Why I’m a Fintech entrepreneur

I’m a serial entrepreneur who believes in leveraging my many years at a senior level in IT into new opportunities as they arise. I have designed a VOIP system that led the vanguard in this field, developed a Global SIM solution on a travel platform and created a unique platform for online advertising using a ‘One Click Solution’. I’ve also worked on mobile/web apps based on proximity and geofencing.

With my extensive IT experience, it seemed logical to me, as well as exciting, to move into Fintech, particularly the development of new platforms based on the blockchain. This is the field that really inspires me, because I see so much potential in the whole world of the blockchain technology.

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What is Fintech?

Some people still aren’t sure what Fintech is when I talk about it. I define it as the segment of the technology startup scene that is disrupting sectors such as mobile payments, money transfers, loans, fundraising and even asset management. It’s a growing business: a recent report by Accenture found that “global investment in Fintech has skyrocketed from $930 million back in 2008 to over $12 billion by the beginning of 2015.” And, in terms of regions where Fintech has made the most gains, Europe is leading the way, according to Accenture.

As I said, my special area of interest is in the blockchain and how that can disrupt specific financial areas, such as money transfer, personal loans and fundraising for business startups.

Crowdsourcing and fundraising for startups

For example, Initial Coin Offerings, or ICOs as they are usually called, have made it possible for new businesses and some well-established entrepreneurs as well to raise the funds to take a product to market within a matter of weeks, or minutes in some cases. These ICOs use a combination of crowdsourcing (or some call them crowdsales) and the blockchain technology to raise the money. In the past it typically took months of presentations to venture capitalists and banks before funds were available to take a business forward – now an ICO cuts through all that red tape and the investors in the ICO, which can be anyone, not just accredited investors, can make a return on their investment. You could say that ICOs bring power to the people and allow everyone an opportunity to get involved in investing.

Fintech offers efficiency and lower costs

Fintech also allows businesses to work in more efficient and less costly ways. The major banks are slowly, but surely realising that blockchain products like Ethereum and Ripple can enable them to work faster and smarter and reduce costs. Ripple, for example, has been designed to replace the bank Swift system for international transfers. Instead of it taking days to send money from one country to another, it can happen in minutes.

The Ethereum platform

Ethereum is also of particular interest to a wide range of businesses because its platform includes a ‘smart contract’. Unlike a ‘physical’ contract, the smart contract is programmed in a way that removes any chance of fraud or third-party interference. Its role will become even more prominent as new startups begin to demonstrate the agility of using the Ethereum platform in a traditional market.

What’s next?

Right now I’m working on a project that taps right into a market that has been in existence every since man created money as an exchange for goods. The blockchain is undoubtedly the next step for this particular market, and as an entrepreneur with the right background to understand the technology, I simply had to get into Fintech. I’ll be writing more about this entire field over the coming weeks, so stay tuned to discover more about it and my specific project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avoiding the fakes – when you’re looking for an online coach

Having a life or business coach is an invaluable investment in yourself. However, finding one that has the right expertise and who gives you value for money can be a search with challenges, especially if you rely on the online coaching industry.

When you venture on to the web, you’ll find coaches for every aspect of life and it is spectacularly easy to find them. But, as the Romans said,

“Caveat Emptor,” or “let the buyer beware.”

I say this because the Internet has made it very easy for anyone to set them up as some sort of guru, offering wealth and power in five easy steps, if you just pay for their book, course or one-to-one sessions with them. So, how can you tell the wheat from the chaff? Well, there are a few things you can watch out for.

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Exaggerated claims

Policing the Internet is a work in progress and currently it is still easy for those who want to trick you to get on the first page of results. These people know how to SEO their sites to the hilt. My advice is to look out for coaches who make exaggerated claims. Is the offer just too good to be true? Will you really make millions in a matter of months? Look for the coaches that don’t promise the spectacular and unachievable, who don’t use flashy language and who acknowledge you have to put the work in for any real change to happen.

Check their credentials

And I don’t mean their training certificates. If a coach claims they can help you to boost your income to seven figures, make sure you find out if they have been able to do that for themselves. Do your research to make sure the coach has achieved what they claim to be offering. But don’t stop there. Look deeper. Did the coach have a more advantageous starting point than you; in other words, did they work to get where they are, or have they benefited from a fortunate background? If you and the coach have very different starting points, then they possibly are not the one for you.

Watch out for the marketing tricks

Beware of certain sales tactics. For example, there are many who throw in an enormous number of ‘bonuses’, which is an attempt to make you feel more comfortable with the high cost of the course. Also, watch out for those who use special offers within a limited time period that are intended to make you pressure buy. This probably means they know the course isn’t worth the money they are charging. Instead, find one who understands the investment you are making and who can demonstrate that you will be getting value for money.

The free content

Like pressure buying, the offer of free content is another marketing trick. Sometimes the free content is a genuine offer. But, do study what you are offered gratis. Is it just a rehash of some information that is already on the site, for example? The quality of the free content directly relates to the quality of the course you will pay for. Is it going to be worth it?

