    Shola Akinlade, CEO and co-founder of Paystack, said “As recently as 2015, it was really difficult for a developer or business owner in Nigeria to quickly start accepting online payments.

    “We started Paystack because we believe that better payments tools are one of the most important things that African businesses need to unlock their explosive potential.

    “We think of Paystack as an amplifier of the incredible work that African business owners are already doing. With better technology tools, African businesses can be better equipped to play a growing role in the global economy.”

    Patrick Collison, CEO of Stripe, added: “We’re excited to back such people in one of the world’s fastest-growing regions” with Otto Williams, Head for Strategic Partnerships, Fintechs and Ventures for Visa in CEMEA, also commenting: “Africa is central to Visa’s long-term growth strategy, especially when you consider how cash is still a primary payment option for millions on the continent.”

    “Our investment in Paystack aligns with the kind of investments we look for – those that will help extend our reach into the global commerce ecosystem as it changes and grows, and that will provide mutually beneficial business opportunities.”

    Earlier this month, Nigerian startup Mines, which builds digital credit products for the underserved, also secured a $13 million Series A funding round and aims to expand into other emerging markets.

    Kenya already has a reputation in the fintech industry, dominating the early conversation about mobile money and financial inclusion with startups like M-Pesa, as mentioned earlier. However, now, because the market has expanded so quickly, the African country is looking to regulate it.

    As reported in Reuters, the finance ministry published a draft bill that covers digital lenders so that providers treat retail customers fairly. In addition to this, because US startups will want to collaborate, the regulations in Kenya will be scrutinized.

    Despite political turmoil, fintechs in this country are aiming to help some of the billions of people who lack bank accounts, assets and formal employment climb the economic ladder. The cap introduced in 2016 will also support this initiative and prevent banks from charging high interest rates.

    Reuters reported that: “Without effective regulation, fintech lending could undermine the gains of mobile payments, which a 2016 study published in the journal Science showed had lifted 200,000 Kenyans out of poverty.”

    What is clear here is that Kenya is moving quickly and always a step ahead of some other African countries. Laws need to be in place, especially if services that are offered by fintechs are being adopted at a faster rate than first conceived.

    According to ITWeb Africa, Jules Ngankam from African Guarantee Fund said that there is a $155 billion funding gap for SMEs in Africa and Kenya has undergone a surge in mobile digital lenders: credit is becoming incredibly attractive.

    Fintechs Branch, Tala and Okash have pulled in a number of users in a short space of time, with the first two ranking as Kenya’s top two finance applications in Kenya.

    Ngankam said: “The issue they are trying to solve is always the gap in supply and demand. Business needs to have access to cash. At the same time, there are people who have enough cash to invest. Traditionally, you have money to give to the bank and then they lend it out for profit. What they [digital lenders] are doing is exactly the same.”

    What started off with M-Pesa has expanded across the country, across the continent and is paving the way for the rest of the world. But what about South Africa? Again, technology companies are ensuring that managing, accessing and sending money is cheap and simple.

    Startups such as Yoco and Slide are helping South Africa promote equality when it comes to banking and provide sustainable solutions for the future. Nigeria and Kenya are also working towards the same and it just remains to be seen how the UK will help these emerging countries, as well as how they will help the developed world.

    Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/madhvimavadiya/2018/08/28/theresa-may-in-africa-future-of-fintech/#56ef3d5a44fa

  • Thu, August 30, 2018 4:17 AM | Deleted user

    Wyre announced on August 16, 2018 that it entered into a definitive account transfer agreement for the sale of the majority of its retail money transfer business to WorldFirst. The transaction has already completed and the migration process has started. The transaction is part of Wyre's larger focus for their API-first approach and WorldFirst's global infrastructure and payment coverage made them a clear choice.

    The transaction is expected to see WorldFirst benefit from access to new retail customers who are sending money and paying invoices throughout China, Mexico, Hong Kong, Brazil and the United Kingdom.

    Wyre started servicing individual retail businesses in 2016 and has grown the business to over $100MM in yearly processing volume. Wyre's strategic focus to target a limited number of countries allowed the San Francisco based company to acquire clients within the e-commerce, education, manufacturing, and transportation industry.

