Karen WheelerKaren WheelerNovember 2, 2017
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8min3300

The insurance sector has become notorious for low customer loyalty and bad Customer Experience.

Research by The Actuary revealed that 27.9 percent of consumers find it the worst sector when it comes to customer service.

This was only made all the more clear in the Institute of Customer Satisfaction’s most recent Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI). In its survey of more than 10,000 UK customers, the sector was granted the unenviable accolade of being the only one not to improve its satisfaction index score in the six months leading up to July 2017.

In contrast, other industries like the financial services are consistently showing improved levels of customer satisfaction and engagement. In the recent CSI, three banks (First Direct, Nationwide, and M&S Bank) were ranked in the top ten scoring organisations for customer satisfaction for the first time, challenging retailers who traditionally dominate this area.

So, for an industry that’s long had a bad reputation when it comes to Customer Experience and satisfaction, what do insurance providers need to do to turn things around and keep up with other sectors?

1. Go beyond the remit

Like banks, insurers operate in a highly competitive environment and customers are faced with an overwhelming amount of choices. However, the truth is that customers often base their choice on price alone. According to research by Marks & Spencer, 95 percent of respondents stated that price was one of the most important factors when deciding which insurance provider to choose.

The average customer’s level of engagement with their insurer is scarce. Typically, a person will only make contact when they need to make a claim, or renew a policy. To make matters worse, making a claim tends to happen at a point of crisis, for example: theft, damage, or loss – when people are, understandably, feeling upset, angry, or worried about their possessions, health, or family.

These factors mean insurers need to work harder than most to create a positive Customer Experience, and a good way to do this is by diversifying their offerings outside of their remit.

It’s time providers found new reasons to be a part of customers’ lives, moved away from being perceived simply as a point of contact during a time of crisis or renewal, and became a provider which offers ongoing support to – and engagement with – customers. For example, thinking beyond the traditional, physical products insurance policies cover – homes, cars, phones – to offer solutions that can help customers in other ways.

2. Protect their online identity

A policy offers peace of mind. Many people take out insurance policies and never need to make a claim. Consumers simply feel better knowing that should disaster strike, they have the right support in place to help them. And it isn’t just physical possessions that people want to protect these days.

With cyber security scandals hitting the headlines every week, consumers are increasingly aware of – and worried about – protecting their online identity.  According to research by Callcredit Information Group, 66 percent of consumers perceive the risk of identity theft and online fraud as one of their biggest concerns around sharing personal information online.

So when you consider the common perception consumers have of their insurers is as ‘protectors’, it’s clear there is an opportunity for them to help customers to prevent and detect such fraud incidents before they have even occurred – and help assist and resolve issues if they do arise.

For example, by providing cyber prevention and detection services that continually monitor their customers’ activity online and flagging incidents when they’re at risk. By doing so they can offer a beneficial service and solution that increases engagement.

3. Embrace digital transformation

We’re in a world where we live through our devices, so to improve the Customer Experience insurers clearly need to keep pace with the digital age. But, there’s still some way to go. A recent survey by Eptica found that the UK’s leading insurance companies fail to accurately answer more than two thirds (68 percent) of routine questions asked through the web, email, Twitter, and Facebook.

Looking to the US for inspiration, insurers should take note of digital insurer Lemonade, which is making waves for its digital-first, fuss-free approach to claims. At the start of 2017, its virtual assistant Jim set a world record as it reviewed, processed, and paid a claim in three seconds – with no paperwork. If all insurers can aim to deliver this level of service, which brings cost and time-saving benefits to consumers, this could lead to increased engagement, loyalty, and advocacy.

In the UK however, it’s the financial services companies doing this particularly well, with digital bank Atom leading the charge. In a clear sign that Atom wants to offer its customers something different, it acquired software company Grasp, which specialises in games and virtual reality development, to improve its digital platforms.

Atom’s app lets customers personalise their experience by choosing a logo, name, and colours. By allowing them to adapt the interface to suit their personal preferences, it makes the banking experience truly unique and improves customer engagement.

Insurance is often perceived as a necessity in life. It’s not particularly enjoyable but it’s always needed. To improve their Customer Experience, insurers need to think beyond their current offerings and find other ways that they can add value to consumers’ lives. If they do so, they might stand a chance of turning their reputation around.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthOctober 30, 2017
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1min760

The record-breaking rise of bitcoin is continuing unabated, with a new high value of $6,300 marked as October drew to a close.

The cryptocurrency is surging in popularity, but its attraction is not translating to all corners of the world.

Despite neighbours in the United Arab Emirates taking bitcoin to their business hearts – with Dubai’s first ever real estate project to be priced in the digital money launched in September – Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Tahal has publicly denounced it.

The billionaire investor has dubbed it the “next Enron”, and predicted it will implode, adding in a recent interview:

“It just doesn’t make sense. This thing is not regulated, it’s not under control.”

Meanwhile, doubts about bitcoin’s ability to hold its value as the market reaches a value of $100 billion have also surfaced in South East Asia.

The State Bank of Vietnam has banned the use of the virtual currency as payment, describing it as “not lawful”.

The move follows China’s shuttering of bitcoin exchanges in September, which caused a temporary drop in its value.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 25, 2017
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10min1166

As a business, there will be times when you decide to offer discounts, deals, or coupons to increase revenue and customer loyalty.

However, if not done correctly, you could cause significant damage to your brand, and even become unprofitable.

Here, business management software firm Khaos Control looks at the different types of promotions you can offer, and the most effective way to use them.

The pros and cons of offers

As with everything in business, there are both pros and cons when it comes to offering deals and discounts. It’s important to weigh up both of these, before deciding if they’re worth pursuing:

Pros

Increased customer acquisition

Increased number of conversions

Increased customer loyalty

Great marketing opportunity

Cons

Decreased margins and profitability.

Potential brand damage if done regularly

Reduction in conversions outside of sale periods

Increased purchases from non-loyal (price driven) shoppers

Which offers are right for your business?

Businesses will often offer deals to increase conversions and encourage customer loyalty. However, depending on the type of business you operate, discounts could have the opposite effect. That’s why it’s so important to consider your brand strategy before you start dishing out the deals.

If you’re a high-end brand or have slimmer margins, then you may want to stick to customer loyalty offers, as opposed to weekly sales. However, if your margins are healthy, then regular discounting may be the solution to achieve your goals.

Therefore, it’s crucial to consider which offers fit in with your overall brand strategy, although there will be an element of experimentation in order to understand what your customers respond best to. Over time, you will realise what works well (and what doesn’t).

Different types of offers

There are so many different types of offers available, it can be difficult deciding where to start. Here are some of the most common:

Percentage Based Discount: This is the most popular way to offer discounts. You can either start off small, with 10 percent or 15 percent of products, or drive sales of old stock with discounts of 50 percent or higher.

Free Shipping: 58 percent of UK shoppers said they would shop more if free shipping was offered, making this a potentially profitable deal to offer.

You could offer free shopping with a minimum purchase requirement. Just be aware that you may want to limit this to specific countries so you’re not losing out on money, Also, take into account that there will be some customers who will order extra to get the free delivery, before returning the items.

