You May Have Always Known Women Are Good With Money , Now Research Confirms It

A growing number of women are increasing their investing prowess and financial education, research shows. The ladies are stepping it up. I love this kind of news.

I admit I am a sucker for a study that shines the light on women and money in a positive way. And the key findings from Fidelity Investments “2021 Women and Investing Study” do just that.

I know, I just did this happy dance with the MIT “Freak Out” report, but more to enjoy here.

The bold headline: two-thirds (67%) of women are now investing savings they have outside of retirement accounts and emergency funds in the stock market, which represents a 50% increase from 2018, according to the research. What’s more, 52% are planning to create a financial plan to help them reach their goals within the next year.

This is noteworthy since women typically get the bad rap of being nervous and cautious investors, who probably would find investing in stocks uncomfortable. Women are also notorious for saying financial planning is boring, or they aren’t good with numbers. Neither which is true, but an excuse for not understanding investing terminology perhaps and being intimidated by the seemingly macho world of Wall Street.

Where are they putting those extra savings funds besides individual stocks and bonds? The study found that women also socked money away in mutual funds and ETFs (63%) and money-market funds or CDs (50%): ESG/sustainable investments (24%) and get this: 23% in cryptocurrencies. I had to look at that last statistic twice, but that’s what the report says.

The age brackets by generation for those investing outside of retirement account–a whopping 71% of female millennials—ages 25 to 40; 67% of Generation X—ages 41 to 56 and 62% of boomer women ages 57 to 75. All good numbers.

But as anyone who has been reading my column knows, this is the nugget that made a smile spread across my face: When women do invest, they see results: new scrutiny of more than 5 million Fidelity customers over the last 10 years finds that, on average, women outperformed their male counterparts by 40 basis points, or 0.4%. That’s not a heap mind you, but a win is a win.

I’ll take it.

“Over the last few years, we were already seeing an increasing number of women investing outside of retirement to grow their savings, but the pandemic really lit a fire under that momentum,” Kathleen Murphy, president of Personal Investing at Fidelity Investments, told me.

“It’s driven many to reflect and re-prioritize what’s most important and focus on making greater progress toward those goals. We’re seeing that motivation in the record numbers of women reaching out for financial planning help and opening new brokerage accounts, as well as advisory accounts.”

The data was drawn from a nationwide survey of 2,400 American adults (1,200 women and 1,200 men). All respondents were 21 years of age or older, had a personal income of at least $50,000 and were actively contributing to a workplace retirement savings plan, like a 401(k) or 403b. This survey was conducted in July 2021 by CMI Research, an independent research firm.

The overall findings are certainly promising.

Yet when you get into the weeds you find that only a third of women canvassed see themselves as investors, according to the study. Only 42% feel confident in their ability to save for retirement and a mere 33% say they feel confident in their ability to make investment decisions.

Most women (64%) say they would like to be “more active in their financial life, including making investing decisions,” but 70% believe they would have to learn about “picking individual stocks” to get started.

I like that awareness of the need to get educated. (One of my favorite authors for this topic is Jonathan Clements, the founder and editor of HumbleDollar and the author of many personal finance books, including From Here to Financial Happiness and How to Think About Money.)

As Fidelity’s Murphy mentioned: Half of the women say they are more interested in investing than they were at the start of the pandemic and want to learn more — not just about how to start investing — but how to evaluate and select different types of investments to align with specific goals, and how to manage an existing portfolio to ensure they are on track.

These findings are in step with what Catherine Collinson, chief executive and president of the nonprofit Transamerica Institute and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies told me when I interviewed her for this column: What’s Behind the Surprising Gender Split for Boomers’ Retirement Saving?

Her firm also found that “early indicators are that the pandemic has prompted both men and women to engage in their finances and pore over their financial situation to a degree that they may not have previously.”

Finally, here’s the nagging fear many of us (me too) can relate to: 32% of women say not earning enough money keeps them up at night, according to the research. For 37%, it’s managing debt that’s their night sweat. And more than half of women say it’s worries about long-term finances that has them tossing and turning.

Age is an indicator of whether money woes keep us up at night, but not the way you might expect, or at least what I did. Overall, it’s the millennial women who are the most troubled when the light goes out: 77% say finances have kept them up at night as compared to 73% of Generation X and 59% of boomers.

Here’s to sweeter dreams ahead.

By: Kerry Hannon

Kerry Hannon is a leading expert and strategist on work and jobs, entrepreneurship, personal finance and retirement. Kerry is the author of more than a dozen books, including “Never Too Old to Get Rich,” “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+,” and “Great Pajama Jobs: Your Complete Guide to Working From Home.” Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.

Source: You may have always known women are good with money — now research confirms it – MarketWatch

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When The Pandemic Forced Young Adults To Move Back Home, They Got a Financial Education

“When we face a stressor, we tend to think more about the future,” says Brad Koontz, a financial psychologist and professor at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. Young adults’ growing openness to discuss finances with their parents and peers, they say, reflects a kind of tribal response among people to the stress of the pandemic.

Here’s a look at what the adult children and parents of three families learned about money — and themselves — in their time of pandemic together. When the pandemic forced 23-year-old Hannah Froling to move into her parents’ townhouse in Southampton, NY in March 2020 to remotely finish her final semester of college, the financial clock began to tick.

Ms Frohling’s parents, Jennifer Schlueter and Matthew Froehling, set to move to their winter home in Florida during the fall of 2020, told her they would need to begin helping support the household in their absence. That means monthly payments of $500 for rent and $250 for family car use. They also set a deadline for Memorial Day 2022 for her to be out of the house. Ms Schlueter says she wanted to provide her daughter with a “soft landing” after the shocking experience of graduating in the middle of a pandemic. But she also wanted Ms Froling to transition to living independently, so the transfer deadline passed.

So, Ms. Froling got two waitress jobs and eventually began to rely on the savings lessons her parents took as they grew up. She has two income streams—cash tips and a regular paycheck that includes her hourly rate and credit card tips. She keeps the cash tips in a savings account and splits the paycheck between a checking account and an investment account linked to an S&P 500 index fund. She has saved about $10,000 since moving back home and started looking for apartments to rent on Long Island.

Saving and managing money doesn’t always come easily to Ms. Froling. While in college, he received an allowance from his parents at the beginning of each semester. “As a freshman, I’ll blow it in the first two months,” she says. So her parents, who both work in finance, seated her and helped her budget by outlining the necessities and luxuries in her spending habits.

But it’s been the past 18 months at home, and the closeness to her parents, which has allowed Ms Froling to be more proactive about her savings and investments, and to put all those lessons into practice. She says many of her money talks happen on family road trips. Her father helps her stay on top of the latest trends in investing and her mother shares strategies for how Ms. Froling can increase her savings and continue to build a foundation for moving out of the family home. Ms. Froling is taking it further by sharing these tips with her coworkers and encouraging some of them to open their own investment accounts.

