5 THINGS TO EXPECT FROM A GOOD MORTGAGE BANKER

| October 4, 2017

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Buying a home is a big deal, and requires a lot of organization, communication, and decision making. Whether you’re doing it solo, or you’ve got a significant other to help you along, the mortgage process can be less stressful with one, specific person to guide you: your mortgage banker.

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KBC Bank Ireland

Welcome to KBC, The Bank of You. At KBC Bank Ireland we have a long and proud tradition of providing personal and business banking services to our customers - in fact we have been in Ireland for over 40 years. Our parent, KBC Bank NV is one of Europe's largest banks and is a member of the KBC Group.

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Bitcoin, Rare & Gold Coins—Which Investment for You?

Article | March 19, 2021

Coin Conundrums: Expert vets 3 popular ‘flight to safety’ coin assets amid forecasted financial strife As the financial markets strive to rebound from what has been a hugely trying and tumultuous period, courtesy of a deadly global pandemic, we may need to brace ourselves for yet more trouble ahead. This as an ongoing Harvard Business School study predicts a 40% probability of a financial crisis in the next three years, which is largely based on unprecedented growth in credit coupled with the reality that interest rates will eventually rise, making debt service unbearable. “Now factor in over $10 trillion in global economic stimulus, as well as increases of 26% in the M2 money supply and 78% in the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet over the last year, and the lack of sustainability becomes readily apparent,” says alternative investment pundit Thomas Neptune, Esq. “As the economy artificially recovers and we inch toward full employment over the next few years, the reality is that the Federal Reserve is trapped. It only seems logical that the Fed will, at some point, be forced to raise interest rates to combat inflation, while doing so could put a giant pin in several asset price bubbles.” When financial markets collapse, it’s known that non-correlated “flight to safety” assets generally perform very well. Due to the heightened level state of uncertainty in the current climate, many investors are already increasing allocations to alterative investment vehicles like Cryptocurrency, U.S. rare coins and gold bullion coins while prices are relatively modest (depending, of course, on whom you ask). The question then becomes, which of these distinctive “coins” is right for you relative to your situational needs for downside protection, upside opportunity, inflation hedging and overall utility? Below, Neptune offers his analysis of all three. ** Bitcoin In simple terms, Bitcoin is a decentralized peer-to-peer payment system that utilizes an accounting ledger called the blockchain. Bitcoin is the unit of accounting. It can be used as a medium of exchange for some goods and services, but there has not been universal acceptance of Bitcoin as a form of payment. It has recently garnered attention as an asset class as the price has skyrocketed. Almost anyone can own a tiny fraction of a Bitcoin through sites such as Coinbase. Downside Protection The supply of Bitcoin is capped at $21 million, with approximately $18.5 million currently in circulation. The annual supply increases similar to that of gold, unlike monetary and fiscal policies that promote unlimited growth through the printing press. With 78% of the circulating Bitcoin classified as illiquid and not changing hands, there is not a high likelihood of sellers flooding the market. That being said, the price has been historically volatile as demand varies and competitor cryptocurrencies enter the market. Theoretically, the price could plummet to near-zero if demand shifts elsewhere or regulators step in with force, although Bitcoin has institutional traction and its loyal following is most likely here to stay. Upside Opportunity It is no secret that the price of Bitcoin has unlimited upside opportunity based on its supply and demand dynamics. Now almost everyone is getting in on the action. What might have been shocking news only a few years ago, even college endowments like Harvard, Yale, Brown and others have been placing bets on Bitcoin as have influential business leaders such as Elon Musk. It will be interesting to see whether Bitcoin can sustain its meteoric rise. Inflation Hedging As an inflation hedge, Bitcoin does not have a long track record, as it was created in 2009 just prior to a market expansion where we saw little inflation for the last decade. Although the supply may increase now at a rate consistent with inflation, its demand and the ensuing price history have been extremely volatile. As such, buyers are placing a bet that, regardless of their entry price, the performance