January 22, 2015

Behind the #FinTech buzz

What is Fin Tech? Very broadly, Fin Tech is “an economic industry composed of companies that use technology to make financial systems more efficient.” Sectors where Fin Tech has started to emerge include the following:
  • Peer-to-peer lending (e.g. the previously mentioned Lending Club)
  • Crowdfunding (Kickstarter)
  • Algorithmic asset management (Wealthfront)
  • Thematic investing (Motif Investing)
  • Payments (Xoom)
  • Data collection (2iQ Research)
  • Credit scoring (Zest Finance)
  • Education lending (Common Bond)
Investment in Fin Tech has been growing, with more than $3 billion invested since 2008 and growth projected to reach as high as $8 billion by 2018 according to Accenture.
One word that is often used in conjunction with Fin Tech is “disruption”. Just as the emergence of the internet brought the rise of Amazon and iTunes at the expense of book and record stores, Fin Tech is an expression of the possibility that technological advances can lead to new ways of doing business that either damage or alter traditional business plans.
Read the whole article here: Behind the Fin Tech buzz | Resource Investor

January 19, 2015

Predictions for 2015 #FinTech -

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Predictions for 2015

Predictions for 2015
Stuart Evans - Chief Technology Officer, Invu
1. The big 4 tech trends:  Mobility, Cloud, Big Data, Social

If Microsoft are to be believed the megatrends of the moment are Mobile, Cloud, Big Data and Social – and to be fair – the signs are there.  While IT departments are still trying to spell BYOD (Bring your own device), the population as a whole is now used to, and expect, mobility. Desktop sales are in steep decline and smartphones, touch-laptops and tablets dominate. Humans now expect data to come to them. Software vendors now have to add a twist of mobile to anything they do – which can be a shock for some.  Mobility will continue to grow into an expected aspect of business solutions – with iOS and Android devices leading demand with Windows Mobile a poor third place.

The mobile revolution is a very visible one, we all love toys, but the Cloud revolution is a much more disruptive change because it affects not just software functionality but the business terms that surround it too. The Cloud is not just ‘hosting’, it’s a whole new approach to software and its consumption. It will change the speed of delivery and sales cycle of software and enable new solutions to be assembled as IT barriers are torn down. From a vendor’s perspective the Cloud is a maturing and powerful new enabler that is ripe for use.  Customers are still wondering what it really is, but they will all too soon be demanding its benefits:  Reduced IT barriers for projects, Opex commercials and powerful computing features and scaling not possible on a normal business network (well – a lot more seamless than last time anyway!).  Cloud is now in its prime time of disruption – vital for vendors to embrace and of real interest to customers. We will see many vertical Cloud apps appearing that solve similar collaboration challenges but with tie-ins for particular sectors – health being a great example.

Cloud is a great place to collaborate and I believe in 2015 we will see an increase in the use of self-service in the Cloud. It means companies do not need to run their own 24/7 server solutions. They can work in the Cloud that can integrate with back office systems.

If Cloud is a little stratospheric, then ‘Big Data’ is more or less surreal to our customers.  Nonetheless, the new generation of business users understand the value and nuances of data and want to use data to help drive their decisions and processes.  Access to good quality plentiful data can enhance or completely transform solutions. For most businesses this will not be an overnight epiphany, but will smoulder for a few years as disparate systems and poor data are herded into the new Big Data world. For 2015, we’ll see an increased demand for better and effortless reporting from a more articulate customer.

To prepare the ground, start organising your data – show it some respect. Most companies are not measuring the correct things and lying to themselves about the accuracy of their data capture. 2015 will be the year company’s look to clean up their data capture process to ensure they are analysing the right information that is beneficial to them.

Meanwhile, social has now caught the attention of all businesses as a ‘new’ way to reach and interact with prospects, customers and competitors.  Content focused solutions will have to offer more value from social content, events and software systems than ever before, these features will start to become deal winners.  Long standing businesses still have a hard time understanding the ‘Social’ role in their business, but many consultancies are doing a roaring trade helping them make the turn and this activity will only increase next year.

2. And what of Paper?

Last year I made the prediction that resentment of the Photocopier would happen, and I am pleased to say that signs of this were there – with sales of those ghastly machines finally taking a downward turn. I am sorry to say the change is slower than I would like, but department heads are now understanding that paper and machines that produce them must be removed from business processes in order for greater efficiency and competitive edge.  I am begging business leaders to accelerate the trend and replace costly-print-managed-over-priced-copiers with a few good quality scanners and put this clumsy era of computers for paper to bed.

