A Brief look at the Brazilian Fintech Scene

Brazil Fintech

It’s been a while since the last time I wrote a post, mainly due to being very occupied at weekends and also changing jobs.

How time flies! It’s been over a year since I caught the fintech bug and my interest remains strong.

For this post (and like previous posts) I have linked my interests in the world of fintech and countries.

I’ve always had a fascination with Brazil which started at an early age from seeing their amazing squad from France ’98 to learning about the country in a Year 8 Geography class.

I was fortunate enough to visit the country eight years ago and spent a month in Southern Brazil.

So what’s the fintech scene in Brazil like? Similar to many developing countries, segments of the Brazilian fintech ecosystem is rather segmented and are more developed in some areas. Data from Brazilian Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea) shows that over 50 million adults in the Latin American country do not have a bank account. In addition, data gathered from Brazilian Telecommunications Agency, Anatel showed that there are over 282 million mobile activations in Brazil. Mobile is at the forefront and as a result, fintechs have therefore decided to make their services more digital and provide a sound mobile experience for the consumer.

Brazilian Fintech: Who are the big players?

Brazilian fintech

So who are the Neymars of Brazilian fintech? There are a quite a few fintechs in the country, there are so many to mention with new entrants that I have mentioned the ones that have really left their mark in Brazilian fintech so far.

Guia Bolso –  Brazil’s leading personal finance platform. The app has around a million users.

FoxBit – The bitcoin exchange company is the country’s crytocurrency leader.

Nubank –  The São Paulo based fintech is known for its no-fee credit card that is managed via a mobile app.

ZeroPaper – A web platform that combines software and services that increase the chances of survival of micro and small enterprises. It generates detailed reports and tracks KPIs, in order for small business owners to manage their finances more efficiently.

Magnetis – In layman’s terms, Magnetis is a digital advisor which helps investors become more knowledgable about their investment portfolios.

Nibo – An online software that enables companies and accountants to manage and control their finances.

Vindi – A platform that provides invoices and payment gateways for Brazilian SMEs.

BankFacil – The concept behinf BankFacil is to provide consumer loans to Brazilians in an inexpensive way.

Bidu – The first company in Brazil to offer a smart search, comparison and purchase of insurance and financial services.

Above: The Brazilian fintech ecosystem’s segments, taken from Fintech Finance.

São Paulo: The new Latin American hub for Fintechs

sp fd

The fintech scene in Brazil is booming and São Paulo is putting financial technology on the map in Latin America. Deloitte featured the city in its latest global fintech hubs index.

Brazil has more fintech startups than any other country in Latin America, with venture capital investment reaching US$161 million in 2016. (Nearshore Americas, April 2017)

Like a lot of large scale banks who are looking to transform the way they conduct their products and services, Banco do Brasil has also jumped onto the fintech bandwagon and has setup its very own lab in Silicon Valley.

Back in Brazil, the country’s largest bank is heavily working on digital innovation by organising hackathons for employees and students respectively to conducting various innovation programs.

From labs and innovation programs, events in São Paulo have also helped Brazilian fintech blossom. Previous events such as the São Paulo Fintech Summit which had a lot of speakers from various fintech companies. The general consensus at the summit was that Brazilian banks have successfully made a digital transition, but are still finding ways to improve their online capabilities and offer a great user experience.

The 2015 summit showed that despite the country’s economic and political situations, the fintech scene is ripe. The future looks bright for fintech in Brazil with the likes of Nubank that won the Marketers That Matter Award last year. The award goes to companies that have demonstrated innovation and the São Paulo company joins tech giants such as Google and Netflix on the list of winners.

Conducting business Brazil is not particularly easy with the complexity of tax and labour laws. The central bank has now made it easy for startups to collect their information digitally from customers. Luckily for the majority of Brazilian fintechs, their business models do not necessarily rely on any potential regulatory changes.

What are your thoughts on Brazilian fintech? I’d love to hear from you, feel free to connect via Linkedin, alternatively, tweet me @daviddhannoo.