    "We're excited for the partnership and it was a clear choice to make the transaction work with WorldFirst," says Ioannis Giannaros, Chief Operating Officer of Wyre. "Wyre has invested a lot of time building relationships with our clients and we're confident that WorldFirst has the world-class customer service to help service all of the accounts."

    Founded in 2004, WorldFirst has grown to become one of the largest payments companies in the world. WorldFirst processes over $15 billion a year, offering great rates and award-winning service, with full licensing and a global presence throughout 8 regional offices.

    "We value the integrity and dedication behind WorldFirst. They respect the ecosystem, and put their customers front and center at all times." continues Giannaros, "They combine great rates and award-winning customer service means and it's no surprise to us that they're the leader in the industry."

    A purchase amount for the transaction has not been disclosed.

    Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/wyre-announces-strategic-acquisition-of-retail-cross-border-payments-service-to-worldfirst-1027465467

  • Thu, August 30, 2018 3:55 AM | Deleted user

    Even though Bitcoin and blockchain are still in their infancy, they have both been the "talk of the town" as experts contemplate the potential ramifications—good and bad—for virtually every industry. As the leading cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is the first exposure many people have to blockchain technology. Many compare the transformative effect of blockchain to the disruption caused by the Internet, search engines and Google that changed the way we work, shop and communicate with one another. Everyone from world leaders to CEOs, and industry experts to investors are being asked their thoughts about Bitcoin and blockchain. Here are just a few of their opinions.

    “It’s gold for nerds.” —Stephen Colbert, Comedian

    “Bitcoin will do to banks what email did to the postal industry.” —Rick Falkvinge, Founder of the Swedish pirate party

    “Bitcoin is a technological tour de force.” —Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, investor, and philanthropist

    “Every informed person needs to know about Bitcoin because it might be one of the world’s most important developments.” —Leon Luow, Nobel Peace Prize nominee

    "Bitcoin is the most important invention in the history of the world since the Internet."—Roger Ver, Bitcoin angel investor, and evangelist

    “Bitcoin, and the ideas behind it, will be a disrupter to the traditional notions of currency. In the end, currency will be better for it.”—Edmund Moy, 38th Director of the United States Mint

    “Stay away from it. It’s a mirage, basically. In terms of cryptocurrencies, generally, I can say almost with certainty that they will come to a bad ending.”—Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

    “Still thinking about #Bitcoin. No conclusion – not endorsing/rejecting. Know that folks also were skeptical when paper money displaced gold.” —Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs

    “[Bitcoin] is a very exciting development, it might lead to a world currency. I think over the next decade it will grow to become one of the most important ways to pay for things and transfer assets.” —Kim Dotcom, CEO of MegaUpload

    “It’s money 2.0, a huge huge huge deal.”—Chamath Palihapitiya, the previous head of AOL instant messenger

    “[Virtual currencies] may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system.”—Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve

    “There are 3 eras of currency: Commodity based, politically based, and now, math based.”—Chris Dixon, Co-founder of Hunch now owned by eBay, Co-founder of SiteAdvisor now owned by McAfee

    “I am very intrigued by Bitcoin. It has all the signs. Paradigm shift, hackers love it, yet it’s derided as a toy. Just like microcomputers.” —Paul Graham, Creator of Yahoo Store

    “I really like Bitcoin. I own Bitcoins. It’s a store of value, a distributed ledger. It’s also a good investment vehicle if you have an appetite for risk. But it won’t be a currency until volatility slows down.” —David Marcus, CEO of Paypal

    “Bitcoin is a classic network effect, a positive feedback loop. The more people who use Bitcoin, the more valuable Bitcoin is for everyone who uses it, and the higher the incentive for the next user to start using the technology. Bitcoin shares this network effect property with the telephone system, the web, and popular Internet services like eBay and Facebook.” —Marc Andreessen, entrepreneur & investor