With over 100% penetration of mobile devices in the UK – printing is now seen as a dirty activity and is being limited to transportation/delivery/shop floor use cases. We shall see the continued battle against paper. Clean desks and paper free offices are appearing in many places now and not because of the 90’s paperless dream, but because of the clarity of vision of new business owners and progressive IT directors.

3. Beginning of the end for “shared drives” and huge mail boxes

Many companies are still having trouble knowing where important information is kept. They have bloated mail boxes and chaotic file shares that are not really visible to the business in any way – and Dropbox is only making it worse. In 2015 I predict that many more companies will be shutting down their file shares and taking control of the information that was in them. These shares have been “dumping” grounds and many business owners will be looking to introduce a way to enable easy discovery of information and policy driven control of access. After all, everything you do at work is corporate property.  Additionally, 80% of your shared drive is irrelevant, a duplicate copy or digital rubbish. Companies are realising that if they discard the waste and put the remaining quality documents into a document management system, business information is known and access is far more efficient and IT money is saved.

Companies are also starting to reduce their reliance on email – and the huge email boxes that employees hog. Email is like ‘digital paper’ in disguise. Email is a slush of notifications, conversations and unmanaged agreements, it can be moved around without anything but the simplest of restrictions. Who’s to say an employee won’t email something important to the competition for example. Using a company depository platform extends a business’s control and will help you stop your email turning into chaos.

 4. Changes in how people process documents?

Whilst we expect users to keep enjoying good Document Management, I expect to see many more Finance departments automating their Accounts Payable function to make their processes more efficient and their controls more effective.  Invoice Processing is a fabulous solution that is high on benefit and relevant to many businesses of varying size. Customers are now seeing the need for Workflow solutions. They understand that a process needs to be embodied in a system and not just be described in a standard operating procedure document, printed out and left on a shelf.  Auditors are now expecting, and even hoping, to dock into an electronic store of data and electronic audit trails that makes their job easier too.

By Stuart Evans, Chief Technology Officer, Invu

Predictions for 2015 -


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#FinTech start-ups to watch in 2015 -

All the online and financial payment platforms you need to know.

FinTech start-ups to watch in 2015

FinTech start-ups to watch in 2015
The exciting and growing area of financial technology (fintech) saw huge investment and expansion in 2014. This trend is set to continue in 2015 and as more fintech companies emerge this year, offering smarter, cheaper and easier payment and finance solutions, the companies that have already hit headlines and peaked our interest during accelerators and funding rounds in 2014 may also be worth keeping track of in 2015.


WePay is an online payment service provider in the US. Founded in 2008, the company are backed by funding programme YCombinator and raised $15m in 2014. WePay aims to dominate the online payments for platforms sector and have ploughed their money into their payments API which enables platforms such as crowdfunding sites to collect payments from a large number of customer and distribute them to a smaller number of merchants. Figures show that in 2013, the API which launched in 2012 had been adopted by 300 platforms and revenue grew by 600 per cent.


Zipmark is a mobile payments transaction platform that enables businesses to send and receive digital checks securely. Zipmark offers a solution to small businesses that are often left waiting several days for payment, by moving check payments online and processing them overnight. Founded in 2013, the company have already agreed to the terms of acquiring billing and accounting solution, WorkingPoint in November 2014, creating an all-in-one payment platform for SMEs.

Banking Up

Founded in 2006 under the name Plastyc, Banking Up (as it has been known since last year) provides basic financial services to the underbanked and working poor. The Banking Up platform enables businesses and financial institutions to deliver better banking and payment services to consumers via mobile and web. The company were also one of three contractors awarded a project in the field of innovative payments by the US Department of the Treasury in November 2014.


Using natural language processing and artificial intelligence, FinGenius processes unstructured data for banks. The propriety technology of the London brand management company which gained recognition through Accenture’s Fintech Innovation Lab London 2014 and Level39, enables financial organisations to answer questions and queries from customers and employees instantly without having to rely on call centres or help desks.