5 Fintech Predictions for 2017

fintech

A VERY late Happy New Year to you all! For anyone that does read these blog posts, 2016 for me was all about fintech. This year will be no different, here’s a brief look at what many commentators have predicted – with 5 fintech predictions for 2017.

5 Fintech Predictions for 2017

Artificial Intelligence

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Many in the media have dubbed 2017 as the year of AI, this will be the year that an array of industries will ask how the latest old trend in computing threatens and disrupts. Expect a more intelligent type of fintech, which will cater to the consumer’s every need and deliver a  more of a robust money management experience.

Invoicing

Fintech invoicing

This year one of the biggest things we’re going to see in fintech is the automation of the invoicing management process. We can expect innovative invoicing and as a result, payments will be in real-time and become easier, which will therefore narrow the gap between credit and recovery.

 

Brexit

Fintech Brexit

When article 50 is triggered here in the UK, the two-year journey to exit the European Union will begin and so will the exodus of fintech firms from the UK if the country chooses to end the EU licence pass-porting as well. We could see a big move out for fintech firms from the UK and relocate to other european countries such as Ireland and Germany.

Blockchain

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Blockchain technology will continue to make the headlines in 2017. If you’re new to blockchain, it basically consists of a long chain of data blocks in which one or more transactions are being compiled, encrypted and securely stored without being hacked. Ideas and concepts on where blockchain technology might be used in the future, are only just beginning. There has been a lot of talk about smart contracts. Instead of using a solicitor for example, a computer takes charge of the contracts. Blockchain technology software would proof all preconditions in live mode and can read individual agreements automatically.

Pushing towards a cashless society

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Amazon recently unveiled plans to bring a chain of cashier-free stores to the UK next year. By using technology to track which items have been selected, you’ll no longer have to queue or use those annoying self-service checkouts. Customers will be able to pay via their smartphone as they leave the store. The introduction of these next gen stores will push us towards a cashless society in 2017.

Fintech Predictions for 2017 – What are your thoughts?

What other predictions would you add to the list? Where do you see fintech developing in 2017? I’ve recently set up a Facebook page called Global Fintech News, feel free to share your thoughts and predictions, you can also tweet me. Stay tuned for my next fintech blog post.

*Featured image : In Business.ae

What Is Insurtech?

what_is_insurtech

What Is Insurtech? A Brief Insight

As you’ve noticed this year I have been fascinated with the world of fintech from looking at many countries and regions around the world and looking at how an array of startups are shaping financial technology. Today, I provide a brief insight into insurtech, a buzzword that you might have heard a lot of this year.

So what is insurtech? The term which fits under the fintech umbrella, relates to the current changes in the insurance industry which has seen both the adoption and evolution of digital technology.

In addition, there are six components to insurtech : p2p insurance, e-commerce insurance, brokerage, health insurance, usage driven insurance. Firms that operate in these respectable insurance areas have one common goal in mind – to focus on the consumer and digitalisation. For example, using the likes of artificial intelligence in the insurance industry, builds up a deep understanding of a client’s needs and helps to understand what additional offers and services they may require.

Since 2013, the insurance sector has seen an ever-growing demand for creativity, new digital technology, and disruption. (Tech Bullion, November 2016) Companies such as AXA have become of the first to become a digital insurer. The French multinational established a lab in Silicon Valley and affiliated themselves with social media giant Facebook back in 2014. Many commentators during this time were expecting big things from the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google, etc.

However, a year later, Google launched a new tool to sell car insurance to U.S. web searchers. Things didn’t go swimmingly, within a year  the search engine giant had shut down its insurance business. Adam Lyons, the founder of TheZebra.com (a comparison site) mentioned in an Insurance Business article that : “Auto insurance is a complex product and a lot of folks underestimate that.”

He also mentioned that the search engine titan focused primarily on price, although this works very well with some products, you need to ultimately have a deeper understanding and be more involved. Lyons stressed that insurance is proving to be one of those industries.

Insurtech and IoT

Insurtech IoT

If a company like Google has failed at insurtech, how does this form of fintech evolve and prosper? It seems that by combing other forms of disruptive tech such as the Internet of Things (IoT) is one method that will change the industry. The beauty of using IoT is the data that it generates. The future of smart homes and self-driving cars means that a lot of insurtech companies will partner with an array of device manufacturers.

