What the Increasing Number of Digital Asset Hedge Funds Means for Cryptocurrency

ALEXANDER LIELACHER | May 22, 2018

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Prior to 2017, there were only a handful of specialized funds that invest in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Since the start of 2017, however, digital asset hedge funds have started to spring up like mushrooms with the aim to capitalize on skyrocketing crypto asset values. According to Autonomous Next Research, there are currently 251 hedge funds that invest in digital assets with an estimated $3.5 billion of assets under management. Out of the 251 funds, over 200 were launched since the beginning of 2017 when cryptocurrencies finally made it into the mainstream as a new digital investment asset class.

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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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FinTech in Post-Covid 19 World

Article | November 24, 2020

FinTech industry has 2008 crisis to thank for its tectonic rise. A number of ingredients (e.g. cheap funding, mistrust for banks, availability of ex banking talent, etc) came together that turned last recession into a platform for the launch of a wave of FinTech innovations. Since FinTech was almost born out of the last crisis, it is only natural to wonder how Corona Virus-induced crisis will reshape FinTech.

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Why Payments-as-a-Service is the first choice for FIs

Article | November 24, 2020

The pace of change within the global payment’s technology space is still at full speed with no sign of slowing down. While traditional incumbents have until recently taken comfort in their size and decades of dominance, new digital-only challenger banks are ramping up and making a huge impact on the global financial landscape.

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How Blockchain is Changing the Banking Industry

Article | November 24, 2020

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

Forward Financing

Forward Financing is a Boston-based financial technology company that provides fast, flexible, and reliable working capital to small and medium-size businesses nationwide. By combining proprietary technology with a dedicated team of small business financing experts, Forward Financing delivers same day funding with the speed and simplicity business owners need to succeed and grow. With an online application process that is simple, safe, and secure, businesses can trust Forward Financing for approvals within minutes, funding within hours, and personalized support and service when they need it most.

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