    “Instant transactions, no waiting for checks to clear, no chargebacks (merchants will like this), no account freezes (look out Paypal), no international wire transfer fee, no fees of any kind, no minimum balance, no maximum balance, worldwide access, always open, no waiting for business hours to make transactions, no waiting for an account to be approved before transacting, open an account in a few seconds, as easy as email, no bank account needed, extremely poor people can use it, extremely wealthy people can use it, no printing press, no hyperinflation, no debt limit votes, no bank bailouts, completely voluntary. This sounds like the best payment system in the world!"—Trace Mayer J.D., a leading expert on Bitcoin and gold

    "Bitcoin is a remarkable cryptographic achievement, and the ability to create something that is not duplicable in the digital world has enormous value" —Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google

    "You can't stop things like Bitcoin. It will be everywhere, and the world will have to readjust. World governments will have to readjust" —John McAfee, Founder of McAfee

    “Virgin Galactic is a bold entrepreneurial technology. It’s driving a revolution. And bitcoin is doing just the same when it comes to inventing a new currency.” —Richard Branson, entrepreneur, business owner for Virgin empire

    “Ten percent of my net worth is in this space.”—Mike Novogratz, hedge fund manager, Galaxy Digital Assets

    “Blockchain is the tech. Bitcoin is merely the first mainstream manifestation of its potential.”—Marc Kenigsberg, founder of Bitcoin Chaser

    “Whereas most technologies tend to automate workers on the periphery doing menial tasks, blockchains automate away the center. Instead of putting the taxi driver out of a job, blockchain puts Uber out of a job and lets the taxi drivers work with the customer directly.” —Vitalik Buterin, co-founder Ethereum and Bitcoin Magazine

    “Maybe I’m just too old, but I’m going to let this mania go on without me.” —Jeffrey Gundlach, DoubleLine Capital CEO and Chief Investment Officer

    About the Author

    Bernard Marr is a best-selling author & keynote speaker on business, technology and big data. His new book is Data Strategy. To read his future posts simply join his network here.

    Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/08/15/23-fascinating-bitcoin-and-blockchain-quotes-everyone-should-read/#986f7ae7e8a9

  • Thu, August 30, 2018 3:39 AM | Deleted user

    Google earlier this week rebranded its digital payment platform Tez as Google Pay. The company also expanded the reach of Google Pay with more third-party apps and services accepting Google’s payment solution. Google also announced partnership with financial institutions such as HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Federal Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank to facilitate pre-approved loans to customers.

    Google had launched Tez in September last year. Based on the government-backed UPI platform, Google Tez allowed users to make and receive peer-to-peer transactions. Unlike Paytm and other mobile wallets, Google Pay allows users to exchange money directly from their bank accounts. Since its launch, Google Pay has seen over 750 million transactions worth over $30 billion (Rs 200,000 crore).

    “In just under a year, Tez has found a place in the lives for more than 22 million people and businesses who use it every month. People from over 300,000 suburban areas, towns and villages are using it to pay their electrician, book bus rides or split dinner bills with friends,” Payments and Next Billion Users Initiative general manager Caesar Sengupta wrote in a blog post.

    Google Tez has over more than 50 million downloads on Android Play Store. The application is also available on Apple’s App Store. Let’s take a look at the top features of Google Tez aka Google Pay.

    Send or receive money via audio

    Along with traditional peer-to-peer transactions, Google Tez aka Google Pay lets you make payments to friends (using Tez app) in proximity through audio-based QR system. Under the hood Google Pay uses ultrasonic waves to create one-time code for digital payment. The feature works on all phones regardless they have Near Field Connectivity (NFC). The technology is said to be quite similar to Chirp which also uses ultrasonic audio to transfer data.

    Pay your utility bills

    Apart from peer-to-peer transaction, Google Pay lets you recharge your DTH service and pay for other utility bills like electricity, gas, water, insurance, property tax and even auto finance (Bajaj) among others. Google Pay also allows customers to pay for mobile, landline and broadband. Google Pay also allows its users to pay to select businesses. Currently, the application supports payments to services like redBus, Zerodha, TataSky, BESCOM, and Goibibo.

    Flexible payment options

    While Google Pay lets you send money to anyone by submitting recipient’s bank details and IFSC code, it also allows users to pay via UPI ID, QR code or directly to a Tez user. The app also shows a list of contacts whom you can send or request money. Google Pay also has a dedicated section that shows the transaction history including the requested money.