“The lesson we want to teach her is that she can do this,” says Ms Schlueter, referencing the financial wisdom she is sharing with her daughter rather than just talking to her from being together during the pandemic. got the opportunity to do. via phone or text. That includes discussing expenses such as health and car insurance after Ms. Froling leaves home again.

Ms Froling says, while she often feels like her parents bother her about how much she’s saving, in the end she knows it’s best: “They don’t want me when I If I get out of here, it will fall flat on my face.”

breaking the money taboo

In November 2020, 27-year-old Rogelio Meza left his $1,500-a-month apartment in Austin, Texas, to move into his parents’ home in Laredo.

The move helped him work towards his goal of saving money and becoming a homeowner, says Mr. Meja, who works as a customer-experience manager for a solar-power company. It also allowed him to help his parents, who were battling the financial stress of the pandemic.

When the pandemic struck, her mother, Eudoxia Meja, who works as a cook, noticed that her hours had been cut in half. His father Juan Meja is handicapped and unable to work. Since living with his parents, little Mr. Majora has helped with grocery and utility bills, paying about $700 a month, which still allows him to take out money for a home down-payment. Is.

When he was growing up, Mr. Meja says, his family never talked about money. “Nobody really taught me how to save, nobody taught me about stock options or investment accounts, good versus bad debt.” He relied on friends who worked in finance to teach him about these things, and the conversation helped him understand where his money was going. Now, he says, he has passed on some of this knowledge to his parents.

One day, when an unusually large and overdue utility bill arrived in the mail, Mr. Majora turned it into an opportunity to start sharing his financial wisdom with his family.

“I was like, ‘Okay, let’s talk about it,’” he says, describing what led to several candid conversations about money with his parents. Indeed, after that initial exchange, he basically became the family financial advisor. Mr. Meja helped his parents calculate how much they were spending on groceries and how much they actually needed each month. He also discovered that he had $3,000 in credit-card debt and advised him to use his stimulus money to aggressively pay it off. Using a combination of direct payments from their mother’s wages, incentives and unemployment benefits, they were able to pay off their utility bills and credit-card debt in just a few weeks.

Thereafter, Mr. Meja set up a savings account for her mother and advised her to put forward 20% of her salary into the account. He also plans to help his parents open an investment account and teach them how to grow their money over time. He says being able to pay off his debt gave his parents a new starting point.

Mr. Meja has learned a few things during his stint at home as well. He says that the time he spent with his parents opened his eyes to how little he needed to be happy. For example, before reuniting with his mother and father, he often ordered takeout for lunch and dinner. But the home-cooked food he eats at home, he says, especially his mother’s enchiladas has inspired him to start cooking for himself.

As far as his parents are concerned, they say that talking about money is no longer a taboo in their family, and they will continue to seek financial advice from their son. He plans to move back to Austin in November and complete the purchase of an apartment in the city at that time.

a new perspective

Edgar Mendoza was living the high life in Chicago. The 41-year-old was paying about $3,000 a month for a downtown apartment. He often dined out and had courtside seats at basketball games.

But when the lockdown began, he began to re-evaluate his habits, limiting his activities and his spending. “What Covid taught me is no, I don’t need all that,” says Mr. Mendoza, who deals in sales and invests in startups. In January, he packed his belongings and moved to McAllister, Mont., to be with his mother and stepfather. And he doesn’t plan to leave anytime soon.

Living in Montana with his family, Mr. Mendoza says, he has reinforced the frugal lifestyle he grew up with. When he was young, he says, his mother, Maria Platt, used to tell him to “watch his money.” Now, he saves his money and invests it in places where it can grow.

Ms Platt says she is proud of the progress she has seen in her son and how she has embraced the lessons she has taught him. The family cooks together and they rarely eat out. Mr Mendoza says he is not being asked to pay the rent, but he buys all the groceries.

“He’s changed a lot,” Ms Pratt says of her son. “He used to spend money like crazy. I would talk to him and he’s like, ‘Mom, you’re right about this and you’re right about that.’ Now, in his view, he is motivated to support the family in the long run, and this has prompted him to refocus on his spending habits.

Mr. Mendoza says seeing his mother come home exhausted from work and budgeting his Social Security benefits has made him see his financial future in a new light. It has forced him to think more realistically about what retirement can be like. “When you see that you love someone… it hits you really hard,” he says. “I don’t want it to be me.”

Ms Pratt says her son still has to work on his financial habits. They sometimes forget to buy their groceries and eat food already in the family’s fridge, she says. She would also like to watch him learn to cook.

“I told him that if you make good money, save it,” she says. “I’m not going to live forever…….

By: Taylor Nakagawa

Taylor Nakagawa hails from Chicago, Illinois and earned a master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism in 2017. As part of the Audience Voice team, Taylor is focused on experimenting with new story formats to create a healthy environment for community engagement.

Source: When the Pandemic Forced Young Adults to Move Back Home, They Got a Financial Education – WSJ

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The World’s Newest Call Center Billionaire

Meet the world’s newest call center billionaire. Laurent Junique is quite the globe-trotter: He’s a French citizen, his company is based in Singapore and he just listed that company, TDCX Inc., on the New York Stock Exchange last week.

Junique, TDCX’s 55-year-old founder and CEO, also just joined the billionaire ranks: Junique’s 87% stake in the firm is now worth $3 billion, thanks to a 34% rise in TDCX shares since the IPO on October 1—an offering that raised nearly $350 million for the company.

Started in 1995 in Singapore as Teledirect, an outsourced call center that handled calls, emails and faxes for a variety of clients, the company rebranded as TDCX in 2019 to reflect its expansion into a range of services including content moderation, marketing and e-commerce support. (CX is short for “customer experience” in the customer service industry.)

TDCX reported a $64 million net profit on $323 million sales in 2020, an improvement from the $54 million profit and $242 million in revenues it recorded in 2019. That growth came in part due to greater use of the services that TDCX offers, including tools that help companies improve the performance of employees working from home. Still, TDCX is highly dependent on two clients—Facebook and Airbnb—which collectively accounted for 62% of sales in 2020.

“Our successful listing reflects the world-class company that we have built and our position as the go-to partner for transformative digital customer experience services,” Junique said in a statement on the day of the IPO. “We are grateful for the support of our clients, many of whom are global technology companies that are fuelling the growth of the digital economy.”

Junique is the second call center billionaire that Forbes has tracked. The first, Kenneth Tuchman, founded Englewood, Colorado-based TTEC Holdings (formerly called TeleTech), in 1982; at nearly $2 billion, the firm had about six times the revenues of TDCX last year. Tuchman first became a billionaire in 2007. Several Indian billionaires, including HCL Technologies cofounder Shiv Nadar and Wipro’s former chairman Azim Premji, offer call centers as some of the services their firms provide.