Named as one of bobsguide’s Startupbootcamp FinTech: ones to watch in 2014, Epiphyte provides software and consulting to enable banks to legally manage Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency platforms. As well as being one of the winning Satartupbootcamp FinTech companies, Epiphyte also won the Innotribe Startup Challenge 2014 and already has banks in America and South-East Asia on board.


Square provides a point-of-sale platform that enables customers to use their credit card at all sized shops. To get started all that’s needed is an app and an account to start accepting payments, then Square sends a mobile-compatible credit reader to anyone for free. After a $100m round in September 2014, the company is now worth $6bn.


UK start-up Osper, provides a prepaid Debit Card for under 18’s with a mobile banking app for the whole family. The start-up closed a £6m funding round in June 2014, led by Index Ventures who previously backed SoundCloud and Etsy. Its pre-paid Deit Card is backed by MasterCard, and the accounts have no overdraft or credit so the young person can only spend what they have in stores, online and to withdraw cash from ATMs.

Other start-ups to watch in 2015

The finalists for Accenture’s Fintech Innovation Lab 2015 were also announced this week and could also be ones to watch this year. The companies taking part in this year’s program are, Atsora, Cytora, Duco, PontusVision, Ripjar, Torusware and xWare42.

By Nicole Miskelly, bobsguide Lead Journalist

FinTech start-ups to watch in 2015 -

November 13, 2014

10 Years later, another First for mankind: Touchdown #Philae #Rosetta @TheEconomist

Incredible what we are capable of doing!!


SPACE exploration is a serious scientific business. But ever since the beginning of the Space Age in the 1950s, it has been accompanied by a hefty dose of glitz and PR. Two years ago, Earthlings watched with bated breath as a one-tonne, nuclear-powered, laser-armed robot rover fizzed through the Martian atmosphere, before being deposited gently on the surface by a rocket-powered “skycrane”. The distance between Mars and Earth meant that the mission’s controllers had to wait seven agonising minutes to find out whether the rover had survived the journey. Their fingernail biting was broadcast live by NASA. When news arrived of a successful landing, they whooped, hugged and lit cigars.
Now, it is the turn of the European Space Agency (ESA) to put on a show. In August, after ten years blazing a circuitous trail through the solar system, including three fly-bys of Earth, one of Mars, two trips through the asteroid belt and a two-and-a-half year hibernation in the chilly void beyond Jupiter, its spacecraft, Rosetta, caught up with a 4km-wide comet called 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It will spend a year in orbit around this, hitching a ride as it plunges towards the sun.
And Rosetta is not alone. At 08.35 GMT on November 12th, the craft launched Philae, a boxy lander the size of a washing machine, which then began a careful, nerve-jangling descent towards the comet’s surface. Seven and a half hours later, Philae reported that it was down—but perhaps not safely.
Philae’s landing marks the first time people—or, rather, their robotic representatives—have made a soft landing on an astronomical body other than a planet or a moon. It raises the number of bodies on which a landing has been accomplished to five (the others are Earth’s Moon, Venus, Mars and Titan, a satellite of Saturn).
Engineers are reasonably comfortable with sending probes to big targets like planets and moons, which have useful features like an atmosphere to slow their descent, and gravity strong enough to ensure that once a probe reaches the surface, it stays there. Comets have neither, and that makes things difficult. Philae was nudged gently away from Rosetta at a speed of about 80 centimetres a second, and left to drift towards the comet under the influence of that object’s feeble gravity.
Ensuring the probe landed on the relatively smooth area of the comet chosen by ESA’s scientists was tricky. Philae had no ability to control its descent, which meant that everything depended on the accuracy of Rosetta’s initial shove. In the event, the probe landed almost exactly on target.
Once it reached the surface, though, things went less smoothly. The comet’s gravity is so low that even a slight bounce could have sent the probe careering back into space. A pair of harpoons, designed to anchor it in place, failed to fire. Philae’s mission controllers do not know why. In the absence of the harpoons, they think the lander’s flexible legs managed to absorb most of the impact energy, but not enough to prevent a small bounce.
Philae, in other words, may have landed twice. Even without the harpoons, a system of screws in the base of its legs may offer it some purchase. But it was unclear whether these had been deployed, and therefore (as The Economist went to press) how securely—or otherwise—the probe was attached to the comet. ESA would say only that the mission was a “success”, and that plenty of science data had been collected already. 
That is good, for the mission is more than just an exercise in risky deep-space engineering. It is designed to drill into the comet, taking samples of its crust and attempting to work out exactly what it is made of. Is it, for instance, mostly rock and ice with a few pockets of gas, or is it a loose pile of rubble held together by gravity?
Dusty old history
Researchers are interested in comets because they are space-going fossils—the builder’s rubble left over from the solar system’s construction 4.6 billion years ago. That means they should contain information about how the solar system came together. One theory, for instance, holds that cometary impacts seeded the newly formed Earth with much of its water. Another suggests that comets are the source of the carbon-based molecules that were the building blocks of the first life. Instruments aboard Rosetta and Philae should be able to address those questions. After ten years, the nail-biting engineering is over, and it is time for the science to begin.
Correction: An earlier version of this piece suggested that Philae's landing had been exactly as planned. It later emerged that a pair of stabilising harpoons had not been fired into the comet by the lander. Accordingly, the text has been amended and a rather triumphant exclamation point from the headline removed.