    Incentives

    Just like Paytm, Google Pay also offers a number of cashback schemes. Currently, it is offering scratch card (virtual) worth up to Rs 1,000 on paying or receiving Rs 150 or more. There’s also a “Lucky Fridays” scratch card that could you win up to Rs 100,000 on sending Rs 500 or more. On paying electricity bills with Google Tez, you are assured Rs 50 cashback. Under the dedicated Rewards section, you can monitor all the money you’ve earned from Google. The company has continued its offer of Rs 51 cashback on referring a friend to Google Tez.

    Source: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/internet/googles-payment-app-for-india-tez-becomes-google-pay/article24802168.ece

  • Mon, August 27, 2018 12:16 AM | Deleted user

    To help make more informed authorization decisions, KeyBank is turning to Mastercard Decision Intelligence. The system, which uses artificial intelligence (AI), will allow KeyBank to increase the accuracy of real-time approvals of genuine transactions and will help enhance the cardholder experience, Mastercard said in an announcement.

    “We are excited to continue partnering with KeyBank to deliver client-centric solutions and artificial intelligence capabilities beyond card payments,” Raj Seshadri, president of U.S. issuers at Mastercard, said in the announcement. “We are tapping our deep capabilities in data analysis to help KeyBank with fraud detection.”

    Mastercard and KeyBank had renewed their long-standing relationship in 2017, which began with the bank offering Mastercard-branded debit cards. Now, with Mastercard’s understanding of KeyBank’s business, the company will also collaborate on initiatives for new product development.

    Speaking about its work with Mastercard, KeyBank Head of Consumer Payments and Digital Jason Rudman said, “our renewed relationship with Mastercard, as partners to provide a simple, seamless and secure way to manage money, is another example of how we work to help clients make financial progress, one decision at a time.”

    Decision Intelligence leverages AI technologies to boost the accuracy of real-time approvals of genuine transactions and reduce false declines — getting smarter with each and every transaction. The more complicated but more interesting part of the platform, according to Mastercard’s President of Enterprise Risk and Security Ajay Bhalla, as noted in 2016, is the difference in approach that AI takes to making its “choices.”

    Instead of limiting the decision engine to a narrow view of the transaction in front of it, the platform instead looks at it holistically, as another data point in a consumer’s overall shopping portrait. Decision Intelligence, Bhalla said, can see data from the merchant side, the device side and the cardholder side, and then brings all of that data together for the benefit of a real-time authorization — and a sale to the merchant.

    Data reflects behaviors at the level of the individual consumer, not simply the account. That depth of insight is one of the ways that Decision Intelligence can make such a big dent in the rate of false declines. Bhalla said that, at its core, Decision Intelligence can answer two very pertinent questions about the consumer who’s presenting a card for payment: (a) Is this how the consumer normally shops? and (b) Is this the sort of thing that this customer normally buys?

    Source: https://www.pymnts.com/mastercard/2018/keybank-partnership-ai-fraud-detection-payment-security/

  • Sun, August 26, 2018 11:41 PM | Deleted user

    United States of America dollars on a counter in a banking hall. World Remit has teamed up with some telecom firms and banks to promote digital money transfers across borders. 

    In Summary

    Demand for instant, digital remittances is going up not only in Uganda but also other parts of the world. Digital money transfers - sending money to another person via electronic platforms - is a modern convenience simplifying cash transfers. In interview with Daily Monitor’s Martin Luther Oketch, Ms Sharon Kinyanjui, the head of East and Central Africa at WorldRemit, gives insights on digital money market.

    WorldRemit started operating in Uganda in 2012. How viable is the Ugandan market for digital money transfer service business?

    Uganda is the sixth largest market of 147 receiving countries. There are many Ugandans in the Diasporas in U.K, USA, and in other sending countries who send money to their relatives back in Uganda. So our operation in Uganda is very productive.

    In Africa, Uganda is one of the top five remittance receiving countries in Africa for WorldRemit. The World Bank estimates that the country received more than $1.4 billion (Shs5 trillion) in remittances in 2017, accounting for 5 per cent.

