Thought Machine, a company that builds Cloud-native technology for banks, has reportedly integrated Wise‘s (formerly doing business as TransferWise) global money transfer platform into its core banking engine, Vault.
The integration should allow Thought Machine‘s banking and Fintech clients the option to use Wise’s fast and affordable global transfers service more quickly and in a more efficient manner. The companies have developed an integration layer that, they explained, lowers the developer effort required for financial institutions to link up with Wise’s API (developer effort reduced as much as 60%).
Wise, which recently rebranded from TransferWise (earlier in 2021), began its business operations as a consumer-facing startup providing an alternative to slower, inefficient, and costly currency transmission services offered by incumbents.
While still working with millions of clients directly, Wise is now more focused on teaming up with banks in order to integrate its API within their platforms.
Stuart Gregory, MD, Wise Platform & Wise Business, stated:
“Our integration today makes it quicker and easier for financial institutions and banks to enable faster and cheaper payments for their customers and brings us one step closer to our mission of building money without borders.”
Wise, a top Fintech that may be described as a stealth bank, recently announced that it’s giving away shares in itself. According to the private company, it has gifted 2000 customers a single share of the firm that has emerged as popular global payments and transfer platform.
The UK-based Fintech firm noted that currently there are 2400 employees in 15 offices working at Wise. All of the employees are said to have shares in the company that has indicated in the past it will seek to remain private as long as possible. Of course, if and when, Wise goes public, early shareholders may benefit from their confidence in the company’s mission.
“We believe our customers should also be shareholders. You have the strongest understanding of the problems we’re trying to solve and our mission, so it’s natural you should have a say in how Wise is built and run. We believe having you represented amongst our shareholders will help us move even faster towards completing our mission. That’s why we’re giving one share in Wise to 2,000 of our active customers. Having a share is a bit like having a slice of the Wise pie — it means you own a bit of Wise. If you’re one of the lucky 2,000, we’ll be in touch with how to claim your share.”
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Crypto Exchange BlockQuake Pursues Crowdfunding to Raise Growth Capital, Plans Global Launch this Quarter
Blockquake is a crypto exchange startup that is seeking to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Earlier this year, Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN) became the first crypto exchange to become a publicly-traded company in a direct listing on the Nasdaq. The company currently has a market cap of over $50 billion and is the largest crypto exchange in the US. Other big names in the space include Binance (along with its US iteration), Kraken, Gemini, and many more. So can Blockquake compete with platforms already generating billions of crypto trades every single day?
Crowdfund Insider recently connected with Antonio Brasse, CEO and co-founder of Blockquake to ask him these questions. Of note is the fact that Blockquake is building its trading platform from the ground up with a compliance first approach. Brasse is steeped in the nuances of financial regulation having spent many years at establishment financial services firms including Citi, AIG, and New York Life. So he understands the scrutiny and expectations from the financial services regulators. Brasse believes that by launching sooner, compliance requirements, including immediate AML/KYC demands, can give Blockquake a step up in competing with established crypto trading platforms.
As part of Blockquake’s odyssey, the company has listed an investment crowdfunding pitch on Wefunder. Currently, the pitch is still in the “testing the waters” phase seeking to gain insight into investor demand. If the Reg CF securities offering goes live, retail investors interested in backing the firm will have the opportunity to purchase securities in the firm.
Why crowdfunding? Why Reg CF? And why not VC money?
Antonio Brasse: This crowdfunding campaign gives almost anyone who wants to invest an opportunity to participate in the early stages of BlockQuake. That includes the retail person, who is often shut out of a company until the public offering stage. This strongly mirrors BlockQuake’s ethos as a trading platform for everyone—from the first-time individual to the accredited institutional investor. The change in the Reg CF rules allows for a higher investment amount, which will allow more people the opportunity to invest in companies at earlier stages, and perhaps at more favorable terms.
In addition to our crowdfunding campaign, we are also actively engaging with Venture Capitalists to line up the right partner to grow the BlockQuake ecosystem.
You are testing the waters – correct? If you receive sufficient interest will this be a side-by-side with the ongoing Reg D token offering?
Antonio Brasse: We plan to continue with our ongoing Reg D token offering alongside the WeFunder campaign. This allows us to cater to both the investor audience interested in token offerings and those looking for a more traditional investment route in the company during our capital raise route.
Yes, we are in the “testing the waters” phase of the Reg CF.
You have filed for a license under NYDFS [New York Department of Financial Services]. What is the regulatory status in other jurisdictions? The ATS license?
Antonio Brasse: BlockQuake is pursuing MTL licenses in the states that expressly state it is still required and where an exemption through our banking partner isn’t accepted. We will also proceed with BD/ATS filing after launch, as we won’t initially have any digital asset securities according to US standards on the exchange. BlockQuake is also pursuing MSB-related (money services business) registrations with various country jurisdictions.
There are already multiple established crypto exchanges. Coinbase just completed an enormous direct listing. Binance.US just hired the former Comptroller of the Currency. Can BlockQuake catch up?
