Bankers like to say that finances are boring. Try telling that to the thousands of excited investors who purchase stock of a company providing financial services. That is, of course, if we’re talking about innovative financial services. Fintech is the most attractive and sought-after industry since the gold rush. The whole world held its breath this past December as the price of bitcoin first rose to new highs and then went into an equally spectacular freefall. Camron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twin brothers who claim that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook, went from being multibillionaires with a 14b USD stake in bitcoin, which they purchased back in 2013, to multibillionaires with a stake of “just” 5-7b USD – all in the span of just a few days. Where did the rest go? It evaporated as the market for cryptocurrencies went into recession. An old Chinese saying says: “May you live in interesting times”. Well, these days are nothing if not fascinating. In December, an American company, previously affectionately called “Skypeople Fruit Juicy”, decided to rebrand itself as Future Fintech. Shares of the company rose by 200% in one day! Why? On Twitter, investors started sharing a hot scoop – a new player had entered the bitcoin market. All that despite the fact that the company itself didn’t make even a single mention of the fact that it planned to deal in cryptocurrencies.
If we’re talking about the miraculous things happening on this market, we should also mention Longfin. This small company’s stock jumped by 2600% after news spread of the fact that it was acquiring a startup specializing in granting small loans in bitcoin.
Fintech fever is spreading around the world. Another sign of the times? In January Eastman Kodak announced that it is interested in blockchain technology. Yes, we’re talking about the same Kodak that has already become a textbook example of what happens when you don’t adapt to the digital revolution; in 2012 the 129-year-old company filed for bankruptcy. Today, Kodak says it wants to offer a blockchain-based service that would let photographers get paid whenever their images are being used. After the news was made public, shares of the company rose by 200% in a single trading day.
The markets reacted with similar enthusiasm to the news that Long Island Iced Tea Corp., UBI Blockchain Internet and Rich Cigars Inc. were planning to make bitcoin part of their business model. More and more investors are also catching fintech fever – among them is Bono. The U2 frontman has recently invested in Acorns Grow, a company which specializes in investment products for the middle-income clients. He did it through The Rise Fund of which he is a founder. It is the first time the Irish band’s leader has invested in the fintech industry but, given the fact that actor and venture capital veteran Ashton Kutcher has also placed his money in Acorns Grow, the future of the company looks extremely bright. It’s also worth noting that NBA superstar Kevin Durant has participated in a funding round of an American fintech.
The fintech industry is changing on a daily basis. That’s why we at Impact CEE have started a series of blog entries – helping us keep you informed and up-to-date on all of the latest news from the world of finance. We’re also going to use this space to keep you posted on our preparations for Impact’18, which is happening this June in Cracow. We have already laid out the themes that make up the roadmap for the fintech industry in Poland and worldwide! They are:
- Alternative methods of financing and lending
- Retail, e-commerce
- Artificial intelligence
As you can see above, we plan to deal with every important aspect of the fintech industry. We believe that each of these aspects deserves to be looked at individually, especially given the fact that among speakers at Impact’18 we have several outstanding specialists and practitioners. All of them will share their experience and knowledge with you! We have invited over 300 well-known and respected experts from the fintech community to Cracow. The list includes Klaus Hommels, co-founder of Lakstar VC, an early investor in Spotify as well as Skype and an angel investor at Facebook. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? We’ve also got Tim Hilpert, CEO of OLX (yes, that OLX :)) and Sheel Mohnot, the guy who manages 500 Startups – a global seed fund that wants to spend between 30 and 40 percent of its money outside the USA.
Have we got your attention yet? Well, that’s just the beginning of a long list. We’re going to be adding new names and keeping you up-to-date on the latest fintech industry news weekly.