Finally, you must go with your gut. What inconsistencies can you spot? Do they seem like a balanced person? Are they arrogant or do they brag about themselves? If something feels off, then it probably is. Trust your instincts before you spend your money.

 

 

The New Necessities

As technology progresses we have created a list of new necessities that we see as absolutely fundamental to living in a way that we see as fitting. In past decades, such as the 50s and 60s, these ‘things’ were fewer in number and many of them were focused around the domestic scene, such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines and dishwashers. Some of these were only available to wealthier people, whereas today, a refrigerator is present in almost every home in the developed world.

Today, we have moved on to the latest gadgets and services. The need for Wi-Fi, not just in the home, but everywhere we go, is just one of the new necessities. The mobile phone is another one, and younger generations can’t believe that people managed to survive without one. The smartphone has raised the game in mobile telecoms and now, if you don’t have an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, you are seen as being out of step with society.

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What people want

I was looking at a recent survey of the luxuries that people couldn’t do without and was quite surprised to read what people considered vital and what could easily be discarded. Pets, a clothes dryer and a good mattress were classed as ‘must haves’ alongside Wi-Fi and a smartphone. It is a rather eclectic list. Buying lunch and eating out was also prioritised over going to the gym in the health and wellness category, which is also slightly odd, and such is the hold of coffee on today’s population that it was chosen as the ‘must have’ beverage.

Interestingly, grocery delivery isn’t as popular as the Amazon Prime service, and a music streaming service like Spotify is less popular than Netflix. Beauty products are almost a ‘must have’ but not quite, and in fact the whole Health and Beauty sector scored very poorly in terms of necessities, which strikes me as curious given the amount of marketing that goes into this sector.

A personal trainer is at the bottom of the health list, followed by massages and manicures, the latter scoring about the same as a grocery delivery service. Salon haircuts and attending a gym are on a level with Amazon Prime and organic produce, while the beauty products are on a par with having a dishwasher. But, nothing in Health and Beauty makes it onto the ‘must have it’ list.

Huge potential for the mobile industry

What we can conclude from this piece of research is that communication tools are the things we value most. Of course things like Amazon Prime don’t work without Internet, so many of the services that are further down the list are dependent on those two items at the top – Wi-Fi and a smartphone. Both these give us access to a world, at a new speed. And this is why the mobile telecoms industry is such an exciting one, because it is an important part of people’s new necessities.

The world’s 6 best performing economies

It is interesting to note that although there are shifts in the best performing economies from time to time, overall they tend to remain the same. You could say that the ‘usual suspects’ are always at the head of the list, but there are undoubtedly some threats to the Big Daddy of world economies, and I am referring to the USA.

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The United States of America

It is still No.1 in terms of nominal GDP. In fact it accounts for 25% of the world’s gross product. It takes this spot thanks to its advanced technology, infrastructure and natural resources and it only beats China due to the fact that its GDP per capita is higher. GDP per capita for the US economy is approximately $59,609 versus $16,676 in China.

China


With a GDP of $23.19 trillion it should be in No.1 position. It has transformed itself from a closed economy into a manufacturing and exporting hub. This started back in 1978 and since then it has achieved on average, an annual economic growth of 10%. It has lifted almost 1.3 billion people out of poverty and it is estimated that it will pull into the top spot over the next few years.

Japan

The Land of the Rising Sun is still a world economic leader with a GDP of $4.8 trillion, although it has been going through some challenging times since 2008 when it showed symptoms of a recession. Further strains have been put on the economy by a weak currency and subzero bonds, but growth of 1.2% is predicted for 2017 and it is likely to stay at around 1% for the next five years.

Germany

Germany remains Europe’s largest economy and forth in the world in terms of GDP. Its strength lies in exports of machinery, automobiles, chemicals and household equipment, plus it has a skilled labour force. It does face some challenges, including the UK’s Brexit and a refugee crisis. However, it is predicted that it will maintain stable growth at about 1%-2%.

United Kingdom

The UK is in fifth place with a GDP of $2.5 trillion. It is driven by service industries, particularly in the financial sector, which accounts for 75% of GDP. Manufacturing and agriculture are small, but important contributors. However, its current position is threatened by the decision to leave the EU and economist predicts that it could result in anywhere between a 2.2% to a 9.5% loss in GDP. So, its future in the league table is uncertain.

India

India has a GDP of $2.45 trillion. Its large population lowers its GDP per capita and it is very dependent on agriculture compared with Western countries. However, the services sector now accounts for 57% of the GDP, while industry contributes 26%. The economy’s strength lies in a limited dependence on exports, high saving rates, favourable demographics and a rising middle class. It is now a faster growing economy than China and is expected to rise to fourth place by 2022.

The Top 6 are followed by France, Brazil, Italy and Canada. It will be interesting to watch what happens. Predictions say the leader list will look much the same in 2022 as it does now – let’s see,