Antonio Brasse: BlockQuake can absolutely catch up. Over the past year, we have also seen interest in cryptocurrency skyrocket. With that, efforts to regulate the sector have intensified.
To BlockQuake, this signals the strong need for a regulatory-driven exchange that addresses the current shortfalls–ranging from cybersecurity concerns to lack of fiat onramp and trading pair options–in the cryptocurrency space.
Additionally, multiple regulated exchanges are great for everyone as they enhance liquidity. There is an incredible amount of room for growth and competition in the crypto markets, which are still in their infancy stages relative to more established markets. If we look at the equities markets, there are about 60 major stock exchanges globally that coexist to keep the markets liquid.
Why is BlockQuake better than other crypto marketplaces?
Antonio Brasse: BlockQuake is a platform made by traders, for traders, differentiating us from the rise of companies that have only just dipped their toes into the booming cryptocurrency industry.
As long-time traders in both cryptocurrency and traditional finance, our team has a first-hand understanding of the frustrations that come from trading in the digital asset space. Taking this imperfect experience, we created an exchange that fills the void relative to transparency, security, performance, and trust – giving BlockQuake users an experience akin to trading in traditional financial markets.
We aim to be a unified, one-stop-shop that tackles the issues that arise with maintaining accounts across several platforms. We can support true fiat deposits and withdrawals in the top 6 currencies, which is more than any other exchange based on publicly available information. Our trading fee is also generally lower than major regulated exchanges.
Additionally, access to global liquidity providers means our users can feel confident that they are accessing deep liquidity with competitive market pricing. Users can also safely and securely trade through our partnership with Fireblocks and use of its hot vault solution.
Finally, we’re also a solution for the underserved self-directed retirement market that wants to get involved in cryptocurrencies. This market segment is enormous.
Will you offer both cryptocurrencies and digital securities?
Antonio Brasse: At launch, we will offer the top cryptocurrencies and stablecoins that represent over 90% of the trading market, with a plan to continuously onboard.
When we add any digital assets that may be viewed as a security by the US, we will preclude US persons from trading those pairs until we have our BD/ATS. As all users will be fully KYC’d, we’ll be able to segment users as necessary.
Investment terms on the offering are for a priced round at a pre-money valuation of $150 million. Is this the same as the Reg D offering? On the offering page, you state an independent valuation of $499 million. Why the spread?
Antonio Brasse: The Reg D/S token offering and the WeFunder campaign are not comparable because of different structures. Our pre-money valuation was determined by a third-party independent firm using traditional VC methods, which came back with a $499M valuation as a median number and just above $150M on the low end.
What are your expectations for 2021?
Antonio Brasse: First and foremost, we will launch globally this quarter. Then, we’ll expand our offerings, aiming to have over 100 trading pairs as well as additional fiat deposit and withdrawal options by the end of the year. Finally, interest-earning capabilities will come online during 2021 for those who want to buy, hold and earn.
Editors Note: Until the offering statement by Blockquake is filed, no offer to buy securities can be accepted & no part of the purchase price can be received; once the offering statement is filed, purchase price can be received only through an intermediary’s platform. No money or other consideration is being solicited, & if sent in response, will not be accepted. A person’s indication of interest involves no obligation or commitment of any kind.
Have a crowdfunding offering you’d like to share? Submit an offering for consideration using our Submit a Tip form and we may share it on our site!
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Big Dog! Dogecoin Rises in Popularity for Payments at Adult Cam Platform Stripchat
Dogecoin is rising in popularity. At the beginning of 2021, Dogecoin traded at just about $0.0047. Since January, Dogecoin has rocketed in value jumping to over $0.72. Following Elon Musk’s appearance on SNL, Dogecoin cooled and now trades at around $0.42 – still an enormous increase in just a few months.
All of this volatility and notoriety appears to be boosting interest in the cryptocurrency that was started as a joke and is now valued at over $14 billion. Heck, even adult sites are seeing an uptick in Dogecoin utilization.
CI has received a note from adult cam platform Stripchat – a service that reports over 400 million monthly users. According to Srtipchat, today – 20% of model payouts are being executed via cryptocurrency and a growing percentage of these payouts are in Dogecoin.
In the last 30 days, Stripchat has seen a massive spike in monthly payments using Dogecoin, reportedly a 500% increase since February.
While Doge trails more popular cryptos like Bitcoin (49.86%) and Ethereum (18.3%), the dog is catching up.
Another interesting factoid shared by Stripchat, recently, a record-breaking single tip on Stripchat hit $100,000. And it was completed with a crypto deposit.
Cash Still King? UK FCA Says 5 Million Still Count on Cash for Majority of Transactions
In a digital world, physical cash still counts. A lot, according to UK regulators.
A speech delivered today by Sheldon Mills, Executive Director for Consumers and Competition at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), he revealed that 5 million individuals still count on the pound sterling for the majority of their purchases. Additionally, 750,000 or one in seven adults struggled with cash point and bank branch closures during the COVID-19 health crisis. As one may anticipate, the majority of these individuals are elderly, or perhaps small businesses.
The Death of the Bank Branch? Not So Fast.
