Wrap of Week #12: Orbian, ProfitSee, Simplesurance, Fintech tour in Greece, Fintech in Africa

This week covered rare insights in the SME sector, from an Interview with Tom Dunn of Orbian about the past present and future of Supply Chain Finance to an Interview with Peter Vessenes, Founder & CEO of ProfitSee who is focused on Fiscal management for SMEs.

In our post The $20m Simplesurance funding shows how Berlin is becoming an InsurTech hub we looked at close at the traction that Simplesurance is gaining.

As we traveled to Greece, not on any Fintech hub list, we reported back in Fintech Global Tour goes to Greece to find both local & global innovation.

We covered two uses cases of leading edge technology in Africa in IOT Meets DLT and Blockchain meets M-Pesa in Africa.

We finished the week with an official welcome note to Arun (Arunkumar Krishnakumar) who is taking over the Friday Daily Fintech slot – where we cover how technology is changing consumer banking and finance around the world. Read more here.

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Fintech Global Tour goes to Greece to find both local & global innovation

Financial markets in Greece

A strained and chocked financial sector, functioning under Capital Controls for two years (this June) that has priced in the probability of a Grexit (for the third time in 7 yrs). All banks, except for Alpha Bank (Euros 1,63), have become penny stocks with National Bank of Greece trading around 0,25 Euros! Eurobank, who was traditionally the aggressive player in the Greek Banking sector, trading around 0,55 Euros.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Greece has the potential to become a Fintech hub, starting from the necessity to solve many problems that are idiosyncratic to the current conditions. From offering digital identities to immigrants, to issuing a cryptocurrency as a parallel currency, to small Business solutions (working capital, import-export trade etc),….

Greece has been witnessing an accelerated rate of exports of high skilled people (doctors, engineers, programmers etc). Greeks are technically strong and creative; and therefore, an ideal fit to be part of an innovative ecosystem. Funding, regulatory and government support; are the only missing ingredients.

The Fintech process has started shyly in Athens over the past 6 months. The National Bank of Greece launched an accelerator program in November last year, BeFinnovative, which resulted in 9 Fintech startups who are part of the program. Most of the areas are Consumer banking and wealth management (see a list here). Just last week, Interfima and the National Bank of Greece organized the first Fintech Forum in Athens. The event had participants from all over Europe and Chris Gledhill delivered the Keynote with a theme on “Disruption”.

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Athens Old stock exchange; Image byChris Gledhill

Just this past weekend Eurobank held its second BeyondHackathon with more than 130 participants from the Balkan region. Eurobank has a presence in 7 countries. I was honored to deliver the Keynote with a theme “On the Fintech Runway” (you can watch it here) to a packed room.

Eurobank has a full stack digitization roadmap already in place and Sotiris Sirmakezis, who is leading the Digital innovation across the board, has a powerful vision of the transformation journey over the next two years.

Fintech in Greece and out of Greece

The Fintech sector is just emerging but Insurtech is leading! Oseven  is 2yrs old and has taken a behavioral analytics approach to a user-centric telematics insurance offering. Oseven was a winner in the European Fintech awards in 2016 along with Knip, Funding Circle and Kreditech. They have moved their headquarters in London.

In consumer banking, the leader is Viva Wallet. With a rich offering both for retail and for businesses.  It is the first Greek mobile wallet that enables payment in online stores, mobile apps and physical stores. Viva Wallet is branching out into the Balkans and has a roadmap to grow further. Their most recent offering to businesses owners cuts the cost of card processing by 20%. See details here. Viva Wallet also runs an incubator, Viva Nest, that is very active presence in the startup scene.

In wealth management, there are two mature Fintechs that have a global customer base. Logical invest (we have covered extensively in the past) who is a signal provider for DIY investors and who is an example of a decentralized business founded and operated by three partners in three different locations  – Greece, Switzerland, and US. Zulu Trade, is one of the top global social trading platforms.

Fintech list by vertical

Insurtech

Hellas Direct – auto insurance

InsuranceMarket – comparison site

Oseven – Insurance Telematics

Consumer Banking & Small Biz

Viva Wallet – app for payments (retail and business)

BillIt – app for small biz invoice tracking

Elorus – small biz invoice tracking

Early stage

BitforTip – tips with bitcoin

Bcash – Greek Bitcoin ATM

Wealth Mgt

Micro-national: Logical invest

Global Social Trading: Zulu Trade

Early stage

Teastock – ML for stock trading

Echofin – Chatbot for traders

StampD – blockchain based notarization of ownership of any digital asset

Capital Markets

Open Circle Project – equity crowdfunding

Easystarter – donation crowdfunding

Crowdpolicy – Crowdsourcing experts (crowdfunding, apps, hackathons, and more)

Fintech with Greeks

For the Greek diaspora (which is not negligible in size and influence) who wants to follow the Greek Fintech ecosystem, there is a Fintech Greece linkedin group that one can join.

There are plenty of noteworthy Greeks who are part of the international Fintech scene in various capacities, e.g. Leda Glytpis, Spiros Margaris, Nektarios Lolios, and many more.