For example, insurance companies have partnered with device manufacturers like Water Hero, which monitors and displays water flow in real time. It’s easy to see the appeal in this partnership given that one-third of all household claims in The States are related to water leaks.

As well as using IoT, big data and algorithms are also imperative for the industry. It’s vital that they leverage IoT tech to gather more data about customers’ homes, cars, and even the consumers themselves, insurance companies can therefore utilise real-time data, predictive modelling, and machine learning to create new business models as well as developing new products/offers for their customers.

Insurtech 2017 Predictions

2017-insurtech

This year has seen a lot of insurtech investment. Research from CB Insights indicates that venture capital firms made 126 investments in insurance globally in the first nine months of 2016, with a total value of $1.4bn (£1.1m), compared with 118 for the whole of 2015 and 26 in 2011.

As with most things in the tech world, it’s a rapidly changing landscape, as a majority of analysts have already pointed out, next year will have a lot regulations set in stone plus political changes.

One prediction for insurtech in 2017 is that there will be more new entrants to the broker software market. One commentator recently mentioned that tech companies and startups such as Applied Systems, Transactor, Vlocity and Insly are entering the market and looking to displace the incumbents.

In addition, in 2017 it is predicted that insurers will embrace a startup feel as they learn and embrace startup methods. The likes of AXA (as previously mentioned) have made some great results from partnerships. This is something that’s going to be on top of insurance firms’ agendas in the new year.

The final prediction that has been mentioned by many is that the broker proposition will evolve. Traditionally, in the world of commercial insurance, it has been the Holy Grail for brokers to become clients’ strategic risk advisors. In 2017,insurtech will aid brokers by giving efficient solutions to deepen client relationships.

It’s fair to say insurtech has made insurance sexy – something we thought we would never hear! An industry that has been static for some time now, thanks to using innovative tech such as IoT, AI, and using APIs things are finally moving forward. 2017 looks to be a very interesting and exciting year for insurtech with numerous players and the amounts of investment expected to surpass those of fintech very soon.

*Feature image : Fintech Switzerland

Bustling Berlin : A Look At The City’s Startup Scene

Bustling Berlin - A Look At The City's Startup Scene

Berlin – An Attractive Place For Startups

The German capital’s low rents, cool image and open attitude has attracted an array of creative startup businesses and the startup scene continues to flourish with a new startup being founded every 20 minutes, according to advisory agency Gruenden.

The city has grown up and become more professional according to Ahoy! co-founder Nikolas Woischnik. As a result, bigger companies are moving to the East German city and a lot of talent has been produced from the first wave of start-ups who are now churning out additional start-up businesses.

I recently started this post (well title idea and left it as a draft for a couple of months) and I am now resumed writing it in post-Brexit Britain, which has left many commentators (including myself) whether Berlin can topple London’s start-up and fintech scenes respectfully.

The Berlin start-up scene has already overtaken the UK capital in terms of venture capital investment and many argue that it offers a pool of talented international developers who may avoid the UK once new migration laws are put in place, in addition, commercial rents that are about a third of those in London, and has a better party scene.

From taking a huge interest in fintech this year, one thing that particularly fascinates me since the majority of the nation voted to leave the European Union is will UK fintech sustain its reputation for being the European fintech capital.

The likes of Berlin in my opinion have an opportunity to steal its fintech crown. For example, fintech start-ups such as Chicken Financial have already expanded their operations in the German capital after the Brexit vote.

Chicken Financial’s co-founder Samuel Ely told The Guardian last month that : “We expect there will be a long-term shift of fintech and banking from Frankfurt to Berlin and that Berlin could eventually become continental Europe’s new financial capital.”

Fintech giants TransferWise mentioned that they will not close their London office, however, they we will probably not grow the team based in the capital much more. Headquartering elsewhere is a possibility mentions Taavet Hinrikus (company co-founder) but the company hasn’t made a final decision yet.