Mills says that the transition from face-to-face services to online or telephone will take time. There are times when an in-person meeting is easier, it seems.
“Based on our evidence, we believe that access to cash across the UK is generally good for most people. 95% can access cash in urban areas within 650 metres and in rural areas within 3.5 km. Only around 150,000 people live more than around 5 km away from their nearest access point. And of course, in addition to bank branches, Post Office counter services and ATMs provide a significant and important part of the existing geographic coverage. The Post Office has national access criteria requiring that 99% of the population must live in areas within 3 miles [or 5 km] of their nearest Post Office, and 90% within 1 mile [1.6 km].”
While cash use is declining due to the ubiquitous nature of digital alternatives, cash continues to be needed. Perhaps, cash is no longer king but digital is not quite satisfying all the requirements of the population. UK firms are responsible for making sure that when a branch or ATM closes, there are alternatives in the area.
An updated review of the UK’s cash infrastructure is expected to be released this summer.
A joint statement by the FCA and PSR states that cash must remain available to the masses:
“The overall decline in the use of cash makes it more expensive to maintain the existing infrastructure that supports it. However, as we move out of the pandemic, cash continues to serve a socially useful purpose for many communities. Following a fall in ATM withdrawals of 40% year-on-year across 2020, withdrawals have started to increase again since restrictions have begun to ease. Although our data shows that most people can access cash easily now, there is a need to maintain access to cash and banking services for those that still need it, particularly vulnerable consumers. At the same time, a critical part of maintaining this access will be supporting others that can to transition to digital and other alternative ways of banking and making payments.”
“… the nature of cash use and everyday banking is changing, and we should acknowledge that and help people to transition where they are able to. However, we must also all work together to protect the ability of consumers to access cash and banking services in ways that meet their needs.”
Meet the Founder of Career Masterclass
When investing, your capital is at risk.
The world of employment is changing, as companies adopt a remote culture, and employees favour firms that can offer flexibility through challenging times.
While some sectors struggled and furloughed workers, others boomed, creating jobs that didn’t even exist until today. As a result, according to McKinsey research, approximately 25% more workers are estimated to need to switch occupations, and the learning and development market has boomed to over £40 billion to help workers navigate this transition. Career development platforms such as Career Masterclass are leading the way and levelling the playing field to give underserved groups access to the opportunities of today, and those of the future.
We sat down with founder, and Bukola Adisa – who, for reference, has been listed on The Powerlist of Britain’s Most Influential People of African and African Caribbean Heritage for 3 years running – to find out more.
What was your prior experience and what inspired you to make the switch to entrepreneurship?
I spent many years working in the banking and financial services sector, and during that time I noticed that very few senior management positions were held by people from the black and ethnic minority groups. I knew this wasn’t because of the lack of talent available, and after achieving my own success, I wanted to help others reach their potential.
My goal was to ensure that under-represented groups were recognised and able to get the career growth they desired. To do this, I knew I had to build an ecosystem that would give them the resources, networking support and information they needed to excel.
What were the early signs of success for the business?
After our first masterclass held in Canary Wharf, the feedback from the women who attended was very encouraging. Many of the 36 women who attended were Black or Asian and it was a lightbulb moment for us.
Over the next months, we grew and provided regular masterclasses, webinars and worksheets on everything from how to negotiate better to how to build your professional network. Due to demand – as a result of women telling their partners about the classes – it opened up to men. Then leading companies started to hire our services. At this point, it was clear that we were on to something.
Where will you be focusing on growth in the near future and why?
Our growth in the near term will be focused on expanding our mentorship features and leveraging AI to match content to our users. What differentiates just any career development platform from one that delivers real, long-term value to people is its ability to tailor its offering to the end user. We intend to use AI to really understand the profiles of our users, find out what they’re looking for and deliver them the resources that they need to fulfill their idea of success. That profile isn’t going to be the same for everyone, and that’s why a personalised offering is so important.
We already serve several corporate clients including Google, Natwest, HSBC, Barclays Bank and McDonald’s and are currently in active negotiations to develop further B2B partnerships.
What’s next on your roadmap in terms of product development, partnerships, new features etc?
In addition to the personalisation features mentioned earlier, we’re also working on launching a mentorship feature, which would effectively match users with professionals in their field of interest who can provide guidance. Networking is a huge element in career development, and that level of one-on-one mentorship isn’t accessible in the way it should be. Separately, we’re also building a full community on our platform, where professionals can come together, share experiences and support each other.
Once both of these features are live, our main goal will be to learn from the engagement we see with them. Observing how our users interact with new products and features will enable us to fine-tune them to create more value for professionals in their industries.
Where do you see the business in 5 years time?
In 5 years time, from a product perspective, I see Career Masterclass supporting over one million professionals across the globe with career growth and mentorship.
We also intend to have created a robust machine learning algorithm that understands the needs of professionals at every phase of their career, and provides them with the exact content and support they need to realise their goals.
Career Masterclass has raised over £350,000 on Seedrs, and the campaign is closing in just 9 days. To join nearly 200 investors, check out the campaign now.
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