Junique will maintain an iron grip on TDCX as a public company, controlling all of the firm’s Class B shares, which make up more than 86% of the firm’s equity and represent 98.5% of voting power. He owns those shares through Transformative Investments Pte Ltd, a company based in the Cayman Islands that is entirely owned—according to public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission—by a trust established for the benefit of Junique and his family. While its headquarters are in Singapore, TDCX has also been incorporated in the Cayman Islands since April 2020; prior to the IPO, the firm was controlled by Junique through a Caymans-based holding company. A spokesperson for TDCX declined to comment.

Before launching TDCX as a 29-year-old in 1995, the French native cut his teeth studying advertising at the École Supérieure de Publicité in Paris and business administration at the nearby École Supérieure Internationale d’Administration des Entreprises, graduating in 1989. After a two-year stint at consumer goods giant Unilever, Junique—who had reportedly been cooking up business ideas since he was a child, including a glass recycling proposal he came up with at age 13—decided he wanted a more international career, but struggled to find a gig as a young graduate with little experience.

Armed with a suitcase and just enough cash to get by, he decamped to Singapore in 1995 to try his luck on the other side of the planet. Singapore offered a strategic location as a modern, English-speaking city at the heart of fast-growing Southeast Asia, and Junique started a call center called Teledirect aimed at businesses looking to cut costs and outsource customer service. Soon enough, Junique scored the firm’s first big client, an American credit card firm based in Singapore.

Two years later, in 1997, Junique sold a 40% stake in Teledirect to London-based advertising giant WPP for an undisclosed amount. Since then, TDCX expanded beyond call centers and now has offices in 11 countries across three continents, including locations in China, Japan and India. In 2018, Junique bought back WPP’s 40% stake in the call center business for about $28 million. Three years of growth later, the company now has a market capitalization of $3.5 billion.

With 2020 marking a record year for TDCX, Junique is hoping that the Covid-induced transition away from offices has made the firm’s products more necessary for its clients. “As consumers live more and more of their lives online, the expectation for things to be done simply, conveniently and on-demand will only increase,” Junique said in a statement.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a Staff Writer on the Wealth team at Forbes, covering billionaires and their wealth. My reporting has led me to an S&P 500 tech firm in the plains of Oklahoma; a

Source: The World’s Newest Call Center Billionaire

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4 Tech Tools Your Business Needs During Natural Disasters

Every day brings new headlines about hurricanes, floods, or wildfires disrupting daily life. As a business owner, you have the added responsibility of deciding when to shut down operations, as well as ensuring your workers are safe and informed of developments. You may have to respond to employees who have been displaced from their homes, or are unable to get to work due to unsafe conditions. That can be a huge challenge when electrical grids are knocked out or wildfires disrupt cell towers.

Here are a few tools and tips that can help your business prepare for and even continue functioning in a natural disaster.

1. Set up a Whatsapp group for emergencies

An internet or power outage can cut off employees’ access to email. Consider setting up a group chat on Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal, or another end-to-end encrypted messaging app instead. Such platforms allow users to send and receive messages using either Wi-Fi or mobile data; while most natural disasters pose serious risks to cell and internet infrastructure, one outage may get fixed before the other.

For example, despite an internet outage following the January 2020 earthquakes in Puerto Rico, many people were able to stay connected through mobile networks. Some ISPs will make their public Wi-Fi hotspots available for free during natural disasters.

Whatsapp also allows users to share their live location, which has helped first responders find missing people. Many companies already use Whatsapp or other messaging apps for internal communications, but there are privacy risks associated with regularly using any app. Instead, consider making such apps an emergency-only tool so employees will only have to use them sparingly.

2. Consider a device with LEO connectivity

Satellite internet is still far from common, and far from a necessity. But LEO (low earth orbit) tech will become cheaper and more available in the near future. Apple’s upcoming iPhone 13 reportedly will feature LEO hardware, which means that users can send or receive messages through satellite internet in case 4G or 5G networks are down.

When available, that might be the most cost-effective satellite internet solution; many satellite internet phones range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Another option is to set up your employees with satellite internet at home. Satellite internet providers like Viasat and HughesNet have special plans for small businesses.

3. Keep track of fuel shortages with GasBuddy

If you or your employees are struggling to find fuel during a hurricane or snowstorm, a free mobile app can help. GasBuddy, which locates the nearest gas station with available fuel, became one of the most-downloaded apps during the Colonial Pipeline hacks earlier this year. The app also has a crowdsourced dashboard that keeps track of fuel outages by city.

4. Inform customers through social media

If you already have an active social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, those channels can come in handy to announce store closures or any changes in hours. It’s likely many of your customers are scouring social media anyway for the latest updates on the weather. Be sure your post doesn’t get lost in the shuffle by using the name of the disaster as a hashtag or within the text of the post. Clearly mention the day and date, so prospective customers don’t get fooled by an old post. Also, be sure to update your social feeds once your business is operating again.

By Amrita Khalid, Staff writer@askhalid

Source: 4 Tech Tools Your Business Needs During Natural Disasters | Inc.com

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Apple Floats Above China Technology Crackdown For Now

The Chinese government under President Xi Jinping has rattled investors in Chinese technology companies by announcing regulatory measures meant to curb the country’s fast-growing economy while reasserting control over some of its biggest companies. But the big U.S. technology company most exposed to China — Apple Inc. — is likely insulated from the turmoil for the time being.

“The crackdown out of Beijing has caught investors by surprise given the scale and scope,” said Dan Ives, an Apple analyst at Wedbush Securities. “It’s a major overhang on Chinese tech names, but Apple has been able to navigate the China political climate unlike any other U.S technology company in the last thirty years. Apple is able to be more Teflon-like in terms of regulatory focus.”

On Tuesday — when Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings had its worst day in a decade and Chinese tech companies ranging from food delivery to online tutoring sectors continued a multi-day free fall — Apple underscored its dominance by releasing earnings that topped Wall Street expectations for both sales and profit and reported quarterly revenue that topped $100 billion for the first time. That included strong growth in Apple’s Greater China region, in which it reported $14.8 billion in sales, up 58% from the same quarter a year ago.

Under the premise of tackling the technology industry’s anti-competitive practices and cybersecurity concerns to curbing rising costs of tutoring companies, the Chinese government has sent a clear message: It is not afraid to wipe out massive economic gains in order to pursue its policies. “China goes back and forth on cracking down on their companies,” said Mark Zgutowicz, an analyst at Rosenblatt Securities.

“If you think about Tencent, Alibaba, JD.com — China does not want any of their companies to get too big for them to control. And whenever these companies get too big for their britches, China will come down and say, ‘You know what, we’re going to regulate this or bring in another competitor.’”

Apple’s manufacturing supply chain is based in China and Taiwan, where nearly every iPhone, iPad and Mac computer is made. Over the years, China has proven itself to be both an important customer and partner to Apple.

