About Fintech Week

A Look at the World Leaders in FinTech

When it comes to the who’s who of financial-based technology, you can find it all at the FinTech conference. Taking place in Silicon Valley, New York, and London over the summer, it gives people in the industry a chance to network, learn the latest technology news, and discover what the trends are likely to be for the remainder of 2017 and going into 2018.

Whether you are currently employed in the industry or you’re a student studying an international relations degree, the event provides incredible amounts of information. So, just who are the world leaders in FinTech right now? Who is leading the way and driving the industry forward? Here’s a look at a small handful. Some of these are a given, while others may surprise you a bit.

Hewlett-Packard

Hewlett-Packard, aka HP, is an American company with offices around the world. This information technology company has headquarters in Palo Alto, CA and is well known for its hardware. Just this year, it went about splitting up its software division to Micro Focus and its enterprise services division to DXC Technology. It now operates under the name HP Inc.

Intel

This is yet another American multinational corporation in the technology sector. Also headquartered in California, it is responsible for the world’s second highest valued semiconductor chip makers. The only company ahead of it in this area is Samsung. The company will be 50-years-old next year and has total assets valued at US$113.3 billion.

Yahoo!

Yahoo! is one of those technology companies that literally changed the way that people communicate and do business online. It was one of the first to lead the way in internet usage back in the 1990s. At just 23 years of age, it has revenue of $1.31 billion. It is estimated that 700 million people use the Yahoo websites on a monthly basis.

eBay

eBay is one of those in the fintech industry that you may be surprised to see show up on the list, but it’s just as influential as the other companies listed and is a pioneer itself. It has total assets of US$23.84 billion and was founded in 1995. It shaped the way people buy and sell online and remains a leader in the niche today.

Google

Founded in 1998, this is one of the youngest companies on the list, but it is no shrinking violet. Google is an absolute giant in the internet, software, and computer hardware industries. It currently employs more than 57,000 people and isn’t just a company but an entire culture.

Intriguing Leaders Worth Following

No matter how small these companies started, each of them has become a pioneer in their own way and continues to lead the industry where technology and finances are concerned. Their hardware, software, and platforms are what make today’s advances and developments possible. Whether you are engaged in an international affairs masters degree, have just started in the industry, or you’ve been in it for decades, there is no shortage of world leaders involved in FinTech.

The Start of Your Entrepreneur Journey: How to Get Your Business Out There

You have finally done it. You’ve finally taken the big brave step of handing in your resignation to follow your dreams, and start your journey as an entrepreneur. After months of product research, business planning, laughter and tears: congratulations are in order. You know that there is a need for your product or service, but how do you get the customers to see the benefits too?

The first step is to go back to your business plan. How much have you allocated for your marketing budget? For a new business, it is recommended that you have a budget set for between 12% and 20% of your projected annual revenue – it seems a high percentage but as your business establishes after the first year, you will need substantially less (think between 6% and 12%). Hopefully this question has not made you bite your lip. If it has, you need to consider you options for short term business loans. Whilst you may feel uncomfortable taking out a loan, it is in these early days that you will need a cash injection to get your business off the ground, but by investing in a marketing strategy your return on investment is sky high.

Branding

Your brand needs to promote your business, connect you with your customers and differentiate you from the market competition. You want your brand to represent your business values and create trust, you want it to characterize your core beliefs. This is more than an image or a banner – this is going to be longtime partner of yours so you need to get it right. Once you have a logo and brand to be proud of, be sure to use it whenever you can: e-mails, any documents that you send out in the post, packaging and stationery.

Website

Your website is the gateway to your success. It needs to be brand heavy and be instantly recognizable as the digital face of the company. You need to have a website that goes beyond being user friendly, you want it to inspire visitors to become customers. Have a blog section on your site to attract more visitors; by having audience relevant and informative content that matches what people are searching for, they have distinguished themselves as being interested in your product. Make sure that your content is optimized for search engines to help people find you as easily as possible. Remember that social media is your friend, and you need to use it to generate interest in your site.

Mobile Billboard

Mobile business promotion isn’t just for tradesmen. Think about the number of people that see your vehicle during the day. Vehicle wrap advertising means that you can have removable stickers on your car that display your logo and contact details. How do you think you recognize Ford, BMW and Audi? It’s because you subliminally see their logos day in day out – take advantage of this for your company.

