Latest Round of Funding Puts Monzo in Unicorn Status

$1.5 billion is the new valuation of Monzo after its new round of funding according to the Financial Times.

Monzo is currently on track signing up over 18,000 new customers week over week, and is expected to hit the 4 million customer mark in the next few years.   This new funding more than 4x their last valuation of $356M determined at its last round of funding in November 2017.

According to the report, the new raise will be used to grow the bank’s product offering with new products being launched such as short-term unsecured loans and a higher interest savings account.

How FinTech and Social Media Platforms have Partnered Together for Greater Profitability

Have you ever wondered how it is so simple to buy things online? Or been curious to how you are able to purchase goods on social media?

Social media platforms like Facebook are bringing the marketplace directly to their platforms with new financial technology, or FinTech. FinTech refers to applications or processes providing an end-to-end process only using the Internet.

Facebook for example, uses FinTech applications so it’s users can purchase products without ever leaving their Facebook accounts. Not only are people using Facebook and other social media platforms to sell their products, but this also opens up the opportunity for individual users to sell products as well. FinTech applications that utilize money transfer services can have users transfer money from account to account for the product that they are buying.

FinTech is using social media in many other ways as well. In a report done by Accenture and the Partnership Fund, it was found that as of 2013 nearly $3 billion was invested into FinTech ventures, and that number has surely risen since then.

FinTech can use social media profiles for just about everything. Customer service and marketing are some of the strongest ways FinTech companies are improving their businesses. Social media offers customer service capabilities in real time, and being able to market on these platforms has proven to be vital in the newest trends of marketing.

Social media platforms aren’t just getting used in these scenarios though, they are utilizing this technology to enhance their platforms as well. Some of the most notable social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been using FinTech for quite some time.

Facebook, for example, offers a peer-to-peer payment feature, where they can exchange money with friends in the Messenger app. Twitter also broke into the space by offering a page where users can discover and purchase items directly within the platform.

Some of the FinTech applications are becoming social media platforms in themselves. The application Venmo is a mobile payment app that lets users communicate with one another within the app itself. Users can add notes for the reason they are sending or requesting money, and the recipient can communicate back. All of this is open for the public or just your friends to see.  

Social media platforms and FinTech companies are both gaining from these partnerships as they are becoming more inclusive for users and easily accessible from one place. Profits for these companies are only going to rise with the partnerships that are in place.


How to Keep Up With Constantly Changing Customer Expectations and Behavior

Fifty years ago, people expected to pay with cash more often than not when they went to purchase a product or service. Nowadays, the world of payment is entirely different. Because we have the internet at our beck and call at all hours of the day from numerous different types of devices, whether they are handheld or desktop devices, people’s expectations have skyrocketed of companies both large and small.

This new found sense of urgency in gaining information and completing previously complex tasks in seconds from anywhere in the world has proven to improve business’ abilities to meet customer needs in new and profitable ways. On the contrary, this has also costed some companies their competitive edge. Because people have a much smaller tolerance for delayed gratification, it is only getting harder for companies, particularly smaller companies, to stay relevant. Customers, although well meaning, demand access to a company’s products and services now, not later.

Because technology has overwhelmingly made conducting business easier than in previous years, companies now have the ability to save a fortune on business expenses. This, however, only remains true for companies who stay up to date with all the latest technology and trends that customers adhere to. This disclaimer is absolutely essential for companies to understand. If businesses do improve their use of technology, but do not stay competitive in their use of FinTech, then their efforts may prove to be pointless and detrimental financially.

So, what does a company do in light of these ever-changing customer expectations, demands, and behaviors?

Conduct an Internal Audit

To start, a company should conduct an internal audit. They should ask themselves the following questions to complete this audit:

  • What technology do we use to conduct business right now?
  • Why do we use the technology we use?
  • How do we use the technology we use?
  • Are there any possible ways we could use technology to (1) save us money, (2) automate processes, or (3) earn us money?
  • How do our customers like to pay for our products and services?
  • Could we potentially use technology to make the payment process and customer experience more pleasant for customers?