N26 Inspired

n26

Image source  : FT

Any UK fintech might take inspiration from Berlin company Number26 (now N26) who has recently been given a banking license and giving a huge opportunity to shake-up financial services across the continent.

What’s even more inspirational besides fintech champions such as N26 is that compared to the likes of London and New York, it does not host a stock exchange or even have a major bank.

Unlike German banking giant Deutsche Bank which does come from the country’s financial hub, Frankfurt. The David vs Goliath battle here between N26 and Deutsche Bank has recently gained media attention, with the Frankfurt based bank currently going through an identity crisis, there has been reports that the bank is thinking about splitting itself into a lender focused on capital markets and another targeting retail and corporate clients.

Whilst Deutsche Bank seems to be going through an identity crisis, in the German capital N26 has attracted 200,000 customers with its virtual banking model. In addition, the fintech is already operating in six European countries.

N26 are working on some new features such as allowing customers share expenses between friends with a simple swipe between friends (similar to splitting an Uber fare).

N26’s chief executive officer Valentin Stalf, was recently interviewed by Bloomberg’s Caroline Hyde, she asks Mr. Stalf about the importance of being based in Berlin, she questions that many would have thought that Frankfurt would be an obvious place for a fintech company. Stalf mentions that he feels that it is a good thing not to be in the centre of finance, he stressed that at N26 they wanted to build a product that didn’t like it has been created from a traditional bank, Berlin is the place to attain the best creative people in Europe. N26 are very happy to be in the city where they can get the minds to work with them. He also mentions that Berlin (post Brexit) is even more attractive to Europe.

So what can we learn from Berlin? Firstly, from looking at the N26 example, the fintech has stayed in the capital because of the array of both domestic and international talent, the city as a whole is an international magnet for talent, similar to London which has attracted many tech enthusiasts and young entrepreneurs.

In order to keep its talent, Berlin has helped people relocate, it’s common for start-ups in the city to help with paperwork and with an employee’s first month of accommodation.

They also go that extra mile and provide free language classes, as well as help people open their first bank account and register in the city.

Start-ups in the German capital work hard to give their employees reasons to stay. Employees seem to stay at one company, and rarely switch from one role to another. The likes of offering flexible working hours to offering loyalty programmes are some of the methods used by Berlin start-ups.

In addition, Berlin definitely has more of a grass roots feel compared with London which has more of an established start-up scene. Berlin has a tenacious approach, and a main reason why the city has been put on the start-up map. A ‘we can do it’ attidude (whether that involves money or not) is apparent in pretty much all the start-ups in the city, with a strong ‘nothing will hold us back’ approach.

We’ve learnt from Berlin that all you need is a forward thinking and engaged approach for your start-up as well as having a strong community focus, this can make so many differences, regardless of where you are situated.

This type of philosophy that the German capital has on the start-up scene might sound very tempting for London start-ups and fintechs who are looking to relocate due to the Brexit vote, with lower rent prices compared with the UK capital and also having a wealth of talent in Berlin, many would find relocating to the East German city very tempting.

Spanish Fintech : Spain Bullish on the Fintech Scene

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When it comes to European fintech, for the majority, the likes of the UK, Sweden, and Germany all spring to mind straight away with all having a vast amount of companies dealing with an array of areas from money transfers to P2P lending.

However, Spain shouldn’t be overshadowed by its northern European counterparts. Spanish fintechs such as Kantox, Coinffeine, and peerTranfer for example, have caught the industry’s attention, and as a result have had very successful venture rounds.

Kantox from Barcelona, a foreign exchange service provider, offering SMEs and mid-cap companies a comprehensive solution to their foreign exchange needs, based on transparency, efficiency and value (as described on their website), has received over 7 million euros in investments from Partech Ventures, IDinvest Partners, Cabiedes Partners as well as a number of business angels.

In Addition, other fintechs such as Coinffeine which have also put Spanish fintech on the map, from developing a bitcoin and foreign currency exchange platform (and the first company in the world to be created using Bitcoins!)

Spanish Fintech : BBVA Turns To Fintech

bbva

Image source : Fortune

From fintech start-ups to banks, national bank BBVA early this year bought Finnish fintech Holvi which provides online banking and financial planning services for small businesses.