of Bitcoin will outpace inflation over the long-term, despite high volatility. Overall Utility The technology around how Bitcoin is stored, sent and received is rapidly advancing. For example, the Bitpay wallet can now be added to Apple Pay to use Bitcoin as payment anywhere that accepts this type of monetary exchange. This is a significant development as there are over one billion active iPhones and these crypto-wallets can automatically settle transactions in the users’ currencies, potentially eliminating the risk of price volatility for transactions. Two other major benefits include portable wealth and instant liquidity for retail buyers. ** U.S. Rare Coins Collecting financial artifacts of various civilizations has been in high demand for over 2,000 years, from when wealthy Romans were collecting Greek coins up to the present day. Representing the birth of the United States economy, its sovereignty on the world stage and notable events throughout the nation’s history, the U.S. rare coins that have survived in spectacular condition have been in high demand from wealthy global collectors and investors since the birth of this young nation. Downside Protection There is a finite supply of high-end U.S. rare coins, which can be publicly verified on the census reports of the two major authentication companies: Professional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. These historical artifacts are not known to flood the market, as wealthy individuals with holding power generally do not need to liquidate them for less than their purchase price. Further, there is immense passion and competition to own the best trophies—why this market is known as the Hobby of Kings—which has evolved to sport for the affluent to locate and own these elusive artifacts in a private market. This passion-driven market with an extremely long track record has attracted investors to hold these highly sought-after assets as a long-term wealth protection strategy. As such, the market has demonstrated long term stability and steady price appreciation for well over a century based on these driven collectors and investors. Upside Opportunity The U.S. rare coin market has benefited from numerous advances in technology and other innovations, most recently the introduction of the two major certification companies in the 1980s, followed by the ubiquity of the Internet in the 2000s. Although the market has largely flown under the radar from institutional investors, there has been a massive increase in demand for U.S. rare coins over the last decade, which has ramped up during the pandemic, as wealthy individuals have more time to pursue their interests and compete (via a publicly available points system) to own the finest rare coin portfolios. According to Michael Contursi, Partner at Contursi Rare Coin Investments, “The high end of this market is currently dominated by ultra-wealthy, sophisticated collectors and investors who can afford to own multi-million dollar portfolios. Imagine if these assets could be fractionally owned by the masses. We are already currently seeing this in collectibles such as fine art and baseball cards. The upside for U.S. rare coins is astronomical when you consider the potential for an exponential increase in demand.” Inflation Hedging With unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, coupled with a finite supply of U.S. rare coins with intrinsic value, these assets have proven to be an excellent hedge against inflation due to this disequilibrium of supply and demand. As the least volatile of the three “coin” markets here, the high end value of the U.S. rare coin market can be a safe diversification tool for those seeking an inflation hedge, largely based on historical price appreciation data from the last 125 years. Overall Utility The two major certification companies secure these little treasures in sonically-welded holders with a certification number, barcode and other methods for protecting against counterfeit threats. Due to the weight and size of these items, owners can transport large amounts of wealth with extreme ease. Further, there are no reporting requirements for owning these assets, which makes them extremely private and can be a great way to retain wealth outside of the banking system in case of a financial meltdown or digital economy. ** Gold Bullion Coins There are many ways to participate in the gold (and silver) bullion markets, some of which include owning mining company stocks, futures contracts on the commodities exchanges, ETFs, or physical control. To this extent, gold bullion can be owned as both a digital asset (like Bitcoin) or a physical asset (like U.S. rare coins). Downside Protection Many people forget that from 1933 to 1975 it was illegal for Americans to own gold in the United States. Since then, investors have been making small allocations to gold as a diversified investment. It is globally-accepted