According to Zgutowicz, Apple’s presence in China is actually a boon to the government’s agenda. Chinese technology companies like Huawei Technologies, Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology, Vivo Communication Technology Company and Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications Corp. have more or the same amount of mobile phone market share in China as Apple, according to data from market research firm Counterpoint.

This means that Apple is simply another player that keeps its domestic companies from getting too big. “Ironically, Apple keeps the other companies in check,” Żgutowicz said. “It keeps things level for the other Chinese manufacturers.”

Apple may not be facing the brunt of the Chinese crackdown, but it has not been totally immune to its regulatory bodies in recent years. In 2017, after China passed a cybersecurity law that required technology companies operating in China to store Chinese users’ data in the country, Apple agreed to build two data centers in the country. Cook assured the public that it would keep that data safe. But a recent New York Times investigation asserted that the company had more or less given up control of the computers inside the data center to the Chinese state.

In August 2020, Apple took down 47,000 applications from its App Store at the request of the Chinese government for not obtaining the appropriate gaming licenses, according to Rich Bishop, CEO of AppInChina, a Beijing-based firm that is a leading publisher of international apps in China and helps developers localize their apps and be compliant with local laws.

This request came after a decade of China turning a blind eye on how Apple operates its App Store in the country. “It is very unclear why the Chinese government has allowed Apple to operate until now without compliance with Chinese law,” said Bishop. “I would imagine it is because Apple contributes a lot to the Chinese economy in terms of manufacturing and sales — or maybe they have solid government relationships.”

The company’s heavy reliance on the region was an effort led in large part by Tim Cook, who worked at Apple for thirteen years under Steve Jobs before becoming its CEO in 2011. In the early 2000s, the Chinese government and its business leaders welcomed Apple, spending billions to build factories, power plants and employee housing. In one instance in 2004, when Apple was looking to expand its footprint in the country, a manufacturing partner in China physically moved a mountain in order to make space for an iPod-building factory.

Chief executives at some of Apple’s largest supply chain partners in China and Taiwan have become billionaires themselves. Zhou Qunfei, who chairs Lens Technology, a smartphone screen supplier that has long been one of Apple’s earliest suppliers for the iPhone, is one of the greater China region’s richest women, worth a cool $12.7 billion. Terry Gou, who founded Foxconn and assembles iPhones for Apple, is the richest person in Taiwan with a net worth of $6.7 billion.

“Part of this tight-wire balancing act for Apple and Cook has been to make sure they are successful in China without any blowback from the ongoing U.S.-China Cold Tech War,” said Ives of Wedbush. “And the reality is that in a peak iPhone cycle, Apple through its supply chain is one of the biggest importers in the whole country of China, potentially employing more than a million employees across the broader supply chain in the country.”

Apple and the greater China region have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship, but the company has made concessions in order to placate an increasingly controlling government. For now, it works — until the Chinese government starts to see Apple as a threat. “China welcomes the competition as long as Apple doesn’t get too big,” said Zgutowicz. “But whenever a company starts to get too big, they will see it from miles away. They do not want companies to get too big and create their own government with their users.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

I am a staff writer at Forbes. Follow me on Twitter or send me an email at aau-yeung@forbes.com.

Source: Apple Floats Above China Technology Crackdown — For Now

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Data Or Processes: Where To Begin With Intelligent Automation

Over the past year, many clients I’ve spoken with have been looking for ways to make processes smarter, more adaptable and more resilient. According to our recent research, many companies see the combination of AI and automation — or intelligent automation — as key to achieving these goals.

Despite the promise of better operational performance with intelligent automation, a common question is where to begin: with the process itself or with the data that will power the process? The answer lies in identifying which outcome you’re trying to achieve. Getting the sequence wrong could counteract the very goal you’re pursuing.

The right starting point 

Here are two examples that distinguish when a process-led vs. data-led approach makes the most sense with intelligent automation:

How can we improve our operational efficiency?

Amid global uncertainty, supply chain disruptions and social distancing requirements, improving operational efficiency has become a priority for many businesses. The goal in this case is to improve speed and accuracy across the value chain, and achieve outcomes faster without cutting corners.

Adding data intelligence can significantly reduce errors, remove process hurdles and reveal where corrections are needed. But doing so requires a strong process automation backbone in order to shape when and how the data is applied. So in this case, a process-led approach is best.

For example, we’re working with a major insurance provider to improve customer lifecycle management. Typically, insurance customers who file a claim experience long decision times, a lack of visibility into decision making and repeated or disconnected requests for information submission.

Insurers can distinguish themselves by being fast, frictionless and responsive in how they handle claims. However, operating in a highly regulated industry and with overt risks around claims fraud, speed can never be a trade-off for accuracy and compliance.

A contributing factor to the insurer’s process challenges was the dependence on third-party systems and disparate data sources to make decisions. We helped the company implement an automated and fully integrated process for claims handling, which was then supported with AI and data modeling to segment customer profiles and personalize services.

The system has helped reduce the turnaround on claims capture by as much as 80% and shorten overall claims procedure times from 14 days to just two, all while maintaining the necessary high levels of accuracy and regulatory compliance. The insurer has also received positive customer feedback on the effectiveness and quality of services.

How can we be more agile in our product and service offerings?

Leading retailers have an impressive ability to recommend relevant products and anticipate customers’ next actions. Whether shoppers search for a needed item, browse relevant sites or interact with brands across different channels, digitally savvy retailers can connect the dots in real-time and make recommendations with a high degree of precision.

With so many factors and variables at play in dynamic online customer environments, companies need an agile approach that allows them to test the market, gather feedback and continuously improve in order to meet customer needs.

We’re working with an online fashion retailer to deliver this level of personalization. The company is well aware of the speed at which consumers’ tastes and styles change, and realized it needed to move swiftly to gain and keep customers’ attention.

Because it was vital to gain insights into consumer preferences, we took a data-led approach. We helped the retailer use existing data to gain a deeper consumer understanding. Using this insight, we then designed a process that segmented the brand’s customer base and enabled all interactions and product recommendations across channels like chatbots, email and social media to have the highest degree of relevance, timeliness and usefulness.

The combination of process improvements and data insights allowed for an integrated digital thread to run through all phases of the customer lifecycle, including product design and development, sales and after-sales. As a result, the retailer can now drive more relevant customer interactions and next-best offers, which in turn has improved customer mindshare, loyalty and revenue.

Accelerating the path to Intelligent Automation

To get the most out of intelligent automation, process and data need to work in harmony. Automated processes enable greater efficiency, while data enables better decision-making.

By coordinating these attributes — and having a clear outcome in mind — businesses can add intelligence to how and where they automate processes in a way that accelerates business outcomes while ensuring the quality of service is enhanced.