The Spanish bank also took a 29.5% stake in U.K.-based mobile-only bank Atom, they also purchased U.S. banking service Simple (which is very similar to Holvi and only focuses on customers in North America).

BBVA have been very bullish on fintech and have a long term plan of becoming more and more digital savvy.

Chief Development Officer Teppo Paavola mentioned in a City A.M. article that : “We’re excited about Holvi as we share a vision about the benefit of technology for the customer. They use digital to bring a new approach to small business banking, where services essential to a business’ future such as invoicing are built into their core offer.”

Spain’s largest and most well known bank, Santander, has also been investing in fintechs and has launched a $100 million VC fund for fintech investments.

It’s particularly interesting to see the contrasting views in Europe with regards to fintechs, staying in Iberia, the region sees fintechs as acquisition targets. Research conducted by IDC and SAP found 29% of Iberian respondents linked fintechs with acquisitions, in contrast, only 14% of French respondents shared the same viewpoint.

French banks were the most likely to see fintech companies as a major threat, whilst Italian respondents viewed fintechs as a way of collaborating with banks (nearly half had this viewpoint).

With last month’s news of the UK leaving the European Union, many have questioned if London will be able to sustain its global fintech crown. It will definitely be interesting to see how the future will pan out for the city, the likes of Barcelona is a perfect place for any fintech that is looking to relocate. Since the 2008 financial crisis people in Barcelona have been forced to become more innovative, creative, and independent. As a result, a surge of office spaces have popped up and like-minded people have come together to create a tight knit community in the Catalan city.

It seems that the lesson learnt particularly in Spain is that if you can’t beat them, join them and BBVA have shown this, as Business Insider’s Andrew Meola points, out : “BBVA’s approach adds even more credence to the growing belief that established financial institutions and startups must work together in order to move ahead”.

Fintech Euro 16 : Who Will be Crowned European Champions?

Euro 16 – The Fintech Tournament

Fintech Europe 2016

This post is just a bit fun for anyone who has an interest in footy and fintech, what if the tournament was based on fintech investment – who would be crowned champions of Europe?

Euro 16 – Fourth Place – Germany

germany fintech

Die Mannschaft would finish the tournament in fourth place, investors in Germany have put in over $80 million. Berlin leads the way and puts the German fintech scene on the map with almost half the firms based there, German financial centre Frankfurt also contributes to Germany’s success, with quite a few fintechs based in the city.

Euro 16 –  Third Place – Netherlands

Holland Fintech

The Dutch missed out on this year’s tournament as they finished behind Czech Republic, Iceland and Turkey in Group A to miss out on their first Euro tournament since 1984. However, in the fintech tournament, Oranje qualify and finish the Euros in third place. In 2014 it was reported that the Dutch invested over $300 million in fintech. Companies such as BitonicAdyen, and AcceptEmail have helped put Dutch fintech on the map.

Euro 16 Runners-up – Sweden

Sweden fintech

Sweden, representing the Nordics is the Fintech Euro 16 runner-up. The Nordic region invested over $340 million on fintech, companies such as iZettle which has as a high valuation of $244.04 million puts the Swedes as clear runners-up of the tournament.

Euro 16 Winners – England

London Fintech

The Three Lions are crowned the Fintech Euro 16 tournament champions. Thanks to the London fintech scene, UK fintech firms have a combined value of £1bn. From looking at this number alone, fintech in London has a proven track record and also the pedigree to deliver continued value and forward-thinking startups in any market conditions.

Blockchain : It’s All About Trust

Blockchain - It's All About Trust

Many industries are buzzing about using blockchain technology – so what is this buzz all about and what is it exactly?

In a nutshell, blockchain is a way of recording data and also the foundation for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. This innovative form of technology is made up of blocks of transactions (think of it like strands of DNA being joined together), and are added in chronological order.

The blockchain stores a wealth of information such as addresses and account balances from the genesis block (the first transaction), this is then added to the most recently completed block.

The blockchain acts as a public ledger which means that is simple to query any block explorer (details information about Bitcoin blocks, addresses, and transactions e.g. Blockchain Info) . The beauty of this is that you can view your own wallet address and view your bitcoin transactions.

