Cherry picking investment managers: a nascent Fintech area

cherry pick

In this research note, I share elements of the complexity of the asset manager selection process and look into whether Fintechs have developed tools to improve this process.

Last September marked the 40yr anniversary of the first index mutual fund created by whom else other than Vanguard. Even though its initial reception was not successful, this first mover fund, which began with $11million, has grown today to be the Vanguard 500 Index Fund with $400+ billion AUM! This was a structure referred to as “Bogle’s Folly” at its launch.

The entire US industry of index funds has now grown to $4 trillions.

At the same time, we have the birth and evolution of the ETF industry which is 20yrs old. That also had a couple of faulty starts before a successful product launched was achieved (see, a Brief history of EFTs). Today it accounts for roughly $2.5trillions. From which only $377billion of ETFs are index fund types and the rest, close to $2trillion, are “smart beta” types.

Despite the exponential growth of these passive-indexing investment vehicles, Investment Managers still have a function in the asset management industry. The growth in indexing is not only seen in the increase in AUM but also in an increase in the market share of indexing vehicles. Morningstar reports stunning statistics showing that in the last ten years, the market share of assets shifting to indexing has doubled!!

The rest of the market still operates with a large focus on investment manager selection. Each investment management firm has a secret sauce on how to select, retain, support, and manage, their in-house asset managers.

Manager selection especially for large institutional asset owners, remains a sophisticated multi-dimensional task. It has tangible and measurable components and equally important intangible and qualitative factors to consider.

Tangible elements:

  • Investment philosophy and process
  • Portfolio construction methodology
  • Risk management methodology
  • Performance

Intangible elements:

  • Agency problems
  • Adapting to new asset classes
  • Partnership issues
  • Malfeasance risks

There is extensive literature in the theoretical and practical front that covers these issues. The CFA institute and AIMA (focused on alternative investments), to name a few, have extensive research and empirical studies on the topic.

The wider adaptation of alternative assets classes has made the process more complex. The increased transparency of markets and more so the increased correlation between geographies and asset classes, has sometimes induced managers to drift from their initial investment philosophy. Risk management processes have also become more important and stringent, as regulatory guidelines fence activities and will be looking to daily reporting.

Benchmarking performance and gaging the trade-offs between underperformance and long term investing; remains an issue.

The questions arising about whether the manager is acting in the best interest of the investors and or the GP or LP of the fund structure; are essential. Capturing malpractices remains a nightmare.

Fintechs haven’t alleviated any of the issues related to investment manager selection for large asset owners.

Essentia Analytics, is a Fintech that tackles one facet of the complex investment manager selection process by providing a feedback loop for fund managers. It uses big data analytics from the asset manager himself and provides actionable insights in what needs to be changed. It is detecting behavioral biases, increasing self-awareness and determining actionable adjustment to the investment decision making process.

I have been looking for Fintechs that can provide real time Drift monitoring of managers: calculating Drift from their investment philosophy and their risk management parameters.

Normann is a company that focuses on the behavioral bias of active traders, the so-called myopic loss aversion, that results in irrational behavior and the “anomaly” of the equity premium puzzle. Normann has partnered with Chancery Lane Traders (proprietary trading FX) to screen traders and offer them risk management make-up services and then allocate capital to them.

Few Fintech startups found focusing in the area of investment manager selection. At the same time. there has been an additional layer of novelty and complexity added to the pool of Investment managers.   The Fintech revolution has concentrated on nurturing new managers out of the crowd.

New micro-managers are emerging from different platforms:

  • Copy and mirror trading platforms like eToro, Zulu Trade, Darwinex.
  • Thematic investing marketplaces that allow new micro-managers to emerge by creating their own financial product (equity based), and actively manage it; like Motif Investing, and Wikifolios,
  • Even social research platforms like StockTwits are stepping into this space by offering Follow functions and rankings of the subscriber micro-managers.

These emerging micro-managers are not of course into indexing; they are targeting the smart beta or alpha generation space. Their audience has been mostly retail. Social trading Guru, has been aggregating and ranking such FX micro-managers from the first group of social trading platforms.

The asset manager selection process remains complex and cherry picking from the professional pool remains the focus and challenge of asset management firms. Looking for more Fintechs that focus on facilitating this process. Artificial intelligence will clearly be the tool that can create a comprehensive profile of an investment manager and at the same time, through a comprehensive feedback loop improve his-her biases. For now, Fintechs have overlaid novelties and created new complexities by opening up the space to the new micro-managers sourced from the crowd with investment processes and biases are yet to be evaluated.