that gold is a non-correlated, flight-to-safety asset during times of great uncertainty, such as The Great Recession of 2007-09 or the current global coronavirus pandemic. However, the spot price of gold is also extremely volatile, similar to Bitcoin, and the price could move significantly lower depending on one’s entry level to the market. Upside Opportunity The value of the U.S. dollar, as well as virtually every other major fiat currency, has drastically declined in its purchasing power over the last century. Since the gold market is currently transacted in U.S. dollars, it becomes cheaper for international buyers (mainly governments or large institutions) to own gold as an alternative to holding dollars or their own currencies as the currency continues to decline. For the retail investor, it is clearer than ever that fiat currencies will continue to decline as governments print an unlimited supply of money to monetize their debts. Similar to the masses that have already entered the Bitcoin frenzy, and those poised to enter the various collectibles markets such as U.S. rare coins, the upside opportunity for gold has already been demonstrated by the Reddit black swan event last month that caused silver spot prices to soar. The same could happen for gold, perhaps in a more sustained trajectory. Inflation Hedging Gold is known as an inflation hedge, which to some extent creates a self-fulfilling prophesy—as inflation expectations increase, institutions purchase gold and the increasing spot price protects their purchasing power. In addition, only approximately 2,500 to 3,000 tons of above ground gold are added to the global supply each year, with the majority used for jewelry. These relatively small increases to supply (similar to Bitcoin and finite rare coins) are a significant benefit when compared to printing binges for fiat currencies, thus helping protect against inflation. Overall Utility The utility of owning physical gold is primarily as a store of value where the owner maintains direct control and access to a tangible asset. Many believe they can use their gold to transact during a doomsday scenario, as these are uniform products owned globally. The downside is that gold is very heavy, making it difficult to store or transport. Nonetheless, it is highly liquid and easy to turn into cash during times of need, like an insurance policy. Which Coin is Right for You? All three of these “coins” have either a finite or slowly increasing supply, making them very attractive during times of economic uncertainty, as even relatively small increases in demand can move prices higher. Depending on needs, there is a case to be made to own any of these assets, including small positions in all three. According to Neptune, “Many of the families who invest with us side by side in the U.S. rare coin space also own small positions in cryptocurrencies and precious metals. Bitcoin is fun and people are speculating on its tremendous upside, whereas gold bullion is highly liquid and has a long track record as an inflation hedge. People have preconceived notions of all three markets, but I think with education and more transparency you will find more portfolios containing small allocations to all three of these assets.” As investors become more comfortable with the idea that they do not have to be renowned experts to own these tangible assets—similar to the idea that they do not need a Ph.D. in mechanical physics to drive a car—investors can utilize all three markets for various needs in a diversified portfolio. Since many financial advisors don’t yet know how to access or offer these types of alternative assets, they simply aren’t included in the investment mix and, thus, clients can’t reap the benefits—ostensibly suffering opportunity loss. Therefore, the prudent entrée to owning one (or all) of these “coins” is engaging with reputable companies or trusted experts. They will certainly help wealth-seekers make heads or tails of the burgeoning coin category. ~~~ Forbes Business Council Member Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist, futurist and marketplace trends pundit who reports on industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all B2C and B2B categories. Connect with her at www.TheLuxeList.com / Instagram, Twitter & Facebook @LuxeListReports Sources: https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=58289 https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h6/current/default.htm https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/bst_recenttrends.htm https://cryptoguidepro.com/buy-fraction-piece-percentage-bitcoin/ https://news.bitcoin.com/data-shows-78-bitcoin-supply-illiquid-only-4-2m-btc-constant-circulation/ https://www.coindesk.com/harvard-yale-brown-endowments-have-been-buying-bitcoin-for-at-least-a-year-sources https://bitpay.com/wallet/ https://www.gold.org/about-gold/gold-supply/gold-mining/how-much-gold