    The currencies they send money are United States dollar and British Pounds for those who have foreign accounts in banks and then the local currency Uganda shilling as well as the Ethiopian currency. The market here is very flexible and people use their identity cards to pick their money.

    How many countries is WorldRemit operating in at the moment?

    Countries where WorldRemit is operating have been divided into two categories – sender countries which host most of the diaspora from African countries and other parts of the world. In this category, there are now 52 countries.

    The second category is the receiving countries. There are 147 of them in the world including Uganda.

    You have said the Ugandan market is sixth largest in the world. How many agents does WorldRemit have in Uganda?

    In Uganda, we are working with MTN telecommunications company, Centenary Bank, Supergate forex bureau, Metropolitan forex bureau, UAE Exchange now re-branded as Unimoni.

    We have just signed an agreement with Bank of Africa to expand money transfer services in Uganda.

    The Ugandan diaspora in more than 50 countries can now send money instantly for collection as cash at Bank of Africa branches using the WorldRemit app or website.

    Africa now accounts for over half of WorldRemit’s transactions globally. Our collaboration with Bank of Africa will support our plan to serve 10 million customers connected to emerging markets by 2020.

    How much money can one send to Uganda via WorldRemit?

    It depends on the country where one is living in. From the UK, which is our largest market because there are many Ugandans in the UK, one can send up to 8,000 pounds while using credit card and debit card to a relative in Uganda.

    When you send money using your bank account, you can send up to 50,000 pounds. This is a lot of money which can help the receiver to put up tangible projects in the country such as buying land or building a commercial house.

    How does somebody in Uganda receive money through WorldRemit?

    They can receive money via their bank accounts, a traditional channel which can take one working day.

    They can also receive it through mobile money with MTN which is instant or through cash picks. Our operation or platform is digital based and people use apps to send and receive money.

    When will Uganda become a sender country?

    We are working on that. Uganda will join the sender category of countries in the near future since there are some foreigners living or working and doing business here.

    Sending money to Sub-Saharan Africa is the highest with the World Bank estimating it at 9.4 per cent higher than 7.1 per cent of the global average per every $100 one is sending.

    What are the charges?

    Since our platform is digital, the charges are not as high as those of traditional money transfer agents such as the Western Union, MoneyGram or Express money transfers. The charge is $99 cent per every $100 one is sending.

    So, it is the cheapest and enables receivers in Uganda to get more money because the sender is paying less in sending and the receiver gets more money.

    Who are some of these 52 sender countries?

    These countries are western world some them are UK, Sweden, Norway, Finland, USA, Australia Saudi –Arabia United Arab Emirates. In the recent past, we have seen many Ugandan professionals living in Australia and they send a lot of money here via WorldRemit.

    Future

    There will be more digital innovations. Uganda is very innovative and East Africa is the hub of mobile money. So the number of customers are growing every day.

    The World Bank estimates that remittance globally will reach $600 billion by 2030 with digital platforms driving it. By that time, 60 per cent of the transactions will be digital.

    Competition

    Ms Kinyanjui says their service is more digital based and it is password operated unlike the traditional operators of the international money transfer services which has many processes that take some time.

    Source: http://www.monitor.co.ug/Business/Prosper/Uganda-sixth-largest-market-digital-cash-transfers/688616-4710556-4hm2hrz/index.html


  • Tue, August 21, 2018 5:16 AM | Deleted user

    It seems everyone is talking about Bitcoin these days. And while this digital currency is usually associated with the get-rich-quick crowd, there are signs it is moving into the mainstream.

    Nearly one-third of high-net-worth investors are considering investing in major virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum as long-term investments, according to the latest World Wealth Report from Paris-based Capgemini.

    Frank Holmes, chief executive officer and chief investment officer at Texas-based U.S. Global Investors Inc., is a long-time gold promoter turned cryptocurrency promoter. He launched a cryptocurrency fund in the United States for accredited investors last June hoping to cash in on the escalating popularity of digital currencies – especially in high-growth economies with less developed financial systems such as China and India. He expects one of the competing currencies to become the global standard to replace cash within 10 years.

    “We don’t know who is going to win in the crypto space and blockchain revolution, but we know it’s big,” he says.