Fintech a la Greque

I would like to start a wish list of the kinds of innovations that should and could come out of Greece. Please, add on to this wish list:

  • Chris Gledhill: A blockchain voting tech would be good from the birthplace of democracy. A digital Crypto drachma (albeit politically sensitive).
  • Spiros Margaris: The Greek government should internationally promote Greece as a source for highly-qualified tech talent. It would help Greece, and it would help European companies to close the talent gap. That’s what I call a win-win proposition. Greece also ranks very high in the EU in SME innovation (see visual below).
  • My own wishes: A bank for refugees, A HellasCoin – a broad cryptocurrency, an innovative solution for income from illiquid assets (i.e. Greek real estate).

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Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech & operates the Fintech Genome P2P Knowledge Network. Efi Pylarinou is a Digital Wealth Management thought leader.

Wrap of Week #11: Blockchain, SEC – Bictoin ETF, Financial Wellness, WeFox, Microfinance in India

 Blockchain is definitely not boring but Blockchain needs to become technically boring.

What did we learn from the rejection of the Bitcoin ETF this past weekend? Time for the SEC to adopt an Open Research approach.

Revisting Financial wellness in the workplace, especially for small businesses.

Digging into:The WeFox #insurtech story is about augmenting rather than replacing agents

A rare guest post on the Effects of Demonetisation on Microfinance in India.

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Wrap of Week #10: Women in Finance, Bitcoin ETF, SmallBiz fintech, Insurtech, Metro Bank

 

bitcoin-etf

We started the week naturally with The woman in the global Fintech arena which highlighted what is importnant in the financial services businesses as they transform.

We zoomed into the ETF bitcoin approval-disapproval Wedding announcements pending between Old & New Finance Tribes: Bitcoin in an ETF gown!, as the decision was looming (now disapproved).

In our small business post on Wednesday, we shared our insights on Symbiotic channel strategies key to making B2B fintech scale.

In Insurtech we used the funding lenses in our review of The Top InsurTech Ventures by Capital Raised (don’t miss the comments).

In our consumer banking coverage, we looked closer at Metro Bank, publicly traded Challenger bank with a unique business model. Can you ride the Metro to the Challenger Bank future?

We made an announcement as we are extending an invitation for an author on the Daily Fintech platform focused on Insurtech or consumer banking. If you are interested in joining us, read here.

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Join any of the conversations on the Fintech Genome. The global community is sharing insights, creating great conversations, and business is starting to happen.

Check the latest topics that include artificial intelligence, insurance, ICOs, marketplace lending, etc

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The woman in the global Fintech arena

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When Theodore Roosevelt was writing this ode to entrepreneurialism, I assume he never thought about writing woman instead of man and that he never imagined anybody with a different skin colour or religion.

His main point is one that we can all agree with. There are only two players in arena:

  1. The Entrepreneur
  1. The Customer/User

Arena implies conflict and the interactions between Entrepreneur and Customer/User should not be about conflict. So here the analogy breaks down and we should talk about actors on stage. The key point – whether it is an arena or a stage – is that there are only two types of people who matter.

Everybody else is a spectator, with maybe a minor role – handing body armor to a gladiator counts as a minor role. Many of these spectators are entrepreneurs in their own domain. For example, a VC is a business like any other and creating a startup VC Fund is as tough as any startup, even though it may not seem like that to an entrepreneur pitching for investment (they just see the piles of money not what it took to create those piles). Speaking from experience, Daily Fintech is a spectator and analyst in the Fintech business, but in the media business we are in the arena/stage as entrepreneurs.

However, leaving aside the definition of who is in the arena/stage and who is a spectator, this post is about updating our view of who an entrepreneur is.

Sexism is dumb business

Silicon Valley gave a great gift to the world, which is the art of starting and scaling a business, but Silicon Valley also gave us a rampantly sexist culture, as the Uber story reminds us yet again. The VCs have too few women partners and they invest in too many entrepreneurs who build businesses where women are second class citizens at best.

This is not just about being politically correct. I think that sexism is wrong, but my concern here is business, not Corporate Social Responsibility PR.

When 50% of your market is not represented in your decision-making, you have a problem. You will be selling to a world that disappeared around the time of Mad Men and Archie Bunker. That is not smart.

The Family CFO is often a woman. If you want to sell lending or other financial tools you will be doing yourself a major disservice if your company culture blinds you to the nuances of marketing financial services to women.

I am pleased to say that with Efi, Jessica and Julia on the Daily Fintech team, we have almost the opposite problem – not enough men.

Countries where men and women operate more equally in the workplace tend to also be places where  a lot of innovation takes place. The Nordic economies come to mind.

It is not just about engineering any more

The defense of the Silicon Valley VCs and entrepreneurs is “of course we would hire/fund more women, if there were more women engineers”.

That puts the problem back with education and society. Everybody on the Board can agree to move onto the next item on the agenda. Sadly, there is a cultural and educational problem, where at an early age girls are encouraged to give up on math and chess and other things that would position them well for an engineering career. There is some truth to that defense.

There are exceptions. There are great women engineers who ignored social convention when they were young and continued to focus on the math and chess that they loved.

