Fintech Veteran Frank Rotman Talks Building Wealth with Investments, Real Estate, Business Ownership
Frank Rotman, who claims to be a 27+ year Fintech veteran and the Co-founder of QED Investors, notes that small businesses are quite important to our communities.
Rotman points out that minority-owned small businesses do not have equal access to capital and the appropriate tools. He also asks whether this is solvable.
Rotman adds that we have all heard about how SMEs are considered the “backbone” of the US economy. He reveals that a quick review of the facts shows that this statement is “very much true.” At present, there are numerous registered SMEs that employ millions of people across the country, Rotman confirms.
“While it may seem like big companies hold all the power, it’s undeniable that SMEs play a critical role in their success. Smaller firms supply critical goods and services to big companies. They’re customers of big companies. And they’re catalysts for innovation and change. Without SMEs, our daily lives wouldn’t be the same. Small Businesses are at the heart of Main Street and foundational to how we operate as a country. And it shouldn’t be overlooked that when you buy from a Small Business, an actual person does a happy dance.”
6/17: The bad news is that SMEs fail at an alarmingly high rate. 70% fail in their first 10 years with 20% failing in year 1 and 50% failing by year 5. The combination of more young businesses and a high early failure rate is a problem in the making. But it’s also an opportunity. pic.twitter.com/9d9DxQSOcw
— Frank Rotman (@fintechjunkie) June 14, 2021
Rotman claims that the good news is that “new business formation isn’t slowing down.” It is actually speeding up, he adds while noting that numerous SMEs are launched every year. He points out that the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak during 2020/2021 may be seen and is verifiable by examining the relevant data. He adds that significantly more people are now wanting to “be their own bosses” and a lot more are also interested in owning their own business.
“@HelloAlice is tackling this problem head on. Their service helps SME owners access financial resources, source free business education, find new customers and interact with helpful fellow SME owners. Their goal is to improve the success rate of their members. And the mission is a noble one, especially with regards to the role small business ownership has on closing the gap of wealth inequality.”
Rotman further notes that out out the primary pillars of building wealth (investments, real estate and business ownership), “two require large amounts of initial capital to be put to work as a starting condition for the strategy to work” and from there, compounding “does its magic over decades.”
He adds that in contrast, business ownership is “a path to self-sufficiency and wealth fueled in large part by grit and determination.” He also acknowledges that launching a business “isn’t free, but there are many “capital light” and “capital efficient” businesses that can be assembled and started easily.”
“This by no means suggests that starting a business has been universally solved or that the startup world is one of equality and fairness. The opposite is true. Sourcing and procuring startup and working capital for local and minority owned businesses is a major issue.”
ASEAN Financial Innovation Network Partners with R3 on CBDCs
The ASEAN Financial Innovation Network (AFIN) has partnered with R3 to build and test central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). CBDCs have emerged as a hot topic of governmental innovation – fueled in part by the rise of stablecoins utilized as digital references of fiat currency.
AFIN is a collaborative, not-for-profit group formed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the ASEAN Bankers Association, and the International Finance Corporation – part of the World Bank Group.
According to a note from AFIN, the network will launch a new digital currency sandbox in APIX or the API Exchange; a first cross-border, open-architecture API marketplace for collaboration between Fintechs and financial institutions. R3 will be the first partner organization to provide APIs for building applications using Digital Currencies. The R3 Sandbox for Digital Currencies is underpinned by Corda, and provides an environment for central banks, commercial banks, exchanges, payment providers, Fintechs, and more to evaluate CBDC use cases. Participants may gain full access to the Digital Currency Sandbox directly from R3 now.
Beginning this August, certain APIs from the R3 Sandbox will be listed on APIX. Developers will be able tp create and edit code, integrating R3’s APIs and others across different solution domains in APIX’s marketplace by utilizing the cloud-based integrated development environment (IDE).
The goal is to provide financial institutions and Fintechs on APIX with tools to build CBDC applications for new payment rails and multi-currency payment systems.
Pieter Franken, Independent Advisor at AFIN said:
“Three years after its launch, the APIX platform has scaled by leaps and bounds. Today it is enabling the FinTech ecosystem to provide new impetus to the deployment of digital currencies in everyday transactions globally. With R3’s APIs on APIX, we will see financial institutions and FinTechs designing new CBDC solutions collaboratively and deploying them as future-ready enterprises.”
David E. Rutter, founder and CEO, R3 explained that CBDC initiatives have gained momentum globally and the many central banks in the ASEAN region, as well as banks, commercial banks and Fintechs are pursuing the deployment of CBDC pilots, including the government-sponsored Project Ubin in Singapore.
“With our CBDC APIs available to banks and FinTechs globally on APIX, R3 will support participants from the public and private sectors in driving the development of faster and more secure payment settlements across the world.”
Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer at MAS said there has been growing interest in the deployment of blockchain tech:
“[This] has created a strong demand for more efficient international payment settlements compatible with these technologies,” Mohanty said. “MAS is encouraged by the collaboration between AFIN and R3 to facilitate broader experimentation between central banks, financial institutions, and FinTechs around the world. The collaboration will enable the global FinTech ecosystem to better understand the financial innovations around digital currencies.”