Free Gift: Offering a free gift with a purchase is a good way to add value to the customer. It’s also a good way to shift excess products that just aren’t moving.

When and how to use offers

Much like the range of promotions you could offer, there are so many different ways you can use them to increase revenue. Here are some of the more popular ways to use discounts and deals to your advantage:

1. Prelaunch offers

If you’ve yet to launch your business or new product yet, then offering a pre-launch promotion can help to create intrigue and drive traffic.

2. Weekly or monthly offers

By offering regular deals, you could help to drive your sales and meet your revenue goals. Popular times to offer these deals are at the end of the month, to drive an increase in sales.

3. Holiday or seasonal offers 

Whilst Christmas, New Year and Black Friday are the biggest holiday periods for retailers to offer promotions, there are lots of other times of the year you can offer promotions: Easter, Halloween, the school summer holidays – just make sure they tie in with your business before you roll out the deals.

4. Abandon cart offers 

28 percent of shoppers abandon their cart if they’re faced with unexpected shipping costs, and 23 percent will abandon if they have to create an account. Help to reduce these figures by providing browsers with offers to incentivise them to come back and purchase from you. A percentage based discount with a time stamp could work well here.

5. Exit intent offer

For some customers who are on the verge of leaving your website, all it takes is a last-minute deal to convince them to purchase. Create an exit intent offer to pop-up as their mouse hovers over the ‘x’ tab, and watch your number of conversions increase.

6. Email or newsletter subscription offer 

As all businesses will know, building an email list is extremely important, as it means you can send customers updates about your business and the products you offer.

With a loyal customer base who are actively interested in what you have to offer, it’s a great place to offer discounts to encourage them to purchase again with you.

7. Social media offers

One of the hardest parts of starting a new business is to get word out. Social media is a great way to do this, as it encourages customers to actively endorse you. Provide offers to those that like, share or follow you across social media sites to help your brand gain a higher reach.

8. Exclusive social offers 

Offering deals on your social media sites can be a great way to build relationships with those that follow you, as well as encouraging others to follow. Just be aware that there will be many people who will ‘unfollow’ once they’ve received the discount.

9. Influencer offers

As you’ll have an insight into your customer base, you’ll know which celebrities or bloggers they admire. It can be great exposure for your brand to partner with these influencers and offer discounts, for instance on their social media sites. An endorsement by an influencer could lead to a huge increase in sales.

10. Customer loyalty offers

Help to create an even stronger bond with customers by rewarding loyalty with discounts. Make discount codes exclusive to specific groups of customers, to say thank you for purchasing from you.

11. Referral offers 

People are much more likely to buy from you if they’ve been referred by family or friends. Take advantage of this by offering promotions for referrals: you could offer a deal to both the person referring, and the person who has been referred.

12. First time shopper offer 

There will be people out there who are considering buying from you, but just need that extra nudge. Providing a first-time offer could be just the thing to entice them, and who knows, they may become a long-term customer.

13. Minimum purchase discount

An effective upselling tactic is offering a discount when a certain value is reached in an online shopping cart. This could be free shipping, a free gift, or a percentage off. You may decide to roll this out across all of your products, or just a specific product or collection, depending on what your targets are.

14. Retargeting offer 

Target those who have previously been on your website, by showing deals and discounts as they visit other sites. This could well serve as a reminder to buy something they previously looked at, encouraging them to buy from you.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 12, 2017
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3min825

This morning Bitcoin reached its all-time high of $5,167.90. This is the highest Bitcoin has ever gone and the investors are going crazy over it.

The last time Bitcoin reached its high was on 2 September when its price was $5,013.91. This morning its price went up by 5.26 percent, and it is expected to grow even further.

All the negative news about Bitcoin that you might have heard about lately have been knocked down as the world seems to be accepting Bitcoin more and more.

When China imposed their ban on cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin crashed and got down to $3000. Well, who laughs last, laughs longest: as of today its price raised by 74 percent from its previous low of $2975!

As rumour has it, China could be considering reversing their ban on cryptocurrency exchange on their territory. This is big news since China is the world’s second largest economy, and allowing Bitcoin to operate on their territory could give this currency an enormous boost. However, strict regulations will most likely be implemented before the currency is allowed back on the Chinese market.

Could this be one of the reasons why Bitcoin is climbing up? Are these rumours the reason why investors have directed all their attention towards it?

Leader’s view on cryptocurrencies

China isn’t the only one averse to Bitcoin. In fact, many world leaders have expressed their dissatisfaction with the cryptocurrency.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that  “buyers of cryptocurrencies could be involved in unlawful activities,” and Russia is soon going to follow China’s steps and block all websites that offer cryptocurrency exchange. Based on Putin’s comments they are probably not going to change their mind as fast as China did.

Last month we had JPMorgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon call Bitcoin ‘a fraud’ and commented that it would not end well.

“It’s worse than tulip bulbs. It won’t end well. Someone is going to get killed.”

Which probably means that they won’t be very acceptive of Bitcoin anytime soon.

Despite all the negative reactions, some companies are more than happy to accept Bitcoin as a means of payment and a large number of them around the world has already done so.

Big names, such as Goldman Sach, are seriously exploring the options of bitcoin trade, and Amazon is also thinking of using Bitcoin on their platform as means of payment. If this happens, their competitors would undoubtedly do the same – and this would make Bitcoin an acceptable method of online payment!


Lori WadeLori WadeSeptember 29, 2017
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12min6756

The financial section of a business plan could be regarded as the lifeline of the business. It is what breathes an air of life and practicality into the business. The financial section many times appears at the back of the plan, but this does not downplay its importance. In fact, it is the most scrutinized section of the plan. Investors may actually pay more attention to it than other parts of the plan because the value of a business is in its figures.

The financial section gives insight into the profitability of the business, aspects of debt and equity estimated operating expenses, financial statement forecasts, future growth projections and business financing.

The financial data that’s contained in this section is quite structured and in-depth. You may find charts, formulas, tables, graphs, and spreadsheets. It may require the input of a financial expert such as an accountant in order to write it accurately.

This article will consider how you can go about writing the financial section of your business plan.

Introduction to the Financial Plan

The financial section of a business plan normally starts with the introduction to the financial plan. The format and structure of the introduction is purely left to the drawer of the business plan.

The introduction basically gives the reader a basic outline to what is contained in the section.

An example of an introduction is as follows:

“This financial plan gives the forecasted financial statements of Company ABC for a three year projected period. The income statement, cash flow statement and balance sheet have been drawn and the assumptions made have been outlined.

The end of each fiscal year has been set for September 2nd.

The business capital requirements at startup are valued at $100,000. The business owner will inject $50,000 while the remaining $50,000 will be financed through a bank loan.”

Financial Statements and Analyses

The second part of the financial section will revolve around the forecasted financial statements and analyses. Here, the following financial statement and analyses are laid down:

I Forecasted income statement

II Cash flow statement (Forecasted)

III Forecasted balance sheet

IV Sensitivity analysis

V Breakeven analysis

VI Ratio analysis

It is best to put each statement and analysis on its own page. It is also time saving to use spreadsheets when drawing these statements and analyses.

