Bio & Life Sciences Finance Startup Culture

How Crowdsourcing Can Help Fund Science

A project on science crowd funding site Experiment.

This morning, I helped analyze fish scales to better track migration patterns, by giving the scientists some cash. Crowdfunding has made a difference in all sorts of initiatives, so it’s no surprise to see it pop up in science. Experiment was built by scientists who believe alternative funding could fill a key gap in research.   More

Business Finance Security & Privacy

Attacked by Cyber Criminals? There’s Insurance For That

Insurance is emerging to protect against cyber crime, but the industry remains immature (as do company attitudes about protecting themselves).

Few threats are more on the minds of business leaders than cyber attacks and data breaches. Companies that have been attacked range from Barnes & Noble to Home Depot to J.P. Morgan to Staples, Sony and Target. Now a variety of big insurers have created policies and services to cover this new set of threats.   More

Business E-Commerce Finance

Is Banking’s Uber On The Horizon?

Banks that can't bring services to consumers in real time will have a hard time in coming years. (image via Shutterstock)

Banking faces enormous challenges. Government regulatory initiatives have forced banks to spend billions of dollars to stay in business, while limiting the profits that they can make. Meanwhile, the Internet has spawned numerous companies now taking away businesses like lending, brokerage, investment, payments and credit cards. The revenue base of banks is shrinking and their cost base is increasing. Enter the Millenials, used to conducting their lives through cell phones. They want to buy goods and services on their mobile device, and expect immediate gratification. The banks are just not prepared for all this.   More


Shanghai Street View: Wealth Explosion

(Image via Shutterstock)

In the last two months alone, at least three wealth management shops have opened up in my neighborhood, often in spaces that were vacant for years or inhabited by struggling businesses. And my neighborhood in Hongkou District is quite ordinary, which means Shanghai’s trendier areas have undoubtedly been hit by the same scourge of wealth management shops. More broadly, this sudden explosion looks a lot like the kind of boom-bust pattern you often see in China, be it in our stock markets or the latest business trends. On the retail scene, I’ve written about similar booms in convenience stores and coffee shops, which both occurred quite rapidly and created huge supply gluts.   More

E-Commerce Finance Techonomy Events

Why Everybody Cares About the Blockchain

(Photo by Rebecca Greenfield)

The blockchain is a key part of the system that underlies recordkeeping and transactions for Bitcoin, the virtual currency. But there are much bigger opportunities ahead for this decentralized recordkeeping system. In a session called “Why Everybody Cares About the Blockchain” at the inaugural Techonomy Policy conference earlier this month, panelists emphasized repeatedly that the database holds tremendous promise for an array of uses in banking, conflict tracking, and voting, among other things. It was a wide-ranging discussion, reflecting the vast possibilities proponents see for this contemporary technology. "Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had one universal ledger that we could use for everything and that was accessible to everybody?" said Jerry Brito, executive director of Coin Center. "Well, that is what the blockchain is. It’s a decentralized and open ledger."   More


Can Financial Services Use Social Media Right?

(Image via Shutterstock)

Did you know a tenth of HSBC’s workforce is in compliance? Or that the average corporate fine from the U.K.'s financial industry regulator increased nearly seven-fold from 2010 to 2013? Meanwhile, similar trends are being seen in the U.S. and around the world. The regulatory clampdown is happening at the same time that technology is transforming our world. Just this month, New York State’s top financial regulator granted the first license to a Bitcoin exchange, giving it bank-like status. This is technology literally throwing down the gauntlet to our monetary system. Social media is another case in point.   More

E-Commerce Finance

In Pursuit of Crypto 2.0: The Coming Era of the Blockchain

(Image via Shutterstock)

What should we make of Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies these days? The world’s preeminent cryptocurrency ended 2013 riding high, with supporters proclaiming that it was destined to revolutionize the global financial system. But 2014 turned into a roller coaster ride, prompting some watchers to question both BTC’s market maturity and overall potential. Last year, BTC experienced a 67 percent drop in value ($951.39 to $309.87). That prompted many articles that reflected poorly on the industry, such as by focusing on the Mt. Gox collapse. But despite the setbacks, many cryptocurrency advocates remain bullish about BTC’s future, and their optimism should not be quickly dismissed.   More

Finance Jobs

The Next Phase in Financial Services: What Low-income Americans Tell Us

(Image via Shutterstock)

Both established players and disruptive entrepreneurs recognize that shifts in mobile, data, and payments are transforming financial services. Yet while everyone is trying to innovate, there is little real vision on how new solutions can redefine financial services so they seamlessly integrate with our lives and provide us with substantial improvements in how we manage our finances. This is especially urgent when it comes to using new technologies to help the financially underserved in the United States.   More

Finance Media & Marketing

Money That Aims to Pack a Positive Punch

(Image via Shutterstock)

Impact investment funds, initially created by foundations like Rockefeller, Gates, and the Omidyar Network, seek to convert money destined for pure philanthropy to more strategic and business-driven investments. The returns on these investments are more measurable than those on philanthropy. Even while aiming to achieve financial gains, they support solutions for some of the world’s most pressing challenges around sustainable agriculture, affordable housing, accessible healthcare, literacy, employment, clean energy, and financial inclusion.   More


Upstart’s P2P Lending Platform Aims at Young Borrowers


For would-be borrowers with little credit history, getting a loan can be a nightmare. But one important group of applicants are young, well educated, and entrepreneurial—and would probably be favorable credit risks. Techonomy asked Dave Girouard to respond to questions about how lending platforms like Upstart can help investors and borrowers alike.   More


Benzinga: The Detroit-based Online Investing Tool for Average Joes

Benziga's offices in Detroit.