You are in a great position to turn your business into a success. Think clearly and concisely who your customers are going to be, and what they need from you. Provide them with solutions. By understanding who your target customers are, you can develop a marketing strategy to promote your business to them.

A Look at the Best Health Tech Gadgets of 2017

Ever since fitness wearables became the ‘in thing’, people have been more health conscious than ever before. Luckily, the technology we have available to us today is enabling people to monitor all aspects of their health in ways never before dreamed about. Even the online MHA degree has sectors devoted to health tech due to the impact it is having on our society. Whether you are a Maryville University MHA degree online graduate looking into the latest tech for your degree or just someone who likes finding out more about health technology, keep reading for a list of some of the best gadgets to have been released so far this year.

Omron Evolv

If you suffer from high blood pressure, the Omron Evolv is for you. Available for just $89, the device is wireless and light enough to transport anywhere. It comes with an app which enables you to monitor your blood pressure on a daily basis. The device measures a number of data points and can sync the information to your doctor. It’s really effortless to use and the information it displays is accurate and easy to understand.

QardioBase

There are a lot of apps and fitness wearables available today that are designed to encourage us to move more, and lose weight in the process. What we haven’t seen much of are smart scales. The QardioBase changes this. The scale is able to not only display your weight but also your body fat, muscle mass, bone ratio, heart rate, and BMI. The scales connect to a free-to-download app that is available for both iOS and Android. Better yet, the scales cost just $129.99 and can be used by every member of the family. Now that’s smart tech!

Philips Advance Centrifugal Juicer

Fiber is one of the most important nutrients when it comes to digestion, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. However, unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough of it in our diets. One way of changing this is by investing in the Philips Advance Centrifugal Juicer. The juicer can be purchased for $299.99, and although this may seem like a lot, it’s not a novelty item that will end up in the back of your cupboard. The juicer has different settings on it so you can adjust how smooth you want your juice to be, and it’s also really easy to clean. It promises to provide refreshing juice with up to 50% more fiber per portion.

Wair Smart Scarf

If you’ve visited any Asian country, it’s likely that you’ve seen people wearing masks and scarfs to keep the air pollution out of their lungs. The Wair Smart Scarf works on the same principle. However, it’s fashionable as well. This innovative device aims to keep your lungs clean without compromising on fashion. And, like any good health tech device, it is compatible with an app which monitors the air pollution levels in your area.

These four gadgets are by no means all of the great tech we’ve seen so far this year. It will be interesting to see what the rest of 2017 brings.

Why You Need to Optimise Email Marketing Across Devices

On an average day, 53% of emails are opened on a mobile device. This is elevated to 75% during the holiday season. You need to ensure your emails are mobile friendly, otherwise, your emails will be ignored and sent to junk. How do you optimise email marketing across all electronic devices? This is how.

Although personalised, automated content can generate 320% more revenue, a responsive, well-designed email can make all the difference. You need to employ an email marketing campaign including mobile friendly email templates, which can be opened and easily read on mobile phones, tablets and desktops.

Once the email has been created, never assume your email looks great on mobile phones or tablets; instead, check. By not checking, you run the risk of sending customers a poorly functioning email which will lessen your click-through rates and sales.

Ensuring your emails can be accessed and read on mobile devices means your customer base is more readily available. With more people living busier lifestyles, they rely on their mobile phones when checking business and personal emails. You will be widening your business’s reach while increasing your online visibility and brand’s awareness.

We live in a technology-based society. With people living busy lives, most online activity is conducted on mobile phones. Although you need to ensure your email is optimised for multiple devices, you also need to send relevant and targeted content.

Tools to Better Connect Businesses and Customers

Customer satisfaction is important for your business if they are happy with your service, they are more likely to recommend you to others. Developing and maintaining that comfort is not always easy. In many cases, it can take an approach from numerous angles to reach your customers and engage with them.

Seeking advice if you are unsure is the best way forward, and making it part of your marketing campaign will enable others within your company to share ideas and offer solutions.

Website

If you have a website, you can use it to become more engaged with your customers. Creating content that is relevant to your business and engaging with the people who read it, will encourage more interaction. Ask their clients opinion on different topics, such as a new design or product. It will not only make your clients feel more involved, but it will also allow you to gauge public opinion on the new products.