Besides cryptocurrency, blockchain can also be used as a registry based system and can record, monitor, track, and transact an array of assets.

A good of way of thinking of how the blockchain functions is to see it as a giant Excel spreadsheet that can be used as an accounting system for transactions on a global scale. This can include a variety of areas such as finance, physical property, votes, health data, the possibilities are literally endless!

In addition, what is even more exciting about the “Internet of Value” as it has been dubbed, blockchain tech will further the value of the Internet of Things (IoT). Connected devices in the home and across various industries could automatically pay for the energy they use by writing to the relevant blockchain, creating a transfer of value based on the precise usage of the device (as mentioned by Forbes’ Bernard Marr)

network-trust

So how does trust come into play with blockchain? Users can trust the blockchain from the public ledger which is stored on decentralized nodes and maintained by miner-accountants, meaning there is no need to have a third party such as a bank. In essence, the blockchain allows the decentralization of all transactions on a global level.

Companies such as Lloyd’s have been open to adapt to new technologies such as blockchain. Their director of operations, Shirine Khoury-Haq, (who mentioned in a recent CoinDesk article)  that : “blockchain has the potential to improve the way insurers record risk, increasing the speed, accuracy and transparency of our processes.”

Lloyds have recently has taken on the responsibility of underwriting blockchain insurance startup SafeShare – “The insurance solution for the sharing economy” as quoted from their homepage.

So how was trust made? Trust was made directly from the blockchain and not directly with SafeShare itself to enter the business relationship. All Lloyds had to do was to approve SafeShare’s ledger, there was no need to study in detail their daily operations. The reason behind this is is that blockchain technology adds transparency by having a distributed ledger in place, therefore, it’s really hard for business to hide any dubious activities.

Trust and transparency are made in an instant, and this innovative form of technology has only just scratched the surface. It isn’t surprising that banks such as Lloyds are getting so excited about blockchain technology, even if the benefits for now seem quite distant. If we look at Cryptocurrencies for example, such as Bitcoin, which might be seen as innovative (depending on your point of view on the cryptocurrency), however, the innovation doesn’t come from the digital coin itself, it’s the trust machine that mints them.

Here I have just given a very basic overview on blockchain if you would like to know more about the technology I recommend  visiting the Reddit community r/BlockChain for the latest news as well as reading Blockchain Revolution : How the technology behind bitcoin is changing, money, business, and the world by Alex and Don Tapscott.

 

 

Nordic Fintech – A Look At How The Scene Is Shaping Scandinavia

Nordic Fintech - A Look At How The Scene Is Shaping Scandinavia

From briefly looking at fintech in Africa to now my turning my attention to the fintech scene in Scandinavia.

The scene is really hotting up and who would have thought the concepts of finance and tech could result in something quite exciting? (As Susanne Chishti and Janos Barberis mention in The Fintech Book) London has been at the centre of fintech with an array of world class start-ups as well as being the finance capital of Europe.

While the media has been focused on the London scene, Scandinavia has continued to increase its fintech presence as the region plans to go cashless, in addition, digital banking and electronic payments have become commonplace.

Bills and coins represent only 2 per cent of Sweden’s currency, and Denmark has a goal to “eradicate cash” by 2030. (Bobs Guide, March 2016) Michael Kent, the CEO of  Azimo, an international money transferring site recently mentioned in Bobs Guide : “Sweden and Denmark are two of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan countries in Europe, where digital payment innovation is ahead of the global curve.”

Between January 1, 2014 and end of March 2016, 51 fintech investments were made all over Scandinavia totalling $390.17 million. This number maybe small compared to the $5.4 billion that has been made by fintech firms in London, however, nearly one in 10 investments in Scandinavia is now made in the fintech sector.

According to data from The Nordic Web, Sweden is flying the fintech flag in the region by having 32 out of 51 fintech investments, and Stockholm has had a robust financial industry and history. Companies such as iZettle have really helped Nordic fintech gain interest from all over the world.

