SEC Schedules Conference on “The State of Our Securities Markets”

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has scheduled a conference tackling the topic of “The State of Our Securities Markets.” The event, which is open to the public, will take place on December 4th, 2019 at SEC HQ on F Street in Washington, DC. The SEC is currently accepting registrations here.

The precise agenda will be published at a later date but the Commission has posted a list of participants including SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, Risk Analysis Director S.P. Kothari, and Division of Investment Management Director Dalia Blass.

The “outside experts” include:

  • Tobias Adrian, Financial Counsellor and Director, Monetary and Capital Markets Department, International Monetary Fund
  • Gary Cohn, former Director of the National Economic Council
  • Nate Goldstein, Assistant Chief, Economic Analysis Group, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Glenn Hutchins, Co-founder, Silver Lake Partners
  • Marko Kolanovic, Global Head of Macro Quantitative and Derivatives Research, J.P. Morgan
  • Jennifer Marietta-Westberg, Principal, Cornerstone Research
  • Tara Muller, Head of Off-Exchange Liquidity, Virtu Financial
  • Craig Phillips, former Counselor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • Justin Schack, Managing Director and Partner, Rosenblatt Securities
  • Howard Shelanski, Partner, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP; Professor of Law, Georgetown University; former Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs; former Director, Bureau of Economics, Federal Trade Commission
  • Gillian Tett, Chair of Editorial Board and Editor-at-large, Financial Times

In recent years, private markets have boomed while public markets have bounced along. Some industry followers describe initial public offerings more of an exit opportunity than a point when retail investors can join along. Examples such as the Wework debacle do not help the narrative.

Meanwhile, Fintech and digitization of all financial services have fueled a boom in innovation. This includes online capital formation.

The SEC is currently reviewing the exemption ecosystem, as described by a concept release, and considering potential changes to current rules. Expect some of the discourse to tackle the concept release topics.

The event will also be live-streamed on the SEC website.

Attendees at November Offshore Alert Conference in London Will Examine Whether Tether Cryptocurrency Enabled “Biggest Scam in the History of Finance”

Two hundred-fifty investigators, thirty speakers gathering and other attendees at the OffshoreAlert Conference on financial intelligence and investigations in London November 11th and 12th will have a chance to examine the role tethers played in creating “the largest bubble in human history,” the Bitcoin/crypto bubble of late 2017.

Tethers are a cryptographic/synthetic form of USD used to add liquidity to cryptocurrency trading markets.

Critics, including Professor John Griffin of the University of Texas, have argued for years that tethers are used to strategically pump the price of cryptocurrencies.

In a study released mid-2018, Griffin and grad student Amin Shams argued tethers were being used to make Bitcoin look like a juggernaut to attract institutions and the general public into investing.

“The fraud,” alleges Offshore Alert, “which is ongoing – involves the massive price manipulation of Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies like Litecoin, Ethereum, Zcash, and Dash so insiders can clean-up.”

Tethers are created by a company called Tether Limited, which is closely associated with the  Bitfinex crypto exchange. Tether, Bitfinex and parent company iFinex are currently under investigation for fraud in the state of New York.

The New York Attorney General, which accused the companies of commingling funds without proper disclosure, has also accused the companies of obfuscating the investigation.

According to OffshoreAlert, “Bitfinex and ‘stablecoin’ Tether (are) BVI (British Virgin Island)-owned products that provide most of the liquidity for the entire cryptocurrency market.”

Last week, several plaintiffs in Florida filed a class action suit in New York against Tether et al claiming massive fraud and conspiracy. Plaintiffs are seeking damages of more than $1.4 trillion USD.

Litigators behind that suit will appear at the London Conference:

“Attorneys representing the class will discuss the case at OffshoreAlert London next month, including opportunities for insolvency practitioners and fraud investigators. Kyle Roche and Velvel Freedman, of Roche Freedman, will present a session entitled ‘$1.4T Cryptocurrency Scam: Inside The World’s Biggest-Ever Fraud’.”

The conference is not just for investigators, Offshore Alert says:

“The networking opportunities presented by the quality and diversity of attendees is unparalleled, exceptional, and invaluable for anyone involved in high-value, cross-border finance…including fraud and asset recovery attorneys, insolvency practitioners, litigation funders, professional service providers, regulators, law enforcement, journalists, and others.”

Speakers and attendees hail from 30 countries and will have access to 14 sessions, 8 hours of networking and 2 cocktail receptions.

As well:

“Another session will show attendees how to trace and recover virtual assets as the epidemic of blockchain/crypto-related fraud takes centre stage at this year’s event.”

About OffshoreAlert:

“OffshoreAlert specializes in reporting about Offshore Financial Centers, with an emphasis on fraud investigations…The company is 100%-owned and managed by David Marchant, a United Kingdom national who has been a journalist since 1984, working in the UK, Bermuda and the USA.”

“Marchant and/or OffshoreAlert are generally considered to be leading authorities on OFCs and serious financial crime. They are routinely quoted or referenced by news organizations around the world, including The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Miami Herald, Vancouver Sun, The Economist, BusinessWeek, CBS News, BBC Radio, Bloomberg Television, United Press International and many more. We have also been referenced in non-fiction books such as ‘The Sink: Crime, Terror, and Dirty Money in the Offshore World’, by Jeffrey Robinson, in 2003 and ‘Crime School: Money Laundering: True Crime Meets the World of Business and Finance’, by Chris Mathers, in 2004 and in Government reports such as ‘Correspondent Banking: A Gateway For Money Laundering’ by the U. S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 2001.”

“OffshoreAlert’s exposés on fraud, tax evasion and money laundering have contributed to the collapse of several international financial groups and criminal charges being brought against their principals.”

