What do Banks Need to Know About Virtual Currencies Right Now?

| April 26, 2019

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Outside of the main financial services realm, a multi-billion-dollar global virtual currencies market has rapidly evolved and continues to gather pace. But, whilst virtual currencies have been ‘on the list’ of banks for some years, to date most have taken a hands-off approach. This is now changing. Some of the larger financial institutions are beginning to formalize their positions. And, thanks to a combination of factors, now is a good time for banks everywhere to follow suit and move the strategic evaluation of this market higher up the priority list.

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Housing Bank for Trade and Finance

The Housing Bank for Trade and Finance (HBTF) was established in 1973 as a public shareholding limited company with a capital amounting to half a million JD. The primary focus of the Bank was to provide housing finance, and hence the name.

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How Blockchain Marketing Helps to Build Better Connections with Consumers

Article | March 8, 2021

Blockchain is a relatively new technology but is significantly changing the world around us. The term refers to a decentralized ledger technology used in cryptocurrency transactions. Almost everyone is now familiar with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Blockchain technology is utilized to record cryptocurrency transactions and to ensure the security of such transactions. Blockchain technology continues to impact several industries – banking and finance are one of the industries. The trend continues to cybersecurity, shipping, real estate, and also digital marketing. Blockchain began as a technology for cryptocurrencies, but now it is set to take over several other industries. Since blockchain is a decentralized technology, it assures marketers that their transactions are secure by improving cybersecurity. The technology is not centrally controlled, as nobody controls or owns blockchain. With this in mind, marketers are not only waiting anxiously to see how blockchain will optimize or impact their work, but also looking forward understanding how they can better leverage the technology to deal with business partners and reach millions of potential customers in the digital marketing industry. Here are nine ways in which blockchain marketing can help marketers to boost their strategies and thus transform the consumer experience. 1. Targeting and Engaging the Right Audience With regards to the digital marketing industry, an estimate of 70% of marketers fail to target consumers with behavioral data, as only about one in a thousand ads get clicked in an online displays ad campaign. Despite the majority of marketers having lots of consumer data and paying huge fees to middlemen involved in advertising, they are still unable to engage and target the right audience. Blockchain marketing is an effective means through which marketers can use to get the right audience to see their adverts and then engage them with such ads. The technology creates a decentralized search engine where marketers easily reach and get in front of their target audience. Through this technology, marketers can also compensate target consumers using tokens (digital wallets) for providing their personal data to the marketers. Every time someone clicks on adverts on a marketing company’s search engine, they get paid. This increases the hyper-targeting of adverts, and consumers only see those ads that they have shown interest in. In this way, marketers only target and engage the right audience. 2. Ad Fraud Prevention Ad fraud is becoming an increasing problem facing advertisers and marketers. Paying for fake clicks and impressions is a common trend nowadays, as about one in every five pay per clicks is found to be fraudulent. Ad fraud is emptying marketers’ money and distorting their analytical data, which eventually affects their strategic decisions towards their marketing and advertising efforts. With the application of blockchain technology, marketing platforms can display all click-throughs in real-time, and marketers rent out their advertising space and attract quality traffic. In this way, blockchain authenticates clicks and therefore prevents ad fraud. 3. Decentralizing E-Commerce Blockchain is decentralizing how consumers buy products and services online. Marketers can use the technology to create decentralized marketplaces where they can sell their products or services directly to consumers without the need of using expensive third-party platforms. Such decentralized marketplaces have built-in Bitcoin wallets that help to pay and earn in cryptocurrencies without the need to rely on third-parties or intermediaries like banks. 4. Influencer Marketing Consumers normally believe what other customers say about a product or service rather than what a brand is saying about itself. With being that case, the majority of marketers allocate budgets for influencer marketing (a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers) to promote brand awareness, drive engagements with their brands, and reach new target audiences. Blockchain makes it possible for marketers to take advantage of influencer marketing. By leveraging the technology’s immutability and transparency, blockchain marketing helps marketers to authenticate the identity of influencers and validate their followers and get a guarantee of their investment. With the help of smart contracts, payments can be held in escrow until the desired output has been achieved by influencers. 