To learn more, visit the Intelligent Process Automation section of our website. View our latest webinar on Redesigning Work for the Post-Pandemic Age.

Chakradhar “Gooty” Agraharam is VP and Commercial Head of EMEA for Cognizant’s Digital Business Operations’ IPA Practice. In this role, he leads advisory, consulting, automation and analytics growth and delivery within the region, helping clients navigate and scale their automation and digital transformation journeys. He has over 25 years of consulting experience, working with clients on large systems integration, program management and transformation consulting programs across Asia, Europe and the Americas. Gooty holds an MBA from IIM, Calcutta (India’s Premier B school), and has executive management certifications from Rutgers, Henley Business School. Gooty has won reputed industry awards with MCA for his contribution to the digital industry in the UK and is a member of various industry forums. He can be reached at Gooty.Agraharam@cognizant.com

Source: Data Or Processes: Where To Begin With Intelligent Automation

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Dicker Data Case Study

Why Workplace Empathy Won’t Keep Employees Happy

“Empathy is one of the values we’ve had from our founding.” That’s what Chelsea MacDonald, SVP of people and operations at Ada, a tech startup that builds customer-service platforms, told me when we first got on the phone for this story in June. When the company was in its early stages, with about 50 people, empathy was “a bit more ad hoc,” because you could bump into colleagues at lunch. But that was pre-pandemic, and before a hiring surge.

Now, MacDonald says, empathy is built on communication (as many as five times a week, she communicates in some way to the entire company about empathy), through tools (specifically, one that tracks whom people communicate with most and who gets left out), through intimacy (cultivated through special-interest groups) and through transparency (senior leaders share notes after every meeting). At various points in our discussion, MacDonald describes empathy as “more than just, ‘Hey, care about other people’” and “making space for other people to make mistakes.”

She was one of a dozen executives whose communications directors reached out when I tweeted about the office trend of “empathy.” Adriana Bokel Herde, the chief people officer at the software company Pegasystems, told me about the three-hour virtual empathy-training session the company had created for managers—and how nearly 90% had joined voluntarily.

Kieran Snyder, the CEO of Textio, a predictive-writing company, said the biggest surprise about empathy in the workplace is that it and accountability are “flip sides of the same coin.” “We had an engineer give some feedback that was really striking,” she told me. “She said that the most empathetic thing her manager could do for her was be really clear about expectations. Let me be an adult and handle my deliverables so that I know what to do.”

All of these leaders see empathy as a path forward after 17 months of societal and professional tumult. And employees do feel that it’s missing from the workplace: according to the 2021 State of Workplace Empathy Study, administered by software company Businessolver, only 1 in 4 employees believed empathy in their organizations was “sufficient.”

Companies know they must start thinking seriously about addressing their empathy deficit or risk losing workers to companies that are. Still, I’ve also heard from workers who think it’s all nonsense: the latest in a long string of corporate attempts to distract from toxic or exploitative company culture, yet another scenario in which employers implore workers to be honest and vulnerable about their needs, then implicitly or explicitly punish them for it.

If you’ve read all this and are still confused about what workplace empathy actually is, you’re not alone. Outside the office, developing empathy means trying to understand and share the feelings or experiences of someone else. Empathy is different from sympathy, which is more one-directional: you feel sad for what someone else is going through, but you have little understanding of what it feels like. Because empathy is predicated on experience, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to cultivate. At best, it’s expanded sympathy; at worst, it’s trying to force connections between wildly different lived experiences (see especially: white people attempting to empathize with the experience of systemic racism).

Applied in a corporate setting, the very idea of empathy begins to fall apart. Is it bringing their whole selves, to use an HR buzzword, to work? Is it cultivating niceness? Is it making space for sympathy and allowing people to air grievances, or is it leadership modeling vulnerability? Over the course of reporting this story, I talked to more than a dozen people from the C-suites of midsize and large companies that had decided to make empathy central to their corporate messaging or strategy.

Some plans were more fleshed out and self-interrogating. Some thought an empathy training available to three time zones was enough. Others understood empathy as small gestures, like looking at a co-worker’s calendar, seeing they’ve been in meetings all day, and giving them a 10-minute pause to get water before you meet with them.

But where did this current push for workplace empathy begin? According to Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and author of the upcoming book Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval, it sort of started with, well, him. In the fall of 2020, he’d been hearing a similar refrain from businesses: everyone was tired. Tired of the pandemic; of stalled diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts; of their bosses and their employees.

When he looked at the 2020 State of Workplace Empathy Study, then in its fourth year, the reasons for that exhaustion became clear. People were tired because they were working all the time, and trying to sort out caregiving responsibilities, and dealing with oscillating threat levels from COVID-19. But they were also tired, he believed, because there was a generalized empathy deficit.

Read More: Hourly Workers Are Demanding Better Pay and Benefits—and Getting Them

That “empathy deficit” became the cornerstone of Taylor’s State of Society address in November 2020. “Much of the resurgence of DE&I programming in the wake of the George Floyd killing was supposed to encourage open conversation and mutual understanding,” he said. “But it often bypassed empathy. Well-meaning programs devolve into grievance sessions … rather than listening and trying to relate.”

SHRM is an incredibly influential organization, with more than 300,000 members in 165 countries. So while it’s not as if empathy efforts were nonexistent before, Taylor’s speech encouraged them. Even if members weren’t there to listen to his words, his message—and the data from the study—began to filter into HR departments, leaving a trail of optional learning modules and Zoom trainings in its wake.

The backlash started shortly thereafter. Taylor acknowledges as much. “I see these companies jumping on it,” he told me. “But it’s not an initiative. It’s not a buzzword. It’s a cultural principle. If you make this promise, as a company, if you put this word out there, your employees are going to hold you to it.” He adds that empathy should go both ways: “There’s an expectation that employees can mess up; employers should be able to mess up too.”

In the case of employees, many are frustrated by perceived hypocrisy. (All employees who spoke critically about their employers for this story requested anonymity out of concern for their jobs.) One woman told me her company, Viacom, has been doing a lot of messaging about empathy, particularly when it comes to mental health. At the same time, it has switched to a health plan that’s more restrictive when it comes to accessing mental-health professionals and care.

(Viacom attributes the change to a shift in policy on the part of their insurance provider and says it has worked to remedy it.) Other employees report repeated invocations of empathy from upper management in staff meetings, but little training on how to implement it with those they supervise. As one female employee at a performing-arts nonprofit told me, “In a one-on-one meeting with my boss where I was openly struggling and tried to discuss it, I was told that mental health is important, but improving my job performance was more important.”

A customer-service representative for a fintech company said empathy had been centered as a “core value” of the organization: something they were meant to practice with one another but also with customers. To quantify worker empathy, the company sends out customer-satisfaction surveys (CSATs) after each interaction. It found that dips in CSAT scores, which were measured by an automated system, reliably happened when a customer had a long hold time, which had little to do with whether the representative modeled empathy. Yet employees were still promoted based on these scores.