Answering these questions may take having meetings with the company or select business partners. This process can take time. That is why the sooner you can conduct this audit, the better. Once you have an answer to each of these questions, it is time focus on research. Having answers to these questions will automatically and vastly trim down the amount of research you need to do to stay up to date with your customers expectations and behaviors.

Implement Regular and Good Study Habits

The three main things you can do to stay abreast with the latest technological advancements that are particularly related to your industry are through (1) reading, reading, and more reading, (2) networking with other business owners, and (3) keeping a technologically savvy friend close.

If you have done all the things I discussed in this blog, then you are well on your way meeting and exceeding your customers’ changing expectations and behaviors.

How Companies are Using FinTech to Improve Customer Service in 2017

As technology has exponentially improved over the past century, payment methods have improved, as well. With the “FinTech,” or Financial Technology, industry booming, customers have been increasingly impressed and provided for by some of the tools FinTech companies have created.

Scheduling Meetings

Whenever someone wants to meet with a banker, for example, the usual process goes something like this: A customer walks into a bank, waits in line, and/or waits for the next banker to be available. There is no guaranteeing how long a customer will have to wait, and this can be quite inconvenient for customers. So, a handful of banks, such like Wells Fargo, are now allowing customers to make consultations with bankers online. This makes the process of working with a bank much shorter and more convenient for customers.

Virtual Tellers

Virtual tellers are now being provided by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, a large banking company in Spain, for people looking for a drive through at their bank. These virtual tellers are phenomenal, providing customers with a video of a virtual teller that allows them to make transactions with the bank themselves or conduct other services that drive-through customers normally don’t have the opportunity to do.

Philanthropy Made Easy

A company called Mogl is allowing people to earn cash rewards for every restaurant purchase they make. This is not a new service, but here is the twist. You can “Join a Fundraiser” and a percentage that you choose of your cash back will be donated entirely to your cause of choice.

Ferhan Patel FinTechSource: Mogl and click, “Join Fundraiser”

Let’s Celebrate!

People not only want to be offered good services and products nowadays; they want to be cared for by the companies they frequent. JPMorgan Chase has implemented a small but powerful message in one of their services they offer. They now offer customers a nice, small birthday message at their ATMs if it is the customer’s birthday.

Video Conference for Customer Service

Amazon’s new feature, “Mayday” is allowing customers to not only speak with a customer service representative in real time to solve their issues, but also gives customers the opportunity to video conference with the representatives. This feature allows the representative to physically draw on the customer’s screen to show customers how to fix their issues on the Kindle Fire tablet.

All of these companies have one thing in common; they are all creating tools to improve customer service, making it more user-friendly, convenient, and enjoyable for each individual using their products or services.

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 2017

Only a short time ago, the idea that machines might faithfully replicate the human thought process was, for most, still a bizarre trip into science fiction. The act of imagining clusters of silicone pumping out synthetic thoughts may have once been confined to the mind, but no more. Now, innovations in programming, mathematics, and computer engineering are being applied to plug the gap between the self-aware, arguably conscious artificial intelligence which fiction has proposed, and the AI tech we can actually create.

Like all technology, AI began as an idea spurred on by computers’ increasingly powerful processing capability. Its blueprint sketched through breakthroughs in computer programming techniques, which allowed for base mimicry of human logical patterns. Decades of technical tweaks and increasingly sophisticated programming practices granted AI the ability not only to analyze, but learn, transforming intelligent tech from an interesting parlor trick into a dominant software paradigm with extensive potential for real-world application in logistics, data mining, medical diagnosis, and of course, personal computing.

A landmark year for AI was 2016. We saw billions invested in the AI industry, and more than 20 independent AI companies acquired by Apple, Intel, and other industry movers. And, in addition to Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon combining forces to form the “Partnership on AI,” we witnessed machine learning heavily integrated into the tech giants’ digital services to better interpret browsing habits and personalize search results. A particularly impressive example of 2016’s online AI optimization involved a boost to Google’s translation software, which can now instantly interpret nuanced meanings behind combined phrases, as well as definitions of individual words.