You can run advertisement campaigns and competitions on your site as well. Competitions, in particular, are always a good way of getting visitors to your website. If you offer one of your products as a prize, you are also promoting your brand and hopefully using word of mouth to sell it.

Social Media

Social media platforms are growing all the time; it is one of the principle ways that many people see news and catch up with events. It is also a way that they engage with the brands they like and ones they are exposed to on their feed.

Regularly posting on sites like Twitter and Facebook will get your customers involved and can encourage them to click through to your website. You can post a link from your site to your social media accounts to promote a product or competition, but beware that you do not want just to promote your products. Posting about other related topics in the news will add another dimension to your business and lead the customer to feel closer to your brand.

Software

You can use your software to make sure you are engaged with your clients. Even simple things such as having an available email address can make customers less frustrated. If your existing software is not able to achieve this, then migrating to Office 365 or other similar software can help. It has all the functions you need while enabling you to access it wherever you are.

Listening to Customers

Social media is all about communication, and this is a two-way street. If you post something on your feed, you should be prepared to answer any comments or questions you get. Customers feel closer to brands that take the time to respond to them and value what they say.

The same applies to your website, you are not always going to get positive comments, but the way you deal with them is important. Always try to respond, even if it is to offer an opinion or to tell them to speak to one of your colleagues. The fact that you have bothered to respond will make all the difference.

Career Opportunities in the FinTech Industry

The changes that have happened in the Financial Services world over the last decade have been huge. Technology has completely redefined the processes within financial services companies and what customers expect from them. The banking sector is a great example, where the traditional method of going into your local branch to arrange a mortgage, take out a credit card or perform a simple transaction has changed greatly.

Now the majority of customers want to be able to do everything that they need through the convenience of a few clicks within the app on the smartphone. If a bank can’t provide that solution for them, then this could be a good reason for the customer to change banks. Due to this change in demand and the costs associated with running a large network of branches, most banks have significantly reduced their number of branches.

According to the Telegraph, 2017 will see an overall reduction of 525 branches. This included 148 RBS and Natwest, 117 HSBC, 95 Lloyds/Halifax, 79 Clydesdale/Yorkshire Bank and 38 TSB. The demand for digital banking is already very high, but the next generations of customers won’t know anything other than digital banking.

Traditional banking methods like the use of cheques will be part of history when they become obsolete in 2018. This will reduce the requirement for branch even more. So, with all of these changes in banking and reduced jobs in branches, it means there is an increasing need for FinTech roles.

Jobs like Software Engineer, Developer, SQL Database Administrator, Agile Product Manager, Machine Learning Developer, UX Designer will be in demand; a simple search on any job site will bring back a large percentage of technical roles, and this pattern will only increase over the years to come as we move closer to a world where banking and financial services are fully digitalised. Whatever sector you look at, you can see how it has been impacted by technology, whether it is providing mock driving theory tests through sites like toptests.co.uk or arranging your car insurance through a comparison site. Learning the theory behind driving is becoming digitalised, as well as other forms of learning through an online university. FinTech is not a solo industry using new technology and innovation; many others are too.

For students thinking about the types of jobs they can go into, there certainly is a lot of choices these days. CEO of Funding Options, Conrad Ford, recently provided some advice for people looking to work in the FinTech sector with a view of launching their own Startup. One of the first pieces of advice was to take up a Graduate Scheme if offered one. The amount of experience and support you generally get through these schemes will set you up really well for the future.

He also said that people shouldn’t be afraid of being wrong or failing. The ability to get over any failure quickly will help. Ford also explained that getting too big too soon would hold people back, how you should never get complacent and you must be ready to adapt. As the FinTech industry becomes bigger, we will no doubt see plenty of Startups emerging over the next ten years across the UK.

How to Create an Effective Social Media Strategy

Social media is easily one of the most effective marketing tools in today’s modern world. Use it well, and you could create long-lasting connections with your customers. Sadly, many marketers fail to create a social media strategy, which can result in poor posts or a PR catastrophe. We are therefore providing some top tips to help you create a clear plan.

Define Goals

Before you do anything, you must sit down and define your social media goals, such as why are you embarking on a social media campaign? Do you want to increase your brand awareness? Drive sales? Connect with customers?

