News > FinTech

Culture: An essential ingredient in success. Just ask any startup. Or Amazon
FinTech
<p>"Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk." -- Bob Olson, former Amazon employee who worked in books marketing</p> <p>The New York Times<br /> Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows this for sure: culture matters. Over the weekend, The New York Times published a major expose on the culture at Amazon, depicting a workplace pushing employees to achieve unreasonable goals. The piece garnered 4,264 comments (and counting). As is the way of the digital world, the story has spawned a mini-publishing ecosystem. Amazon employee Nick Ciubotariu published a post on LinkedIn dismissing the Times story as half-truths and nonsense. That in turn prompted an assessment by Inc.: Who is right? Nick or the Times writers?</p> <p>And then what should happen to land in my inbox this afternoon? "The 3 Ways Culture Enables Startups To Scale," by Tomasz Tunguz, a partner at venture capital firm Redpoint (which has funded one of my favorite fintech companies, Expensify). To someone betting their money on a new venture, culture is not just a point of philosophical debate. It is a guiding light, a window into the likelihood of success.</p> <p>Tunguz explains that culture influences who a company is more likely to hire and daily decisions as well as the direction of a business. Tunguz writes:<br /> Contrast Google’s notion “Fast is better than slow” with Apple’s “Don’t ship until it’s perfect.” Neither philosophy is superior to the other, but they will attract different types of people. One encourages risks, while the other champions craftmanship. Google’s culture works for the web, where code pushes are immediate. Apple’s fosters better results in hardware where small mistakes can cost tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. Each philosophy works to maximize the advantages of the company given their constraints.<br /> Can you summarize your culture in one sentence? Do you know its strengths and weaknesses? At NexChange collaboration is a key tenet of our workplace. Let us know in the comments the philosophy drives your business.<br /> Photo: Dennis Skley</p>
Do you understand the difference between online banking and digital banking?
FinTech
<p>Fidor Bank is at the cutting edge of digital, social banking. Frank Schwab, CEO of Fidor TecS, offers these insights into the key differences between online banking and true digital finance. What do you think are the key differences?</p> <p>Some thoughts on Traditional (Online) Banking versus Digital Banking. - More to come soon … pic.twitter.com/JQZWbjaoGy<br /> — Frank Schwab (@FrankJSchwab) August 26, 2015<br /> Photo: ©iStock.com/hakkiarslan</p>
What commodity status means for Bitcoin
FinTech
<p>It’s official, Bitcoin is now a commodity after getting the nod from the US Commodity Future trading Commision (CFTC) last week. But what does that mean?</p> <p>The ruling came in the form of a slap on the wrist for US startup Coinflip, which was alleged to have allowed users to trade options based on bitcoin via its platform; Derivabit. By ruling that Bitcoin is a commodity, the CFTC brought Coinflip under its purview.</p> <p>On the plus side this extra oversight can help clean up trade in Bitcoin, and bring the crypto-currency even closer to legitimacy. It also means less chance of blow ups like Mt. Gox, the Japanese bitcoin trading platform that lost 850,000 Bitcoins (then worth $500 million) when it imploded early last year.</p> <p>At the same time Bitcoin startups can expect greater pressure from regulators, which means the cost of doing business with Bitcoin could creep higher. Here is what Aitan Goelman, the CFTC’s Director of Enforcement, had to say:<br /> “While there is a lot of excitement surrounding Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, innovation does not excuse those acting in this space from following the same rules applicable to all participants in the commodity derivatives markets.”<br /> Photo: BTC Keychain</p>
Hong Kong Cyberport startups scoop UK fintech awards
FinTech
<p>Five start-ups based in Hong Kong technology hub Cyberport clinched prizes at  the UK Trade &amp; Investment (UKTI) Fintech Awards 2015 last week. The event - attended by The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of the City of London Alan Yarrow -was intended to promote links between London's burgeoning fintech industry and Asia.</p> <p>UKTI says  the UK fintech market is now worth about 20 billion pounds ($31 billion) in annual revenue, making it the fastest growing fintech industry in the world by deal volume. In all two grand prizes, and three runner-up merit prizes, were awarded. The grand prize winners were given a 5-day trip to London and Manchester with business class flights and accommodation. They also bagged three months free co-working space at WeWork in London and free access to the global innovation conference "Innovate UK" in London. All winners will get to have dinner with British Consul-General to Hong Kong and Macau at the Consul General’s Residence with VIPs from UK and Hong Kong financials institutions.</p> <p>Here are the winners in full:</p> <p>Grand Prize </p> <p>  Lattice -  A capital-markets fintech company, focusing on developing front-office portfolio decision-support platform. <br />  Ironfly Technologies -  A combined order and execution management system for equities and equity derivatives.</p> <p>Merit Prize</p> <p> Argentum Code -  An information technology company developing innovative open accounting products.<br /> Bitspark -  An end to end money transfer platform leveraging Bitcoin.<br /> Innopage -   The company behind stock portfolio management app Ticker.</p> <p>Photo: UKTI</p>
Could Russia launch a state-run "BitRuble"?
