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Can startups keep growing without IPOs?

Can startups keep growing without IPOs? | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
So much for that IPO, I suppose. Good Technology, a long-time IPO candidate with reams of public financial data, was snapped up by BlackBerry this morning..
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

An excellent analysis from Alex Wihelm (TechCrunch) about the acquisition of Good by Blackberry. I was very surprised to see that Good was acquired for $425m (having raised $300m).

My reasoning for Good was as follows:

- Blackberry was the dominant player in the market for corporate emails

- With Blackberry losing market share, corporate clients focusing on costs (Bring your own device), the ubiquity of corporate email, Good was ideally positioned as leader of email solutions. 
- And with healthy revenue growth, Good should have been able to raise money or go to IPO.


This didn't pan out as expected, with an acquisition cost that seems disappointing (it doesn't mean however that investors lost money, it depends on the terms of the pref shares). And this is very strange, because 1) a market leader in 2) a huge market with 3) good revenue growth should have been able to raise at huge valuations.


This, together with quite a few other examples, makes me wonder:

- Are we starting to see much more focus on revenues and (horror!) profits for startups? In other words, are we seeing the end of the bubble? 

- Can startups stay indefinitely private, without going to IPOs? Can VCs keep accounting in "mark-to-market" terms without a real cash exit? 

- Many of the Unicorns had the choice to go to IPO or stay private - is it still the case? Can these startups actually access the public market today?


Or I might be totally wrong, and Good is an anomaly. But there are definitely some signs which are disturbing...


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Five legal threats for fintech’s hottest start-ups

Five legal threats for fintech’s hottest start-ups | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it

"Nearly 20 years ago, the launch of online payments giant PayPal shook the financial services industry.  Now, a new generation of financial technology or “fintech” companies is once again breaking down the oversized doors of the conservative banking business…"

Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

A very insightful article about the impact of regulation on Fintech startups. 

As the author rightly points out, regulation can also impact other sectors (e.g Uber or Airbnb) but it is true that the financial industry is highly regulated compared to other ones - and startups need to take that into account from the outset. 

Since regulation is a key factor in the success of a Fintech startup, having a "Fintech-friendly" regulator can be a competitive advantage. For example, the UK (http://sco.lt/6Bz3iL) or Singapore (http://www.disruptivefinance.co.uk/?p=594) spring to mind as two very pragmatic regulators for startups. Hopefully, others will follow. 


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Why Fintech is Hard: Lessons from the CEO of Bondcube

Why Fintech is Hard: Lessons from the CEO of Bondcube | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
The growth in Fintech has been phenomenal during the last few years: 10 times more startups in London in 3 years, dozens of Fintech companies valued at more than $1bn, record breaking VC investments year after year.On the one hand, it is totally justifiable. Finance will be drastically different in 10 years, and the next Google in finance may be created just in front of our eyes now - and everybody wants a piece of the action.But let's not forget the cold reality of a startup: most startups fail, not because they don't have great ideas, not because they don't have great teams o
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

Great insight from Paul Reynolds, and why it's very difficult to have a successful Fintech startup - contrary to popular belief

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Fintech in Asia is taking off

Fintech in Asia is taking off | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it

Available from today, local growth-stage start-ups and mature-stage global FinTech companies can apply for a co-working space within the SuperCharger.


As part of the TusPark network, companies benefit from: access to TusPark's Global Network, which includes 30+ co-work spaces around the world, 100+ Venture Capital Firms and angel investors, media coverage, as well as experience gained from incubating over 1'500 companies…."

Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

I am convinced that London is the world capital of Fintech (here and here), but equally confident that a lot of innovations will come from emerging markets, and especially Asia. 


I've had the chance - and great pleasure - to be on the advisory board of Fintech HK and to witness first hand the incredible growth of Fintech taking place in Asia during the last year. Fintech HK is itself a very good example of that hypergrowth, which started less than a year ago with a report on Fintech in HK, and has now become the largest Fintech ecosystem in Hong Kong.