The central tension emerges again and again: “There’s an irony, because there’s the equity that you want to present to employees—while also giving special consideration and solutions for specific situations,” Joyce Kim, the chief marketing officer of Genesys, which provides customer service and call-center tech for businesses, told me. “Those two are often incongruent.”

Put another way, it’s hard, at least from a leadership perspective, to cultivate equal treatment for everyone while also making exceptions for everyone. If you allow an employee to work different hours, have different expectations of accessibility or have more leeway because of an illness, how is that fair to those who don’t need those things? How, in other words, do you accommodate difference while still maximizing profits?

What companies are trying to do, at heart, is train employees to treat one another not like productivity robots, but like people: people with kids, people with responsibilities, people shouldering the weight of systemic discrimination. But that runs counter to the main goal of most companies, which is to create and distribute a product—whether that’s a service, an object or a design—as efficiently as possible. They might dress up that goal in less capitalistic language, but the end point remains the same: profits, the more the better, with as little friction as possible.

Within this framework, the frictionless employee is the ideal employee. But a lack of friction is a privilege. It means looking and acting and behaving like people in power, which, at least in American society, means being white, male and cisgender; with few or no caregiving responsibilities; no physical or mental disabilities; no strong accent or awkward social tics or physical reminders, like “bad teeth,” of growing up poor; and no needs for accommodations—religious, dietary or otherwise. For decades, offices were filled with people who fit this bill, or who were able to hide or groom away the parts of themselves that did not.

The women and people of color who were admitted into these spaces did so with an unspoken caveat that they would make themselves amenable to the status quo. They didn’t bring their “whole selves” to work. Not even close. They brought only the parts that would blend in with the rest of the workforce. If you were sexually harassed, you didn’t make a fuss about it. If someone used a racial slur, same deal. If there were Christmas celebrations that made the one Jewish employee feel weird, that person was expected not to make waves. Bad behavior wasn’t friction, per se. But a worker whose identity already created a form of friction complaining about it? That sure was.

Historians of labor have pointed out that this posture was particularly prevalent in office settings, where salaried workers were often saturated in narratives of a great, unified purpose. If employees took care of the company, and flattened themselves into as close to the image of the ideal worker as possible, the company would take care of them, in compensation and eventual pension. Which is one of many reasons that white collar office workers have been resistant to unionization efforts, which felt, as sociologist C. Wright Mills has noted, like a crass, almost hysterical form of office friction.

Machinists and longshoremen were laborers and had no recourse other than the big stick of the union to advocate for themselves. Office workers could solve conflict man to man, boss to employee, like, well, the white gentlemen that they were—or at the very least pretended to be.

This mindset began to erode over the course of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s—first, when massive waves of layoffs and benefit cuts destabilized the myth of the benevolent parent company. But the white maleness of the culture also began to (very gradually) shift in the wake of legal protections against discrimination related to gender, age, disability and, only recently, sexual orientation.

White male workers remained dominant in most industries, particularly in leadership roles. But they began to lose their unquestioned monopoly on the norms of the workplace. Some changes were embraced; others, especially around sexual harassment and racial discrimination, were changed via legal force.

Read More: The Pandemic Reset the Balance Between Workers and Employers. How Bosses Respond Will Shape the Future of Work

The overarching goal of HR departments in the past, going back to the field’s origins in “scientific management” of factory assembly lines, was keeping employees healthy enough to work efficiently. After 1964, their task expanded to include compliance with legal protections, in addition to the continued work of keeping employees healthy and “happy” enough to do their work well. “Unhappiness,” after all, is expensive—according to a Gallup estimate from 2013, dissatisfaction costs U.S. companies $450 million to $550 million a year in lost productivity. Unhappiness, in other words, is friction.

But as the workplace continues to diversify, how do you maintain the worker “happiness” of a bunch of different sorts of people, from different backgrounds, with different cultural contexts? There are some obvious fixes: continuing to erode the power of monoculture (in which one, limited way of being/working becomes the way of being/working to which all other employees must aspire); recruiting and retaining managers who actually know how to manage; creating a culture that encourages taking time off. But usually, the proposed solution takes the form of the HR initiative.

Take the 2010s push for “wellness,” which manifested in the form of mental-health seminars, gym memberships and free Fitbits. You can view these initiatives as part of a desire to reduce health-insurance premiums. But you can also see them as a means of confronting the reality of a workforce that, in the wake of the Great Recession, was anxious about their finances and careers, particularly as more and more workers were replaced by subcontractors, who enjoyed even fewer protections and privileges.

Or consider the push for DE&I programs in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in 2015. These initiatives aim to acknowledge a perceived source of friction—the fact that a company is very white, its leadership remains “snowcapped,” or the workplace is quietly or aggressively hostile to Black and brown employees—while also providing a proposed solution. The corporate DE&I initiative communicates that we see this problem, we’re working to solve it, so you can talk less about it.

Wellness and DE&I initiatives are frequently unsatisfying and demoralizing, particularly for those workers they are ostensibly designed to benefit. They often lean heavily on the labor of those with the least power within an organization. And they approach systemic problems with solutions designed to disrupt people’s lives as little as possible. (A three-hour webinar will not create a culture of inclusion.) But the superficiality is part of the point.

Contain the friction, but do so by creating as little additional friction as possible, because a series of eruptions is easier to contain than a truly paradigm-shifting one that threatens the status quo and, by extension, the company’s public profile and profitability. According to a 2021 SHRM report, in the five years since DE&I initiatives swept the corporate world, 42% of Black employees, 26% of Asian employees and 21% of Hispanic employees reported experiencing unfair treatment based on their race or ethnicity.

The ramifications of racial inequity (lost productivity, turnover and absenteeism) over the past five years may have cost the U.S. up to $172 billion. But instead of acknowledging what it is about the company culture that makes it difficult to retain diverse hires, or what might have to change to recoup those losses, companies blame individual workers who were a “bad fit.” DE&I initiatives don’t fail because there’s a “diversity pipeline problem.” It’s because those in power aren’t willing to relinquish any of it.

A similar contradiction applies to the rise of “corporate empathy.” At its heart, it’s a set of policies, initiatives and messaging developed to respond to the “friction” of a workforce unsettled by the pandemic, a continuing racial reckoning and sustained political anxiety, capped off by an uprising, on a workday, days after most of the workforce had returned from winter breaks. Many empathy initiatives are well-intentioned. But coming from an employer, they still, ultimately, say: We see you are breaking in two, we are too, but how can we collectively still work as if we’re not?