FinTech
<p>The Russian state could launch its own version of Bitcoin. At least that's what's being speculated after the Central Bank of Russia put together a team to research blockchain technology.</p> <p>This is less than a week after Sergey Solonin, general director of Russian payment services provider Qiwi, said his firm was developing BitRuble: a blockchain-based digital currency pegged to launch in 2016. According to the Coin Telegraph, this has led to a rumor - further spread by Spain's El Mundo - that BitRuble could be a new national digital currency overseen and managed by the state central banking system .</p> <p>This is interesting because the Russian state has been very critical of Bitcoin and even banned Bitcoin-based websites for a brief period at the beginning of the year. Only last week Russian Ombudsman Pavel Medvedev said Bitcoin was "absolutely illegal" and called it "technical hooliganism," his point being that only the Russian state should be able to issue money in the country.</p> <p>This latest development is not a case of the Russian state getting on board with Bitcoin, but more likely a case of it using blockchain technology to exert greater control over the use of digital currency. Whatever Russia's next move is, it will set an interesting precedent for state adoption of crypto-currencies.<br /> Photo: Nickolas Titkov<br /> &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Inaugural fintech meetup to focus on opportunities in Hong Kong
FinTech
<p>Hong Kong is catching the fintech bug. And now Cyberport and NexChange are launching a monthly meetup to put together startups in the region to discuss critical issues: fund raising, growth, talent search, and more.</p> <p>The inaugural Fintech O-2-O Meetup will take place on Tuesday, September 22 and is expected to attract about 200 delegates from startups in the area as well as investors and customers. Increasingly, founders are discovering that online -to-offline is a key element in developing their ideas and relationships with potential clients.</p> <p>Fintech is attracting big money. More than $12 billion was invested last year, according to consultancy firm KPMG. The U.S. accounted for almost 80% of the total, followed by Europe with a 12% share and Asia a lagging third place with 6%.</p> <p>The event at Cyberport should help both entrepreneurs and investors in Hong Kong learn about the tremendous opportunities in this sector. </p> <p>Leading practitioners will share their experiences across a range of FinTech segments such as payments, peer-to-peer lending and portfolio management.</p> <p>Chris Dark, president international of C2FO will deliver the keynote speech. There will then be a panel discussion that includes Mukesh Bubna, founder &amp; CEO of Monexo Innovations, James McKeogh, partner at KPMG, Van Ta, founder of Suisse Tech Partners (STP) and Dominic Wong, head of large merchant acquisitions at PayPal.</p> <p>NexChange and Cyberport look forward to seeing you all on Tuesday! To register, click here.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
The 3 most important things in Asian fintech right now
FinTech
<p>Asia is becoming a major force in fintech and its ecosystem is already broad, covering various sub-sectors across payments, lending, data security and risk management - to name a few.</p> <p>So what’s important? At a KPMG FinTech Forum in Hong Kong today,  the industry was boiled down to three main three themes: blockchain, financial inclusion, and regulation. James Mckeogh, a partner with the firm  - AKA KPMG Hong Kong's “Mr. Fintech” - explained why they are important:</p> <p>Blockchain</p> <p>Forget Bitcoin, it’s all about blockchain - Bitcoin's underlying technology. Over the next 18 months this will be one of the biggest areas of investment for fintech. But its not about handling cryptocurrencies, said Mckeogh, its about using the technology to achieve speed, "auditability," and control on any asset-based transaction. “We are seeing a huge rise in interest in the blockchain and a rise in the development of solutions utilizing blockchain as a protocol, and we will continue to see that rise,” he said. He also predicts the next three months will see the emergence of solutions that will fundamentally change the way financial institutions transact. </p> <p>Financial inclusion</p> <p>This is not about giving money to poor but about making sure the right financial services get to the right people at the right time, said Mckeogh. While a lot of the focus has been on the African subcontinent, there a lot of people under-served in Asia. "This isn’t the non-banked,” said Mckeogh. “This is just these under-banked, and we are going to see Hong Kong play a key role in developing and rolling out the solutions, in order to address that gap.” This space