    He cautions investors, however, that cryptocurrencies are risky. To illustrate Bitcoin’s volatility, the price skyrocketed to an historic closing high of nearly US$20,000 in mid-December from US$4,344 in October. Less than two months later it plunged to US$7,132.

    More recently, Bitcoin dropped to an eight-week low on Tuesday, to US$5,880, while Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency in terms of market value, sank to a more-than-one-year trough as they continued a bearish trend.

    As further proof of Bitcoin’s risk, its daily trading volatility is measured as an 8-per-cent average deviation from the S&P 500. In comparison, the average volatility of gold bullion is a 1-per-cent deviation from the S&P 500, and gold stocks trade at a deviation of 3 per cent.

    Mr. Holmes says he expects the digital currency market to be less volatile as it gains popularity. In the meantime, he suggests more conservative investors put their money into the blockchain technologies that support these currencies, as well as cryptocurrency infrastructure companies. One example he recommends is Digital Realty Trust Inc., which invests in data centres and other technology-related real estate.

    “I think that’s a perfect slow-ball way to play this whole buildout,” he says.

    He also advises high-net-worth investors to limit cryptocurrencies to a small part of a diversified portfolio. “Anyone going into this space, I would look at 2 per cent of your portfolio at max. It’s speculative money.”

    Steve DiGregorio, portfolio manager at Montreal-based Canoe Financial, disagrees. He says the only value in cryptocurrencies is as a currency hedge for investors in financially unstable countries.

    “If you’re living in a world of stable currency you probably don’t need it,” he says. “For a North American client I would say, ‘Do you really need to be there? It’s a speculative, unstable currency. You can own U.S. dollars instead.’”

    Mr. DiGregorio says the investment rationale for Bitcoin makes less sense than the one for marijuana stocks (which he also doesn’t recommend at current valuations).

    “Everybody understands how to smoke a joint. Nobody understands what the hell a cryptocurrency is,” he says.

    Marijuana, he says, will generate cash. "You can actually make cash flow projections. You can look at the licences owned that have value. It’s very difficult to understand the real value of Bitcoin.”

    That’s not to say digital currencies aren’t on Mr. DiGregorio’s radar screen. He compares the current market to the early days of the internet.

    “I think the cryptocurrency market today is very much like the search-engine market of the 1990s. You had Yahoo and Excite dominating, and all of the sudden the phoenix, Google, came out. I don’t think we’ve seen the phoenix yet in the cryptocurrency market,” he says. “It’s too early right now to know who is going to be the winner.”

    Patrick Horan, principal at Agilith Capital Inc. in Toronto, is also trying to steer clients clear of cryptocurrencies. He says the fundamental business model is flawed because their intrinsic value is arbitrary with no hard assets to back it up.

    “The problem with Bitcoin and crypto is that you can literally invent a thousand different currencies and multiply that every year by a thousand. There is no barrier to entry,” he says.

    He does, however, see potential in the ability of blockchain technologies to extend the current banking system and reduce transaction costs much like credit cards have. He compares the resulting efficiencies to the impact that operating systems have had on computers over the years.

    “Operating systems were a tool for companies that allowed better productivity. I think that’s what blockchain is going to be,” he says.

    Mr. Horan says the only indirect exposure he has to blockchain technology is potentially through his holdings in a company called VersaPay Corp. VersaPay is a cloud-based invoice service that links businesses and helps them automate accounts receivable and process electronic payments.

    “They’re not technically blockchain, but they basically allow a streamlining of accounts payable to happen between a customer and the bank, and a payee,” he says.

    For now, Mr. Horan says he’ll hold off on blockchain and cryptocurrencies until the hype dies down. “We’re keeping an eye on it,” he says.

    Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/investing/globe-wealth/article-is-it-time-to-add-crytocurrencies-to-your-portfolio/

  • Tue, August 21, 2018 5:05 AM | Deleted user

    Digital payments are rapidly sweeping through the consumer world. Everyday, I see news breaking that Zelle is setting new usage records, that Airbnb is piloting a new instant payment offering, or that WeChat, the “ewallet” in China used by 600 million users every month, released a new feature.