They have now just announced the launch of the SuperCharger, a whole floor dedicated to Fintech in HK, in partnership with Tuspark - a Chinese tech holding that owns 400 companies. 


A few years ago, Fintech was still nascent in London but then took off swiftly thanks to the arrival of accelerators, which helped create an ecosystem of mentors, business angels, banks, etc The same is happening in Asia, with the launch of StartupBootCamp in Singapore, DBS Nest in Hong Kong, and now the SuperCharger.


As the ecosystem grows stronger, we are seeing more and more interesting Fintech startups there. And examples like Alibaba's YueBao (4th largest money market fund in the world in less than a year), or Vietnam (36% penetration rate for smartphones, despite an average wage of $150/month) show that there are a lot of Asian specificities that will allow a very different type of Fintech to emerge. 


In other words, there are likely to be very interesting Fintech stories - especially in B2C - coming out of Asia. Stay tuned...


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Let's Talk Payments's comment, August 28, 2015 7:04 PM
FIntech industry is gaining momentum in India too: http://letstalkpayments.com/fintech-studio-special-accelerator-program-shaping-up-in-startup-village-in-kochi-india/
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The One Chart you Need to Understand Fintech

The One Chart you Need to Understand Fintech | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it

Traditional finance providers such as banks or insurance companies are being challenged by new players such as Lending Club or Transferwise. These startups want to disintermediate the incumbents and revolutionize the financial world. But what is the biggest difference betwen a bank or insurer and a Fintech startup?

Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

Why Google is making $66bn without any fees or interest income - can it be applied to finance?

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Fintech startup goes bust 3 months after launch

Fintech startup goes bust 3 months after launch | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
Bondcube, one of a crowd of electronic trading start-ups trying to improve the buying and selling of corporate debt, has filed for liquidation just three months after launching its platform. The start-up, which was founded in 2012, aimed to let
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

This is an important news - because we are likely to see much more of these in the future.


Bondcube was one of 30 platforms trying to target the huge market of bond trading. It launched its product 3 months ago, and was liquidated because it couldn't raise additional funds. 


Bondcube raised money in 2012 - a few million pounds I think -, developed its product, launched it, and did not manage to get enough commercial traction.


Many Fintech startups have started during the last 2/3 years and will be in the same situation: they  raised funding on an industry-changing idea, created the product, and now find that it's very difficult to generate revenues at a time where some business angels/VCs will start to suffer losses.


This is happening not just in Fintech (i.e. Homejoy, the Uber of home cleaning, shutting down after  $40m funding) but Fintech will be impacted because a lot of the investments have been done in the recent years.


This is of course totally normal that a large proportion of startups will fold, but many had been forgetting this reality the last few years. For entrepreneurs, it means that only the very good projects will be funded - which is welcome news.


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CEO of ING France becomes Head of Fintech at ING

CEO of ING France becomes Head of Fintech at ING | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
Finextra: ING has appointed Benoit Legrand to the newly-created role of head of fintech, charging him with developing a strategy for how the bank deals with financial technology firms.
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

Interesting news showing that banks are taking innovation seriously - in this case a country head leaves his position for a "head of Fintech" position. That's the first time I hear about Head of Fintech by the way, so hard to know what it means exactly.


Most banks, insurers, etc would have heads of innovation, the main challenges are usually not in terms of ideas or vision, but more implementation, culture, budget, etc.


To be followed...


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Bloodbath coming to p2p lending in China?

Bloodbath coming to p2p lending in China? | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it

Zhang Minmin is one of tens of thousands playing in one of the riskier corners of China’s stock market, borrowing money at high interest rates through unregulated online lenders to amplify his bets on potential equity gains.

Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

I've witnessed a few bubbles firsthand - tech bubble as an entrepreneur, subprime bubble as a banker - and causes the crisis is always the same thing : excessive leverage. 