TrustSwap Acquires The Crypto App
TrustSwap, a full-service digital asset ecosystem, this week acquired The Crypto App, a cryptocurrency mobile app featuring tracking services from more than 3,000 cryptocurrency assets and 100-plus exchanges. Since its debut in 2017, The Crypto App has close to two million downloads and more than 65,000 reviews in app stores.
The merged entity will be based in TrustSwap’s home of Montreal, with all The Crypto App employees coming over, including founder and CEO Primož Kralj.
“The Crypto App felt like a natural extension for TrustSwap and we’re looking forward to further integrating the platform into our ecosystem,” said Jeff Kirdeikis, CEO of TrustSwap. “The reputation The Crypto App has built for itself in recent years and the progress the app has made in regard to its integrations and offerings is incredible.”
TrustSwap said it will develop a series of features to improve The Crypto App and will push those changes through a marketing campaign. Their efforts will include multiple new partnerships in the industry.
“Launching The Crypto App and watching this blossom over the past few years has been a truly rewarding experience,” says Kralj. “We knew right away TrustSwap was the right partner because of our shared values and commitment to providing our users with a best-in-class experience. We look forward to joining the TrustSwap team and creating a more innovative future for crypto.”
Visa Reveals that its Practical Business Skills Platform has Been Offering Valuable Educational Resources to SMEs
Small and micro businesses (SMBs) account for over 90% of global businesses, and more than half or around 50% of global employment, and contribute over 60% of the GDP of developing nations, the Visa (NYSE:V) team writes in a blog post.
However, 2020 was quite a challenging year for many of these smaller firms, the Visa blog notes while adding that consumers adapted their spending habits quickly “in order to respond to shutdowns and that meant going digital.”
And SMBs that did not accept digital or online payments were “faced with the need to adapt quickly to keep their businesses afloat,” the Visa team reveals while noting that now, as a consumer shift to digital becomes the norm, the SMB community “needs support transforming their businesses to digital, ultimately improving their economic livelihoods and creating a ripple effect throughout their communities.”
Enter Practical Business Skills (PBS), an international online platform offering free-of-cost education resources to assist small business owners with making “confident, informed decisions” to expand their business operations.
As noted by Visa, PBS helps with supporting the digital transformation of businesses and several Visa partners are “rebranding it to support their business strategies.” It is currently available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish, the payments giant confirmed.
Visa’s SVP of Social Impact Beth Hurvitz recently connected with two Fintech partners, Pratyush Prasanna, Head of Payment at Gojek, a leading tech firm serving consumers across Southeast Asia, and Josh Bowen, Chief Operating Officer at Simba, a U.S. based mobile banking and international money transfers app.
They discussed how they’re using PBS to “advance their social impact and help their customers get back to business and thrive in a post-pandemic world.”
Responding to a question about how the Gojek platform supports micro, small and medium-size businesses (MSMEs) that are planning to go digital, Prasanna said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a shift in customer behavior and in order for businesses to survive they must have a presence online. Gojek provides comprehensive tools for merchants of all business types and sizes to grow their business through a digital transformation that is rooted in every aspect of their business, from discovery to implementing effective business operations to payment management and financial education.”
In response to a comment from Hurvitz about how around 10-12 million US residents are currently unbanked and among this group the percentage of immigrants is actually the highest and a question about how is Simba closing the gap, Bowen noted:
“There are more than 50MM first-generation immigrants living in the U.S., earning a total of $1.5T and saving $400B. They create 25 percent of new small businesses and lead 40 percent of Fortune 500 businesses. Despite this, immigrants are often overlooked and misunderstood by traditional banks. Simba is a platform of financial services to support immigrants on their journey to pursue prosperity. Today, we’re starting with a digital bank, money transfers, and financial education. This includes no-fee banking and free international money transfers.”
When asked about how their dual-branded PBS site has been supporting their business and community, Bowen revealed:
“We all know that financial services and products alone are not enough to empower people to become financially healthy. Simba is coupling our financial education tools and Practical Business Skills to offer a platform to our customers for growing their financial and business management skills.”
“UMKM Bisa!,” the result of Gojek and Visa’s collaboration, empowers our MSME merchants to grow their business with a set of business insights in the form of interactive videos, infographics, and e-learning modules. The digital format enabled us to reach more merchants — 900,000 merchants within 4 weeks, which is impossible to replicate in offline training. Not just scale, but e-learning also allowed our merchants to learn at their own pace.”
While commenting on how the “digital divide” that keeps millions of people from gaining access to services that may help elevate their economic potential, Prasanna said that the COVID-19 outbreak accelerated consumer behavior towards all-digital and Fintech services.
He reveals that one of their challenges is to effectively extend support to MSMEs as they work towards transforming from their “traditional reliance on cash to successfully digitizing their business.”
“The “stay at home” economy means almost all transactions of goods are coming from online channels but at the same time only 16 percent of MSMEs conduct their business through an online platform. The gap is huge and MSMEs need to go online with their business to not only survive but also thrive. The challenge is to not only bring their business to online channels but also to adopt technology solutions to transform all aspects of their business to digital, starting from operational, marketing, logistics, inventory management, etc.”
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