Klarna, another fintech company from the Swedish capital and one of the most prominent in Europe is championing this disruptive form of technology by allowing users to buy without the use of cards and is valued at over $2.25 billion and has raised $291.33 million in 6 rounds from 12 investors. iZettle also has a high valuation, and is currently valued at $244.04 million. Despite the hype of the London fintech scene, both of these companies clearly show how powerful the Nordic fintech scene has developed.

Nordic Fintech – A Cashless Society

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Image source : The Memo

It has been well documented that Scandinavians avoid cash and using tangible currency is decreasing. In Sweden, there’s less than 80 billion Swedish crowns in circulation (about €8 billion) and according to Niklas Ardvidsson of Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology only 40 to 60 percent is actually still in regular circulation. The decline in physical cash clearly shows that Swedes prefer apps and credit cards when it comes to making a payment.

The rise in mobile usage and banking apps such as Swish, which was collaborated by Swedish and Danish banks respectively, allows users to transfer money via their bank account to anyone else with a bank account, no matter where they are.

Nordic countries are known for having a high sense of trust, this linked with a forward thinking approach and embracing new technology has made using these apps even more desirable to use.

An Alternative Way Of Thinking

Nordiske-flag

It can be said that the Scandinavian management style has contributed to the Nordic fintech scene and has helped shape the region as a major player in Europe. A bottom-­up structure that focuses on “all for one and one for all” attitude gives a completely different dynamic that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Another factor that is particularly interesting is that in Scandinavia is rather than seeing successful firms as competition, they look up to them as real­-life role models.

Their culture and management styles has without a doubt helped push these array of innovative fintech products/services to the next level. The Nordic fintech scene maybe behind with what has been achieved in London, however, fintech start-ups from around the globe can learn a lot from the likes of iZettle and Klarna. They have helped shape Scandinavia as an educative fintech hub and a place that inspires others who want to live in a virtually cash-free society.

Could Bitcoin Be An Alternative For Argentina?

Could Bitcoin Be An Alternative-

A century ago Argentina was one of the most richest countries in the world and was part of an ‘elite club’ of prosperous nations and as we have seen in recent years countries such as neighbouring Brazil overtook Britain in terms of total GDP. However, this was expected, as World Finance’s Tom Bailey points out in a recent article, European nations comprise a small corner of the earth, and as larger nations turn their subsistence farmers into industrial workers (and then service sector employees), overtaking the old powers of Europe is inevitable. It is less of a fall and more of an expected correction and relative decline.

Sadly, those prosperous years of being part of an ‘elite club’ are well and truly over. Cast your minds back to 2001/2002  the Argentinian Peso lost three-quarters of its value (linked to various external shocks such as low prices for agricultural commodities and the devaluation of the Real in Brazil) and registered unemployment exceeded 25% which resulted in numerous public protests and violent scenes on the streets of Buenos Aires.

Macri-presidente

The Kirchner dynasty maybe over in Argentina, but newly elected Mauricio Macri (former Buenos Aires mayor and pictured above) has got a mammoth task of steering his country to economic safety. The centre-right leader intends to attract investment flows that will make Argentina globally competitive again.

As mentioned in Foreign Policy Magazine, Macri’s macroeconomic challenges are vast, however, and success will depend on his administration’s ability to curb a 5.4 percent GDP budget deficit (the biggest since 1982), temper soaring inflation (current annual levels are about 36 percent), and stimulate economic growth.

The question that remains in the Latin American country is whether Macri has enough time and support to put his agenda in place. Unfortunately unlike when Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was in power she had a full congress to back her, for Macri, he has less back-up when things take a nose dive. If that happens, you’ll bet your bottom Peso that Peronists will be ready to pounce.

Could Bitcoin Be An Alternative?

1280px-Bitcoin_-challenge_coin-

Moving away from the politics slightly, with a volatile currency and a string of dysfunctional banks in the country, could cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin be an alternative for Argentina?

It seems that quite a few in Argentina are pondering this very question and have already adopted the digital currency. Argentina has had the most bitcoin enthusiasts per capita, troubled economies in Latin America have also looked at the idea, with neighbouring Brazil and Venezuela playing catch up.