“A testament to the quality of our reporting and our unwillingness to yield to bullying is that Marchant and/or OffshoreAlert have been sued for libel multiple times in the USA, Canada, Cayman Islands, Grenada, and Panama and have never lost, published a correction, issued an apology or paid one cent in legal fees, costs or damages to the plaintiffs.”

“OffshoreAlert is neither pro- nor anti-OFCs. We are independent. Our only agenda is to provide credible, accurate and useful information so that our clients can make better-informed decisions.”

To register or find out more about the conference, click here.

BlockTank LA, Sponsored by LA Mayor’s Office, Announces Judges and Participants

BlockTank LA, a “Shark Tank” style pitch contest, has announced six of the judges and four companies that will participate in the contest.

BlockTank LA t is part of a private and public partnership between the LA-based VC firm, Goren Holm Ventures (GHV), the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, as well as the Information Technology Agency of the City of Los Angeles.

The winning team will receive a $25,000 pilot project with the City of L.A. to use blockchain to promote new technology in a number of areas, and also a minimum $25,000 investment offer from GHV. The event seeks to concretize Los Angeles as one of the first cities to leverage blockchain as an innovative solution for public benefit.

Joining Ted Ross, Chief Information Officer of the City of Los Angeles and emcee of the session, are the following judges:

  • Miguel Sangalang, Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation, City of Los Angeles
  • Esther Kim, head of IBM Blockchain North America and Strategic Alliances, IBM
  • Tim Draper, Legendary Venture Capitalist, Draper Associates
  • Bryce Buffaloe, Hybrid and Edge Computing, Google
  • Mike Zozaya, Senior Account Executive of State and Local Government, Microsoft
  • Steve Falconer, Manager of Architects and Solutions Engineering, Oracle

The companies which are pitching are:

  • Unum ID: Unum ID is a blockchain-identity company based out of San Francisco.
  • StreetcredID: StreetcredID is a self-sovereign, blockchain identity management platform based out of New York City.
  • The Aclyd Group, Inc.: The Aclyd Group is a payment processor, ID Verification tool, and consumer credit rating system based in Tucson, Arizona.
  • Votem: A voting platform that is focused on worldwide, secure voting that is based out of Cleveland, Ohio

GHV founding Partner, Alon Goren commented on the forthcoming pitch event:

“We love that this partnership between GHV and the Mayor’s Office has opened so many doors. Now, four early-stage companies are shaking hands with upper-level management from companies that might be interested in acquiring them one day. This is the power of the venture capital scene in LA.”

BlockTank LA is part of LA Blockchain Week and CIS – the largest blockchain conference on the West Coast. GHV are the creators of CIS.

BlockTank LA takes place on October 15, 2019 at the Los Angeles Convention Center as part of CIS

CFTC Schedules Fintech Conference for October

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) will host Fintech Forward 2019: Exploring the Unwritten Future. This will be the CFTC’s second annual Fintech conference where regulators and the public may interact and engage in the hot topics of innovations in financial services.

Fintech Forward will take place during the annual DC Fintech Week. Fintech Forward is led by LabCFTC in collaboration with CFTC’s Office of Customer Education and Outreach. The conference will be held at the CFTC’s headquarters in Washington, DC. You may register here.

Earlier this week, the CFTC held a meeting of the Tech Advisory Committee with several topics of discussion tackling issues like stablecoins and distributed ledger technology being utilized in the financial services sector.

“Fintech holds tremendous promise for our economy. The CFTC is laser-focused on ensuring the United States is a leader in this space, particularly when it comes to digital assets and other 21st century commodities,” said CFTC Chairman Heath P. Tarbert. “I look forward to hosting innovators, regulators, and market participants from across the country and beyond for an insightful discussion.”

Fintech Forward 2019 will also feature a “Meet the Regulators” exhibit throughout the day, where attendees will have the opportunity to engage with regulators about their respective jurisdictions, innovation engagement initiatives, and other fintech topics.

Shortlist for Singapore Fintech Awards Revealed

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) have revealed the 40 finalists have been shortlisted for the Fintech Awards to be presented at this year’s Singapore FinTech Festival x Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SFF x SWITCH).

In a release, MAS said there were 245 submissions with many applicants coming from the Regtech sector, wealth management, and cybersecurity. Financial inclusion was key as well.

The finalists will pitch their businesses during SFF x SWITCH, and compete for a total of  S$ 1.2 million in prize money. The 40 finalists of the Fintech Awards will also be invited to a dedicated Deal Friday networking session organised by MAS and PwC Singapore.

Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer at MAS, commented on the shortlist:

“Several of our Fintech Awards finalists from past years have gone on to achieve success in the industry . This year, it is heartening to see a growing number of submissions promoting financial inclusion and sustainability. We are inspired by the innovative ways in which FinTechs are solving business challenges on a global scale. We look forward to seeing the finalists present their solutions to prospective partners and investors, and benefit from this exposure, at SFF x SWITCH and Deal Friday.”

Ong-Ang Ai Boon, Director at ABS, added, they were pleased to partner with MAS in the annual Singapore Fintech Festival and to celebrate the achievements of innovative solution providers in the Fintech space.

“In the digital economy, harnessing the power of technological advancement is key to a vibrant banking industry, enabling banks to create transformative and trusted products and services that benefit their customers.”

Wong Wanyi, Fintech Partner at PwC Singapore’s Venture Hub, said they are honored to be a strategic partner of MAS and to have jointly organized the Fintech Awards for three consecutive years.

“Over the years, we have witnessed a surge in the quality and innovativeness of the FinTech Awards submissions, many of which have proceeded with regional expansions. We are excited for these successful companies, and will continually support the FinTech initiatives to grow together as a community,” said Wanyi.

The annual Fintech event in Singapore has emerged as one of the largest gatherings of its kind. Singapore has targeted the Fintech sector as a strategic area of development for the local economy.