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Efi Pylarinou is a Digital Wealth Management thought leader.

Blockchain Digital ID and the vision of a Refugee Bank

During SIBOS 2015 in Singapore there was a co-creation session about the refugee crisis (as part of a series on financial inclusion) during which an audacious goal was mooted – to create a Refugee Bank.

A Refugee Bank could be an on ramp to a productive life in new societies for refugees. It can also be a petri dish for innovation related to digital consumer banking. This will be a place to try out innovation around Digital Identity, mobile wallets, Blockchain etc. The Underbanked is a huge market and a lucrative business opportunity as well as an opportunity to help people. Innovation usually first gets traction among those excluded from mainstream services and Refugees are as excluded as you can get.

Will a Refugee Bank be up and running by the time SIBOS comes to Geneva in September 2016?

The Daily Fintech community is rich, smart, driven and influential. You can help to turn this dream of a Refugee Bank into a reality. Consider this an experiment in digital co-creation.

You can learn by just reading this output – Daily Fintech research is always free, ad free and without any registration wall. You may learn more and make more connections by also contributing ideas, data and connections in Comments. All conversations live on in the Comments, so your contribution will be recognized in the community.

There are so many issues related to the mission of creating a refugee bank and these issues are complex because they sit at the intersection of technology and business and regulation. So we plan a series of research notes covering one topic at a time.

Uport

This first note covers digital identity, which is the most tricky foundational issue for refugees. Most identity artifacts used for KYC are government issued (passport, drivers license) or assume a fixed residence (utility bill).

When I met @ethereumjoseph and his colleagues @consensys a few weeks ago in New York, he mentioned the work they were doing around digital identity called Uport.

Uport is also a wallet.

That is a practical combination for refugees. A digital wallet for those in the West is a nice to have luxury but we can do without it. For a refugee a digital wallet might be the only way they can receive cash from remote people – and that might be the only way to feed your family that day. A wallet must be connected to a digital identity, so that money is sent to the right person.

Digital Identity is the foundation of decentralization.

If you can prove who you are, you can store and exchange assets via the blockchain. Every person can be their own bank/custodian. That is as crazy a vision as Bill Gates talking about a PC in every home in 1976. There is a reason why Microsoft worked so hard to get Passport established – the upside is massive.

There is also a reason why any company that gets close to this prize – whether it is Facebook or Google or Apple or Microsoft – eventually gets consumer pushback. Microsoft finally gave up on Passport. Facebook and Google are the closest to realizing the level of commercial control that Microsoft wanted from Passport. Apple, threatened by Facebook and Google’s control over the Centralized Internet, decided it was worth upsetting the US Government by taking a stand on privacy.

Privacy has become the third rail of the Centralized Internet; this is the Internet where we are the product.

In the coming Decentralized Internet, our Identity becomes the first asset we store on the Blockhain, the foundational asset that allows us to store other assets (and because of that control, to be in charge of our relationship with banks and other commercial suppliers).

As Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin points out:

“10 years from now it may be harder to change identity providers than it is to change countries”

People can become refugees without even leaving their country. This was brought vividly home to me when waiting in line at a Post Office in NYC and witnessing the desperation of a homeless person being refused a PO Box because she had no physical address. Without that PO Box she would be refused the job she had applied for. She would be an unperson without any official identity. She would be stateless. She would be a refugee despite (probably) having been born in America.

Apart from Uport, I have found two other Blockchain based ID solutions:

OneName

ShoCard

These are the three key requirements  of a Blockchain based ID:

  • Trustless and decentralized. Your Identity is not under the control of any institution (either Government or commercial).
  • Immutable. Nobody can change a record; they can only append a new record. For example, all previous passports will be on the Blockchain.
  • Granular Control. For example, you can have my driver’s license but not my passport or medical records and you can only have it for this one transaction.
Digital ID intersects technology, business and politics, making it like 3 dimensional chess. Governments need some control over Digital ID in order to stop the bad guys but the right to privacy is prized by many. This is a debate that is often heated.
That is why we focus on refugees as being the sharp end of Digital ID, where new concepts may get initial traction.

Who Issues ID?