Though 2016 may have been major, experts predict 2017 will be no less than revolutionary for artificial intelligence tech. AI program AlphaGo’s 2016 victory over world-renowned Go (a Chinese strategy game many times more complex than chess) champion Lee Sedol was made possible with through a computer learning method known as “deep reinforcement learning.” Deep reinforcement learning essentially allows computers to associate positive results with certain paths taken via trial and error; it removes the need for instructions or even examples, as machines can simply repeat scenarios using different approaches until a desired result is achieved. This year of 2017 could likely see deep reinforcement learning applied to technologies, such as industrial robotics and self-driving cars.

Other likely AI developments in 2017 include improving AI programs’ capacity for language-based learning and creating remarkably detailed visuals, using generative adversarial networks, which fabricate new data based on truths and falsehoods indicated by an example data set. China is also set to stake its claim to the AI landscape, as Chinese leadership has sworn an additional $15 billion to strengthening the country’s fledgling AI field.

Even in its infancy, AI tech has already changed the way we live. It’s interpretive abilities have augmented how we experience the internet, operate machinery, and even diagnose and treat illness. I believe AI’s metamorphosis from fiction to fact will continue to alter and dictate our interactions with technology throughout 2017 and beyond.

Mac vs. PC: Which Is Better?

You might not know it, but there’s a war going on right now. For years, tech gurus have invaded forums and inundated comments sections, waging fierce fights over a subject which to the uninitiated may appear altogether trivial. However, to those on opposite sides of the Mac/PC battleground, one’s choice of computer is a matter worthy of heated debate.

If you’re one of many who have found themselves in need of a new computer, it might seem all too easy to be swept up and overwhelmed by the arguments preached by PC fanatics and Mac maniacs. But underneath the zealotry, it’s clear that fans of both brands build convincing cases for either side of the computing coin.

To spare you a stroll through the crossfire, I’ve combed through the most persuasive points presented by both Mac and PC camps and compiled them here.

Macs are Less Likely to be Infected

Even in 2016, Mac users are still considerably less susceptible to viruses and malware than those who prefer PCs. This is because Microsoft currently boasts an over 90% usage share of all personal computers, so virus makers spend significantly more time building malware which targets the far more numerous Windows users. Mac and Mac operating systems are not immune, however; it’s still a great idea for Mac users to protect their sensitive information by installing a security suite.

PCs Offer Variety

Only one company makes Macs: Apple. On the other hand, PCs are manufactured by multiple companies such as HP and Dell, the result of which is massive variations in hardware, performance, and price between PCs. PCs are also highly customizeable; practically any technical component of a PC can be easily swapped or upgraded. Besides their RAM and hard drives, Macs’ technical configurations are mostly permanent; the only way to upgrade a Mac’s internal graphics card is to buy a new Mac.

Consider Your Needs/Habits Before Choosing

Are you looking to outfit an entire office, or just upgrade your personal study? A Mac’s ease of accessibility and gentle learning curve could make it a better choice for recreation, and Macs have traditionally been the favorite of those who frequently use design-based programs like Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. Windows operating systems’ superior data management applications have in the past rendered PCs king in the office space.

Nowadays, It’s More About Personal Preference than Practicality

Cloud computing’s rise to prominence drastically altered the shape of the Mac versus PC stomping ground. Major software suites once designed exclusively for either Windows or Mac OS X are now completely interchangeable, with user data being stored in virtual space rather than on a hard drive. Nowadays, when you choose between a Mac or PC, you’re mostly choosing what you like, rather than what you need. Do you buy into Apple’s trendy narrative? Or maybe you grew up using Microsoft products, and Windows just feels more comfortable? From graphic design to balancing accounts, virtual data storage means Mac and PC can now accomplish any task optimally and interchangeably, which makes the choice between device brands largely a matter of personal preference.