However, they are the exceptions that prove the rule. While we can and should bemoan this and seek to change it, that change will take time. Today there are not enough women engineers.

However, the “not enough women engineers” defence is baloney. You do not need an engineering degree to become a great entrepreneur.

Steve Jobs was not an engineer.

While there are huge engineering challenges, in areas such as transportation and energy, there are also lots of challenges which are not primarily about engineering.

Much of the focus on engineering is myth. The founding engineering in ventures such as Facebook, Uber, Twitter, AirBnB and Snapchat was trivial. As the old saying goes – this is not rocket science.

Is it that entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Travis Kalanick are so obviously male?  Is a testosterone fuelled combative attitude essential to success?

The great digital success stories are about building ecosystems of value. That sounds like something that requires more than combative skills – attributes such as empathy and ability to listen that we tend to associate more with the female of the species.

The degree to which engineering is critical depends on where in the stack you focus.

Consider the Blockchain revolution, the transition from the “content exchange Internet” (that started c 1994 with the Netscape browser) to the “value exchange Internet” (that started c 2009 with Bitcoin).

Although there are plenty of hard core engineering challenges at the bottom of the Blockchain stack to do with with scaling (such as SegWit and Lightning Network and Proof Of Stake ), if Blockchain is to have the huge business and societal impact that many (including myself) expect, it has to become as easy as using a service such as WordPress or writing some basic scripts.

The other big disruptive technology is AI This is mostly now available as open source and through cloud based services.

All of these underlying hard core technologies are available through the Open API revolution. This makes all this underlying technology readily available to entrepreneurs working at the Customer Experience layer using social, media, analytics, cloud (SMAC).

The mantra now is “write less code”.

At the Customer Experience layer what matters is delivering service that truly engages and delivers value to the customer – including the 50% of customers who are women.

Huge opportunities are not constrained by technology. The technology is there. What we need are solutions that solve real problems for people. That is an equal opportunity challenge. No engineering degree is needed. Being totally comfortable with technology as a power user is part of the job description but that is hardly a rare skill set these days.

Sorry Archie, you are a minority

When Archie Bunker was on TV, the idea of a world controlled by a white, Christian population was already absurd enough to make good comedy.

Over 40 years later, it is more than absurd. As we look out at where Fintech innovation is coming from we increasingly see it coming from China, India, Africa and other countries where people look, act and think differently (aka the Rest of The World). This is what we have tagged “first the Rest then the West” trend. The combination of huge populations with unmet needs and ability to leapfrog over legacy technologies, makes the Rest the locus of innovation today.

The whole Silicon Valley VC model is at threat from this big shift, because VC Funds have not found a way to scale geographically. While they have nailed how to scale their portfolio businesses, their own business is defiantly artisanal. They can only invest in ventures that can be reached on “less than half a tank of gas in a Ferrari”.

It is no longer enough to invest in immigrants in the West. That is OK as an interim step, but now the challenge is how to invest in the person who decided to stay in China, India, Africa and the Rest or to relocate back there because that is where they see the most opportunity. As these countries get better at capital formation and capital allocation, the innovation capital business will change forever (and for good).

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Wrap of Week #9: Fintech categories, APIs – programmable bank, QR codes, Insurtech, Active Trading

We started the week looking at the overall Fintech sector, through a powerful metaphor Choose your Boxcar on the Fintech Freight Train (Daily Fintech design with 7 Box cars).

We reported from Australia’s API days Conference about the programmable bank; Program your own bank – the power of APIs.

Passive investing is undoubtedly the new balck with more room to grow. The puzzle we addressed is how t actively manage these passive investments; Active trading is hazardous to our health! What to do?

Insurtech is undoubtedly gaining steam in the tech race in Finserv. We explored this week the 4th layer of the Stack in Insurance (designed by Daily Fintech); We interview Joe Taussig to learn whether insuring the unpredictable is the big InsurTech disruption.

We ended the week with a look at the mass adoption of QR codes in consumer banking; How the humble QR code may usher in the cashless society, starting in India

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Join any of the conversations on the Fintech Genome. The global community is sharing insights, creating great conversations, and business is starting to happen.

Check the latest topics that include artificial intelligence, insurance, ICOs, marketplace lending, etc

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Wrap of Week #8: Innovation in Marketplace lending, Software systems, for Generation rent; Sofi, Insurtech stories

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This week we covered a broad variety of themes around innovations. We started the week with an inquiry into the next phase of innovation in the market place lending space: What comes after MarketPlace Lending?

We ended the week looking at the issues of software system innovations in enterprises: Applying Loose Coupling software principles to enterprise digital transformation.

In Insurtech we highlighted the globalization theme through 5 Insurtech stories.

We zoomed into a few Fintech solutions in property, as an asset class, especially designed for Generation Rent: Can proptech mixed with fintech save Generation Rent?

We continued our coverage of Sofi, with a focus this time on their growing mortgage focus: The vertical integration of SoFi has the core entry point right!

The Fintech Genome platform

Join any of the conversations on the Fintech Genome. The global community is sharing insights, creating great conversations, and business is starting to happen.

Check the latest topics that include ICOs, marketplace lending, crowdfunding, digital asset marketplaces, etc

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