P2p lending has not gone through a full economic cycle yet in Western Europe and the US, but it is clearly going through a major test in China. As written in this article, Chinese investors use p2p platform to leverage and invest in equities. Which is perfect when equities rise. But when they fall by 25% and halt trading (http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/07/investing/china-stock-market-companies-stop-trading/) then there is less appetite to pay back the loans. 


A lot of lessons to be learnt for all p2p platforms both in China and around the world, the next few months will be interesting. 


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Quit banking and start a Fintech startup! NO, DON'T! Huh ?

Quit banking and start a Fintech startup! NO, DON'T! Huh ? | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
Two recent entrants into Singapore’s burgeoning start-up scene explain why they left stable finance jobs to found a new fintech company.
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

Two articles a week apart in efinancialcareers. One about two bankers who left banking to start a Fintech startup - and seem to like it. Another one (http://news.efinancialcareers.com/uk-en/214012/read-this-before-you-even-think-of-quitting-banking/) about a banker who did the same and finds it "frickin hard"! 


I do meet quite a lot of ex-bankers who are trying the Fintech adventure, in general it seems that people are finding it harder than they thought - but then that would be the same for all entrepreneurs, not just ex-bankers. My advice to bankers: it's harder than you think, and realise that generating cash in a startup is very very difficult - which means that you'll likely have to raise money and be prepared for it. There are however many examples of bankers who've launched FIntech startups that have traction (Algomi, MarketInvoice, Nutmeg, etc.)


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Data-based lender Bond Street "raises" $110m

Data-based lender Bond Street "raises" $110m | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
Bond Street today announced a $110 million investment from to help them make fast-paced loans to companies traditional banks might otherwise leave untouched, and in the future to serve as advisors of sorts for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

Heard about them a few months ago, and now see that they just "raised" $110m. (Note to readers: amounts quoted for alt lenders are sometimes confusing, mixing "investment" and "loan". In this case, it seems that Bond Street received $10m equity investment and $100m loan).


From what I understand, they are similar to Kabbage/Ondeck (i.e. what I call data-based lending), but seem to charge much lower rates, so might be targeting a different segment. 


This is the future anyway, and we've even seen Goldman entering that space recently (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/you-cant-beat-them-join-goldman-sachs-coming-fintech-huy-nguyen-trieu?trk=prof-post)


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Will online banks cannibalise their parents?

Will online banks cannibalise their parents? | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
The new chief executive of NAB's standalone online bank UBank has predicted rapid growth home loans via mobile devices, and said Big Four rivals seemingly lacked the courage to launch competing institutions.
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

A bank that wants to disrupt itself through the launch of an online bank… That is the story of UBank and its parent, National Australia Bank. 


This was the model of HSBC and First Direct a while ago, but this could be much more common now with the launch of online banks. This is clearly one of the strategies that banks can use to innovate faster… Enjoyable article that shows the results of such an experiment - with good results so far. 


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Regulation, Finance,… and Fintech?

Regulation, Finance,… and Fintech? | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
For so long the darling of dealer derivatives desks, pension funds’ refusal to post cash collateral means banks are introducing new charges, and some are rethinking...
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

Don't read this article except if you like hardcore derivatives!


An interesting point though is how regulation is totally changing the world of fixed income derivatives, and the types of transactions that banks can do with clients. This is such a humongous issue that there are likely to be Fintech startups that will enter that space - and it's one of the areas of Fintech that is likely to be driven by ex bankers. A good example is Algomi (founded by ex Deutsch Bank traders) which is addressing the issue of illiquidity in the bond market due to the impact of bank regulations. 


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5 things we got totally wrong about FinTech

5 things we got totally wrong about FinTech | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
When we started our FinTech startup Regalii, over 3 years ago, I thought that we knew everything there was to know about FinTech and its customers.
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

Great read from a real entrepreneur in Fintech. And great lessons for all those who want to launch FIntech startups. The one which is often overlooked : " Customer acquisition is expensive!"