There are three financial statements that are normally written in business plans. They include:

1) Balance Sheet (Statement of Assets and Liabilities)

This statement shows what the business is worth. It states all the assets that a business has and their respective values; as well as all the liabilities and debt that the business may have.

Simply, it adds all that the business owns (assets) and what it owes (liabilities) and the difference between these two forms the business’ net worth.

The net worth of the business is referred to as equity in some circles. The balance sheet normally states the net worth of the business as at a certain date. Most businesses draw it at the end of their fiscal year.

2) Income Statement (Profit and Loss Statement)

This statement shows the earnings of a business over a given period. It adds all the revenues and subtracts all the expenditures to get the net profit or loss in that trading period. When writing the plan, one can use the statistics of other businesses in the industry to get the figures that are useful in drawing the income statement.

3) Cash Flow Statement

As the name suggests, this statement tracks the flow of cash in a business over a period. It also shows the users of the statement the cash at hand at any given moment in time.

The cash flow statement typically analyzes the changes that occur on the balance sheet. The inflow and outflow of cash in the company is captured, and the description of how the cash was spent is given.

The Break-Even Analysis

This financial tool is used to determine the point of sales that a business should reach for it to get neither profit nor loss from trading. Simply, it is the point at which the difference between the total revenues and total expenses of the business is zero.

Important elements that are considered in the break even analysis include:

  • The fixed costs
  • Variable costs
  • Selling price

Also, the items present in the income statements are quite vital when doing the break-even analysis.

When calculating the break even points, it is recommended to do them over a three year period for consistency. It also remains your own prerogative to decide whether you will provide readers of the business plan with explanations on the finer details of the analysis.

The Sensitivity Analysis

This analysis is used to identify the effect that increased and decreased forecasted sales have on the net income of the business. This increase and decrease are usually in percentage form. The reader of the business plan will see how your net income changes when your sales go up or down by say, 15%, 20%, and 30%. The percentage chosen remains in the prerogative of the business plan writer. However, when using the sensitivity analysis, one should know that a forecasted sale is never 100% accurate. Also, values below 14% should be avoided.

Ratio Analysis

A ratio analysis is a general tool used by investors to ascertain the performance of a business (existing or potential).

Values from the balance sheet are divided with other values from the income statement. This is done mostly under the time frame of three fiscal years. A percentage or decimal is then deduced.

The ratios are then compared to other businesses’ in the industry to gauge performance. Financiers may also use ratio analyses to inform their financing decisions particularly regarding the feasibility and return on equity.

A business plan writer can describe how the ratio has changed over the three years of the forecast.

  • Ratios have specific labels, for example:
  • Current ratio
  • Quick ratio
  • Debt ratio
  • Debt to equity ratio
  • Return on Equity

In each ratio, the formula used to calculate is given, and the corresponding dollar value is assigned to each item.

Notes to the Financial Statements

This is the last part of the financial section of the business plan. It summarizes every idea, assumption, and thought-processes that were used to create the forecasted financial statements. It is usually written in the period of three years of the forecast.

These notes are vital to the readers of the business plan as they give the detailed information that aids them to understand the forecasts and projections.

The notes should always come after the financial statements and analyses. It beats logic to have them before the statements and analysis. It also serves to avoid confusion and incomprehension by readers.

The notes should also have labels with specific reference to the item being described. For example:

  • Net income note to the financial statements
  • Accounts payable note to the financial statements
  • Accounts receivable note to the financial statements
  • Retained earnings note to the financial statements

The positive value that notes to the financial statements in the financial section have is that they make readers of the business plan understand your projections. Hence, the investors and financiers are more certain of your business. Certainty is a motivating factor for financiers and investors to invest in a business.

The financial section of a business plan benefits not only the investors and financiers but also the business owner. It aids them to understand their business better. It is also a vital aid in running the business. Most writers prefer the turabian paper format when writing the financial section and in extension the whole business plan.

The credibility of the financial section will purely rely on how realistic you are when writing it. A good way of doing this is by breaking the figures into components such that they can be analyzed on an individual basis.

Conclusion

The highlighted tips on how to write the financial section of your business plan are sure to help you run your business better. They can also draw more investors to your business. Hence, a win-win situation for your business.


Harry DjanoglyHarry DjanoglySeptember 27, 2017
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6min1421

Burgeoning financial technology is reshaping the way people all around the world, from all walks of life, make their purchases. The modern customer typically prefers to have an increased number of options from which to choose — including but certainly not limited to cash, credit, PayPal, Bitcoin, Venmo, Apple Wallet, and more.

Merchants who offer their customers a variety of these payment methods can expect a greater number of completed purchases. In fact, one poll found that 56% of online shoppers expect to be offered a variety of payment options upon checkout, and this expectation was third only to free shipping options and a guaranteed date of delivery.

The Rise and Benefits of Card-Based Installments

One trend that’s beginning to gain steam in the e-commerce industry is the rise of interest-free, card-based installment payments. Merchants that adapt installment technologies that allow their customers to make an installment agreement upon purchase with their existing Visas or MasterCards will have an edge. This permits the buyer to pay a set monthly rate for the purchase at hand, rather than adding the whole price to the customer’s existing credit card debt.

The option to sign up for installment payments empowers customers on several fronts, allowing them to stick to their budgeting goals, making their purchase more affordable, and permitting them to build a better credit history without being burdened by sky-high interest fees. On the merchant’s end, the inclusion of the interest-free installment offer works to encourage purchases and augment conversion rates.

The average e-commerce shopping cart abandonment rate is at a whopping 65%, with a puny conversion rate amounting to a little over 2%. While online users may abandon the cart for a number of reasons, such as high shipping costs, uncertainty about the item, or a sub-par user experience, providing them with the option to make installment payments immediately gives the shopper an extra incentive and mental encouragement to go through with the purchase. It would be in any merchant’s best interest to offer such incentives to enhance the online shopping experience by adapting to the user’s preferences and purchasing capabilities.

A Welcome Alternative to the Traditional Credit System

The credit card industry is riddled with high fees and interest rates, complex rewards programs, and other obstacles that can make having a credit card more of a hassle than it’s worth. It’s becoming increasingly easy to get behind on payments and fall into debt, an issue that plagues many, often with life-changing consequences.

Only six countries in the world currently offer interest-free installment payments via credit card: Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Greece, Turkey, and Israel. Even though its presence is rather small on a global scale, merchants and customers alike benefit from the installment method.

In fact, 10% of Brazilians use Crediário, which offers millions of people the ability to pay for goods and services of varying prices over 48 monthly installments. Furthermore, the trend towards this payment model increases significantly in the realm of online payments, with 80% of all e-commerce transactions made in Brazil adhering to the installment method. This figure is substantial given that Brazil boasts the fifth largest digital market in the world, and Brazilians account for 40% of all Latin American internet users. Given that Brazil also has the most mature e-commerce market in Latin America, it’s clear that other countries should take heed of their installment offerings and note the success it’s had in the region.

Moving Forward with Card Installment Payments

The payment industry is taking steps toward rolling out the installment initiative, with MasterCard testing out pilot programs across Europe over the past year. Discerning industry leaders understand that consumers are more likely to make purchases and even spend more at the point of sale if a variety of options are readily available.