A government issued ID is something we take for granted in the West. For the billions among the global Unbanked, digital identity is the on ramp to society and this cannot be solved by technology alone; Government needs to be actively involved. In India they are tackling this through the Unique Identification Authority of India.

For the Unbanked in India, they have a Government which can issue an ID if they can figure our the daunting logistics of doing this at scale.

What if you are a refugee? You have no Government to look after your interests. You have no official ID and no entity to turn to who can create on for you.

That is the sort of issue we aim to shine a light on in this series on creating a Refugee Bank.

Please use comments to add more knowledge and insight to this issue. We would love to hear from anybody with experience in this area (either the technology or working with refugees).

Daily Fintech Advisers provide strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Bernard Lunn is a Fintech thought-leader.

 

 

Lemonade could collapse the Insurance stack #insurtech

insurance

InsurTech moved into the limelight on 8th December 2015 when it was announced that Sequoia Capital had done a $13m seed investment into a stealthy venture called Lemonade. Call it the Sequoia effect. Could this be another WhatsApp story (with a $19 billion exit only 3.5 years after Sequoia invested in their A round)?

Lemonade remains stealthy. They have not said what they plan to offer beyond broad generalities. However there was more news this month which gives some interesting clues when it was announced that:

“Berkshire Hathaway and Munich Re back revolutionary P2P insurer”

There were others including: Everest Re, Hiscox, Transatlantic and XL Catlin plus a syndicate at Lloyd’s of London. The amount invested was not revealed. That is not the issue. Lemonade can clearly raise as much as they need. What is significant is the entry of the Reinsurance players. We analyze the PR to figure out where the puck is probably headed.

The current Insurance stack

The insurance industry works through a 3 layer stack:

  • Layer # 1: Brokers. Their job is to gather premiums from customers.
  • Layer # 2: Insurance Companies. Their primary job is claims processing. They take in premiums via brokers, invest the cash flow and pay out claims when needed.
  • Layer # 3: Reinsurance Companies. They are the payers of last resort. They insure the insurance companies. Their job is to have enough capital to pay out claims, even if the models did not predict the volume of claims.

Cui Amisit

During disruption, the big question is who loses? WhatsApp disrupted the Telecoms companies. Who will be disrupted by Lemonade? The news clearly signals that it won’t be the Reinsurance Companies.

Normally one would assume the Brokers to be most at threat. Digitization allows consumers to buy direct. Some Insurtech ventures such as Knip (out of Switzerland) position as brokers. We can call this type RoboBrokers. They serve the traditional job of gathering premiums for Insurance companies; they just do it more efficiently by using digital tools.

Lemonade is probably going after bigger fish. The clue is in the statement from the CEO of Lemonade in the press release:

“Lemonade is the only insurer that doesn’t make money by denying claims”.

Insurance is a rather one-sided business. As consumers our commitment to pay premiums is absolute. If we stop paying we are not covered. The commitment of the Insurance company is to pay out – in certain circumstances. There is a contract, but we have to trust the other party and the other party obviously has an incentive not to pay out.

Lemonade has not revealed how they will do this – they obviously want to stop copycats. The backing of so many big players and the move by a 25 year AIG veteran to become Lemonade’s chief insurance officer plus other key hires, indicates that Lemonade must have a good plan even if they are not yet revealing it publicly.

So we can only speculate at this stage based on the two biggest concerns that consumers have when it comes to Insurance:

  • Concern # 1: Will the Insurance company have enough money to pay me? This is why Insurance is so highly regulated. Scamsters love a business where you can collect premiums and disappear before the claim is paid. The announcement that Reinsurers (the biggest pools of capital out there) are backing Lemonade is designed to allay that fear.
  • Concern # 2: Will the Insurance company find a reason to deny my claim to avoid paying me? Lemonade cannot simply say “trust me”. That is how the Insurance industry works today. Consumer could feel confident of a Smart Contract where they could see that the money is automatically paid out when certain conditions are met (based on a Blockchain based algorithm with the money already in some form of escrow). This is easy in Life Insurance because the event (dead or alive) is binary. However Property & Casualty is more nuanced (how much damage? Who was at fault?) and Health Insurance has a notoriously complex claims process. How Lemonade automates the claims process will determine their success. How will they stop scamsters making false claims? How will they verify the loss? Is this where they will turn the claims process into a P2P process (ie get the crowd to verify what happened)?