2 Easy Steps to Controlling Your Online Brand

If you want control of your online brand, then you want to pay attention. Here are a simple two steps to taking control of your Google Search Results (GSRs) and, thereby, control how people see you online.

1) Identify the websites and social media profiles that you want to rank highly.

What websites are yours? Create anywhere from one to three websites for your use. Make each website have a topic you write around. These topics could range from professional topics, such as entrepreneurship and technology, to personal topics, such as travel or sports. These websites should have drastically different topics, however. In the least, they should be different enough that someone could tell the difference between them by looking at the content you post on the sites. Write anywhere from one to four blogs per month on the sites. If you have negative search results that you are looking to suppress in the GSRs, then I would recommend posting closer to four blogs per month. If you are looking to just maintain a positive image, I would post closer to one blog post per month.

Once you have identified which websites you have, you should focus on your social media profiles. There are endless social media profiles that you can create. They each have potential to rank well in the GSRs, but some have a better chance than others. Top tier social media profiles, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, have a much better chance of ranking highly in your GSRs, because Google sees them as highly authoritative and relevant to search queries (what you type into the Google search box). Second tier social media sites, such as SlideShare, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, WordPress, and Pinterest, will rank next best. Third tier social media profiles, such as DailyMotion, Behance, CrunchBase, Medium, and Quora will rank next.

What truly will make the difference between what ranks and what does not is how quality content is on the sites. If you focus all your time on Quora and do not focus on YouTube, your Quora will probably rank higher than your YouTube. It’s all about the content.

2) Identify your negative and unrelated search results.

Identifying the negative results that you do not want to show is important. It’s also important to identify the results that do not relate to you. The more important of the two is to identify the negatives, however. If you have something negative on your GSRs, that can truly hurt your reputation.

Once you have identified them, you can base your strategy around them. If you have positive sites ranking already (such as your websites or social media profiles), then you want to focus your attention on posting content on the positive sites right below the negatives. Once you post enough quality content on your sites right below your negatives, they will eventually overpower the negatives, so long as the negative is not exceedingly authoritative and relevant. If the negative is extraordinarily powerful, it may be much more difficult to overcome with a positive.

If you do not have positives ranking anywhere in the results, it’s important to spread your attention evenly across all of your social media profiles. Creating at least eight profiles is recommended so that you can take up at least the first page of the GSRs with your content, as there are ten slots on each GSR page. You can use profiles, like Hootsuite, to organize your social media posts and schedule them out to be posted across a period of time. This way, you do not have to go on each profile each day you want to post. Hootsuite, for example, will allow you to schedule a certain day and time you want to post something, and it will do it for you.

From there, you want to keep posting and making the profiles relevant and popular. You can do this by making sure each website and social media profile has a biography and pictures on there with information that is useful to readers and users. This will optimize the page for you and create a great user-experience for each person visiting your pages. Within a year’s time you should see major changes to your GSRs, with a lot of positive content on the first three pages.

The FinTech App Revolution

One extraordinary development in the world of FinTech over the past ten years has been the rise of the smartphone and the rise of finance apps with it. Today, millions of transactions occur via apps: Amazon purchases, bank deposits and withdrawals, Bitcoin transactions, Litecoin transaction, stock purchases and sales, money transfers, and more. For those like myself who were around before the FinTech app revolution, this change in the way that people handle finances is astounding. Yet, at the same time, these changes are becoming more and more ingrained in the way that people conduct business. Below is a brief survey of finance apps out there:

Stocks and Investing

Credited for bringing a large number of young investors into the world of stocks, Robinhood’s low barrier of entry and simple interface makes buying stocks easy. In the realm of social media, StockTwits provides a place for experts and neophytes alike to share their thoughts on stocks, bonds, and other market happenings. Further lowering the barrier of entry are a number of apps that do investing for you. These include Acorns, which uses the spare change from debit card transaction for micro-investments, Loyal3, which makes investing in companies you love easy and accessible, and Wealthfront, which will automatically invest a minimum deposit of $500 for free (as long as the balance is under $10,000). And that’s just barely scratching the surface.

