Finance Media & Marketing

Money That Aims to Pack a Positive Punch

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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

Finance

Upstart’s P2P Lending Platform Aims at Young Borrowers

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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

Finance

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?

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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

bitcoin

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

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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?

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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

Finance

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

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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

Finance

Cyberthreats to Bank Accounts on the Rise

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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

Finance

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

Finance

Bitcoin: Bubble? Maybe. The Wave of the Future? Definitely.

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Bitcoin. The world’s newest and hottest virtual currency. It has become the story du jour for a financial media hungry for stories, and its sudden surge in recent weeks, going from a price of less than $200 barely a month ago to $1,200 last week, certainly attracted attention. And of course, rarely do things gain so much so fast without a concomitant fall. A virtual currency only invented in 2009, with a limited number of units in circulation that sees its value quintuple in a matter of days to command a total market of more than $10 billion simply begs for the word “bubble.” But is it? Here’s where everyone has an opinion.   More

Finance Techonomy Events

Why Disruptive Change Points to a New Humanism in Banking

Value is being redefined, and many are rethinking what constitutes real wealth and well-being, beyond money and GDP. We have to rethink how we measure wealth. Robert Kennedy said: “GDP measures everything ... except that which makes life worthwhile." Happiness indicators like Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness, the OECD’s Better Life Index, and the UK’s Happy Planet Index are already helping the world define well-being and wealth beyond money.   More

Finance Global Tech

Alibaba-Yahoo: Still Some Love?

Alibaba may have lost its affection for Hong Kong’s securities regulator after an impasse over its IPO plans, but it appears to be moving in a happier direction these days with U.S. Internet giant Yahoo. That’s my assessment, following word that Yahoo will hold onto a larger share of China’s e-commerce leader than the two sides had previously agreed to last year when they reached a landmark deal to end their stormy 7-year-old marriage.   More

Finance Global Tech

International Board Bound for Shanghai New Trade Zone?

Shanghai Stock Exchange image via Shutterstock

I’ve avoided writing about the new Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) up until now, despite exhaustive coverage in both domestic and international media. But now I’m lifting my informal ban, following new reports saying the FTZ could soon host a proposed but long-stalled international board where foreign companies could list their shares in China. Such a development would be quite exciting, as it could finally allow big names like China Mobile and Lenovo, which are technically based overseas, to finally make their shares accessible to investors in China.   More

Finance

How Mobile Money Can Change Even More Lives

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Changing the way we use money is one of the most promising and innovative ways that mobile technology is changing lives around the world. Mobile money is already being used by banks and mobile network operators to provide millions of unbanked consumers a way to store and access money digitally. For millions of consumers in developing countries, mobile money is transforming lives by providing access to financial services and the ability to pay and be paid electronically—sometimes for the first time in their lives.   More

Finance Global Tech

Yahoo’s China Buy: What’s The Strategy?

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If Yahoo’s new chief executive Marissa Mayer wanted to confuse the market about her China strategy, she’s doing a good job with the company’s latest move in the market. Just three months after shuttering its China email service, in what looked like the prelude to a withdrawal from the market, Yahoo has announced its purchase of a Chinese R&D startup. In all fairness, Mayer has only been on the job for a year and these kinds of little strategic moves are relatively common for incoming executives. But this kind of mixed signal could also auger a confused strategy in China, similar to Yahoo’s previous strategy that ultimately led to its failure twice in the complex market.   More

E-Commerce Finance Global Tech

Alibaba Turns to Travel as Profit Zooms

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Too much money isn’t always a good thing, as it often pressures companies to put that money to work even when good investment opportunities are limited. Baidu demonstrated that reality earlier this week with its purchase of an online app store that had little relationship with its core online search business, and now Alibaba is showing similar tendencies with its investment in an online travel services website. In Alibaba’s case, the new investment comes as the e-commerce leader posted a record second-quarter profit, and as it prepares for a blockbuster IPO that increasingly looks like it will take place in Hong Kong.   More

Finance Global Tech

Cloudary, Spreadtrum Pull Out Of NY

The exodus of Chinese tech firms from New York stock exchanges continues at a steady pace, with cellphone chip maker Spreadtrum announcing a sweetened buyout offer and online entertainment firm Shanda indefinitely delaying its IPO plans. These latest moves reflect not only the chilly U.S. investor climate towards Chinese firms, but also the fact that many of these firms have become attractive buyout targets due to their low valuations. As a result, we could see some interesting bidding wars emerge in the weeks ahead for a few of the companies that have already received buyout offers.   More