The Fintech awards to be presented to up to 12 winners in four different categories: Singapore Founder, ASEAN SME, ASEAN Open and Global. All finalists will be evaluated on four criteria: (i) Impact, (ii) Practicality, (iii) Interoperability, and (iv) Uniqueness and Creativity.

The shortlist is embedded below.


 

[pdf-embedder url=”https://staging-crowdfundinsider.kinsta.cloud/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/MAS-Finalists-of-the-2019-FinTech-Awards.pdf” title=”MAS Finalists of the 2019 FinTech Awards”]


Fintech Abu Dhabi Gains Participation of Eight Fintech Unicorns

Fintech Abu Dhabi, an annual gathering organized by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) – the international Financial Centre in Abu Dhabi, has announced the participation of eight separate Fintech unicorns for their upcoming event later this month.

Fintech Abu Dhabi has announced that; Kraken, Airwallex, Greensill, Transferwise, OakNorht, OneConnecct and Policybazaar will all be participating in the event. 

Simultaneously, Fintech Abu Dhabi announced the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

Fintech Abu Dhabi said the participation of the Finetch unicorns “reinforces that Abu Dhabi is at the heart of the Fintech sector and the role that Abu Dhabi plays in the development and sustainable future of the Fintech and financial services economy in the UAE and wider Middle East and Africa region.”

Richard Teng, CEO, Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM, commented on the participation of the prominent Fintech companies and the support of His Highness:

“We are very thankful for the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan of ADGM’s 3 rd edition of Fintech Abu Dhabi Festival.  This is a significant recognition and testament of Abu Dhabi’s ongoing support and commitment to the growth of the startups and entrepreneurial sector in the UAE.   As an International Financial Centre and FinTech enabler, ADGM recognises that Fintech has, and will continue to transform the financial services sector.  We are excited that a strong lead of 8 global Fintech Unicorns C-suites will be present at Fintech Abu Dhabi. We look forward to these trail-blazers sharing their expertise and inspiring our Fintech startups and community with their experiences. ”

Fintech Abu Dhabi states that these Fintech unicorns have a shared purpose of supporting smaller firms. Small and medium-sized businesses make up 90% of all businesses in the overall Middle East and Africa and employ 50% of the private-sector labor force.

Daniel Seal, Founder and CEO of Unbound, an organizer of the event stated:

“It is fantastic to be able to confirm these speakers from each one of these amazing companies. This global perspective they will be able to share with those at the event really emphasises the notion that innovation and disruption can be found everywhere.”

Ownera Digital Securities API Plans Launch in Partnership with Amazon

Ownera, an emerging digital securities network for the issuance of blockchain-based securities, says it will be releasing its “Digital Securities API” utilizing the Amazon Managed Blockchain service running HyperLedger Fabric. A recent research report noted that Hyperledger Fabric appears to be the clear winner for enterprise blockchain projects.

Ownera states that its network will be one where all nodes will be regulated financial entities such as banks, asset managers and exchanges, who underwrite and distribute the assets on the network.

The Ownera API to be released is described as being a simple and powerful software integration for the issuance and management of digital securities (or security tokens). A forthcoming Hackathon being held at the upcoming CIS Conference in LA (October 13-15) will demo the API and allow developers access to the platform in a competition for the most innovative use of the digital security platform.

Ownera seeks to empower the issuance of institutional-grade digital securities as well as trading and management platforms. This includes KYC/AML, investor accreditation, and ongoing investor management.

Ownera incorporates asset management with a “Know your Asset” (KYA) feature created by the company to include verified asset information and investor rights in an immutable and legally-binding way in the blockchain as an integral part of every digital security. Ownera has also included Atomic Swap transaction capabilities to enable the instant sale of digital securities for any currency credit, fiat or digital.

During CIS, Owner founder and CEO, Ami Ben-David, will be doing a presentation, followed by a fireside chat to discuss the next evolution of digital securities into the institutional market, and how Amazon is providing the infrastructure.

City of Los Angeles Partners with Goren Holm Ventures to Host BlockTankLA

The Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Budget & Innovation (MOBI) and Information Technology Agency (ITALA) have partnered with Goren Holm Ventures (GHV) to host “Block Tank” – a Shark Tank-like pitch event which will coincide with CIS taking place in Los Angeles next month. GHV is the creator of CIS – the largest investment focused blockchain event on the West Coast and an anchor of LA Blockchain Week.

According to GHV, Block Tank will take place in front of a panel of celebrity judges at CIS on October 15th at the Los Angeles Convention Center in front of over 4,000 attendees.

The winning team will receive a $25,000 minimum investment offer from GHV and a $25,000 pilot project with the City of L.A. to use blockchain technology to address one or more important initiatives.

Ted Ross, the City of Los Angeles’ Chief Information Officer, will also be speaking at CIS. The event seeks to concretize Los Angeles as one of the first cities to leverage blockchain as an innovative solution for public benefit.

“Utilizing cutting-edge technologies to improve the lives of Los Angelinos has always been a priority for ITALA,” said Ross.  “We’re excited for our partnership with GHV to explore and source blockchain solutions at CIS.”

While we do not have all of the judges names as of yet, we do know that world-famous billionaire investor and crypto advocate Tim Draper has committed to be a judge. Other “A-Listers” are being invited now.

The eligible pilot project areas include:

1. Environmental Sustainability

2. Online Voting Platform

3. Secure Resident IDs

Interested entrepreneurs should submit the application form to apply for Block Tank.

LA-based GHV is a blockchain-focused venture firm led by Josef Holm and Alon Goren.