Insurance companies can see the damage done to Telecom operators by over the top messaging services such as Whatsapp. They may now need to think hard about the impact of InsurTech disruption.

Daily Fintech Advisers provide strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Bernard Lunn is a Fintech thought-leader.

 

Cash flow is still king – SMEs get the keys to the ‘Treasury’ chest

In a post back in May 2015, Daily Fintech explored the SaaS disruption occurring in the corporate sector in relation to the delivery of Treasury Management services. The disruption has now shifted down the food-chain, with a range of Fintech providers now finding smart ways to connect into accounting platforms, removing the need to integrate directly with the banks and democratizing cash flow forecasting tools for the masses.

And it couldn’t come at a better time. A survey of 1000 British SMEs, conducted by invoice finance provider Hitachi Capital, found that improving cash flow was key to unlocking growth. Each quarter it was included as a top three consideration for business owners, alongside reducing overheads and market expansion.

For SMEs, cash flow management is critical for two key reasons: cost of debt is higher and return on capital is lower compared to large corporates. This makes managing and generating better cash flow critical. But with many SMEs time poor and starved of the in-house skills and talent needed to develop sophisticated cash management strategies, smart technology that can help guide their decision making is a game changer.

Four companies worth following in this space are listed below:

Skippr

Based out of the TyroFintechHub in Sydney, Skippr are looking to combine both invoice financing with cash flow forecasting tools. Bringing the two together is probably a smart move, especially given both access to funds and managing cash go hand-in-hand. Today the product connects to Xero, with Quickbooks, Sage and MYOB to follow.

Float

Founded in Edinburgh, Scotland but with a global focus, Float integrates with most of the major cloud accounting platforms, Xero and Quickbooks included. Float offers detailed forecasting, budgeting tools and scenario modelling, to help SMEs test the potential impacts of various growth strategies. Float is based out of the CodeBase technology incubator.

Vistr

Targeted at the Australian market and a graduate of the muru-D startup accelerator program, today Vistr only connects into Xero, offering a 90 day forecasting feature based on two primary data points –invoices sent and received and historical trends. It also has a great sand-box like interactive online tour, allowing SMEs to get a flavour of the product before they go down the path of syncing their own data.

CrunchBoards

Offering a direct integration into Xero, and with Quickbooks on the way, Crunchboards blends powerful reporting with forecasting tools. In 2015 they were awarded Xero Add-On Emerging Partner of the year. Unlike some of the other forecasting apps, they look to be launching a solution soon with MYOB, the other heavyweight in the global cloud accounting space.

Others to watch include Debtor Daddy and Skwile, alongside complementary services like Receipt Bank and Invitbox, the last two solving in particular the invoice data extraction piece. Together, these ‘best of breed’ solutions, along with cloud accounting, make for a powerful SME treasury solution. Cash management for SMEs may be a nascent sector but it is surely one poised for super-charged growth over the next 12 months. Watch this space.

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business.

6 Fintech Stocks That Outperformed during market downturn

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In this Research Note we look at the Daily Fintech Index to see which publicly traded Fintech stocks held up best after the hammering that stocks took recently and look at 6 that outperformed in relative terms and which ones got hammered the most.

In this version of the Daily Fintech Index we order based on 52 week High. We also show 52 week Low, but in a bear market when fear beats greed traders and media tend to focus on the negative which is how far off the stock is from a 52 week High (even though your statistical chance of having actually bought at either the 52 week High or Low is nudging zero).

Finally we show an ETF of Bank stocks (the Fin) and an ETF of Tech stocks as comparison.

The snapshot (taken Feb 18) below is ranked based on how individual stocks performed against 52 week High.