E-commerce retailers (in addition to brick-and-mortar stores) would be wise to jump on the bandwagon with card-based installments, and could see a significant improvement in conversions and profits if they meet the customer on middle ground; a win-win situation is certainly possible for merchants and consumers alike.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 20, 2017
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3min569

Retailers have been warned they must rethink their digital sales services to capitalise on consumer trends.

Following the release of data on retail sales by the Office for National Statistics, eCommerce consultancy Salmon said that although tills have continued to ring during the summer months, retailers must now ensure online shopping facilities are ready for upcoming peak spending periods.

Hugh Fletcher, Global Head of Consultancy and Innovation at Salmon, said of the new figures: “It’s unsurprising to see online retail experiencing continued year-on-year growth (15.6 percent) as shoppers crave greater convenience in their daily routines.

“However, the sector as a whole should take note that expenditure in food stores and petrol stations were flat, indicating that shoppers were predominantly spending on non-necessity or even luxury goods and services.

“The summer was likely a strong contributor to this as schools were on break and tourism around the country would have been bolstered.

“In the coming months, we are very likely to see a noticeable dip as this kind of spending reduces now that the summer season is over, and uncertainty reigns over Brexit and house prices. At this point, it’s vital the retailers start to look ahead to the next peak trading period and ensure they are ready to capitalise.”

Mr Fletcher said upcoming festivities meant shoppers would continue to spend more, but warned an ever-increasing amount are seeking to do so online.

“Events like Black Friday and Christmas, and increasingly Halloween for some retailers, offer huge opportunities to reap additional gains,” he continued.

“But as consumers look to purchase items they want, not need, a focus on online and innovation will be absolutely paramount – in fact our own research found that 60 percent would more likely shop with ‘digitally innovative’ retailers.

“This is all about accessibility and convenience. The quicker and easier it is to buy from a retailer, the more popular that retailer will be – online, mobile and digital offerings across the board are therefore vital. If retailers can combine a peak period with being the easiest way to shop – they are going to win and the kind of success seen over the summer will continue into autumn and winter.”


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 14, 2017
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7min1067

Uber has announced a series of updates that will make some rides in the UK more expensive.

An email sent by Uber to drivers in the UK says that uberPOOL rides will increase in price, and so will trips in some areas of the Home Counties.

uberPOOl is Uber’s carsharing feature that makes rides cheaper for customers by combining strangers’ rides together. So if you and another customer are both trying to go to similar locations, Uber combines the two trips and reduces the price for both customers.

But Uber told Business Insider that it is slightly raising the price of uberPOOL trips during offpeak hours (between 4am and 8pm on weekdays). The discount to customers versus Uber’s standard uberX service will be reduced from 25% to 15% during those hours.

Another price increase Uber announced on Thursday was to specific areas of the Home Counties to make the cost of trips there more similar to London prices. Uber said areas affected by the increase include parts of Spelthorne borough, Elmbirdge borough, and Reigate & Banstead borough, which lie within the M25. A spokesperson said the changes will only affect “small parts of towns” near the M25 border.

Uber’s pricing changes follow another UK price raise announced last week. The company said that all London trips would become 35p more expensive to help contribute to Uber’s Clean Air Fund, which launches this month. The fund will be used to give drivers up to £5,000 towards the cost an electric vehicle such as a Toyota Prius.

Here’s the full email sent on Thursday by Uber to its drivers in the UK:

New features, better experiences

We’re happy to have received positive feedback from drivers like you in response to the new initiatives we launched last month. At roundtables, at Expos, in the Greenlight Hub and on the road, we’ve heard about how you’re using the new features. In fact – in the last month drivers in the UK have made more than £500,000 from tips alone!

But there’s more – we’re introducing further changes and features, based on your feedback over the past months.

Long trip notifications – Sometimes you want to do a long trip and sometimes you don’t. We’ll now alert you if a trip will take longer than 60 mins on the confirmation screen.

Share my trip – It’s important to feel safe. Every trip is GPS tracked – but now you can also let friends and family know where you are by sending a live map with your trip status.

In-app chat – Pick ups can be tricky when you and your rider can’t find each other. Now you can message your rider through in-app chat. It’s easier, quicker and means you don’t have to use your own calls or texts.

12 hour document reviews – Over 95% of documents are now reviewed in 60 minutes to ensure that you can get back on the road without delay. If we fail to review your last uploaded document within 12 hours, we’ll give you £100.

Achievements summary – Driving with Uber means you need to be independent, motivated, professional and great with people – all valuable, transferable skills. Now you can take written proof of your ratings, trips and compliments with you to your next opportunity.

Pre-booked office hours – Our team is here to help you, as quickly as possible. From the end of September, you can also book an appointment at your Greenlight Hub in-app, so no more queuing. We’re also introducing more times to come visit us.

Driver positioning guides – We want to help you get the most out of the Uber app. So we’re developing guides on the best times and places to drive.

Improvements to uberPOOL – We’re making uberPOOL fairer for you by reducing the rider discount during quieter times, no longer allowing uberPOOL pick ups at Heathrow and much more.

Standardised pricing – The service is the same and the fare should be too. That’s why from 13th September all trips starting in a London borough will now be in line with central London pricing, meaning some fares will be going up.

Written by: 

Source: Business Insider

Interesting Links:


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 14, 2017
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10min798

In 2018, Apple stock will climb toward $200 – and the company’s market cap to $1 trillion – thanks in part to the new iPhone X that was announced yesterday (Tuesday).

The annual September event is the key to Apple Inc.’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) success for the next year. The new products it introduces are sold not just in the upcoming holiday quarter, but through the next 12 months.

New iPhone models, in particular, are critical – the product accounts for about two-thirds of Apple’s revenue.

How well these products fare determines the direction of AAPL stock. And this year’s crop looks destined to send Apple stock high enough to reach the $1 trillion valuation milestone.

Here’s a brief look at what Apple unveiled today…

Meet the Products That Will Drive Apple Stock Toward $200

Apple introduced new models of three of its products: the Apple Watch, Apple TV, and of course, the iPhone.

Apple stock

  • Apple Watch: The thing to know about the Series 3 Apple Watch is that it no longer needs to be tethered to an iPhone to access wireless data. It has its own cellular chip now. Apple claims its new Watch is also an impressive 70% faster and has “all-day battery life.” These new features could jump-start sales of a product that has had adequate sales to date but hasn’t really taken off.
  • Apple TV: Apple’s set-top box will now support 4K resolution, which is four times as sharp as HD. It’s also getting a processing chip that’s twice as fast as well a fourfold boost to its graphics performance. That makes Apple TV a much better gaming device, a wrinkle added last year that hasn’t gotten the adoption Apple would like. Apple also beefed up its content offerings, which now include live sports.
  • iPhone 8: The iPhone 8 models (a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch) feel more like interim upgrades (as were the iPhone 6s models), but the improvements are welcome. The iPhone 8 gets faster innards and better cameras, as you’d expect. The improved hardware enables more robust augmented reality features, particularly for gaming (think Pokemon Go).The marquee feature this time around is wireless charging. Instead of plugging the device in, users can just sit the iPhone atop a charging pad. Best of all, it’s compatible with the Qi wireless charging standard, which many companies already have adopted.The biggest appeal to the average smartphone buyer is the default memory, now at 64 GB rather than 32 GB. That means twice as much room for photos and videos.
  • iPhone X: One of the most-rumored Apple products in Apple history also made its debut. It includes all the iPhone 8 improvements but has a screen that takes up the entire front of the phone. At 5.8 inches, it’s slightly bigger than the iPhone 8 Plus.The physical home button is gone, with the unlocking feature now the realm of “Face ID,” a sophisticated facial recognition technology. Apple says it can’t be fooled by photos or masks.But what will get most of the attention is the $999 price tag – by far the steepest starting price ever for an iPhone. The long-suspected price has caused much consternation among analysts, who fear that even Apple fans will balk.Those fears are mostly unfounded. The iPhone X – along with its iPhone 8 brethren – will push sales to new records. That will drive up earnings and keep the AAPL stock price moving higher.