While many of the goals will often go hand-in-hand, there will be some goals that are more important than the others. So, you should sit down to focus on just one or two strategies to ensure you reach your mission.

Set Clear Objectives

Your goals will be tied to your objectives. For example, set measurable, realistic expectations each month, such as attaining 100 leads per month or boosting your social media followers by 50% each month. Remember, you should try to set achievable goals, or your achievements will only deflate you.

Create Customer Personas

It is essential to market social media posts to the right audience, which is why you should aim to create buyer personas that detail the perfect customer. For example, what is their age, income range, marital status, dislikes, hobbies, etc? By identifying the dream consumer, you will know who to target with each post.

Gain YouTube Subscribers

With one in two internet users using YouTube each month, it is one of the most influential channels online and has the power to considerably boost your brand if used well. With the active audience looking for brands they can trust, it is important to develop a strong social media presence as soon as possible, which will encourage more people to subscribe to your account. It might, therefore, be beneficial to buy YouTube channel subscribers, which will provide real volume that can improve your online profile and integrity.

Research Your Competition

Make sure you research the competition to spot any gaps in the market and identify where they are going right or wrong. You may be able to learn from their mistakes or integrate their successes into your own social media campaign.

So, carefully study their posts, customer responses, the tone of voice and any culture references they use. You should also review how well their posts are working, such as their social media likes, shares and comments.

Pick the Perfect Channels

Every social media channel has different functions. For example, Facebook is a great tool for content marketing and can drive a significant amount of traffic to a website, while Instagram is more visual and utilizes high-quality photos. However, if you are targeting entrepreneurs, businesses and potential industry affiliates, LinkedIn is the ideal platform. You should always select the right social media channels to complement a brand’s needs.

A Beginner’s Guide to Application Hosting

Application hosting provides the smooth delivery of software to the customer via the internet. Whether you want to power a content management application, database app or an email management platform, the innovative hosting solution is the ideal choice for anyone creating a SaaS business.

Low Maintenance Costs

Unlike with on-premises deployment, application hosting will offer low maintenance costs, because both the management of the hardware and software will be the provider’s responsibility.

24/7 Support

Your SaaS business can benefit from continual support for the duration of your hosting plan. What’s more, you can also benefit from any new updates, which will be installed in a centralized location, so you do not have to worry about updating new versions.

You can, therefore, continue to benefit from the latest innovations, as well as the host’s extensive knowledge and experience to deliver a SaaS service that will not let your customers down.

Improved Accessibility

Unlike with on-premises deployments, an application hosting solution will be deployed across a cloud-based server. As a result, it has never been easier for the user to access the software on any device, anywhere in the world at any time – all they will need is an internet connection. All a user will need to do is login to gain access to the cloud-based software.

Limited Risk

You will be happy to know there is a limited risk when it comes to adopting a hosting plan. In some cases, a SaaS business will be able to host their application on a pay-as-you-go or short-term plan. So, if it is not right for your needs, you can simply cancel the plan and go back to the drawing board.

Bespoke Package

Umbee Hosting, a leading provider of managed services, SQL and hosted desktop solutions, can manage your application hosting solution from start to finish, as they can create a bespoke design combined with centralized data and built-in security. What’s more, you can scale the hosting solution up and down to suit your company’s needs so that the services can grow alongside your business.

Ideal for Different Size Businesses

Application hosting is ideal for both start-up companies and established organizations, as it allows you to completely or partially migrate from an on-premises client/server licensing model to hosting the application in the cloud. So, it is ideal for first-time businesses looking for a hosting plan to established companies hoping to transition to the cloud.

Integrated Backup

Every business has a legal requirement to keep their customers’ data safe and secure at all times, which means protecting the sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands or being destroyed. It is, therefore, essential to speak to an application hosting provider to identify if they provide integrated backup service. This will allow you to store your files in a safe location, so you can restore your documents should the worst happen.

Anyone considering launching a SaaS business should consider application hosting, which can provide the flexibility, security and accessibility you need for an improved customer experience.

Dealing with Profits in a Fintech SME

When you first begin your small business journey, your main objective is to build a sustainable business. You may not expect to make a profit for a few years. Many fintech startups don’t go into the black for several years, particularly those with significant startup costs on their balance sheet. However, sooner or later, if you do everything right and the economic winds are behind you, your fintech SME will start making money. The question you have to deal with at this point is what to do with the profits.