The Largest Equity Crowdfunding Event in the World: OurCrowd Plans Global Investor Summit

Leading global crowdfunding platform OurCrowd has had a stellar year. Multiple portfolio companies have IPOed’ or been acquired providing positive outcomes for platform investors. As Crowdfund Insider reported earlier this year, OurCrowd has topped USD $ 1 billion in committed capital making perhaps making it the largest online capital formation platform of its kind.

OurCrowd is unique in its approach as the company invests in every single offering listed on its site. Thus, interests are aligned with smaller investors participating in a listed securities offering. OurCrowd investors, now numbering in the tens of thousands, get to participate with the same deal terms as larger investors. Frequently, these same smaller investors get to participate in high profile offerings alongside some of the biggest names in venture capital.

As the success of the platform has grown, so has interest from larger investors. As was previously reported, expectations are for more institutional money to be backing OurCrowd offerings than individual investors but the crowdfunding platform holds true to its mission of providing access to compelling opportunities for smaller investors.

In recent years, OurCrowd has held an annual Global Investor Summit – an event that has become the largest tech event in the country and the largest equity crowdfunding conference anywhere in the world. In 2019, over 18,500 individuals participated in the OurCrowd Global Investor Summit taking place in Israel. The forthcoming event, taking place in Jerusalem next February, expects to top prior year participation as interest grows.

 

The OurCrowd Global Investor Summit is the fastest-growing tech conference in the world

Year

Registrations

YoY increase

2014

1200

2016

2400

100%

2017

6285

162%

2018

10465

67%

2019

18574

77%

Speaking with OurCrowd founder and CEO Jon Medved, he explained that, based on the number of guest registrations from overseas, in addition to the cost of the event, they estimate that over $11 million was poured into the local economy in 2019 as a result of the OurCrowd Global Investor Summit. This is a significant number.

“The OurCrowd Global Investor Summit has become Israel’s largest tech event and the largest equity crowdfunding event in the world. The Summit has become a don’t miss opportunity on the annual calendar with thousands of people coming from abroad to see the best of what Israel and global startups have to offer. Smart investors who don’t want to suffer FOMO will make their plans to join us,” said Medved.

OurCrowd has established itself as Israel’s most active venture investor with over $1 billion in committed funding. At last year’s Summit, OurCrowd facilitated 700 connections between multinational corporations and startup companies. In 2020, OurCrowd expects even more opportunities to connect. The Summit kicks off on February 13th with private events taking place earlier in the week.

Thirteen startups that appeared onstage at the past four Summits have been acquired or IPOed within a year. OurCrowd states that of the companies featured on the mainstage alone, six achieved major exits within three months.

UK Department for International Trade Schedules Fintech Mission to Latin America

The UK Department for International Trade (DIT) will venture across the Atlantic to visit with and perhaps form partnerships with Latin American Fintech firms. Along for the ride are six UK based Fintech firms which have been selected to participate in Finnosummit taking place in Mexico City from 9-13 September.

DIT states that the Fintech envoy will gain a better understanding of the Mexican Fintech ecosystem as well as being able to interact with Fintech entrepreneurs and advocates from across the region.

Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade, issued a statement on the Latam Fintech mission:

“The companies chosen for this year’s mission to Mexico showcase the best in class of our world-leading Fintech industry, which continues to attract the highest levels of capital in Europe.

Whether it’s our comprehensive State of the Nation report, partnerships with Fintech Alliance, or the launch of our new Pilot Bridge Programs, DIT continues to be a firm ally to the UK’s FinTech industry and I am delighted we are supporting this mission to Finnosummit.”

Joanna Crellin, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner (HMTC) for Latin America, added that the UK’s Fintech sector continues to thrive:

“We are delighted to be supporting these FinTech firms as they offer their innovative solutions to one of the fastest growing ecosystems in Latin America and the Caribbean. Mexico has taken significant steps in providing an open and collaborative market for FinTech to flourish in supporting underserved businesses and helping to meet the needs of the financially excluded.”

The UK Government states that is supporting the Fintech industry in Mexico with initiatives such as the Prosperity Fund Mexico program. This program is expected to reach £60 million over 8 years. £11 million of the fund has been allocated for Fintech specifically.

The List of the Latam Fintech Mission Participants are as follows:

Boseman specialises in money management technology through custom FinTech products in the investment and credit sectors, moving away from the use of robo-advisors.

ComplyAdvantage helps firms make intelligent choices when complying with regulations relating to sanctions, money laundering (AML) and terrorist financing (CFT). Using Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to produce higher quality AML risk data on individuals, organizations and associated entities. ComplyAdvantage works globally with some 200 firms in the financial markets and other regulated high-risk sectors.

Duesday seeks to make recurring payments easier through their mobile app. The streamlined platform allows users to view, pay and organise their bills in one place, rather than struggle with many different direct debit payments. Users can even change their date of payment and split bills with others, as well as unlock rewards for paying bills earlier.

Tokenise provides regulatory hosting services to the financial services sector, working with companies in the UK, Europe and Asia. Their services allow for fast and cost-effective listing of debt securities, open and closed-ended funds, securitisation cell companies, specialist investment vehicles, cryptocurrencies and other exchange-traded instruments for capital raising and investor diversification.

Paymentology works alongside banks and program managers to provide a seamless processing experience. Identifying gaps in the financial market, the company aims to help their clients in the areas of security, flexibility and reconciliation through digital processing platforms.

Rhisco Solutions Limited works internationally with banks and insurers in Latin America to provide risk management and capital services solutions through bespoke technology platforms. Examples include their TEGRA data management, ALLGOOD compliance, IBM Algo Credit Management solutions and more.

Global Fintech Conference LendIt Adds Latin America to List of Targeted Events

LendIt, best known for its roving events targeting the online lending industry plus other aspects of the emerging Fintech industry, has added Latin America to its list of targeted regions with a new event.