Here’s why the new iPhones will make Apple a $1 trillion company…

Why the New iPhones Will Break Records

 First, it’s important to point out that 81% of all iPhones in use today are iPhone 6s models or earlier. The iPhone 6 models, which debuted in 2014, comprise 30% of all iPhones in use.

So there’s plenty of potential demand for the latest iPhones, despite the high cost of the iPhone X and the good-but-not-great improvements in the iPhone 8 models.

Apple’s most devoted fans will buy the iPhone X regardless of the high price. These folks will have to have the top of the line. And frankly, when the cost is folded into the monthly payments, the sting won’t feel so bad.

But the iPhone X will have wider appeal. For one thing, supplies will be constrained for the first several months. That scarcity will add to its appeal. Those who do land an iPhone X in those early months will have bragging rights.

The supply constraints will affect sales in Apple’s Q1, but that’s not really a problem – they just get pushed to Q2.

The high cost, oddly enough, will also enhance the appeal of the iPhone X. Owning one will project status, just as is the case with any pricey luxury brand.

And don’t forget, for those who can’t stomach the high price tag of the iPhone X, there are two new models priced more reasonably. The iPhone 8 starts at $699, while the iPhone 8 Plus starts at $799.

But both starting prices are higher than those of the iPhone 7 models. It means that especially with the $999 iPhone X, the average selling price (ASP) of the iPhone is going to rise substantially. And that’s going to feed profits and boost earnings per share (EPS) over the next several quarters.

The iPhone ASP in Apple’s current fiscal year is $653, according to FactSet. Even when you throw in a few sales of the lower-priced iPhone SE (about $400), it’s clear that’s going to rise to close to $700.

FactSet also estimates that iPhone unit sales will increase from 217 million this year to 247 million in 2018. At the higher ASP, that translates to a $30 billion increase in revenue year over year, good for about $10 billion more in profits.

Apple’s EPS will increase to $10.85 in 2018. Assuming the price-to-earnings ratio remains at about 18.3, where it is now, the Apple stock price will be $198.55. And that puts Apple’s market cap over $1 trillion.

And even if the iPhone sales fall a little short, Apple is also expected to continue to grow its very profitable services business as well as its Watch sales. According to FactSet, analysts see Apple services revenue growing 16.2% over the next year and Watch revenue growing 12.7%.

Written by:  

Source: Money Morning

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CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 13, 2017
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6min667

Earlier on Tuesday, at different conferences around New York, JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon took aim at bitcoin, calling the cryptocurrency “a fraud” and “worse than tulip bulbs.”

This skepticism by one of Wall Street’s titans, and its reflection in many offices and hallways in top financial services companies is perhaps one of the strongest cases for bitcoin’s lasting importance.

Let’s be clear, Dimon’s firm is one of the chief architects of the global financial crisis that led to the interest in a somewhat arcane cryptocurrency in the first place. There would be no bitcoin without Jamie Dimon — and in some ways, he’s right to fear its rise.

As a Vanity Fair piece revealed last week, JPMorgan Chase paid out $13 billion (with a “b”) to the U.S. government because of its role in the financial crisis and the mortgage security fiasco that almost destroyed the U.S. economy.

The story quotes an unfiled complaint that was sealed as part of the settlement with the Department of Justice.

“By this action,” the draft complaint begins, “the United States seeks to recover civil penalties” against JPMorgan Chase and its investment banking arm “for a fraudulent and deceptive scheme to package and sell residential mortgage-backed securities” that the bank “knew contained a material amount of materially defective loans.” As the unfiled complaint continued, “JPMorgan knowingly securitized and sold billions of dollars of mortgage loans that were originated in material violation of underwriting guidelines and law.” (When reached for comments and responses to the various allegations in Wagner’s unfiled brief, a spokesperson for JPMorgan Chase told me, “These allegations have been addressed, resolved, or refuted years ago.”)

Whatever irrational exuberance may be attributed to bitcoin’s current froth, it’s hardly a fraud. What it does is get rid of the need for potentially unscrupulous middlemen who thrive and profit on asymmetric information.

Bitcoin does away with this by presenting an immutable ledger. The value of things are recorded, agreed upon, and irrefutable. Which means that shenanigans of the kind that brought down the housing bubble are less likely to occur.

Perhaps bitcoin itself is overvalued, but it’s not the house of cards that Dimon’s employees blew over in 2008.

While the near sacramental disputes in the cryptocurrency community over bitcoin and bitcoin cash or ethereum vs. ethereum classic do the entire industry no favors, they’re the arguments of individuals who want to untether financial services from the chicanery of misanthropic sociopaths who thrive on their ability to cheat systems.

The favorite refrain of Wall St. may be “it’s only illegal if I get caught”… and while cryptocurrencies are unregulated, they are — for the most part — transparent.

Again, the Vanity Fair report is illustrative.

At Dimon’s “insistence,” the unfiled complaint asserts, “JPMorgan formulated an exit strategy to divest itself” of the riskiest pieces of mortgage-backed securities that had been accumulating on its balance sheet. But, Wagner writes in the draft complaint, “despite knowledge at the highest levels that underwriting had deteriorated across the industry and early payment defaults were spiking, JPMorgan continued to purchase and securitize subprime loans without addressing the known breakdown of its due diligence practices and without disclosing its knowledge to investors.” This is pretty much the exact same thing that Goldman Sachs did leading up to the financial crisis, a practice for which the bank was roundly criticized.

Dimon may say that he’s not advising anyone to ‘go short’ on bitcoin, but if Wall Street keeps up its criticism, my advice may be to go long.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 12, 2017
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7min1529

new £10 polymer banknote is set to be released to the public’s purses on Thursday, but experts are encouraging shoppers to look out for notes with special serial numbers which could end up being collector’s items.

Commemorative currency experts, Change Checker, said that notes which include key dates related to the author Jane Austen – who features on the new tenner – in the form of serial numbers are likely to be of particular interest to collectors.

These include 16 121775 and 18 071817, which would represent the author’s date of birth and death respectively; 17 751817, which is Austen‘s birth and death year combined; and 28 011813, the date that Jane Austen’s most celebrated novel, Pride and Prejudice, was first published.

However, Change Checker noted that while these will likely become popular with collectors in the future, it could be many years before notes with these serial numbers enter circulation due to the huge amount of possible combinations that would come before ‘JA’.