Bitcoin has proven to be a solution for many of the problems caused by inflation and subsequent capital controls. (Tech Crunch, March, 2016) As a result merchants and workers alike have started to look for an alternative and have started to use the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin start-up BitPagos,  is currently helping more than 200 hotels, both cheap and boutique, take credit-card payments from foreign tourists according to the NY Times. The money brought to Argentina using Bitcoin payments bypasses the high level of bureaucracy which is usually involved with receiving conventional payments from overseas.

A popular online retailer in the country, Avalancha, has been accepting bitcoin since last summer and has seen a large amount of bitcoin transactions grow steadily since using the cryptocurrency on the site. Avalancha offers their customers a 10 percent discount when they use Bitcoin. The reason behind this is because credit card payments cost Avalancha more than 10 percent as a result of the troubled Argentine financial system.

Looking for alternative methods such as bitcoin has led to like-minded people joining in unison and creating a bitcoin embassy in Buenos Aires; a four-story building that’s home to eight start-ups whose businesses depend on Bitcoin transactions.

From start-ups to even local politicians have shown an interest in the cryptocurrency, Argentina’s youngest mayor Martín Yeza tweeted back in January about having a bitcoin agenda in place as well as regulatory approval for the popular ridesharing platform Uber.

Adopting bitcoin as an alternative for Macri aka “President Facebook” because of his big social presence would be a massive step in countering its current economic crisis. Argentina and the rest of Latin America has a lot of opportunities to push the cryptocurrency and make it more mainstream.

A Brief Insight Into FinTech In Africa

A Brief Insight Into FinTech In Africa

Fintech has taken off as a major buzzword since around 2014 and this form of disruptive technology will change the way we access and transfer our money.

In Africa mobile payments for example have  revolutionised the financial sector with a majority of people having access to mobile devices and about a third having bank accounts has made sending payments electronically  easier than ever before.

Companies such as M-Pesa from Kenya (a money transfer system which used across the continent)  have changed the way the likes of customers and investors manage their transactions.

So who else is championing fintech in Africa?

  • Zoona – Zoona which translates as  ‘It’s real’ in Nyanja (one of the main languages spoken in Zambia) like M-Pesa, operates a cellphone-based money transfer service and has really helped both Zambians and Malawians who a) don’t have a bank account and b) caters for remote places and works with old mobile devices.

 

  • Aella Credit – Nigerian fintech company Aella Credit is a personal loan lender that underwrites loans with a proprietary algorithm. According to Techpoint.ng, the tech-powered online lender, is closing in on a $8m funding round with a consortium of US based investors and debt funders.

 

  • GetBucks – The South African start-up gives customers access to short term loans and other financial products, without having to travel to a bank branch.GetBucks uses a combination of traditional credit scoring and artificial intelligence when looking at the credit risk of low income consumers.

 

  • SnapScan – SnapScan from South Africa allows customers to pay retailers and stores for products and services using their mobile devices instead of debit, credit cards or cash. The app is available on iOS, Android, and Blackberry devices and users need to download it then take images of their credit cards and create a pin number for the accounts.

 

  • Paga –  The mobile money transfer service from Nigeria was founded in 2009 but started operating in 2011 after receiving its operating license. Paga users can pay bills, transfer money, access banking services and other financial services from a simple swipe from their mobile devices.

There are quite a few more fintech companies across Africa that are also doing some remarkable and innovative ways of transferring payments electronically and the fintech industry can without a doubt influence other sectors such as education and healthcare.

Africa is not on the same level as continents such as Europe when it comes to fintech, however, Africa is definitely at a unique point in time it’s able to grab the opportunities more than any continent because of the rapid growth of digital connections and because of its youth (as mentioned in a recent CNBC Africa article).

In order for fintech to continue its innovative presence the younger generation are key, Africa is known for having a younger generation compared with other continents which makes them more likely to be tech savvy.

Funding has always been an issue in Africa and there is a lack of funding when it comes to innovating new technology. On the flipside, it can be said that despite the lack of funding, many start-ups have not seen it as a barrier and have looked at other avenues of utilising financial technology (as the company examples above show).