FinnoSummit, taking place in Miami this coming December, is being produced in partnership with Finnovista.

Finnovista and LendIt Fintech reportedly have each hosted dozens of successful Fintech events in Europe, China, the US, and Latin America, with attendance at each event ranging from 1,000 to 5,000+.

For the first time, the two organizations are joining forces to host an event highlighting innovators in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In a release, LendIt said it expected more than 175 companies from more than 25 countries, to participate in the Miami event.

FinnoSummit will also host the final of the ​Visa Everywhere Initiative​: an innovation program in which more than 100 Fintech startups applied to be crowned the most innovative startup from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Andrés Fontao, Managing Partner of Finnovista, commented on the LATAM focused event:

“Thanks to the consolidated innovation network of Finnovista in the region and the global reach of LendIt Fintech, FinnoSummit Miami by LendIt Fintech will fuel the opportunities for collaboration in Latin America. We want to bring together the entire regional ecosystem to discover new trends, generate investment opportunities and lead the path in the transformation of the financial services industry in Latin America.”

OurCrowd Boosts Presence in Latin America with SYNC

OurCrowd, a digital investing platform, is expanding its presence in the Latin America market. According to a release, OurCrowd will host an invite-only event in Sao Paulo later this fall. Labeled “OurCrowd Sync” the crowdfunding platform has joined up with Rodrigo Monteiro and the team behind the annual OurCrowd Global Investor Summit, to host the event.

OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved said the theme of OurCrowd Sync: Sao Paulo 2019 will be ‘Connecting Startups, Capital, and People:

“[This] reflects OurCrowd’s mission of providing access to the best venture investment opportunities, and allowing our global ecosystem to support these companies’ growth. Attendees at OurCrowd Sync will hear from thought leaders from both Israel and Latin America, an increasingly important region in innovation investing.”

OurCrowd will present opportunities in LATAM as well as displaying the latest developments out of the hot tech scene in Israel.

Invitees will also have the opportunity to interact face-to-face with industry leaders and decision-makers from both the region and the globe, including facilitated B2B meetings for key players. If you are interested, you may apply to participate here.

OurCrowd currently hosts an annual investor summit in Israel which is the largest private investing conference of its kind.

OurCrowd claims approximately $1.1 billion of committed funding, and investments in 180 portfolio companies and 18 venture funds. Investors include 33,000 accredited individuals plus institutional investors, family offices, and venture capital partners from over 183 countries. All investors participate in the offerings under the same terms.

SEC Chair Jay Clayton Schedules Meet Up for Main Street Investors in Chicago on the 15th

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton has booked an event for “Main Street investors” to be held in Chicago on Thursday, August 15. The event will come a day after the SEC’s annual Government-Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation taking place in Omaha.

The last-minute event will be held at the SEC’s Regional Office in Chicago. Clayton is expected to participate in a roundtable with investors as part of the SEC’s “ongoing investor engagement and education efforts.”

The SEC says the roundtable will focus on issues such as tips to avoid fraud, the impact of fees and costs, and the differences between broker-dealers and investment advisers. No word if he will tackle the hot topic of digital assets or the ongoing concept release regarding the potential for regulatory harmonization. The current private securities exemption market has been criticized as benefiting the wealthy while excluding retail investors.

Director Lori Schock from the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is expected to join Chairman Clayton at this event.

Chairman Clayton issued the following statement:

“I have heard from investors around the country that they wish they knew more about investing, including how to identify various red flags of fraudulent investment schemes and understanding the impact that fees and costs can have on investments. Helping Main Street investors make informed decisions about their financial future continues to be one of my top priorities as Chairman. An important part of this process is to hear directly from Main Street investors of all types.  I look forward to a productive discussion in Chicago.”

The event is free and open to the public and the media. The number of participants for the event may be limited.

Main Street Investor Roundtable

Location: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Chicago Regional Office – 175 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago, IL 60604
Date: August 15, 2019
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Registration begins at 10:00 am
RSVP: CHICAGO@sec.gov

Blockchain Startup Pitch Contest Announced for Crypto Invest Summit

Goren Holm Ventures (GHV), a member of the Draper Venture Network, will be hosting a pitch contest for its biggest event this year, Crypto Invest Summit (CIS) taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

GHV states that with the help of at least 40+ VCs and angel investors, the event will award at least one pitching company a $25,000 cash investment and over $300,000 in services provided by Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and others.

GHV co-founder Josef Holm, says the pitch contest will create opportunities for participating companies, and will provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to GHV’s far-reaching investor network.

Holm said they are excited about the GHV pitch competition and the opportunities it creates for participating companies, including seed investment and access to our investor network for follow-on investments.

“For our investors and partner funds, it presents a unique opportunity to look at high quality, early-stage blockchain companies.”

Alon Goren, GHV’s other co-founder, described the event as the equivalent to going to 40 individual investor meetings in one shot.

“This is one of the largest judge’s panels across the industry, and this is the first time that we’re doing something of this magnitude. The opportunity to receive live feedback from 40 individual investors, especially as an early-stage blockchain startup, is truly invaluable. Not only for the exposure but for the opportunity to actually get funding.”

If you are interested, CIS will take place in LA this October 15 and 16, 2019. All startups that exhibit at CIS will be eligible to be judged before the conference and pitch in front of a panel of investor judges, live at CIS.

CIS is the biggest blockchain-focused event in LA and perhaps the entire west coast.

Forthcoming European Alternative Finance Research Conference Issues Call for Papers

The 3rd European Alternative Finance Research Conference is scheduled to take place this October. In advance of the event, organizers have issued a call for academic papers on Fintech/alternative finance.