will not only be about technology development but also product development, he added, sharing  ideas to come up with the best product to take to the under-banked market. </p> <p>Regulation</p> <p>There is already a lot of development going on to address issues of compliance that arise as banks try to keep up with technology. “Real time monitoring is really coming into play, and we are seeing a real  change in how regulatory issues  can be addressed,” said Mckeogh. “It comes down to collaboration and  the number of the companies that are addressing this issue.” The only way  to solve the issues over fintech regulation, he added, was through economies of scale and not working in silos. By sharing information and working collaboratively, banks can affect better regulation and make sure it is geared  towards new ways of working in a turbulent time for the financial services industry.</p> <p>James Mckeogh will join a panel discussion at the NexChange and Cyberport Inagural Fintech O-2-O Meetup on September 22.<br /> Photo: FamZoo staff</p>
IBM gets behind the blockchain
FinTech
<p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have struggled to find mainstream appeal, blockchain, the ledger like technology that they run on, has been touted as one of the most important technological advancements of the past decade. The system has the ability to facilitate transactions in a way that many say will transform more than just the financial industry.</p> <p>That idea is now being put into practice by tech giant International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), as ...</p> <p>Read the full story on Benzinga.com.<br /> Photo: Kansir</p>
Full stack fintech: Will finance have its Uber moment?
FinTech
<p>In the world of fintech startups there is an important distinction to be considered: Is a business full stack and partial stack?</p> <p>The distinction is important because the emergence of full-stack startups could be the biggest threat to industry incumbents. Unsurprisingly, banks are so far throwing most of their  support behind partial stack fintech startups.</p> <p>In his blog,  Andreessen Horowitz and general partner Chris Dixon predicts a full-stack movement in the fintech space, similar what has been seen  in other sectors. But so far fintech start-ups are predominantly partial stack: taking new technologies and then selling or licensing them to big banks.</p> <p>The new approach is to offer an end-to-end solution, cutting out existing players. This is full stack. Think about what Uber has done to taxis, Netflix to cable, or what Tesla is on the verge of doing to the motor industry.</p> <p> If a fintech start-up can pull off a full stack solution, it is hard to replace. That said, the barrier to entry is high and the startup would need to be good at many different things - from software and hardware, to marketing and logistics - to make it a success.</p> <p>If there is a movement in this direction though, the banks should be nervous.<br /> Photo: me and the sysop</p>
How Bitcoin is shaking up the gambling world
FinTech
<p>Betting with Bitcoin is not new. The anonymity it offers has seen it be adopted for various illicit purposes since its inception and gambling is no exception. But now Bitcoin - and the nascent digital gaming industry it supports - wants to go mainstream.</p> <p>Gaming platform Augur is one of the ways in which this is happening. Augur allows participants to wager money on any future event they want - including sports events.</p> <p>The software sets the odds, collects the bets, and disperses the winnings. All the money in the system is Bitcoin, or other types of cryptocurrency, no credit cards or banks are involved.</p> <p>While peer-to-peer betting already exists on platforms like Betfair, Augur's use of blockchain technology means there is no middleman and no way to switch it off. It is drifting into uncharted waters and some are worried about its implication for governments and business. </p> <p>In the Racing Post, Tom Kerr looks at the implications of this for horse racing, but it easily applies to other sports. Firstly, the combination of an anonymous betting exchange and anonymous cryptocurrency will make it hard to keep the sport fair, he says, as racing relies on bookies flagging up suspicious bets.</p> <p>Also the platforms like Auger threaten to massively disrupt existing bookies by having no middlemen, no overround and no commission beyond 1%. It is very early days for the space Kerr adds, but the technology is now there and the  trend is going nowhere:<br /> At some point, unregulated and uncontrollable betting platforms like Augur may become commonplace. If that happens it will make the disruption betting exchanges caused to gambling and racing seem like nothing.<br /> Photo: John Athayade</p>