LFP231 – Accelerating Monetary and Banking Change inc Debanking, Gold Repatriation & BRICs Gold Plans w/Mario Innecco

So rapid is the rate of change in banking and the nature of and control of money right now that today we set a record and have a returning guests a mere 6 months later. Mario (YouTube Channel) first joined us in Feb22 for the gargantuan LFP197 “Money in the 21stC: Ballooning Printing of Fiat/QE/”MMT”/Govt Debt, CBDCs, Crypto, Dedollarisation, Hyperinflation, Gold” and more recently in Feb23 for LFP220 “Has A Century Of The Federal Reserve and 50 Years Off The Gold Standard Directly Led To Monetary and Social Disaster for the West?”.

Now we cover the accelerating trends whose tap roots run deep. The first we might call “debanking” – banks debanking themselves by going bust, banks debanking individuals by denying them bank accounts and banks debanking “cash” to ensure  no alternative (&with CBDCs on the horizon to increase their already way too mighty power).

Separately as many entirely foresaw “debanking” of Russia (Nazi Germany was not debanked of its reserves even in WW2) and the US having economically “sanctioned” one-third of the countries on the planet the second fruit is a creation of a non-dollar-centric financial system with Gold Repatriation, BRICs planning a gold-backed medium of exchange for trade.

As money is not just central to the lives of Financiers and Fintechers but everyone on the planet its the most vital topic to track and so we take stock in mid-2023 of where we are and where we are going.

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LFP230 – Islamic Finance, Fintech & Broader Issues for Ethical Investment w/Umer Suleman CRO Wahed

In this episode we dive not just into the world of Islamic Finance and Fintech but the practical lessons we can learn from the world’s oldest “ethical investment” tradition. In particular in an ever-changing world there is always the need to extend and interpret any given set of “ethical finance” guidelines for new circumstances. The Islamic world has had vastly longer to get to grips with managing this confluence of principle and practice in a Heraclitean world of constant change.

In LFP223 we heard about Fintech in the Middle East and North Africa in which regions there are varying mixtures of traditional/Islamic/sharia finance and conventional/modern finance. Umer Suleman has worked in the public sector, at Ernst and Young, HSBC and now at Wahed – an ethical and values driven investment platform based in New York – – an ethical and values driven investment platform based in New York who are perhaps the world’s largest Islamic Fintech – and so is well-placed to appreciate both conventional and Islamic Finance and their complex relationships and how they have changed over time. He is also a member of the Islamic Finance Council of the UK and so well-immersed in this topic.

In this episode we get to understand the challenge and opportunity of serving a specific demographic. Needless to say especially younger demographics around the world in general are becoming ever-more demanding in terms of products and services in the tech age and this too certainly applies to the more religious of the younger Muslim users of FS who may no longer be prepared to accept the inevitable compromises with a world where the Financial System operates almost entirely based on interest that previous generations may have tolerated/had to tolerate.

So plenty of education, rich content and lessons to be learned beyond one particular demographic!

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LFP229 – Key Themes in US Fintech, Past, Present & Future w/Michael Fanfant Runa Capital

The next in our geographic coverage series on global Fintech past present and future with a special bonus of a taste of Fintech in Asia as Michael, a former Fintech founder himself turned VC at Runa Capital had just returned from a three week trip all around the region.

Like all regions the US has its peculiarities – not least of which the structure of State and Federal regulation which depending on your vertical can be – as it were – more federal or more confederal in flavour. As in many circs the US can also be a country of extremes on the one hand gestating the likes of Paypal one of the very earliest of Fintechs yet on the other being one of the longest holdouts in the western world for the widespread use of cheques.

So in this episode we look at some key themes past, present and future for Fintech and given the US’ outsize role in the global ecosystem there are also some generic topics such as the evolution and possible future or not of key Fintech “inventions” such as P2P and Crypto.

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LFP228 – Does Regulation Need a Phase Shift? w/Alistair Cotton co-founder Integrated Finance

Is the structure of regulation in need of refactoring? Do we have a kind of Reg Debt situation – cf Tech Debt – where organic growth has led to complexity, inefficiency and indeed regulations stretched beyond their original purpose?

In this episode Alistair and I discuss some specific examples that would indicate that after as much as a decade of evolution it is perhaps time for a rethink or a refactoring of the reg base.

Integrated Finance was founded when the co-founders found challenges in scaling their prior Fintech startup. Alistair has worked in FS, founded a Fintech and now a Fintech to help Banks and Fintechs so has experienced the regulatory issue in the round.

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LFP227 – Fintech in the Middle East and North Africa w/Said Murad Partner Global Ventures

The latest in the LFP’s coverage of Fintech in geographical regions and this fascinating balance between the bottom-up and the top-down, between localisation and globalisation of Fintech.

As always when covering vast territories containing many nations,  “regions” contain widely differing conditions, not least of which background of FS  structure and infrastructure in the first place.

Said, a partner at Global Ventures, is well-placed to give us a tour d’horizon as not just is his day job being a VC specialising in the region but he was previously a CEO, COO and consultant so he is someone who really understands business in the round as well as being born in Jordan and living in Dubai.