SYMBOL NAME % FROM LOW % FROM HIGH
FISV Fiserv, Inc. 25.57% -1.94%
JKHY Jack Henry & Associates Inc. 33.14% -3.46%
MSCI MSCI Inc. 28.24% -4.60%
FICO Fair Isaac Corporation 21.63% -4.66%
MRKT Markit Ltd. 11.86% -9.56%
V Visa Inc. 20.05% -11.09%
MA MasterCard Incorporated 16.89% -14.30%
PYPL PayPal Holdings, Inc. 21.20% -14.55%
FDS FactSet Research Systems Inc. 8.75% -16.61%
VIRT Virtu Financial, Inc. 9.57% -17.19%
SSNC SS&C Technologies Holdings 22.44% -25.08%
DH.TO DH Corporation 11.40% -28.02%
IBKR Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. 11.93% -28.14%
AMTD TD Ameritrade Holding Corp 11.98% -28.66%
ETFC E*TRADE Financial Corporation 13.62% -29.22%
SCHW The Charles Schwab Corporation 13.81% -31.47%
ACIW ACI Worldwide, Inc. 16.12% -32.17%
SQ Square, Inc. 22.07% -33.42%
AXP American Express Company 6.64% -35.83%
WETF WisdomTree Investments, Inc. 21.74% -54.75%
WPG WP GLIMCHER Inc. 6.07% -55.82%
LC LendingClub Corporation 30.13% -66.33%
ONDK On Deck Capital, Inc. 14.44% -68.73%
MONIF Monitise plc 28.57% -92.48%
INDICES
IYW iShares US Technology 34.54% -11.52%
VFH Vanguard Financials ETF 37.58% -16.99%

 

First, because these are gloomy times, we looked at the bottom of the list to see who got hammered the most. Monitise, which is down over 90% from its 52 week high, stands at the top of that unenviable position. We looked at Monitise here.

Lending marketplaces also got hammered with Lending Club and Ondeck down 66% and 68% respectively. I think that is overdone because the model is sound and gives them headwinds; those stocks could reward brave bottom pickers.

We then looked at the 6 Fintech stocks that beat both the Tech and Fin ETFs to see if the market is offering us any pearls of wisdom:

  1. Fiserv. We looked at Fiserv nearly a year ago with a simple takeaway – don’t bet against these guys. Sure this looks like Traditional Fintech (boring) vs Emergent Fintech (exciting) but the fundamentals tell a different story. Possibly this is because Fiserv serve small banks not big banks which means sticky revenue and great visibility. We explore small banks vs big banks here.
  1. Jack Henry. They have some similarity to Fiserv but not so well known.
  1. MSCI. A Big data platform play that is critical to Digital Wealth Management aka the democratization of Wall Street.
  1. Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). A Big data platform play powering lending marketplaces (despite the meme that FICO is flawed).
  1. Markit. A Big data platform play that is critical to Digital Wealth Management aka the democratization of Wall Street.
  1. Visa. Network effects rule meaning that payment challengers are challenged as we explore here.

Daily Fintech Advisers provide strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Bernard Lunn is a Fintech thought-leader.

 

 

Dazzling Fintech actionable Investment advice needing a bridge

Gap fill.jpeg

Feeling nauseous this year from the financial markets? Have the symptoms persisted more than a week and more than just during business hours? Maybe its time to consider, taking your portfolio for a check up.

In the US, you have two standalone options for walk-in free check up, GuardVest and GradeMyAdvisor. You can also choose the Wealthfront stethoscope via its new portfolio review tool “Is your portfolio invested the right way for the long term?” (William Trout, at Celent tried it out already) or Sig Fig’s cardiogram via “Is your portfolio living up to its potential” (to name a few).

You can also, ignore your recent symptoms and stay put, and look towards the new world of actionable investment advice that Fintechs have generously opened up to retail investors. Most of these services have some freemuim basic service as bait to get you to open an account and thereafter, they propose a premium subscription to get access to additional information and insights, or more timely investment advice.

A wide range exists out there:

All of these services, can educate you, inform you, and help you form your own insights. Most of them have apps and are mostly geared to retail but some of these services can be accessed indirectly through their B2B parternships, like StatsBox of Kensho with CNBC.

Most of these Fintechs providing some kind of actionable advice, are subscription based. They are following the lead of Seeking Alpha that the crowd likes (see Why the Crowd Likes Seeking Alpha, but Wall Street not so much) and is willing to pay for a subscription. Seeking Alpha’s value proposition shouldn’t simplified into a subscription based business model for retail, because it has been experiencing high double digit growth also in the institutional “buy-side” space.

Bottom line is that we have been witnessing in the past few years, an explosion of actionable investment advice that can all be grouped under the umbrella of democratizing services otherwise available to only institutional investors and empowering DIY investors in very inexpensive ways. All these businesses are greatly improving the user experience and putting valuable tools on our smartphones.