When Jason Raznick set out to create an online financial service to help the average investor, he didn’t gravitate to New York City’s center of global finance. He launched it from his basement in Birmingham, Michigan. Recognizing the need for a service that delivers quality investment information to people who don’t have a Wall Streeter’s access to real-time data, he figured his hometown was as good a place as any to get started. Now operating in Detroit, Benzinga continues to grow its audience as the rise of community-based, social investing continues to transform the industry.   More

Finance Mobile

Kiva’s Julie Hanna on Tech as a Democratizing Force

Is technology the most democratizing force mankind has ever seen? That's how technologist and serial entrepreneur Julie Hanna sees it. We spoke with Hanna at a recent Techonomy dinner salon in San Francisco. She asserted that tech tools have leveled the playing field and "enabled globally fair access on a mass scale." But she says there's a lot more to do about what she calls "the global opportunity crisis we face, where half the planet's population is living on less than $2 a day."   More

E-Commerce Finance

Does Bitcoin Foreshadow a Decentralized World?


Will we one day be able to trade stocks without a brokerage or pay for goods with a currency that has no central issuer? With Bitcoin, people can now do the latter. In the future, they may also be able to do the former, and much more, in a world where applications are open-source, commonly controlled, and operated without middlemen. This is the disruptive power of the blockchain, a revolutionary piece of software that can defy convention.   More

E-Commerce Finance

Bitcoin Backers Work to Make It Mainstream


When Bitcoin emerged five years ago, it was the payment system many geeks and enthusiasts had dreamed of: an international, decentralized, anonymous, and transparent virtual currency that could potentially replace inefficient traditional ones. But even though Bitcoin remains very far from mainstream adoption, a new chapter just possibly may be dawning for the controversial currency. Up until now, the cryptocurrency has been way too complex for most people to comprehend (feel free to explain to your family concepts like "blockchain," "exchanges," and "mining"). It has been tied to illegal activity. The prominent Japan-based Bitcoin exchange called Mt. Gox notoriously imploded, destroying many traders' holdings. Perhaps worst of all, its value spikes and plummets regularly.   More

Finance Global Tech

Alibaba Changes IPO Course, Heads For New York

(Image via Shutterstock)

All my previous predictions that e-commerce leader Alibaba would ultimately make its mega IPO in Hong Kong were wrong, with word that the company is now firmly fixed on New York for its highly anticipated share sale. In my defense, I should say that a huge surge in positive sentiment over the last 5 months towards China Internet stocks on Wall Street undoubtedly helped change Alibaba’s mind. The company had previously stated on numerous occasions that Hong Kong was the preferred venue for its blockbuster IPO, which reports are now saying could raise up to $15 billion, making it the world’s biggest Internet offering since Facebook raised $16 billion in 2012.   More

E-Commerce Finance

Does Bitcoin Bite, Bark, or Bumble?

(Image via Shutterstock)

Of all the surprises and gifts tumbling tumultuously from the world's startups and programmers, none are more daunting to the casual observer than Bitcoin. What is it, really? Should I buy some? What would that mean? Where would it be? Why are so many smart people doing so, and creating companies to help others do that? What problems does it solve? For one thing, a transnational currency that can be traded without intermediaries has appeal. But while we can say that confidently, it's not even clear Bitcoin fits that definition. Now at least a thorough examination of the phenomenon has emerged from Goldman Sachs. The company has great incentive to get its analysis of Bitcoin right, so when it says this is not really a currency, we should take note.   More


Lenddo’s Borrowers in Mexico and The Philippines Get Credit Via Facebook

Lenddo helped Luivin Ortiz of Columbia secure an educational loan.

Jeff Stewart believes he can figure out if you will repay your debts by studying who you know and what they say about you. For him, it's better than a credit score. Stewart is CEO and co-founder of Lenddo, which gives small loans to borrowers in developing countries based on information it gleans from their accounts on Facebook and other social networks. Stewart was running two earlier companies when he and his New York-based partners noticed something odd: their hardworking and educated employees in other parts of the world were often unable to secure loans. Why, he wondered, would local lenders ignore such eligible, middle-class consumers in emerging economies? Finding out proved an irresistible challenge.   More

Business Finance

Cash Is Trash: The Future of Mobile Payment

(Image via Shutterstock.)

Just as the magnetic strip revolutionized payment by plastic credit card, near-field communication and other fast-evolving technologies will facilitate the move to payment using mobile technologies. NFC chips inside most mobile phones can transmit banking and payment data when placed near readers. Unlike a debit card, a mobile phone can display interactive payment details. And, instead of the credit card application process of filling out paperwork and waiting for the mail, using a mobile phone to pay requires only the download of an app and linking to bank details. PayPal president, David Marcus, calls it Money 3.0.   More


Cyberthreats to Bank Accounts on the Rise

(Image via Shutterstock)

On the same day that news broke that 40 million customer account records were stolen from retail giant Target, the regulator of the nation’s largest financial institutions warned that customers’ financial information is increasingly under assault in their banks as well. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Thursday, in its Semiannual Risk Perspective, warned that “Cyberthreats continue to increase in sophistication and frequency.” The agency noted, “Known impacts include … identity theft, fraud, and theft of intellectual property.”   More


Kirkpatrick: Bitcoin Matters Because It Is Transnational, Nongovernmental

Bitcoin is booming. Backed by Washington and such business and Wall Street heavyweights as Virgin founder Richard Branson and Bank of America strategist David Woo, the virtual currency has emerged as a financial phenomenon, trending in news from Argentina to Zimbabwe. Many buyers and banks, however, remain skeptical of Bitcoin’s viability and worriedly point to its extreme volatility and connection with illegal sales and money laundering. Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick, also a contributing editor at Bloomberg, appeared on Bloomberg Surveillance on Monday to talk Bitcoin with Bloomberg reporter Matt Miller.   More