Other banknotes that are likely to interest collectors are those that were first off the printing press. The very first of these which will carry the code AA01, will likely be most popular, Change Checker said.

When the polymer £5 notes were released, prefixes started at AA and there were 60 notes on a sheet, named AA01- AA60. For each these cyphers there were 999,000 serial numbers printed, yielding a whopping 59.9 million notes.

Due to the larger size of the new tenner there will be 54 £10 notes per sheet, but this still throws up a lot of combinations for shoppers to keep an eye out for.

The rest of the AA prefix notes will be interesting to collectors but not necessarily worth a huge amount, Change Checker said, but added that some of polymer £5 notes featuring Winston Churchill did sell for around £20 last year – four times their face value.

After the rush to find the AK47 and James Bond 007 serial numbers when the plastic fivers were printed last year, Change Checker said these will likely be popular again with collectors.

Consecutively numbered notes are also worth looking out for, it said, with one man once sold three consecutive AA01 notes for £456.

Some banknotes will be held back from circulation, with the Bank of England donating some of those with the earliest serial numbers to those involved in the development of the note or who traditionally receive a note when a new series is issued.

For example, the Queen receives AA01 000001 and the Churchill War Rooms received a new £5 note with serial number AA01 001945, the date that WWII ended.

The Bank of England is due to hold an auction on 6 October, offering the public a chance to own some of the earliest serial numbers, as it did when the new £5 note was printed. The auction raised £194,500 for charities, but the notes set buyers back a significant amount.

The earliest note auctioned (AA01 000017) sold for a staggering £4,150, with the average price for a single £5 note  totalling £865.

Written by: Hannah Uttley

Source: Yahoo Finance

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CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 12, 2017
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7min799

Frankfurt and Dublin move up index as New York falls amid uncertainty over Donald Trump’s views on free trade London has retained its position as the world’s top financial centre despite fears that the City will become less attractive for financiers in the wake of Brexit.

New York – London’s closest rival and expected beneficiary of the fallout from the UK’s leaving the EU – has fallen further behind amid uncertainty about Donald Trump’s views on free trade.

The Z/Yen global financial centres index (GFCI), which ranks 92 financial centres, found that New York’s ratings score had fallen by 24 points – the largest fall among the top 15.

London’s total score fell by only two points this year. “Interestingly, despite the ongoing Brexit negotiations, London only fell two points, the smallest decline in the top 10,” the report said.

Frankfurt rises to 11 in the table from 23 a year ago, while Dublin moves to 30 from 33. Both are among the EU centres battling for business that will leave London as a result of Brexit.

The issues that financial firms will consider when deciding where to move may not just be based on business factors. Sir Howard Davies, chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland, on Monday pointed to the importance of education systems when moving financiers out of the UK.

“The biggest issue [in relocating staff] is schools….The capacity of international secondary schools in Frankfurt is probably the biggest question on the minds of human resources directors in London”.

He indicated that financiers relocating may have to leave their children at schools in the UK.

His remarks on Bloomberg TV come after a speech by John Cryan, chief executive of Deutsche Bank, who also mentioned the importance of schools if Frankfurt was to win business from the UK.

Cryan had said Frankfurt was the only EU centre which had the infrastructure to handle activities that had taken place in London. But, Cryan said, it was up to Frankfurt to decide how much business to take, and also pointed to the issue of schools.

He said Frankfurt needed “more attractive, urban residential areas, enough international schools and a dozen additional theatres and a few hundred restaurants.”

Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING in Frankfurt, said international schools needed to make preparations.

“This would require finding land and investors. [The] big question is whether the state government of Hessen would be willing to actually give some money as well.”

Davies told Bloomberg that contingency plans for the UK leaving the EU would need to be rolled out on the basis of a hard Brexit – without a trade agreement or any implementation period.

“The longer it goes and the closer it gets to March 2019, you will just have to implement that.

“The clock is ticking, and in the City people are making contingency plans, and at the moment they can only make them on the basis of a hard Brexit… so the longer it goes, the more likelihood it is those ‘hard Brexit’ plans will be implemented,” said Davies.

He said the government was going to have to start “warming up” people to the fact there will be a bill for the UK to leave the EU.

A number of major firms have announced their Brexit plans. Bank of America has selected Dublin as the location for some of its activities while JP Morgan Chase has bought a new office in Dublin’s docklands area that can house up to 1,000 staff.

Morgan Stanley has picked Frankfurt and could relocate about 200 staff there while Citi is expanding in in the German city.

Written by:

Source: The Guardian

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CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 11, 2017
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3min822

LONDON — Damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, and the forthcoming Jose, could cost Lloyd’s of London insurers £150 billion ($200 billion).

Lloyd’s of London is a specialist insurance market where firms broker deals for the bulk of global insurance schemes relating to natural disasters.

Barrie Corne, an analyst at Panmure Gordon, said Lloyd’s insurers could face a bill could face a bill between £100 billion and £150 billion if Irma — which is still battering the Florida peninsula — envelops the Florida panhandle.

“Assuming that the damage is windstorm then I would expect the net ­retentions for the listed insurers to be at around £200 million or below, but there remains much uncertainty,” he told the Telegraph.

Cornes’ prediction echoes estimates from other analysts. Morgan Stanley said in a note on September 6 that losses could mount to at least $100 billion.

“Investors fear that a major hurricane hitting the Miami area could lead to $100bn-plus industry losses,” said equity analyst Kai Pan in the note.

According to another Telegraph report, Lloyd’s chief executive Inga Beale emailed insurance bosses on Sunday warning the payout could push up premium prices.

Premium insurance rates have fallen in recent years as investors flood money into insurance firms which offered good returns due to a lack of catastrophes.

If investors take that capital out of insurance firms, rates could rise.

Beale added that the market had built up big reserves which could absorb the recent round of hurricane payouts.

Written by: Thomas Colson

Source: Business Insider

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CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 11, 2017
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5min668

LONDON — The Bank of England may be preparing to warn both investors and regular Brits that they cannot expect interest rates to stay as low as they are forever and that further rises in inflation in the coming months could lead to rising rates.

The bank’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet this week, and while it is highly unlikely that it will announce any changes to its key policies — meaning a base interest rate of 0.25% and a quantitative easing programme capped at £435 billion — the Bank’s tone could shift substantially.

At its simplest level, the policy dilemma facing Britain’s central bank is that it must balance surging inflation brought on by the weakened pound since the referendum, with the slowdown in the economy, dwindling consumer spending and declining inward investment.

So far, the dwindling economy side of the argument has largely held sway on the MPC, with the closest vote held since the Brexit seeing three members of the committee backing an increase in rates back to 0.5%, and five voting to leave rates unchanged.

However, there are growing signs that markets — which don’t believe that the BoE will raise rates until at least the second half of next year — are underestimating the bank’s willingness to increase the base rate in the near future should inflation continue to rise.

After the MPC’s last meeting at the beginning of August, the bank made clear that  “monetary policy could need to be tightened by a somewhat greater extent,” than expected. Effectively, the Bank wanted to prepare the markets for a rate hike in the near-ish future.

That didn’t really work, and market expectations of a hike remain subdued, with expectations that rates will not hit 0.5% until late 2018, and won’t go above that until 2021.