Therein lies the empathy trap. So long as organizations view employees with different needs as sources of friction, and solutions to those needs as examples of unfairness, they will continue to promote and retain employees with the capacity to make their personalities, needs and identities as frictionless as possible. They will encourage “bringing the whole self to work,” but only on a good day. They will fetishize “sharing personal stories,” but only when the ramifications don’t interfere with the product or create interpersonal conflict. This is what happens when you conceive of empathy as allowances: Those who would benefit from it become less desirable workers. Their friction is centered, and their value decreases.

Our society is built around the goals of capitalism—and capitalism, and the ethos of individualism that thrives alongside it, is inherently in conflict with empathy. The qualities that make our bodies, selves and minds most amenable to those goals are prized above all else, and it is HR’s primary task to further cultivate those qualities, whether through “enrichment” or “wellness,” even when the most significant obstacle to either is the workplace itself.

Why do the declarations of empathy feel so hollow? Because growth and profit do not reward it. Companies, HR professionals, managers, even the best trained can do only so much. A large portion of the dissatisfaction that employees feel is the result of actively toxic company policy, thoughtless management and executives clinging to the status quo. But a lot of it, too, is anger at systems that extend beyond the office:

The fraying social safety nets, the decaying social bonds, the frameworks set up to devalue women’s work, the stubborn endurance of racism, the lack of protections or fair pay for the workers whose labor we ostensibly value most. We don’t know how to make people care about other people. No wonder workplace initiatives can feel so laughably incomplete. How do you cultivate a healthy workplace culture when it’s rooted in poisoned soil? “It’s not just a workplace empathy deficit,” Taylor told me. “It’s an American cultural deficit.”

By Anne Helen Petersen

Petersen is co-author of the upcoming book Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working From Home

Source: Why Workplace Empathy Won’t Keep Employees Happy | Time

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Contents:

Find out how emotionally intelligent you are by taking our emotional intelligence quiz.

And Mind Tools Premium club members and Corporate users can listen to our exclusive interview with Daniel Goleman

Cynthia D. Fisher; Neal M. Ashkanasy. “The Emerging Role of Emotions in Work Life: An Introduction

Hoffmann, Elizabeth A. (2016). “Emotions and Emotional Labor at Worker-Owned Businesses: Deep Acting, Surface Acting, and Genuine Emotions”. The Sociological Quarterly. 57: 152–173. doi:10.1111/tsq.12113. S2CID 145338476.

McQuerrey, Lisa. “Eight Steps to End Drama in The Workplace”. Retrieved 20 April 2014.

“Interview with Harry Prosen M.D. Psychiatric Consultant Bonobo Species Survival Plan”. Retrieved 11 August 2011.

Rosenberg, Marshall B. (2005). “5: Connecting with others empathically”. Speak peace in a world of conflict: what you say next will change your world. Puddledancer Press. pp. 240. ISBN 978-1892005175.

Empathy Definitions by Edwin Rutsch from the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy.

Mirrored emotion by Jean Decety from the University of Chicago.

Empathy and the brain by Gwen Dewar published in Parenting Science.

Empathic listening skills How to listen so others will feel heard, or listening first aid (University of California).

Study: People literally feel pain of others – mirror-touch synesthesia Live Science, 17 June 2007.

Visa And BlockFi Launch 2% Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card

In this photo illustration a Visa logo is seen on a mobile...

Cryptocurrency services company BlockFi launched its first-ever crypto rewards credit card, in conjunction with Visa, to approved clients in the United States on Tuesday. BlockFi’s plans for a credit card were initially disclosed in December 2020 when the exchange released a waiting list for US-based clients, which is now over 400,000 people. BlockFi CEO Zac Prince expects everyone on the waitlist to receive their card around the end of July.

The new offering provides clients with a simple way to acquire bitcoin without having to pay fees or navigate the sometimes complicated onboarding processes at exchanges. BlockFi stands to benefit from utilizing the card as a customer acquisition tool as well as from the fees it will receive from money spent on the card.

“The crypto industry has come a long way since the first Bitcoin payment transaction 11 years ago,” Flori Marquez, Co-Founder and SVP of Operations at BlockFi said. “Today, nearly everyone knows about the important role crypto plays in reshaping the financial space, and our new credit card is set to be another game-changer. This card will make it easier than ever for people to earn Bitcoin back while making day-to-day purchases.”

Holders of BlockFi’s Rewards Visa Card will be able to earn 1.5% back in bitcoin on every purchase, with the payout increasing to 2% on every dollar spent over $50,000 annually. As an incentive to new users, they will receive a 3.5% bitcoin rewards rate for the first 90 days or until they receive $100 worth of bitcoin. The card also offers other benefits such as rebates on trading fees and comes with no annual fee or foreign transaction fees.

These rewards are competitive when compared to other traditional cards. For example, Bank of America’s Customized Cash Rewards credit card offers 3% cash back in one spending category of the customer’s choosing, 2% back automatically on grocery purchases and 1% back on all other purchases.

However, depending on an individual’s spending habits they could be outshone by Gemini, the crypto exchange headed up by the Winklevoss twins, when it launches its crypto rewards credit card this summer in partnership with Mastercard. While BlockFi only offers rewards in bitcoin for now, Gemini will give clients 3% back on dining purchases in any cryptocurrency offered on the exchange on purchases without annual fees or exchange fees. However, the rewards drop to 2% on groceries and 1% for all other purchases.

The launch of the BlockFi crypto rewards credit card also marks a new offering in Visa’s expanding crypto business. The electronic payments company has partnered with several crypto firms to offer Visa debit cards and supported over $1 billion worth of volume through crypto-linked cards in the first half of 2020, but the partnership with BlockFi will bring its first crypto rewards credit card. In 2021, Visa appeared on Forbes’ Blockchain 50 list after applying for over 150 blockchain-related patents and announcing an integration with US-dollar pegged stablecoin USDC.

Card users will receive a 1.5% cashback on an accrual basis for every transaction made through the card, which will then be converted to bitcoin and placed into a BlockFi account in a regular monthly cycle.

“Crypto rewards programs are a compelling way to engage consumers in the crypto economy,” Terry Angelos, SVP and Global Head of Fintech at Visa said. “We’re excited to see programs like the BlockFi Rewards Visa Card, which offer rewards that are relevant to the growing community of digital currency adopters.”

The move by BlockFi comes after PayPal Holdings Inc in October said it would allow customers to hold bitcoin and other virtual coins in its online wallet and shop using cryptocurrencies, a move which could help bitcoin and rival cryptocurrencies gain wider adoption as viable payment methods.

Bitcoin has surged about 160% this year, fueled by demand for riskier assets amid unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, interest in assets perceived as resistant to inflation and expectations that cryptocurrencies will win mainstream acceptance.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

 

Source: Visa And BlockFi Launch 2% Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card

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Critics:

BlockFi is a New York City-based start-up cryptocurrency financial institution. It lends U.S. dollars against bitcoin and other cryptocurrency collateral, as well as accepting deposits of cryptocurrencies which pay interest to the depositor. BlockFi Co-Founder and CEO Zac Prince has a background both in consumer lending and start-ups.