5. Eliminating the Middlemen Marketing involves finance and this means marketers doing transactions through banks. However, blockchain technology comes with digital wallets (cryptocurrencies) and this eliminates the need to conduct transactions through banks. The technology ensures that transactions run smoothly and minimizes the costs involved in making transactions through banks acting as middlemen. 6. Social Media Blockchain marketing is set to change the scenario of social media for individuals providing services to businesses and those using social media to reach consumers. Social networking sites built on blockchain are more secure with no central hosting server. One of the impacts of blockchain is that marketers can validate their own data without the need to rely on third-party tools for it. Blockchain ensures privacy, thus allowing users to transact in a private manner. Only the recipient and sender have knowledge about the contents of the transactions. Blockchain verifies users’ identities and therefore ensures their genuineness. It maintains transparency in social media ads that involve the process of buying, booking, and placing ads, thus eliminates the chances of fraud. Through blockchain marketing, it is possible for markets to get rid of the role of social media platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) as middlemen by compensating customers directly instead of such intermediary platforms. When consumers log in on social networking sites, their data is released to marketers and blockchain ensures search data privacy. Marketing firms, which are monitoring customer behavior, are able to obtain all information from one place, which is reliable because of blockchain’s high level of accuracy, and marketers pay consumers for their personal information. Social media has spambots and fake news. With blockchain marketing, marketers are able to verify the content distribution, trace the spread of data, and even block fake contents and their contributors. 7. Data Collection Good data is highly important for marketers. Despite having abundant marketing tools and making attempts to try out different marketing strategies, the majority of marketers are still unable to get quality and accurate customer data. It is only consumers themselves who can provide accurate data. But how can a marketer make customers share their data? Blockchain marketing has made it possible for marketers to encourage customers to share their data in return for some compensation, and this making is a win-win situation for both parties. By putting consumers at the center of the data economy, data obtained in this way is highly authentic and relevant. 8. Smart Contracts Blockchain enables smart contracts, thus helping marketers to offer services to clients across the world. Such contracts are “programmable agreements that execute automatically when conditions are met.” Every contractual milestone must be fulfilled, even for the next steps to come. This ensures that payments are made only after the contract terms are met. The main benefit of a smart contract is that it can process transactions without third parties. The transactions are irreversible and can be traced, and through smart contracts, marketers get a guarantee that they will be paid and contractors are guaranteed of security. Such contracts provide transparency, thus saving time for both parties. 9. Reward Systems and Loyalty Programs Customers always remember when they are made to feel special. Sales loyalty programs work so well when they make customers feel special. Marketers can use blockchain to create an unforgettable, unique experience for customers. Gift cards can be attached to the blockchain, thus creates a safe platform for issuing and maintaining gift cards and loyalty programs. If clients accumulate gift cards but are unable to use or redeem them, then they will have a bad experience with the brand. However, with the use of blockchain, gift cards can be converted into cryptocurrencies or digital wallets, and make it easier for clients to redeem or use them. Conclusion Blockchain technology is still in its infancy and is expected to evolve and grow significantly in the next few years. It is set to disrupt digital marketing, offering marketers a variety of benefits in terms of efficiency, transparency, security, and performance. Marketers who plan to adopt blockchain marketing will be able to provide an increased trust to consumers and a better user experience because of hard-to-crack security and permission-based access of blockchain. With blockchain technology, marketers can gain more accurate information from customers directly interested in their brand. This would not only increase their return on investment (ROI) but also enable them to target adverts to potential customers based on verified data. Marketers interested in global transactions always feel at ease knowing that implemented smart contracts will guarantee secure deals.