Read the article on The Economist website here: Cometary science: Touchdown | The Economist

September 30, 2014

Peter Thiel on #Europe's #tech #entrepreneurs & regulators

Europe is a "slacker with low expectations", held back by the poor work ethic of its people

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel rounds on European tech entrepreneurs and regulators

Murad Ahmed and Sally Davies,

Europe is a "slacker with low expectations", held back by
the poor work ethic of its people and run by politicians that strangle
technological progress with regulations that are a "cure worse than the

That is the scathing assessment of Peter Thiel,
co-founder of PayPal, the first venture capitalist to back Facebook and
one of Silicon Valley's most celebrated investors.

Peter Thiel, co-founder of Palantir.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Peter Thiel, co-founder of Palantir.
"If you're a slacker with low expectations, those
low expectations are likely to be met," he said. "I don't think optimism
always works. There is a form of pessimism, such as in China where
people work really hard because they are scared that they will be old
while they are still poor.

in China motivates hard work. Pessimism in Europe has a more
demotivating effect. When you're pessimistic and unmotivated, it has as
self-fulfilling character." Mr Thiel has a reputation for forthright views. In Zero to One, a new book,
he writes that tech start-ups should aspire to become monopolies
because the rapidly shifting nature of the sector ensures they "don't
typically last for ever" and that "disruption", a Silicon Valley
obsession, is a "self-congratulatory buzzword".

  Mr Thiel, a libertarian, also attacked EU regulators and policy makers, which have sought to rein in the likes of Google, Uber and Facebook, where he is a board member, with regulatory probes related to antitrust and privacy.

"Google obviously has a monopoly in search," he said. "There are all
sorts of questions about whether it is abusing that monopoly or not. But
I distrust the power of the EU regulators to make things better. I
think the [technology industry] is dynamic enough that the Google
monopoly will not last for ever. In practice, anything [the EU does] to
micromanage the Google product will produce a cure that's worse than the

He does have encouraging words to say about London,
which he said straddles continental Europe and the US in attitude and
has overtaken Berlin as the best and "most logical place" to build
technology businesses. "People just work harder here ," he said. "They
just work less hard in Berlin."

Mr Thiel, who has rarely
invested outside of the US, has invested in two start-ups based in the
UK capital: TransferWise, a money transfer business, and Deepmind, an
artificial intelligence group bought by Google for £400 million last

The city's strength is in start-ups that combine financial
services and technology. "London is a financial hub, and unlike New
York, it's not a financial hub where people hate finance," he said.

"There's much more of a self-hating character to New York than there is
to London. This matters, because if you start a tech company in New
York, you will do something very far from finance. Whereas in London, it
would be perfectly respectable to do something with finance and

But he is critical of Rocket Internet, the German
ecommerce venture capitalist, which announced the pricing for an initial
public offering, targeting a midpoint market capitalisation of €6.2bn,
last week. The €1.5bn IPO was fully subscribed within hours of orders
being taken, leading the group to bring forward the flotation.

"I would not invest in Rocket . . . I would not take a venture capital
firm public, because so much of the value comes from the people who have
started the companies, and its hard to separate the human capital from
the operational component," he said.

He added that Rocket's
companies, which often involve imitating successful business models from
the US and exporting them to new markets, are "much more plays on
globalisation than on technology . . . and I believe technology is more
important than globalisation".

See the article online here: PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel rounds on European tech entrepreneurs and regulators

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