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Trends in Fintech Startups: Data, Payments, Lending and SMEs

Trends in Fintech Startups: Data, Payments, Lending and SMEs | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it

Fintech hackathons and competitions occur globally. In January 2012, Swift launched theInnotribe Startup Competition as an initiative to bring together disruptive startups and incumbents in financial services...

Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

Very interesting overview of the most popular sectors for Fintech startups (or at least those that manage to win events such as hackathons).

I am happily surprised by the number of startups involved in data analysis (which is one of the most promising opportunities in my opinion). I am not too surprised though by the large number of startups in payments, lending and SMEs, they are usually quite popular sectors. 

It seems that Blockchain is under-represented in the rankings, especially considering the huge noise in that space. 

And if there was one obvious category missing, that would clearly be insurance. They might be aggregated in "Others", but still it shows that the focus on Insurtech is still very low - this is certainly one of the interesting opportunities for startups in financial services.

If we take a step back, it's quite incredible that the writer found 186 winners across 18 Fintech competitions - how quickly the world has changed in just a few years, where there were not even 186 Fintech startups globally! There is definitely a healthy eco-system for entrepreneurs in Fintech today..

And on a separate note, very proud to be on the advisory board of  Trusting Social - one of the 4 startups mentioned (out of 186).


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Why did Blackrock pay $200m for FutureAdvisor?

Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

It seems like I could start writing a series around this theme, after "Why did Northwestern Mutual pay $250m for Learnvest"


FT Partners - who were the advisors of Blackrock in the transaction - produced an excellent document that not only summarises the transaction, but also lists all the main transactions (M&A and funding) in the robo-advisor space. 


The valuation of the deal is not public, and is rumoured between $100m and $200m. The previous valuation from their VC round was $75m a year ago, so $200m for example wouldn't seem crazy. 


In the case of FutureAdvisor, the traditional valuation metrics clearly do not apply. If FutureAdvisor was valued as a traditional asset manager, their valuation would be more around $30m assuming they have around $1bn under management. Why would Blackrock pay such a premium for a startup that is clearly growing, but hasn't yet proven its revenue model ? 


My view is that there are 4 main reasons why Blackrock bought FA, (or Northwestern bought Learnvest, BBVA bought Simple, etc.): 

- Acquires a product with a user interface that gets client traction. The difficulty of creating a product that appeals to consumers shouldn't be underestimated.

- Helps to launch a new offering, integrated with their existing ones, very quickly. 

- Injects innovation in their organization, through the integration of the startup team.

- Signals to the organisation, and the markets, the strong focus on innovation.


For startups that manage to build a strong product, but find  that customer acquisition is too expensive, this would be a natural exit strategy. For traditional finance, that is a way to boost their innovation efforts at a moderate cost. For these reasons, we are likely to see other similar deals in the future. 


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SoFi: a Fintech that uses Techniques from Traditional Investment Banks

SoFi: a Fintech that uses Techniques from Traditional Investment Banks | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it

"SoFi, a marketplace lender, announced it has priced a securitization of $417.6 million in refinanced student loans. It also announced SoFi was considered the first fintech company to receive an “AAA” rating from DBRS and an “AA2″ from Moody’s for the senior notes, which equaled $387.3 million."

Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

SoFi is one of the most interesting p2p lenders in my opinion. Although they are less well known that Lending Club or Prosper, they are perhaps the best to combine traditional finance to online lending.


They were the first to use securitization for their loans, then the first to get a rating from S&P, and now to get a AAA rating (arguably from DBRS, not S&P or Moody's).


They mention that 2/3 of all securitizations in online lending are made by SoFi. They are definitely a company to follow, because they are a good example of how online lending could be a part of traditional investment banking in the future.


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Is more data good or bad for finance? And society?

Is more data good or bad for finance? And society? | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it

A standard line you hear from fintech promoters is that innovative digital technologies can liberate the world by bringing financial services to the financially excluded.

Yet, as we've noted on numerous occasions, there's something disingenuous about this claim."

Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

Last week, I tried to put on (electronic) paper what I thought would be the main game-changer for finance in the next 10 years and was delighted to receive very insightful comments from many people. 


In a few words, I thought that traditional finance was not monetizing data in the way that other companies like Google or Credit Karma were doing, and that data monetization would significantly impact business models in finance. Some people agreed, some argued that banks were already monetizing data - just not in the same way as Google -, some thought that it was rubbish! Fair enough, it's hard to know what the future will be, and we're all guessing...


I was also absolutely delighted when Izabella Kaminska from FT Alphaville quoted my piece in her article "When financial inclusion stands for financial intrusion". (I am a big fan of hers, and her healthy skepticism about 'technological progress'). I wouldn't do her much justice by paraphrasing her thoughts, so I encourage you to read her excellent piece. It reminds us that there is much to be learnt from history, especially when we think about data privacy rights. 


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Singapore Financial Regulator Launches Fintech Group

Singapore Financial Regulator Launches Fintech Group | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
The central bank has formed a new work group to develop strategies and formulate regulation around the use of new technologies in financial services.. Read more at straitstimes.com.
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

Regulation can have a huge impact on startups, and especially Fintech startups. Usually people think that Fintech startups have an edge because they are less regulated than traditional finance, but I think that it's not the case anymore - any entrepreneur who wants to build a world-class company now has to integrate regulatory concerns in his business plan. 


However, it's very difficult to know what is the regulatory framework in a field that doesn't exist! For example, crowdfunding, p2p lending, digital currencies, etc. are very new concepts that do not fit neatly into any existing regulations. I was therefore very impressed by the initiative of the UK regulator last October who basically said:


- They want to promote innovation
- Innovation often comes from startups
- Startups do not have the means to spend money on lawyers, etc.to understand regulations which are still changing
- The FCA therefore set up a group for startups to have a direct line to the regulator - to address regulatory issues from outset


At pretty much the same time, Singapore was also looking at ways to make Singapore the hub for Fintech in Asia - with an investment of Infocomm in StartupBootCap, representatives of MAS in London discussing with the FIntech ecosystem, etc


This initiative from MAS - very similar to the FCA's last year - is therefore very impressive too, and this is exactly what is needed to build a strong framework for FIntech in Asia.


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Ex Google Boss Launches Credit Scoring Startup

Ex Google Boss Launches Credit Scoring Startup | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
Dan Cobley has co-founded ClearScore, which opened to the public today. His fintech company builder Brightbridge is putting £10 million into the business.
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

Credit scoring is one of the most interesting areas of Fintech in my opinion (disclaimer : I am on the advisory board of Trusting Social).


In the same way that Google or Facebook monetize data by selling targeted ads, credit scoring is the equivalent in finance - but in a much more powerful way, because it involves financial data. So it's clearly not a surprise to see an ex Google launching a startup in that space. 


At the moment, ClearScore seems to be similar to Credit Karma - helps users to improve their credit score - but it wouldn't be surprising that the long-term plan is about monetization of financial data


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Mobile Banking Provides Lifeline for Bangladeshis

Mobile Banking Provides Lifeline for Bangladeshis | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
Millions of people in Bangladesh with limited access to traditional banks are turning to mobile money services, where cash can be stored in virtual wallets and transfers are just a text away.
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

Very interesting article - 15% of Bangladeshis use mobile money, whereas they would normally not have access to a bank account. We have seen and will see very interesting Fintech applications in emerging markets, and they will be very different from those in Europe/US. Unlike Europe/US, emerging markets might jump directly to Fintech, in the same way as they leapfrogged landline and went straight to mobile communications. 


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How Funding Circle went from $15m to $1bn in 4 years

How Funding Circle went from $15m to $1bn in 4 years | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it

Funding Circle has thus far reacted with graceful discretion to numerous reports, all un-substantiated, that the company has achieved the coveted ‘Unicorn’ status – Silicon Valley speak for a private tech company valued at more than $1 billion. Ever since the company completed a $150m funding round in April of this year speculation has pointed to a total value of upwards of $1 billion. At the time the number was impossible to prove and the company neither confirmed nor denied.

Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

It's always fascinating to see how the valuation of a startup increases. The problem of course is that most of the time, this information is not public, so you can only guess what it is based on the amounts raised.


Which is why this investigative work by AltFi is very interesting and shows how Funding Circle went from a £8m valuation 4 years ago to almost 100 times that amount today. Also, we can see how the valuation more than doubled between September 14 and now. 


Obviously, there are all the approximations that the are being pointed out by the author, but my view is that it's a great analysis - and obviously very welcome for comparables.


In my quest for the Fintech company that can be a $100bn company ("kilocorn" anyone?), Funding Circle is definitely on the list (with Lending Club and SoFi for example), so definitely great to see the traction. 


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Why Fintech startups will want to look into IRREGULAR INCOME

Why Fintech startups will want to look into IRREGULAR INCOME | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
In the past all budgeting apps started with the same question: How much money do you make each month?
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

I think that the way we work will change dramatically (http://sco.lt/8UoA1B) with the rise of marketplaces/freelancers. 


That has of course an impact on the way people are paid, and it seems that IRREGULAR INCOME is a theme that we will hear a lot in the next few years. 


And of course, there will be Fintech startups that will try to address this, and we're starting to see those. Very interesting area in my opinion - not necessarily groundbreaking, but answers a real need. 


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Lexoo: a digital marketplace for legal services - FT.com

Lexoo: a digital marketplace for legal services - FT.com | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
It is especially true of the professions that it takes an insider’s know-how to identify where innovation can be applied to maximum effect. And so it is that a former M&A lawyer is applying data, algorithms and new working habits to change the way
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

I believe that marketplaces will have a profound impact on society - in the same way as the corporation did. People used to work for themselves - for example in the 19th century -  but now the accepted model is that people work for corporations. 


I think (not sure though) that there has been a shift 10/20 years ago where more people started to work for themselves again (eg. freelancers) but marketplaces are accelerating that trend. 


So will today's children work in a company like IBM, or smaller companies like Pret A Manger, or just for themselves and use a marketplace like Uber or Lexoo ? Obviously, a lot needs to be thought of in terms of social protection, financial impact, etc. 


For Fintech, there are a lot of opportunities in that space too...


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Insurance-Tech Startups Are Invading The Multi-Trillion Dollar Insurance Industry

Insurance-Tech Startups Are Invading The Multi-Trillion Dollar Insurance Industry | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
Companies in the insurance tech space raised $2.12B since 2010 a whopping $1.39B of which has come since the start of 2014. 2015 is already the biggest year on record. Investor interest in the space is up 9x.
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

My view is that Insurtech (InsureTech? InTech?) will be huge because insurance companies have still much to do in terms of digitalisation (i.e. compare the online account of your bank vs. your health insurance - if it exists at all).


So very interesting to see the huge growth in that space, although it's still 10 times smaller than Fintech (2014 : $12bn in Fintech vs. $1.4bn in Insurtech, 700 deals in Fintech, 50 in Insurtech) https://www.cbinsights.com/blog/fintech-and-banking-accenture/


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When entrepreneurs make society better

When entrepreneurs make society better | Disruptive Finance and Fintech | Scoop.it
Paris-born Alexandre Mars may live in New York, but he is never far from French pastry. He rents the basement offices of his philanthropic start-up from the owner of the Soho branch of Ladurée, whose tea salon on the ground floor of the building is
Huy Nguyen Trieu's insight:

A very inspirational story - all the more since Alex is a very good friend and I've witnessed his story since the beginning. I still remember the long nights of building a startup 15 years ago in New York, when already at that time he had this burning desire to change the world - for the common good. 


2 successful exits later, and he's doing exactly that. It's very heart warming to see successful entrepreneurs giving back and applying their skills of entrepreneurs to help society. Hats off Alex!


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