    Given the rapid expansion of digital payments options for people across the globe, it is shocking to see data that U.S. businesses still stubbornly cling to paper checks. In fact, a recent study conducted by Bill.com and Barlow Research Associates, Inc. found that 86 percent of SMB owners still choose paper checks as one of their primary payment methods.

    The reason SMB business owners continue to use this outdated method could be because many of those using paper are unaware of the many advantages digital payment methods provide. Key benefits include:

    Gain more control of the payment process with automated approval workflows;

    Manage cash flow more precisely and set the exact date payments are made;

    Maintain a digital footprint of all transactions, so audits are not such a headache;

    Sync payments with accounting software so businesses’ information is always up-to-date.

    The list of benefits goes on, but it seems if SMBs knew of this time-saving and stress-reducing method, they would jump on it. Inertia may be a key reason why some companies don’t change. Owners get settled into long adopted processes and have a hard time doing things differently. That’s when an incentive may be necessary.

    In the Bill.com survey, when asked about the top three pain points for making payments, 40 percent of respondents cited the time spent on bill payments and 26 percent cited the tracking and storing of payment information for tax purposes. All of these issues are addressed through digital payments.

    To help move the needle in a digital transformation, the Federal Reserve has initiated an active program to increase the proportion of B2B electronic payments. This effort is centered around collaboration and education, but it may not be enough. The government may need to make stronger policies or even sponsor incentives to make an impact.

    The infrastructure cost, government overhead and environmental impact of paper checks is substantial. The Wall Street Journal reported a 2003 law allowing banks to accept electronic checks saved $1.16 billion in 2010, according to research by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. And for an even greater ripple effect, the Sierra Club reported that the earth is losing 12,500 square miles of forest every year to deforestation, which continues to be propagated by the prolific use of paper checks and billing materials.

    Digital payments for businesses are making inroads as a modern alternative to traditional bill pay, and businesses are adopting them without hesitation. These businesses are enjoying all the benefits of using paperless payments and are helping to save our environment. On the other hand, other companies may not be aware of the possibilities available or stubborn business owners rooted in inertia may need government proding to change.

    Source: http://paymentsjournal.com/why-businesses-are-slow-to-adopt-digital-payments/

  • Fri, August 17, 2018 6:34 AM | Deleted user

    App answers problems people face when investing. It empowers an average person to invest their money in three easy steps with the goal of making smart investing available for everyone easily.

    An application dubbed as the “Spotify of the fintech world” was co-founded by University of New South Wales (UNSW) students in order to make the stock market accessible to aspiring investors.

    According to the report made by the University, the Pearler Investments is an investing platform app that suggests investment opportunities in ready-made portfolios, the same way the famous music app suggests playlists.

    These suggested portfolios are called pearls. Users can make a diversified portfolio by choosing pearls that make sense to them.

    With the goal of making smart investing available for everyone easily, the app user can choose to follow or compare stock suggestions made by the founders of the company, by professional investors or by friends.

    Initial ideas for the app have evolved from building a superannuation platform that will engage people to building an investment platform where people can invest their day-to-day savings in, and then engage them in using their superannuation.

    The final application turned out to be a network investing social app. The creators explained how Pearler Investments brings together the three problems that people have concerning investing.

    For the first problem, the people see investing as a form of gambling. Secondly, investing was time consuming for them as the existing platforms did not make investing simple. The third problem was the lack of knowledge and sustainability.

    The app will empower the average person to invest their money in three easy steps. The first step would be to select the pearls. In this stage, the user will browse the curated collections of companies.

    The second step entails customising the pearls. The user has the control of adding, removing and customising.

    The last step is purchasing the portfolio. After buying the customised portfolio, the user can now share among their friends.

    Currently, the creators are using their own money to fund the venture. Although investors have shown interest, they continue to pump their savings into their app.

    Investors should be strategically matched with the founders in the sense that genuine interest and belief in the app are present. Crowd funding is also being considered.

    The price that users have to pay for the service can be equated to the amount a person in willing to pay for movies or songs. Potential users will have to pay A$ 10 - A$ 15 a month.

    The application is still in the development stage but is targeted to launch at the end of 2018.This early, the available markets for it are already being thought of.