The conference is organised by the European Centre for Alternative Finance (ECAF) based at Utrecht University School of Economics (U.S.E.). T

This year’s keynote speaker is Armin Schwienbacher (SKEMA Business School), an expert on equity crowdfunding and entrepreneurial finance.

ECAF said they are seeking paper submissions of “rigorous quantitative, qualitative and/or theoretical studies related to alternative finance and Fintech from an economical, law, sociological or other perspectives.”

This includes:

  • New forms of alternative finance for SMEs (for example peer-to-business lending, equity crowdfunding, initial coin offerings (ICOs), Security Token Offerings (STOs))
  • Relationships between new and traditional entrepreneurial finance providers
  • Role of regulation, types of regulatory framework and other formal or informal institutions
  • Psychology and behaviour of retail investors
  • Financial advisors that select and/or combine new forms of alternative finance
  • Financial and entrepreneurial ecosystems for new forms of alternative finance
  • Impact of new forms of alternative finance on innovation, entrepreneurship, and employment
  • Alternative finance for sustainable start-ups and SMEs and in the arts and culture industry
  • Civic crowdfunding and match-funding for public and non-profit projects

ECAF states that abstracts for papers of up to 300 words (in English) on the above-mentioned topics should be sent to ecaf@uu.nl before 30-06-2019.

The submitted abstract will be reviewed by a committee consisting of members of the university. Notification of acceptance will be given by 15-07-2019. The deadline to submit is 15-06-2019 and may be submitted here. Prior to the conference (30-09-2018) full papers need to be submitted (<10.000 words).

The 2019 Interdisciplinary European Conference on Entrepreneurship Research (IECER) will also be held in Utrecht on October 16-18.

The conference expects to be the kick-off for the Alternative Finance Network Europe (AltFiNE), pending approval of European Commission funding.

Security Token Academy Crosses the Atlantic with London Meetup

The Security Token Academy (STA), a company covering and facilitating the emerging security token industry, has crossed the Atlantic and landed in the UK with its first Security Token London Meetup Kickoff Event. The event is scheduled for June 12th in London.

Aubrey Chernick, founder of the Security Token Academy, commented on the forthcoming event:

“Security Token Academy’s foray into London will allow us to bring great minds together on a global scale to share expert opinions, offer valuable insights and make strong connections. This event will celebrate how the security token industry continues to evolve and disrupt the financial industry, particularly in London — one of the greatest financial capitals of the world.”

The Security Token Academy produces a series of live-online video panel discussions, expert interviews and networking events to explore the evolution of the security token industry.

The Security Token Academy seeks to enable investors and security token enthusiasts to better understand the security token ecosystem.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore Partners with Central Bank of Kenya on “Afro-Asia Fintech Festival”

Following the success of the state-sponsored Singapore Fintech Festival, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has partnered with the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to launch a new event – the inaugural Afro-Asia Fintech Festival. The conference will take place in Nairobi this coming July.

Jointly organized by the two central banks, the Festival is said to provide a platform for connections, collaborations and exchange of ideas on Fintech between Africa and Asia..

Labeled “Fintech in the Savannah”, the theme of the event is “Sustainable Finance: Inclusive and Green”.

The Festival will see discussions around three key topics:

  •  “Technology for Tomorrow”, which discusses issues in artificial intelligence (AI) and big data; cybersecurity, technology risks, and Regtech;
  • “Social Impact”, which looks at impact investing1 as well as micro, small and medium enterprise financing;
  • “Spirit of Innovation”, which explores the evolution of mobile financial services, Insurtech, and Digital Pension.

Dr. Patrick Njoroge, Governor of the CBK, said the bank is honored to partner MAS in co-creating a unique platform for policy-makers, technology entrepreneurs, financial industry leaders, and other players to come together and tap their diverse knowledge and experiences.

“Cross-border cooperation is increasingly important as global problems cannot be resolved in isolation. We need to come together as a global community to learn from each other and co-create solutions that will improve the lives of our people.”

Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS, said that some of the most exciting developments in technology-enabled financial inclusion are happening in Africa and Asia.

SEC Shares Agenda for May 31st Fintech Forum, Blockchain to be Hot Topic of Discussion

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has posted the agenda for the upcoming Fintech Forum scheduled to take place on May 31st. The event, entitled the 2019  Fintech Forum, will take place at SEC headquarters in Washington, DC. It will simultaneously be live-streamed on the SEC website.

The SEC states that blockchain or distributed ledger technology, along with the concept of digital assets, will be the focus of the Forum.

Hosted by the SEC’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub), the Forum will begin at 930AM ET, and will feature four panels.

The digital asset sector of finance has migrated away from the crazy days of initial coin offerings (ICOs) to a more subdued security token offering ecosystem. Recently, the SEC provided guidance on the issuance of security tokens yet questions from industry participants remain.

The agenda for the Forum is published below.

 

8 a.m.        Doors open

Morning Session

9:30 a.m.   Opening Remarks by Valerie Szczepanik, Head, FinHub

Remarks by William Hinman, Director, Division of Corporation Finance

Panel 1: Capital Formation Considerations

Moderator: Jonathan Ingram, Chief Legal Advisor, FinHub, Division of Corporation Finance

Panelists:

Paul Brody – Ernst & Young
Joshua Ashley Klayman – Klayman LLC
Aaron Wright – Cardozo Law School
Remarks by Brett Redfearn, Director, Division of Trading and Markets

Panel 2: Trading and Markets Considerations

Moderator:  Elizabeth Baird, Deputy Director, Division of Trading and Markets

Panelists:

David Forman – Fidelity Brokerage Services
Mark Wetjen – DTCC
Neha Narula – MIT Media Lab
Lunch Break – 75 minutes

Afternoon Session

Remarks by Dalia Blass, Director, Division of Investment Management

Panel 3: Investment Management Considerations

Moderator: Jennifer McHugh, Senior Special Counsel, Division of Investment Management

Panelists:

Jay Baris – Shearman & Sterling LLP
John D’Agostino – DMS
Amy Steele – Deloitte
Remarks by Peter Driscoll, Director, Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations

Panel 4: Distributed Ledger Technology Innovations: Industry Trends and Specific Use Cases for Financial Markets

Moderator: Scott Walker, Special Counsel, FinHub

Panelists:

Christopher Ferris – IBM
Todd McDonald – R3
Kevin Werbach – Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
5:30 p.m.        FinTech Forum concludes

LendIt Fintech USA – Seven Years of Fintech Innovation

It’s hard to believe that the most attended Fintech conference LendIt Fintech USA had its 7th birthday in the Mecca of Fintech, San Francisco this past week.