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LFP226 – How To Trade Sell Your Business w/David Genn CEO Goji

The majority of successful exits for companies are via trade sale (not that given the media hype you’d necessarily imagine it was anything but IPOs). Furthermore the percentage of companies that list on an exchange is falling meaning, that along with the economic circumstances, private companies and remaining in the unlisted space is becoming ever more important.

In this episode we dive into the whole soup-to-nuts process of how to trade sell oneself, what the stages are, what the obstacles and challenges and what the benefits are. Trade selling a company is an eternally important route to not just realisation but to the growth of the company’s vision being realised. Thus this is a reference episode for something that every founder should understand whether they get to this stage and go this route or another. It’s one that can’t be ignored – least of all perhaps in the current economic climate.

Goji were on the LFP way back in the day in LFP047 in 2016 when the founder Jake Wombwell-Povey was discussing the Innovative Finance ISA and David was employee number one. He moved on to become first CTO then CEO and is now at the last stage – regulatory approval – for Goji’s merger with the giant Euroclear – such a vital component of the whole global post-trade financial infrastructure.

So along the way Goji must have done a thing or two right – IF ISAs hardly being a huge thing these days with so few P2Ps remaining of any stature. Further correlating this is that Euroclear approached them.

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LFP225 – A Case Study in Managing Astronomically Rapid Growth – 5 Years from Startup to Trade Sale w/James Hickman CCO Ecospend

It is a well-known trope that although failure is a challenge rapid success, though more desirable lol, can be too.  In this episode we dive into the fascinating Case Study of Ecospend who went from startup to trade sale to world open-banking payments leaders Trustly in five years. Along the way they beat off incumbent competition for one of the UK’s largest accounts that of HSBCs self-assessment payments. Which as you might imagine amounts to quite a few transactions.

In this show James Hickman, CCO, discusses the journey and the experience thereof along with lessons relevant to all tech firms well outside of Fintech.

The journey starts with the build, then the marketing, then astronomical success, then the operational concerns attendant on having your volumes increase astronomically up all the way to the strategic implications for a business with such sudden success – various possibilities for raises to enable continued scaling or a trade sale and Ecospend checked-out both eventually preferring one route over t’other and explain their thinking in their situation, your firms might of course be different. At the end of the day it comes down both to rational business calculation but also to the preferences and long term aims of the founding team.

Overall quite some story and a tale that the cliche that massive success can be a right challenge/pain isn’t always correct.

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LFP224 – Early Stage Investment & VC Winter or Simply a Correction? w/Ric Schaefer Target Global

In this episode we discuss VC early stage investment and whether there is a “VC funding winter” as some have called it or whether just a correction. How should early stage founders who want to raise funds maximise their chances of doing so? Few VCs go down to early stage investing but what factors do they look for? Funding is harder to come by right now but it’s still there. What themes and approaches help? Is it indeed a good rather than a bad time to create a startup?

Dr Ric Schaefer is a Partner at Target Global which is a pan-European technology investment firm with more than €3 billion in assets under management. Whilst investing across all stages of the startup to realisation  lifecycle they are relatively unique in investing from pre-seed to A rounds.

To date via six global offices they have backed 15 unicorns and also have an investment in Revolut who you may have heard of.

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LFP223 – Fintech in India with Naveen Bindal CEO of Enkash

Fintech is a Big Thing. India is a vast sub-continent. Naveen Bindal, the cofounder of Enkash which is India‘s largest spend management Fintech, joins us to discuss Fintech in India which was one of the first movers in Fintech worldwide and is now by some measures the world’s  third largest Fintech marketplace.

Naveen started his career some 23 years ago as a developer in a credit card company working on payment processing and with banks.

Having been involved in the Indian FinTech space for some 10 years along with his co-founders who each also have two decades in FS and tech under their belts he is well-placed to guide us through its evolution past, present and future.

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LFP222 – Share Schemes & Equity Management: Opportunities & Pitfalls for Founders and Employees w/Ifty Nasir CEO Vestd

There is a real art to how a founder manages his companies equity. If he gives it, or its derivative, share options, away too fast for too little value – whether funding or staff – he will be giving away his creation on the cheap and losing control fast. Vice versa hoarding it to himself will produce inadequate funding and not top-notch senior staff. If this is the spectrum then there is in addition a whole dimension of the terms and conditions over equity schemes. There are plenty of hidden elephant traps for the unwary even for “Day1 co-founders” (eg a simple 50:50 split yet one co-founder puts most of the work in…). Furthermore we have what was “pre-tech” an administrative nightmare of managing hordes of shareholders and regulations/laws thereto. Vestd who formed in 2014 and have thousands of companies on their platform offer a “guided SAAS” product where the platform is closely allied to tons of experience in re.

Founder and CEO Ifty Nasir formed the company in 2014 after a lifetime’s international career with BP and considerable experience on the internal corporate finance side of deals and equity including at one point hiring Lord Sumption on a challenging deal. He joins us today to discuss the whole “how hard can it be” (as always “harder” and in this case “quite nuanced”).

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