Reinvest in the Business

The most obvious way to deal with profits is to reinvest the money back into the business. In the early days, this won’t be optional, as you will need every dime you make to grow the business. Cash flow is critical. Without healthy cash flow, your business will suffer and grind to a halt. It is difficult to pay creditors or staff salaries with insufficient cash reserves. Diverting excess profits into a cash reserve account for a rainy day is a sensible way forward. This will give you a useful cushion of cash in the event the business is hit by unexpected expenses.

Paying Dividends

Dividends are a tax effective way of withdrawing cash from a business. Most business owners pay themselves a salary and top this up with dividend payments. There are strict rules concerning dividend payments and you can’t just withdraw cash from the business’s bank account each time you need money. Dividends have to be agreed at a board meeting before they can be issued. There also needs to be sufficient distributable profits for dividends to be paid, or you become liable for paying tax on the money.

Charitable Donations

Many small businesses make donations to charitable causes. It is a way of giving something back to the local community and supporting organizations you feel strongly about. However, whilst there are tax advantages attached to using some of your profits in charitable donations, you need to support the right organizations.

Non-profits are not driven by shareholders. They have different financial and legal obligations and their non-profit status qualifies them for tax exempt status. The majority of charities are run ethically and above board and their primary goal is to help others. However, some individuals set up charities with the express aim of lining their own pockets, so before you support as charity, it is a good idea to check their financial status. Anyone can check the financial status of a non-profit by running a 990 search. Make sure you do this before handing over cash to support a cause.

Invest in Your Pension

Reinvesting profits in a pension plan is a tax effective way to use excess profits from a business. Any money you place in a pension plan is not subject to personal taxation, so if you don’t need the money, skip the dividends and place your share of the profits in a pension pot.

Always speak to your accountant before making financial decisions in your fintech company.

The rising costs of cyber security

As the threat of cyber attacks are on an upward spiral, as are the costs for businesses who need to continue protecting their company data. There have been recent warnings from cyber security experts that they anticipate a big rise in hacker ransoms, which will not only affect businesses, but anybody who owns an online device. They expect these hackers will be targeting smartphones, televisions and even fitness watches. The fight against cyber criminals is climbing to a whole new level.

Most businesses have been spending large amounts of money on cyber security for some time now, but regulators are getting tougher on businesses that aren’t complying with the minimum standards. Businesses that are found to have inadequate systems and processes in place will stand to receive large fines. This is on top of the already high risk of reputational damage that any type of cyber security breach will normally entail.

The government budgeted a record amount of money into cyber security for the next five years as cyber hacking is a growing concern which shows no sign of disappearing. The fact of the matter is, the more devices that are connected to the internet, the more opportunities that are presented to the criminals. In a world where it has become the norm to conduct banking and other high-risk transactions using your smartphone, this is a problem that will fail to end any time soon.

The banking sector are prime targets for hackers, meaning it is paramount for consumers to select a back with high levels of cyber security. Whether you are looking for SBA loans or taking out a mortgage, it is important to select a bank who is dedicated to protecting their customers. You can check whether a webpage is secure by looking at the URL address. Sites with security installed will display a padlock symbol. Check LendGenius as an example.

Or course, back in the day, businesses never thought cyber-attacks would ever pose enough of a problem that would result in them spending money in expensive defenses. This is because, as hackers grow in sophistication, businesses must follow for their own benefit and security. When buying cyber security, it is not only a system you purchase, but a person with has the required expertise, and as there is a high demand in the recruitment market for people with these types of skills and experience, they are able to ask for the high figures.

Due to this high request, the experts in this area can demand high salaries, meaning businesses do not have the option to bow out. If you underinvest in cyber security, then you will be subjected to fines and possible reputational damage. However, overinvest and you are paying out huge salaries for the types of skills that used to be set within standard IT pay bands.

Today is a difficult time for businesses when it comes to hiring the right people who possess the skills and expertise for this growing epidemic. With the pattern of increased cyber-attacks looking to rise in the near future, this is a precaution both businesses and governments must consider and continue investing in when combating these criminal masterminds.