Thousands of attendees from all over the world descended into San Francisco’s Moscone Center for this once a year pilgrimage to the center Fintech universe. The who’s who in Fintech can be seen on stage, in the halls, and various event.

The atmosphere is one of eagerness and anticipation. Are there any big announcements? Mergers and acquisitions in the works? New innovations and collaborations?

Last year, LendIt Fintech was all about banking collaboration with a blockchain flair. What’s in stores this year? Let’s find the latest and the greatest in this year’s keynotes.

Machine Learning is Taking Over

Doug Merrill of ZestFinance and Roger Hochschild of Discover Financial Services took the stage at 9am Pacific Time on the day one, moderated by Selina Wang of Bloomberg.   

Doug Merrill and ZestFinance, previously known as ZestCash, has been around the industry for almost a decade.

Starting as a lender in the subprime lending space, the company quickly pivoted into using its analytical algorithms to help Chinese search engines and selling its artificial neural network models to other lenders.

Rocking his rock star appearance on stage, Merrill answered questions relating to the evolution of the credit score.

He imagined that there should be a credit score in the future, however, Merrill explained that what is in the score should be looked at with rigor. He paid homage to Fair Issac, the company that brought credit score to the forefront financial industry, however, the traditional algorithms that Fair Issac uses are losing sensitivity and better and more powerful algorithms should take its place.

The addition of alternative data to the credit score ingredients without rethinking the recipe is nothing but a farce.

Another question from Selina was about the concept of Social Scoring currently employed in China. Both Merrill and Hochschild jumped on this issue.

Although scary, both conceded that social scoring is already happening in America. Your personal Uber rider score, AirBnB ratings, Yelp scores are some of the classical scores no one really pushed back on but scoring each one of our behaviors without any independent verification.

However, I beg to differ.

State-sponsored social scoring, such as the ones employed in China, is very different than Uber’s peer-to-peer rating system. When a government uses your digital footprint, geolocation, spending behavior, and online comments to systematically deny your freedom of travel, speech, and access to public infrastructure, this makes Uber rating looks like child’s play.

I hope social scoring and the invasion of our privacy doesn’t come to the United States and that our social contract, religious beliefs, tradition, and culture keeps us free.

The ZestFinance and Discover’s joint venture in fraud detection is interesting and the results of their partnership remain to be seen.   

Merrill and  Hochschild also provided some advice to Fintech startups:

  1. Understand what you have to sell and whom you are selling it to.
  2. If the Product and Solutions that create value makes it a easy sell
  3. Understand your client’s business model and pain points
  4. Once you find the right person, the sale goes smoothly.

It’s All About Partnerships

Next on stage was the CEO of Max Levchin of Affirm moderated by Deidre Bosa of CNBC.

Right off the bat, Bosa read a review back to Levchin, the review painted Affirm as “Modern Day Pay Day Lending Branded For Millennials…”

The audience could see that Levchin was visibly upset and seemed to have been caught off guard and couldn’t come up with a proper response to Bosa. Sorting through a myriad of comebacks in his head, he could only state that he was strongly opposed to that comment.

However, Levchin quickly recovered and talked about how Affirm may have been misunderstood in the media and they need to do a better job at getting the word out. Levchin stated that Affirm has a net promoter score of 83+.

A net Promoter score of 50+ is good, 70+ is exceptional. A net promoter score is calculated based on a single question “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?”.

Levchin then started attacking the pitfalls of revolving debt, we can assume that he’s referring to credit card debt. He said that each of his loans is purpose driven and they are always used to buy a product. I am thinking that credit cards can be used the same way as well, but however, there is a big difference.

An installment loan is fully amortizing with each payment is paid towards principal and interest. Where as credit card debt is amortized using a compounding interest method that one may never able to pay off their debt in theory.

The biggest question raised by Bosa is Affirm’s partnership with Walmart. From the audience’s perspective, Affirm may have bitten off more than it can chew, but Levchin seemed unfazed.

Max gave us some insight into the relationship with Walmart. It is a multi-year relationship and it took Affirm a few years to get their infrastructure dialed in to handle Walmart’s volume, both in terms of technology and funding volume.

Speaking on Walmart’s existing relationship with credit card issuers, Levchin jumped on that issue as he claims there is no competition and they serve customers that these credit card companies wouldn’t serve.

I can only assume that Levchin is talking about folks who have a 660 and below credit score which banks traditionally won’t touch.

When it comes to questions around the impending recession. Levchin danced around the subject by broadly stating that when there is a contraction in the broader markets, only the strong survive and urges everyone to actively prepare for the next downturn by conducting self-imposed stress testing with their capital market partnerships.

The gist of the matter is that when there is a recession, most companies in the lending space will get wiped out. But they always come back every 7 to 10 years.

Who should we fear? The moderator asked Levchin point blank about Amazon getting into the financial technology market. How will Affirm compete with a company like Amazon with a seemingly unlimited budget?