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Coronavirus — How Fintech Helps

Article | March 30, 2020

The effects of Coronavirus on humanity, and what it is doing to the health and well-being of those around us, is very clear. We see the devastating effect it is having on people’s lives, and the level of fear is growing each day. I do not wish to add to this with another article based on the risks posed to people if they go outside. For me, it is important to discuss ways in which life can be improved during this moment, and I hope to do just that. However, before I do, I would like to extend wishes of health, peace of mind, and give my thoughts and prayers to those who are dealing with the difficulties we are all facing together as human beings.

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AI bankability: 10 ways artificial intelligence is transforming banking

Article | March 11, 2020

With plenty of post-recession anti-banking sentiment still lingering, it’s common to see fintech and traditional banks framed in oppositional terms. There’s some truth to that, especially with disruption-minded digital-only banks, but technological innovations have transformed banking of all stripes — and nowhere is that clearer than with artificial intelligence.

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On Diversity. Learnings from Bitcoin. A Gift Idea

Article | November 24, 2020

On Diversity 1.Diversity is critical. Human life endures and evolves due to the intertwining of different gene pools. Innovation happens with fresh insightful connections between cultures, expertise and backgrounds. Treating people equally and with respect, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual identity or age, among other differences, is not just ethically and morally correct, but it leads for better outcomes in society and business. In many parts of the world, including the United States, there has been significant improvement in the life of women, minorities and LGBTQ communities if compared to a decade or two decades ago. However, while much progress has been made, there are still significant challenges and obstacles as the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements among others clearly illuminate. While all of us whether as individuals, communities or business continue to strive to ensure equal opportunity and a just society, we should not forget three other critical forms of diversity which may not have movements or focus on them, but are critical to truly build on the efforts and movements underway. These are 1) Diversity of Voices, 2) Diversity of Generations and 3) Diversity of Choices. 1. Diversity of Voices A few months ago I wrote a piece called Diverse Faces are not the same as Diverse Voices. Ensuring a diversity of faces is a necessary but insufficient step. Not only do companies need different faces around the table, but they also need diversity in thinking. We need to ensure that every person in a firm and around the table has a voice. Most importantly, it is critical to have voices that can speak truth to power, question the status quo, call out potential issues and be heard without the risk of being punished. If such voices were listened to, many companies, such as Wells Fargo and possibly Boeing, would not have suffered losses of reputation and market valuation. There were people who knew there were issues, but they either kept quiet or were silenced or ignored. For true diversity it is key that people can call out the turd on the table when everyone else is celebrating what looks like a delicious brownie. For years I have studied how to ensure such voices are nurtured and heard. There is a chapter in my book called “The Turd on the Table” which discusses my findings in detail but in the article noted above I summarize some key findings. 2. Diversity of Generations These days in my multi-faceted second career of author, speaker/teacher and advisor, I journey (virtually rather than physically given the times we live in) more broadly across business, academia, politics, art, and science around the world than every before. In just the arena of Business, I can find myself presenting to the Board of a FTSE 100/Fortune 500 company, advising a small start-up and then speaking about my book and sharing career learnings with either youthful students in a BBA or MBA program or more experienced individuals refreshing their expertise or re-thinking their careers while pursuing an Executive MBA. While I share, teach and advise, I also am constantly learning and have come to believe that while many firms having smartly incorporated women and people of color and people with different forms of expertise on to their decision making councils, they remain relatively homogenous with regard to age. Almost everyone is within the same 16 year generation. Established companies tend to have Board members in their 50’s and 60’s , while start-ups skew to the 20’s and 30’s. Established companies have young folks on what they call Challenger Boards presenting to real boards and Challenger companies have the occasional grey haired expert to serve as an advisor. Why should a Fortune 500 Company not have accomplished individuals who are a generation or two younger on the main board? Why do start-ups believe that older people cannot be mentally or technically agile? Regardless of what you may think of two very accomplished individuals in a Nancy Pelosi in her 70’s and an Alexandra Ocasio Cortez in her 30’s, I believe better decisions are made because of their different generational perspectives. This generational divide is not just in Business but in Education, Arts and every where I look. We should ask why ? 3. Diversity of Opinion and Choice. In the recent election in the United States more people (70 Million) voted for Donald Trump than voted for Barack Obama ( 69.5 million) when he won his first landslide victory in 2008. The only person who garnered more votes is President-Elect Biden with 75 million votes and counting. As someone who is friends and/or works with people who voted for each candidate and who respects and continues to respect and admire many of the voters on each side, I worry when some folks on each side paint the other as a caricature. Not everyone who voted for Donald Trump is an anti-mask, gun toting racist, science hating, selfish capitalist nor is everyone who voted for Joe Biden a tree hugging, de-fund the police, pacifist socialist. In this polarized age weaponized by social media and algorithms of enragement it is very easy to paint things in black or white but that is not what humans are. A person in two moods is often more different than two different people. Rather than demonize we should seek to understand and find points of agreement which are many ( most folks on either side would rather live in the US than in other countries, most would hope to have a better world for their children etc.) If people cannot choose and have their own opinions than most other forms of diversity don’t amount to a hill of beans. People and life are complicated. All we know is that we have opinions and belief and choices. And like humans they are incomplete, imperfect, impermanent. 