As a result, the Bank is expected to ratchet up its rhetoric in the minutes of the MPC meeting on Thursday, making more clear that it is willing to remove some stimulus — in the form of a rate rise — if inflation gets out of control.

The rate that prices are growing currently stands at 2.6%, having fallen back a little from its post-Brexit peak of 2.9%. However, inflation is expected to rise once again this month, with official figures released on Tuesday morning. Economists and analysts polled before the release are expecting a jump to 2.8%, with further increases coming later in the year.

Should that expectation prove to be the reality, then the bank’s increasingly hawkish rhetoric, particularly from Governor Mark Carney, who said in August that the current forecasts from the bank of one more rate hike in the next three years may be “insufficient.”

Regardless of that, however, some analysts don’t believe that the Bank of England is actually hawkish, especially after Chief Economist Andy Haldane made very clear that he was close to voting for a rate hike during the summer, but never actually did so.

“Hawkish rhetoric by BoE policymakers will be firmly challenged as repeated statements by MPC members that rates will have to be increased faster than the market currently expect have been continuously discounted,” Fabrice Montagne of Barclays wrote in a recent note.

Written by: Will Martin

Source: Business Insider

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CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 8, 2017
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5min1186
  • Money.co.uk generated £24.7m in revenues in the year ending October 2016
  •  ZPG’s shares rose by 14. 3p to 368.90 during morning trading today

One of the UK’s leading financial services comparison websites, Money.co.uk, has been bought for £140million by the owners of property portal Zoopla.

As part of the deal, Money.co.uk is expected to be acquired by ZPG Plc for £80million, on a ‘cash-free, debt-free basis’ and for an additional performance-based earn-out of up to £60 million.

Money.co.uk has over 2million visits to its website per month and generated £24.7million in revenues and £8million through earnings, during the year ending October 2016.

Discussing ZPG’s purchase Alex Chesterman, founder & CEO of the company, said:

‘We are delighted to announce this transaction. Adding Money, one of the UK’s leading financial services comparison websites, to our existing brand portfolio will further enhance our product capabilities and consumer engagement across both our comparison and property platforms.’

Chesterman added:

‘Broadening our financial services offering has long been a key part of our strategy and I look forward to welcoming Chris and his team to the ZPG family.’

Shares in ZPG rose by 14.3p to 368.90, during morning trading.

Other companies within ZPG’s portfolio include uSwitch, PrimeLocation and Hometrack.

Money.co.uk enables consumers to compare thousands of deals from over 600 providers, across more than 60 product categories including mortgages, loans, credit cards, bank accounts and insurance.

Money has 50 staff who will continue to operate from offices in Cirencester, Gloucestershire and operate as a standalone brand and platform.

Chris Morling, founder of Money, commenting on the purchase said:

‘I am very proud of what we have achieved over the last nine years. We have developed a strong brand and loyal following and are looking forward to the next phase of our growth.

‘ZPG has led the way as an innovative digital consumer champion and we are looking forward to helping even more consumers make better-informed decisions as part of ZPG.’

Anthony Codling , equity analyst at Jefferies International Ltd said of the purchase:

‘In our view, this is a logical addition to Zoopla’s comparison services offering and one perhaps closer to the core property services business.

‘On Zoopla you can find your home and through Money you can finance your home. Money has a comprehensive offering across more than 60 financial services products including mortgages, loans, credit cards, savings accounts and current accounts.’

Source: This Is Money

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CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 7, 2017
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4min946

In case you have not heard yet, there is a fairly new type of currency that has been gaining popularity – Bitcoin. Invented in 2009, Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that relies on a technology system called blockchain, which keeps your bitcoin wallet safe and secure from fraud. A lot of companies around the world have begun embracing Bitcoin. In fact, in Japan alone, 260,000 stores are accepting payment by Bitcoin.

If your business is not yet accepting bitcoin, here are three good reasons why you should consider doing so.

Bitcoin payments involve lower transaction fees

Big companies like Tesla have started accepting bitcoins and for a very good reason. Compared with traditional payment methods like credit cards or PayPal, bitcoin payments involve faster transactions and lower transaction fees. Considering that credit card transaction fees cost an average of 2% to 3% and PayPal fees are capped at 6%, there is no reason why you would want to pass up the opportunity to have lower transaction fees with bitcoin payments.

Even online businesses like Shopify.com, Mint.com, and Bitcasino.io have started to accept bitcoin for their site transactions. The latter, Bitcasino.io, is an online gaming site that operates in the currency exclusively and even has slot and table games based on the name of bitcoin’s inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto.

The risk is low

Considering that there are currently few people using bitcoin, adding this payment method option will not result in any risks to your business. However, this should not be misinterpreted as a weakness. In fact, a recent report shows that an estimated 16.5 million bitcoins have been in circulation as of July 2017. And, in March, the value of a bitcoin at USD 1,268 exceeded the value of an ounce of gold, which is USD 1,233, for the first time.

Big companies like Microsoft have begun embracing this payment method too. Since December 2014, Microsoft customers have been given the option to use their bitcoin to purchase content in the Windows and Xbox stores.

You don’t have to be an expert

While it is good to at least learn the basics about bitcoin to appreciate its value, you do not have to take a special course just so you can start accepting bitcoin payments. There are various online articles available for you to read more about bitcoin payments. There are also several payment processors that can make it easy and convenient for you to start accepting payments with bitcoins.

Written by: Steven Tamm

Source: Director of Finance

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CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 6, 2017
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8min1261

For years, traditional financial institutions have kept their distance from the fintech industry, loath to embrace the trend that is threatening their monopoly over banking, finance, loans and investment.

But as financial technologies continue to expand, legacy players have come to accept the disruptive role of fintech startups and the need to work together. In recent years, the relationship between banks and fintech startups has evolved from marginal investments to closely knit collaboration and integration.

The result has been beneficial to both parties as well as consumers, who now have access to more efficient and versatile financial services.

As is the case with the rest of the tech industry, fintech startups have the advantage of speed and agility. While banks and financial institutions are slow to adopt new technologies, startups are extremely efficient at implementing emerging trends such as machine learning and Blockchain. Peer-to-peer payments, smart loans and AI-powered fraud detection are just some of the innovations that fintech startups have brought forth.

Using mobile apps and easy-to-use web services, fintech startups simplify many of the services that banks offer. Examples are Acorns, an app that makes investment more accessible and easy to manage, and Mint, an all-in-one resource for creating a budget, tracking your spending and getting smart about your money.

However, to grow and succeed, fintech startups need access to the capital, scale, data and regulatory authority of banks. Testament to the fact are the struggles of online lending companies in recent years.

Banks are now getting involved at different levels to help fintech companies get off the ground. This includes an increasing number of buyouts, mergers and partnerships.

An example is Goldman Sachs, a banking firm that has invested more than $570 mln in fintech companies since 2012. Last year, the banking giant acquired Honest Dollar, a digital retirement savings platform, in order to expand the startup’s brilliant solution to millions of its customers. Along with Standard Charter, Goldman also helped Momo, a Vietnam-based mobile wallet and payment app, raise $34 mln in two rounds of funding. Goldman also launched its own online lending service Marcus last year, a move that is inspired by the fintech culture. The service has so far doled out more than $1 bln in loans and expects to cross $2 bln by the end of this year.