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How FinTech Keeps Banks Focused On Customer Experience With AP Automation

Article | March 6, 2020

FinTechs are helping banks focus on the customer experience through accounts payable (AP) automation. AvidXchange Senior Vice President of Financial Services Boyce Adams Jr. told PYMNTS in an interview that banks foundationally value “the relationship they have with the customer” and “they understand the customer.” These financial institutions are providing lines of credit, and he says it’s the company’s job as a leader in FinTech to provide banks with the products and solutions that are going to help them advance their case with the customer.

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AI in Banking – An Analysis of America’s 7 Top Banks

Article | February 13, 2020

While tech giants tend to hog the limelight on the cutting-edge of technology, AI in banking and other facets of the financial sector is showing signs of interest and adoption even among the banking incumbents. Discussions in the media around the emergence of AI in the banking industry range from the topic of automation and its potential to cut countless jobs to startup acquisitions.

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How Blockchain is Changing the Banking Industry

Article | June 28, 2021

How Blockchain is Changing Banking and Finance Industry We all have basic knowledge about Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology, and many peoples understand its complex structures and its valuable benefits for the future. That's why many peoples believed that it's the future of currency exchange. Apart from Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Etherium, etc., Blockchain has the potential to use the existing technology up to its peak to exchange transaction information and data. With more security and easy to trace back previous transactions benefit, we can say it is the new age of Electronic currency to avoid human errors and frauds. Blockchain technology in Banking Around the many conspiracies and fake theories about Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, many organizations and even countries like Australia, China, Japan, and other developed nations embraced this Blockchain in Banking as a future of seamless exchange of transactions. Apart from that, its decentralized transactions are easy and more secure than we have today. Blockchain could change the current banking technology used by its admins to trace and track the record of every exchange of digital money to lessen the frauds and reduce the time and human efforts. Prominent players of the Bank and Finance Industry like the Bank Of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citi Bank, and other renowned players of finance sectors using Blockchain in banking to improve funds transfer between banking institutions globally and maintain every record of their history of transactions effectively. How Blockchain is helpful in Banking Blockchain technology is a decentralized ledger of transaction which enables the bank to keep track of all the transactions publicly and transparently. It provides a direct connection between the sender and receiver of payments. No intermediary and complete control of the transaction exists in between them. Because of this reason, it provides a way for financial services to work more specifically and without errors to make payments securitization more precisely. This makes Bitcoins that uses Blockchain technology a better option of investment. Benefits of Blockchain in Banking As you continue to read this article, you might have an idea about this new age technology's immense benefits in the finance sector. Let's take a look at how it can be more helpful in the upcoming future. Security: The primary concern of 21st century’s banks is their security. No one knows who will hack their systems and scatter with the money of people who trust the financial system. With Blockchain technology, security issues such as suspicious activities are easily tracked. It is hard to decode the encryption of the Blockchain and takes too much time because the data is not stored on one server but across a huge network of computers. These computers constantly check and verify the records and data. This feature allows a noteworthy use for Blockchain in banking. For a hacker, it is hard to breach many servers. Every transaction that gets recorded in a Blockchain ledger undergoes complicated sets of encryption interconnected with the next block, which results in an unaltered series of coded data "blocks," each dependent on a ledger series. That's why it is one of the best cyber-protection against hacks in this internet world. Fast transaction: If you want to transfer money to someone living in another country, you go to the bank and might have to stand in the long queue for your turn. Once you forward your request, it takes 5 to 10 days to credit the amount in the bank of the recipient. Blockchain can easily reduce such a long time-consuming process. It has the potential to complete the transaction within minutes, not in a day. It saves your valuable time, though. Easy to track and transparency: No doubt that it is a highly transparent and traceable system as compared to the traditional finance system. Every record of amount can be easily tracked with a digital recording system. It reduces the need for time-consuming and costly third-party verification tools. Also, it undoubtedly offers visibility into the transaction history within the banks' operations. Reduce fraud: It can reduce hacking, DDOS attacks, and other scams. Blockchain helps banks to identify their user's IDs and confirm their detail with digital Blockchain ID. It automatically reduces future frauds, which is the biggest concern of the banking system. How bank can use Blockchain: With Blockchain in banking, financial institutions would not need to depend on the network of custodial services and regulatory bodies like SWIFT. They can easily settle transactions directly on a public Blockchain. Here are few benefits of using the new-age technology. Verifying Digital Identity: Banks