2. Learnings from Bitcoin Five years ago in a blog post i wrote… Bitcoin and Blockchain are likely to revolutionize money. It is likely to become the currency of the Internet since it addresses the lack of trust in financial institutions, speaks to the need of the unbanked and leverages network technology. It’s in the early innings and too much focus on the roller coasting price. With that being said I would recommend everyone buy a bitcoin (its now about 240 dollars as I write this) and begin to understand it. In the US, Coinbase is an ideal wallet. The book to read on this topic is The Age of Cryptocurrency by Vigna and Casey two Wall Street Journal Financial Journalists. As I write this some five years later, a Bitcoin is trading around 16,000 dollars which is a 6400 percent return, magnitudes better than even if you had put the $250 in Netflix which is the best performing FAANG .( Bitcoin along the way soared to 19,891 dollars in December 2017 before crashing to the 3000’s a few months later but never being below 3000 dollars in the last three years.) I am not a financial advisor and make no recommendations ( I made my recommendation 5 years ago, since 250 dollars was not a big amount of money to risk to understand and follow a technology and eco-system that might become big). I do wish to share two learnings from Bitcoin which everybody may want to keep in mind as they make decisions at work on whom they meet and what they pay attention to … The Future Comes from the Slime and not the Heavens: Like Bitcoin, much that of the future comes from places no one is looking. IBM did not take MS-Dos and Microsoft seriously. Microsoft did not understand what Larry Page and Sergey Brin had created in the PageRank algorithm and Google Search. Bezos turned out to be more than a book seller on the Internet. Again and again, Boards and Leaders pay attention to each other, to the famous, to the powerful and to what dominates the news. David will not be found hanging out with the Goliaths. Even today, I find it amazing how incestious and uniform thinking is in so many “councils of the powerful”. The same words…disruption…personalization…platforms…data… All of us trampling on well worn paths of widespread and obvious thinking. Of course we have to work in an an omni-channel, digital first, platform dominated world with personalized data. Everybody better do so to compete and remain relevant. But then what? This is where the ball is. Where is the ball going ? Pay attention to the non-obvious, the small and weird. Take meetings with folks you would not normally do even though they have no rolodexes or fame. Remember that those behind Red Ropes may be roping themselves in rather than roping others out. Experiment quickly with new companies and technologies instead of meeting after meeting which costs more than testing out the new. Do. Do not diddle. Mindset Shifts: There comes a time when there is a mindset shift. When this happens ( it is has happened with Bitcoin, and recently with Tesla when all the "Gods of Finance” pooh poohed what they did not understand and soon will again with the reality of Climate Change and Gene Therapy), major new industries and opportunities are born and major forces of disruption and wealth creation happen. Build a case for why you may be wrong. Build a case for the opposite of what you think is true. Shift your mind before it is shifted. 3. Looking for a Christmas Gift for your friends, your team or your company? As many of you know, and many have been huge supporters of (Thank you!) a book I authored called “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data” which was published globally early in the year by HarperCollins. The book which has 12 chapters, each of which can be read in any order, provides tangible advice in four areas. 1) How to think about the future, 2) How to manage and adapt to change so it sucks less, 3) How to lead with soul and 4) How to upgrade your mental operating system. The Economist Magazine said…”During the lockdown your columnist has worked his way through four weighty tomes by managers who argue that companies have a broader purpose than simply making a profit. The books were “Trailblazer” by Marc Benioff, “Green Swans” by John Elkington, “Restoring the Soul of Business” by Rishad Tobaccowala and “Share” by Chris Yates and Linda Jingfang Cai. Perhaps the best of the books is Mr Tobaccowala’s. That is because the author, a senior adviser at Publicis Groupe, an advertising and communications firm, has a clear focus: how to ensure you can hire, then inspire, the right workers in the knowledge economy. “Employees who find work meaningful are highly productive, agile and committed,” he writes, adding that talented workers are in a more powerful bargaining position in the current economy. He also argues that companies can be too obsessed with data, and not enough with employee motivation: “The best businesses find ways to marry the math and the magic.”The book is clearly written and full of sensible and practical suggestions. “ The book has also made some Best Business Books of the Year list including form Strategy and Business which wrote “Restoring the Soul of Business, I kept thinking as I read it, is part Ken Auletta (the New Yorker media critic who, as it happens, authored the foreword), part Deepak Chopra. As detailed and all-business as Tobaccowala is, and as soberly and expertly as he makes his case here, it would be unimaginable to ruminate, at book length no less, on a subject like the importance of humanity without sounding at times like something out of the Up with People program. (One chapter is titled “How to Lead with Soul.”) Aside from its numerous how-to lists, the book is filled with helpful case studies of companies that have mastered the fusion of data-based marketing and business management with human relationships. A smart and worldly man, Tobaccowala has produced a deeply informed book about brand marketing, data science, and humanity that is a remarkably lively read. Name another book about business (or any other subject) that in one breath urges the reader to acknowledge “the turd on the table” in the boardroom and references François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows and Joan Didion in the next.” Read the full review here. You can read more about the book including an essay from me on why you should read the book and different purchase options ( audible, kindle, ebook, book and even CD-ROM) everywhere in the world here….https://rishadtobaccowala.com/book And for those who want to get more than 25 books or e-books reach out to me for both bulk pricing and Concierge handling from HarperCollins. If you want to upgrade and inspire your teams $10 to $20 is a great investment as a Christmas present… Regardless, thank you for the 10 minutes every Sunday or whenever you give to reading this newsletter…

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Spotlight

Housing Bank for Trade and Finance

The Housing Bank for Trade and Finance (HBTF) was established in 1973 as a public shareholding limited company with a capital amounting to half a million JD. The primary focus of the Bank was to provide housing finance, and hence the name.

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