Money Transfer

First and foremost, there’s the app that’s so pervasive that it’s achieved the Google-level status of becoming a verb. Venmo me. With no transaction fee on debit cards and bank account transfers, Venmo has become the go-to app for transferring payments from person to person. Long before Venmo, there was PayPal. While PayPal might not be as popular among peer-to-peer transactions, one place where it has retained it’s glory is in the commercial sphere. Whether shopping online (or even at some restaurants), PayPal is the trusted medium of exchange. Then of course, there’s mobile banking. Nearly every large bank in North America (and some smaller banks), boast mobile banking apps, which make transferring money from person-to-person instantaneous. And that’s only the least of it.


Meanwhile, there are a slew of budgeting apps out there to help people save and spend more wisely. Goodbudget, Wally, and Mint are some of the biggest heavy hitters in the budgeting sphere. All three of the apps boast expense-tracking features which translate into spending and saving tips. Of the three, Mint is often viewed as being the most comprehensive–tackling everyday expenses, but also credit cards, student loans and retirement savings.

So with that quick sound-off, the question is, what are some of your favorite finance apps?

Technology is Changing how we Handle Money

Taking care of one’s finances is usually thought of as something that can only be done by those who have extensive about handling money. Perhaps the idea of finances is more accessible to finance gurus, or people who have taken accounting classes. Younger generations grow up to find the broad idea of ‘personal finance’ looming over their heads, without the slightest idea of how to start handling their money.

Technology is changing this around.

With the advancement of financial technology in general, younger people are being included in the ranks of those who look after their spending and savings. This is a concept that has come to be known as financial inclusion, and it is revolutionizing how money is being tracked. Financial technology in recent years has been striving to make financial security more of a democratic process. It wants to cut down on the number of people who feel helpless in their spending.

The four subsets of this new category of financial inclusion are payment, credit, insurance, and investment, as reports Business Today. Payment is a no-brainer. People need to be able to pay bills, pay for products, and pay each other. This used to be done with physical cash or checks. Financial technology has made it so that money can be transferred from one person to another without them having to physically meet. Mobile wallets exist now, and the question of if physical cash needs to exist at all is becoming increasingly prevalent. If money can be transferred from one account to another instantly, is carrying around cash at all necessary?

Credit is a slightly more difficult concept to grasp, simply because it is not yet available to everyone. Financial institutions need to have a record of transactions to get credit information, but not all financial transactions are connected directly to such institutions. This is why there has been a demand for a universal credit platform, in which all transaction history of an individual is saved and readily available. The credit sector of financial inclusion still needs more work, but it is getting there.

Insurance and investments in a similar fashion have been completely changed by digital smartphone applications. Applications have been, and will be further, making insurance-buying and investing much more convenient for everyone with access to the technology.
Companies leading the financial technology revolution are aware that the digital handling of money has to be easy and reliable. They are still working to make the entire financial industry digital. It will be exciting to see where this technology takes us in years to come.

High Tech Tattoos in Review

Ferhan PatelIt’s no secret that wearables are here and they look like they will be sticking around for a while. Whether you’re using a Fitbit to monitor your activity or an apple smart watch to organize your life, the consumer’s market for wearable technology is just beginning.

All kinds of startups are capitalizing this and developing new products and technologies accordingly. One of interest comes from a software and development firm based in Texas called Chaotic Moon. They have recently made headlines for their tattoo kits. Although they are still just prototypes, the company is creating tattoos that collect and upload health-related data.

It’s important to note that these tattoos wash off and are not embedded in the skin. In addition to having a unique look, there are a few key applications where the company sees this technology being applied. In military situations, these tattoos could be helpful for monitoring the health of the wearer as well as for detecting poisons in the air.

While the issue of how these tattoos of course brings up the issue of data security as it pertains to our medical health and location, luckily for Chaotic Moon, they will let the purchaser of the technology worry about that!
See more below.