can't process online transactions without the verification of a person. This process can be done via face-to-face verification, logging in with passwords, or sending OTP on registered mobile numbers. Although, after the application of Blockchain technology, this process becomes more seamless and more secure due to its accurate data reading capability. Smart Contracts: It might be possible to automate the process of transaction, which costs time, added complexity, and delays the transactions using smart contracts. It is a contract with terms and agreements between the buyers and sellers' business. This computerized contract permits the trustworthy transaction completely free from any central authority or external enforcement mechanism. The new way to do business is here. Faster lending: Loan processing takes too much of the user’s valuable time. It can be reduced with Blockchain. This use of the technology is called Blockchain lending. Blockchain lending can give direct benefit to customers by reducing the growing costs. It provides lenders with a competitive offer and helps them do the transaction faster and without any security defect. Blockchain-based Smart Contracts ensure that loan seeker and lender agree viable and fair terms regarding proof of funds and payment planning for future installments. Blockchain technology has lots of advantages and revolutionary benefits to finance and banking institutions. Though, still, people are generally unaware of this technology and fear of adapting to it. This might cost us time to unify our currency and have a better future. Frequently Asked Questions: How is Blockchain used in finance? Blockchain technology can improve finance and lending services by lowering counterparty risk and shortening issuance and settlement periods. It enables: authenticated paperwork and KYC/AML data, reducing risk exposures and facilitating real-time financial document verification. What is an example of Blockchain? Bitcoin is a well-known example of Blockchain in operation. This is a type of digital money (commonly called a cryptocurrency). This electronic form of funds may be transmitted safely from user to user without the need for intermediaries. In other words, there is no requirement for a central bank or administration. Bitcoin isn't the only currency that uses Blockchain technology. Where can Blockchain be used? Blockchain uses extend well beyond cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. With its capacity to increase openness and fairness while also reducing businesses' time & expense, the technology influences a wide range of areas, from contract enforcement to making government run more effectively. What software is used for Blockchain? There is multiple software available in the market for Blockchain technology; some of them are: Solidity is one of the most widely utilized programming languages among Blockchain developers. Geth is a Go-based Ethereum node implementation. Mist is the authorized Ethereum wallet created by Ethereum's makers. Is Blockchain the future? Blockchain technology has several uses in a variety of sectors. Blockchain is already being utilized to help with identity management, smart contracts, supply chain analysis, and many other things. The full potential of Blockchain technology is unlikely to be realized. Till then, it is safe to assume that Blockchain is the future of the Fintech industry. { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How is Blockchain used in finance?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Blockchain technology can improve finance and lending services by lowering counterparty risk and shortening issuance and settlement periods. It enables: authenticated paperwork and KYC/AML data, reducing risk exposures and facilitating real-time financial document verification." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What is an example of Blockchain?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Bitcoin is a well-known example of Blockchain in operation. This is a type of digital money (commonly called a cryptocurrency). This electronic form of funds may be transmitted safely from user to user without the need for intermediaries. In other words, there is no requirement for a central bank or administration. Bitcoin isn't the only currency that uses Blockchain technology." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Where can Blockchain be used?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Blockchain uses extend well beyond cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. With its capacity to increase openness and fairness while also reducing businesses' time & expense, the technology influences a wide range of areas, from contract enforcement to making government run more effectively." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What software is used for Blockchain?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "There is multiple software available in the market for Blockchain technology; some of them are: Solidity is one of the most widely utilized programming languages among Blockchain developers. Geth is a Go-based Ethereum node implementation. Mist is the authorized Ethereum wallet created by Ethereum's makers." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Is Blockchain the future?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Blockchain technology has several uses in a variety of sectors. Blockchain is already being utilized to help with identity management, smart contracts, supply chain analysis, and many other things. The full potential of Blockchain technology is unlikely to be realized. Till then, it is safe to assume that Blockchain is the future of the Fintech industry." } }] }

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Spotlight

KBC Bank Ireland

Welcome to KBC, The Bank of You. At KBC Bank Ireland we have a long and proud tradition of providing personal and business banking services to our customers - in fact we have been in Ireland for over 40 years. Our parent, KBC Bank NV is one of Europe's largest banks and is a member of the KBC Group.

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