On the other end, fintech startups are helping banks adopt new technology. Ezbob, for example, is a UK-based startup that provided online lending services to SMEs before white-labeling its technology and changing its business model to a Lending as a Service (LaaS) platform. The Royal Bank of Scotland has leveraged Ezbob’s technology to launch Esme, its automated lending platform which allows small and medium-sized businesses to obtain loans quickly, even outside working hours.

Partnerships are also proving to be a successful venture in the banking and fintech front. In late 2015, JPMorgan Chase teamed up with online lender OnDeck Capital to provide small business lending services. JPMorgan was spared the effort to develop its own technology while OnDeck, a company that was struggling since its IPO in 2014, obtained access to Chase’s vast customer base. More recently, JPMorgan partnered with LiftFund, a financial and business support organization and microlender, to launch LiftUP, a web-based small business lending platform. LiftUp aims to support minorities and other underserved business owners by increasing their access to capital.

The financial support of financial institutions and the technical prowess of tech startups can help usher the next generation of data-powered financial technologies. In 2016, HSBC funded Xenomorph, a company that provides data management technology to banks, to help accelerate the development of TimeScape EDM+, an analytics and management platform for financial data.

The convergence of traditional and modern financial services is still in its infancy, but so far the results have been promising. According to a Business Insider report, partnerships with fintech startups has helped banks cut the costs of developing customer-facing services and optimizing legacy processes while increasing revenue. Banks and insurers have also been able to benefit from the collaboration to improve customer engagement through cutting edge technologies.

The financial landscape is one of the oldest and most complex components of human society. As it evolves, both banks and fintech startups realize that they need each other to thrive, and by finding the balance and making the right compromises, they’ll be able to adapt to the changing needs of the industry and create opportunities which were inconceivable before.

Written by: Ben Dickson

Source: The Cointelegraph

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CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 1, 2017
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3min949

A major FinTech conference coming to London this October is to provide delegates with the opportunity to invest directly from the conference floor as part of its grand pitching final.

LendIt Europe, which claims to be Europe’s largest FinTech conference series, has partnered with US equity crowdfunding platform SeedInvest to give the eight finalists in its PitchIt competition the opportunity to raise funds ‘live’ from delegates and SeedInvest members.

In what will be the first time the technology has been used outside the US, the eight successful startups with take part in a head to head pitching competition throughout the two-day event which takes place at the Intercontinental London – The O2 on 9th and 10th October.

Jason Jones, co-founder and chief executive of LendIt Conference, commented: “To have live fundraising at LendIt this year is an industry first within Europe, and we can’t wait to see the excitement and energy it will bring to the floor.

“The innovation and technology which SeedInvest has embedded into their offer means that startups can really hit the ground running at LendIt, not only building their profile and meeting VCs but also raising real money during the conference.”

Ryan Feit, CEO of SeedInvest added:

“We are excited to be partnering with LendIt Europe to empower startups participating in PitchIt to raise capital live at the event this year. LIVE Fundraising is all about enabling the very best startups to spend less time fundraising and more time building their businesses.

“We look forward to working with LendIt to identify the top fintech startups in Europe and amplify their pitches across both sides of the pond.”

Written by: 

Source: Bdaily

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CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamAugust 31, 2017
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8min1345

Several of the world’s largest banks have today revealed a series of steps to advance a project aimed at making it easier for central banks to issue currencies on a blockchain.

Called Utility Settlement Coin (USC), the project is designed to help prepare the way for central bank cryptocurrencies by making it easier for global banks to conduct a wide variety of transactions with each other using collateralized assets on a custom-built blockchain.

Work on the next phase of the project — the last before a live implementation — will include six members revealed today, Barclays, CIBC, Credit Suisse, HSBC, MUFG and State Street, building alongside founding financial institutions UBS, BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, Santander, NEX and blockchain startup Clearmatics.

While USC will be limited in scope to start, Hyder Jaffrey, UBS director of strategic investment and fintech innovation, explained the potential impact the project could one day have, telling CoinDesk:

“It may well inform the way central banks choose to move things forward. We see it as a stepping stone to a future where central banks issue their own [cryptocurrency] at some point.”

But before the platform can become just that, Jaffrey and the USC team are prioritizing further development, having created a kind of telnet for the project that seeks to back cryptotokens with collateral.

Part of the group’s third phase revealed today is the testing of a formal transfer of ownership and an accurate cash equivalence definition for the transfer, in an effort to mimic what a real-time end-to-end transaction between members would look like.

This is “absolutely essential in preparing the platform to go live,” Jaffrey told CoinDesk.

First, testing

HSBC Canary Wharf

In that transfer test, the group will explore using a collateralized token, which Jaffrey said could simplify the buying and selling of assets via a complicated network of middlemen down to a single, fiat-based transaction conducted on a blockchain.

In short, the collateralized token will be given directly to the owner of the asset, instead of going through the traditional network of clearinghouses.

“We have a very strong feeling that we have a workable structure for the USC which underpins things like settlement finality, transfer of ownership, a cash equivalence definition,” said Jaffrey.

Driving those business requirements are the members themselves, which Jaffrey said the group is adding slowly, in parallel with the “momentum” of the project.

The head of fintech partnerships and strategy at HSBC, Kaushalya Somasundaram, reiterated Jaffrey’s belief that USC could help delineate a path forward for central bank digital currencies, one of the reasons HSBC joined to begin with.

Explaining how she sees the the token eventually working, Somasundaram told CoinDesk:

“The settlement coin will be a collateralized digital currency, backed by cash assets at a central bank, which allows us to transfer ownership easily through the exchange of USCs, thus reducing process complexity and the time taken for settlement.”

Then, ambition

The logo of UBS is seen outside the building housing the headquarters of the Swiss bank in San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 31, 2015. REUTERS/Alvin Baez

First revealed in 2015 by Swiss banking giant UBS and Clearmatics, the Utility Settlement Coin concept represents the latest in a growing number of blockchain projects that could be amplified by fiat currencies issued on a blockchain.

Echoing statements recently made by a Citi executive, Jaffrey explained that paying for assets tokenized on a blockchain with traditional fiat currency ran the risk of reintroducing the same security vulnerabilities of the centralized model.

With those vulnerabilities in mind, last year, USC initiated Phase II of its work, which focused on the legal and regulatory compliance of decentralizing the system.

According to Jaffrey, that structural work is now complete, and testing elements of the technology deemed crucial to the way financial institutions do business, but in a “pre-live” environment is beginning.

The newly commenced Phase III is expected to run for about 12 months, at which time phase IV, what Jaffrey called the “go-live phase” will likely begin. The first live collateralized token exchange using the platform could occur as soon as the end of 2018, he said.

And then, according to Jaffrey, the goal is wide scale adoption of blockchain platforms that interoperate with each other.

Echoing the excitement in moving towards that end goal, Somasundaram concluded:

“It is a very good step forward in terms of going for more ambitious projects such as central bank digital currencies in the future.”

Written by: Michael del Castillo, CoinDesk

Source: Business Insider

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