To that end, Levchin recited the Affirm’s founding principles, and that is Affirm will always offer a transparent and fair option for their customers, no late fees ever. And if Amazon is coming into the lending space, Max wants them to be fair to the consumers and offer no-fee products to help the industry to set a new standard.

Last year I wrote an op-ed piece on Amazon on Crowdfund Insider aptly titled “Amazon, stop being everything to everybody”. In that piece, I detailed Amazon’s progressive behavior on taking over every aspect of our lives, including banking and finance.

If Affirm is offering loans to buy products… who owns the product and the virtual shelves spaces? Wait, they have physical shelves too, Whole Foods. My word.

51% of World’s Population

By now, you are getting a pretty good picture of how Fintech is solving some of the biggest issues in our society. From solving complex transactional fraud issues at one of the biggest credit card companies to partnering with the world’s biggest retailers such as Walmart.

The Fintech industry is continuously innovating to uplift and moving towards a brighter future.

Ellevest is right in the heart of changing how 51% of the world’s population save and invest. CEO Sallie Krawcheck provided some incredible insight on how the investment infrastructure is built by men and traditionally services men. Krawcheck asked the audience to challenge this idea by building a brand new investment platform dedicated to women.

Her session was titled “The $700 billion untapped investment segment”. And she is right, women are the driving force in our economy and they need to be empowered by technology, tools, advice purposely built to suit their situation.

Let’s look at some numbers.

In 1970, only 1% of dentists were women, however in 2007, 28.3% are women. 

The percentage of physicians jumped from 8% to 30% and lawyers from 5% to 32.6% in 2007. And the most recent equal pay movement is marking a new era in our society and it should be celebrated.

Access to education, training, and most importantly, access to capital and investment for women should be on everyone’s agenda.

Sallie sounded more like an inspirational leader than a Fintech CEO. I think she will lead the charge on many fronts such as the gender pay gap and glass ceiling issues that still confront America in the 21st century.

Day 2

Day 2 of LendIt FinTech USA had several keynote highlights that are worth mentioning.

Family Office vs. Venture Capitalists

There were some really interesting folks on stage this year. Each one of them was fighting for their rightful place in why family offices should be considered when Fintech companies want to raise equity.


Greg Wasson of Wesson Enterprise, Kevin McGovern of McGovern Capital and moderator Ron Dimond’s conversation was very engaging with a ton of humor and candor.

Here are some of the reasons why you should pick a family office as your next fund source, according to the panelists:

  1. Family offices are more resilient than venture capitalists. If you find the right family that shares your vision, you will be covered by the family.
  2. Family offices are strategic partnerships and not financial engineers.
  3. Family offices have a vast and strong network. There’s always someone that can advise you on your journey.
  4. If you share the same passion, family office and the companies they support will go a long way.
  5. Family offices are disrupting how money is raised.

These gentlemen also gave us entrepreneurs some straight forward advise

  1. Every company should have a CPO, a Chief Passion Officer
  2. Lots of startups will end up pivoting at some point. Don’t be afraid of it.
  3. Good leaders may not be good managers. Good managers may not be good leaders.

2019 and Beyond

Next year, LendIt Fintech will be hosted in New York again. Although we are almost halfway through 2019, I think there will be some exciting things happening for the second half of 2019.

If you haven’t read my “Fintech Predictions for 2019. Where We Have Been & Where We Are Going”. Take a look at it. The #2 prediction has already come true.

Tim


Timothy Li is a Senior Contributor for Crowdfund Insider. Li is the Founder of Kuber, MaxDecisionsAlchemy and has over 15 years of Fintech industry experience. He’s passionate about changing the finance and banking landscape. Kuber launched Fluid, a credit building product designed for college students to borrow up to $500 interest-free. Kuber’s 2nd product Mobilend is a true debt consolidation product, aiming to lower debt for all Americans. MaxDecisions provides financial institutions with the latest A.I. and Machine Learning algorithms and Alchemy is a state of the art end-to-end white labeled Lending Platform powering some of the best FinTech companies. Li also teaches at the University of Southern California School of Engineering.

SEC and FINRA Schedule Broker Dealer “Outreach Program.” Will Discuss Digital Assets

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) have scheduled their 2019 National Compliance Outreach Program for Broker-Dealers. The event, taking place in Chicago, is designed to provide an open forum for regulators and industry professionals to discuss topics such as compliance and investor protection.

In a release, it was revealed that the program will include a discussion of “hot topics such as digital assets and cybersecurity.”

“We look forward to our continued engagement with industry professionals at this year’s National Compliance Outreach Program for Broker-Dealers,” said Peter Driscoll, Director of OCIE. “This event is a valuable opportunity for us to share our thoughts and observations from recent examinations and to listen to the insights provided by experienced industry professionals about current market and regulatory risks.”

The event is free to to attend but is capped at 250 individuals reserved on a first come basis. Those unable to attend may watch a live-stream on the SEC website.

Mike Rufino, Executive Vice President and Head of FINRA Member Regulation—Sales Practice, commented:

“As our regulatory program evolves to meet the challenges of new markets, new products and new rules, FINRA engages with member firms, compliance leaders and other regulators in meaningful discussions that enrich our regulatory efforts and provide broker-dealers with the tools and information needed to better serve investors.”

The SEC has recently issued guidance on the issuance of digital assets and the determination as to whether, or not, the asset will be considered a security. The “hot” sector of finance continues to struggle with the best path for leveraging blockchain tech.

FINRA, under the leadership of Robert Cook, has launched a FINRA 360 review of its processes – attempting to better communicate with its regulated member firms.

The program will be held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT on June 27, 2019.

Additional information is available on the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov/info/complianceoutreach-bd.htm or FINRA’s website at http://www.finra.org/industry/2019-national-compliance-outreach-program-broker-dealers.