For the end-user however, it is has been dazzling. Similar to entering into a candy store and being overwhelmed and confused as to which one to taste, try, and pick out. I’ve personally got half a dozen trial subscriptions (not counting the social trading ones, eToro, Darwinex etc) that are fading away from the front screen of my app.

All these financial apps and services need to do, to hook me up, is to

give me a BUY and SELL button

All they need to offer me, in addition to actionable advice, is the bridge to the ACTION itself. It took Stocktwits 7yrs to link with Robinhood!

Seeking Alpha, can bridge the gap between its actionable advice and execution. No drone technology needed to get this done. Others will follow.

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Efi Pylarinou is a Digital Wealth Management thought leader.

Will early stage Bitcoin ventures raise money in 2016?

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A few weeks ago we wrote about how the Bitcoin market was consolidating. However some early stage deals did get done in 2015. In this research note, we look at them to see what they tell us about the state of the Bitcoin market during the current bear market.

SafeCash 

The proposition: take cash to a bank and purchase digital tokens which preserve the privacy and universal acceptance of cash, while adding in the security and digital portability of cryptocurrency.

This is using a Bank like a Bitcoin ATM. They advertise a “fully compliant, legal banking product”; if they have cracked this regulatory on ramp issue they may thrive.

Pey

PEY will be launching the payroll solution that enables companies in Germany to pay a portion of their employees’ salaries in the digital currency. More people getting paid in Bitcoin is great for the Bitcoin ecosystem but I struggle to see why employees would choose to be paid in Bitcoin. I suspect the first to be motivated to be paid in Bitcoin will be micro entrepreneurs, which is why Open Bazaar is one to watch.

Coinalytics

This comes from Swiss entrepreneur, who started in Berlin and then moved to Silicon Valley – showing again how global entrepreneurs are today. This looks more like Enterprise Blockchain without Bitcoin, which is still in the Cambrian Explosion stage.

Abra

This is a remittance venture using the concept of Tellers – local people who will give you cash. This could break the dominance of Western Union if they succeed in getting a critical mass of tellers.

Case

This is a hardware wallet. This more secure than a mobile phone and I can imagine Bitcoin enthusiasts liking this, but it seems like a backward step from a user experience point of view (i.e. most people want fewer things to remember to take with us not more and so it is hard to imagine the transition to mainstream).

ZapChain

This is micropayments for content creators. As a content creator I am skeptical of this use case until millions use these wallets regularly. I hope to be proven wrong.

ScoreChain

This looks more like Enterprise Blockchain without Bitcoin which is still in the Cambrian Explosion stage.

Orb

This is a Tokyo based venture previously called CoinPass and the product is called SmartCoin. This comes from an experienced team and their raise was fairly substantial but their pitch is vague I cannot see what they do.

It will be interesting to see what early stage deals get done in Q1 2016, after the stock-market decline. Our thesis is that early stage Fintech will do well during a macroeconomic downturn if they are focused on lowering costs for either consumers or enterprises:

  • Ventures offering much lower cost for consumers. During a recession, consumers mind every penny. This is where, for example, a decentralized Blockchain based sharing economy venture that takes 2% rather than 20% may thrive. Conceptually this makes sense, but replacing ventures with entrenched network effects is tough, so I suspect ventures like this will struggle to get funding during a bear market. Those that can get to market and get traction will be the next Unicorns when the next bull market appears.
  • Ventures offering Radical Cost Take Out in Enterprise. During a recession, enterprises know they cannot grow the top line, so they cut costs. Blockchain based systems promise a radical rather than an incremental cost take out. Don’t shave 10% costs from processes such as Compliance, take out 90% of the costs. Ventures that can show they can do this will get funding and customers quite easily during a bear market.

During the 2009 downturn, when I was tracking early stage ventures for ReadWrite, I noticed only a blip in the financing. The late stage stuff got hammered, but early stage funding recovered very quickly. It may be the same in this cycle. it is certainly logical. When you invest early you plan for liquidity in the 7-10 year range during which the macro cycle will probably turn positive again.

However, ventures that bet on Bitcoin as a whole getting to Product Market Fit will face a tough time until that is clearly going to happen. I look forward to seeing what early stage Bitcoin deals get done during Q1 2016.

If you see any early stage Bitcoin deals done in 2015 (or in Q1 2016) that I have missed, please tell us in Comments.

Daily Fintech Advisers provide strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Bernard Lunn is a Fintech thought-leader.