    Sydney, Australia would remain to be its base but the United States and Hong Kong are being considered as a place to go to. Hong Kong has 39% investor penetration while Australia has 37%.

    What’s a Rich Text element?

    The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

    STATIC AND DYNAMIC CONTENT EDITING

    A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

    HOW TO CUSTOMIZE FORMATTING FOR EACH RICH TEXT

    Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

    Source: https://www.opengovasia.com/articles/fintech-app-makes-investing-easy-for-aspiring-investors

  • Fri, August 17, 2018 12:47 AM | Deleted user

    In a payments landscape where everything from Apple Pay to cryptocurrency is now available, credit cards and debit cards remain the go-to payment method of choice for most people today. Card payments are faster and, in many ways, more secure than ever before, particularly with the advent of chip technology as a second line of defense against fraud.

    However, credit card fraud is still very much alive in 2018. While technology provides a safety net of sorts, consumers still need to be proactive about managing their transactions and statements. Here are six critical tips to help protect against credit card fraud in 2018.

    1. Sanity Check Your Statements and Receipts

    Sometimes fraud isn't fraud in the truest sense, but rather a mistake by a cashier. In other cases, mystery charges on your monthly statement may cause you to scratch your head and call your card issuer. In either case, accuracy starts with simply taking a look at the paper receipt following an in-store purchase and at your monthly statement, whether that's paper or digital. If you hate paper receipts, take a photo with your phone and keep those sorted into a separate bill folder.

    2. Use Healthy Skepticism with New Online Merchants

    It's natural to feel a bit uneasy at a new online merchant, especially if they are a smaller site with few reviews. Many fraudsters set up online shops designed to skim credit card info, so the safest bet is to purchase from a verified source. Fraudulent shops often have much lower prices or extremely rare inventory, so if it looks shady, ask yourself if you really want to buy there. Remember, if it looks too good to be true.

    3. Take Advantage of Technology

    Just ten years ago, the only time you banked with your phone was when the bank called if they suspected a fraudulent charge. Today, mobile banking is second nature with numerous tools and apps on the market, available for both consumers and banks. Consumers can log into their accounts, sync up their phones, enable security notifications and much more. Standalone budget apps can interface with bank log-ins for real-time family snapshots and purchase logs, which would also immediately flag any strange transactions.

    4. Act Fast on Strange Transactions

    In the 1980s and 1990s, banking was still largely a combination of paper transactions, computer input and manual approval. Today, most transactions operate on automated processes to speed things up. It's just a fact everything moves quicker. As a result, it's important to act as fast as possible on fraudulent activity. In today's world, waiting weeks means the fraudster could have processed and moved your money already, then covered their tracks. You need to move at the speed of business nowadays.

    5. Keep Careful Track of Your Card

    It's still one of the easiest ways for fraud to occur the stolen credit card. Even if only an hour has passed since you lost your card, that's plenty of time to go online and make a dozen high-priced purchases (though chances are your bank would catch that activity spike and notify the vendor). The easiest way of quickly realizing your card is missing is through habit always put it back in the same place in your wallet. That way, if it's not there at a glance, you'll know instantly that something is wrong. Also, if you only have one or two primary cards, keep specialized or extra cards safely stored elsewhere and not in your wallet/purse to minimize chances of theft.

    6. Keep Records Current

    Key account identifiers include mailing address, phone numbers and email addresses, and they live on a two-way street for security purposes. On one side, maintaining the latest records ensures that the bank will always know how to get in touch with you should something strange arise. On the other side, this type of information can act as authentication when trying to log in or verify your identity on the phone.

    What's the common thread running through these six tips? Despite living in an age of cryptocurrencies and smart device payments, the most important safety tip is still common sense. It applies to the latest technology these days, but it still means that being smart, aware and updated are your best defenses against credit card fraud. The good news is that if you haven't received a call from your bank by now, chances are your accounts have been secure. The better news is that even if that's the case, you can further safeguard yourself by acting on the tips above.

    Credit card thieves can trash your credit score by racking up charges you don't discover until you've already missed a few payments. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips.

    Source: https://www.moneytips.com/six-tips-on-credit-card-fraud-prevention-in-the-digital-age

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