In February 2018, BlockFi received a $1.55 million funding in a seed round from ConsenSys Ventures, SoFi and Kenetic Capital, among others. In July it secured another $50 million in funding from Michael Novogratz‘s Galaxy Digital Ventures

References

5 Questions to Ask Before Including Services in Your Bootstrapping Strategy

Most tech entrepreneurs these days stay away from services because investors are looking for high-margin, repeatable revenue. Service revenues don’t command the same multiples that product revenues do.

When I decided to bootstrap my startup, I never expected to be selling professional services. I quickly learned, however, that offering services tied to your product can be incredibly useful when bootstrapping. When my company started offering design and development services utilizing our low-code development platform, these services led to high-margin recurring revenue and greatly improved unit economics. These services also drove a tremendous amount of customer success.

But, service offerings are not for everyone. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself in order to determine whether services should be part of your bootstrapping efforts.

Related: 5 Reasons Bootstrapping Your Business is the Best Thing You Can Do

Do the services have good margins?

For bootstrapping to work, you need a healthy margin. At one of the companies I founded, our professional services were a necessary element of customer onboarding since product implementation was incredibly complex and not self-service.

Our professional services margin was -20%, which eroded our cash significantly. In this instance, service was not a revenue center but a loss leader — something we had to offer to secure the more valuable recurring revenue. If you find yourself in the same boat, services will never be a viable bootstrapping strategy. They could, however, be a tool you utilize to drive the rapid growth of recurring revenues.

Does the market/customer want the services?

Many products simply can’t be used by most people without a services component. At my company, we found that even though our low-code development platform could be utilized by people with minimal coding expertise, certain segments of our user base simply didn’t have the inclination to build their solution on our platform. We also discovered that even with powerful tools, many people wanted to leverage the expertise of an experienced software design team.

This prompted us to spin up a services team that could charge for design and development as an initial project and even provide ongoing development services on a monthly basis. Going this route is driving a three-to-six month payback on and marketing investment for us. Do these types of opportunities exist for you?

Related: 7 Ways to Bootstrap Your Business to Success

Can your service offering eventually be outsourced to an ecosystem of providers?

Services can serve as a bridge to help fund platform losses up to a point where outsiders can take over. Building an ecosystem can create an awesome flywheel effect, whereby participants not only become service providers but a channel for bringing in new product sales — without the expense of having to add to your own sales team.

Salesforce and Workday both did a brilliant job of executing this strategy. Ideally your product will gain enough acceptance that you can sell off your services division for additional profit.

Do services provide you with more customer intimacy and enhance your retention metrics?

A customer’s switching costs go way up when there is both a human and technological connection to your product and services. This sort of intimacy can provide a significant boost to your retention metrics and ensure predictable revenue.

Having great people to support clients can make up for early product deficiencies and create a level of trust that a pure low-touch product cannot. This is especially important in the early days of any startup’s product lifecycle.

Related: What Nobody Tells You About Taking VC Money

Can bootstrapping with services strengthen your product development?

Launching a services division also provides another benefit: the chance for you to “eat your own dogfood.” It’s a fact that when employees use their own product, it gets markedly better. At my company, we rotate core team members in and out of the professional services team to ensure every engineer feels what our customers feel. I believe this leads to product brilliance.

Now I’m not advocating you become a services company, but having a product company with a service business could stave off having to secure venture backing before your product is more mature. This can help you avoid things like dilution, a loss of control and the pressure to grow fast for a speedy exit.

As someone who’s previously founded two venture-backed startups, I like how bootstrapping with services is allowing my company to grow more thoughtfully. We have time to think about product/market fit before scaling up, we’re not pursuing growth rates that our platform can’t support, we’re making smart hires and we’re scrutinizing the ROI of all of our expenses because every dollar counts.

Additionally, we are vetting the utility of our own product with real-life customers and creating a virtuous circle of feedback to drive new features. I feel like it’s the smarter way to evolve a business like ours — building a company for the long haul versus hitting some arbitrary goal to secure additional venture capital.

There is one important consideration before bootstrapping with services: You’ll want to make sure you’re growing (albeit at a deliberate pace) and not just treading water. That’s why the above questions are something you’ll want to consider before following my lead. It’s critical you feel confident that you’ll create enough runway and customer success for your ultimate business model to take shape, while not letting services become a distraction.

By:

Source: 5 Questions to Ask Before Including Services in Your Bootstrapping Strategy

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Critics:

In computer technology the term bootstrapping, refers to language compilers that are able to be coded in the same language. (For example, a C compiler is now written in the C language. Once the basic compiler is written, improvements can be iteratively made, thus pulling the language up by its bootstraps) Also, booting usually refers to the process of loading the basic software into the memory of a computer after power-on or general reset, the kernel will load the operating system which will then take care of loading other device drivers and software as needed.

Bootstrapping can also refer to the development of successively more complex, faster programming environments. The simplest environment will be, perhaps, a very basic text editor (e.g., ed) and an assembler program. Using these tools, one can write a more complex text editor, and a simple compiler for a higher-level language and so on, until one can have a graphical IDE and an extremely high-level programming language.

Historically, bootstrapping also refers to an early technique for computer program development on new hardware. The technique described in this paragraph has been replaced by the use of a cross compiler executed by a pre-existing computer. Bootstrapping in program development began during the 1950s when each program was constructed on paper in decimal code or in binary code, bit by bit (1s and 0s), because there was no high-level computer language, no compiler, no assembler, and no linker.

A tiny assembler program was hand-coded for a new computer (for example the IBM 650) which converted a few instructions into binary or decimal code: A1. This simple assembler program was then rewritten in its just-defined assembly language but with extensions that would enable the use of some additional mnemonics for more complex operation codes.

The enhanced assembler’s source program was then assembled by its predecessor’s executable (A1) into binary or decimal code to give A2, and the cycle repeated (now with those enhancements available), until the entire instruction set was coded, branch addresses were automatically calculated, and other conveniences (such as conditional assembly, macros, optimisations, etc.) established. This was how the early assembly program SOAP (Symbolic Optimal Assembly Program) was developed. Compilers, linkers, loaders, and utilities were then coded in assembly language, further continuing the bootstrapping process of developing complex software systems by using simpler software.

See also

 

How To Gain Your Customers Loyalty Through Your Own E-Wallet

Pagar con el móvil en comercios con un monedero digital

E-wallets have seen one of the highest growths among payment channels in the last decade. They have shown a clear upward year after year and may become the main payment method in the world in the not too distant future, replacing credit cards and, of course, cash.

APIs will further boost their use in the coming years. An open banking infrastructure as promoted by the European PSD2 directive allows any TPP to develop solutions that enable companies to offer e-wallets to their customers, improving their user experience and, of course, fostering their loyalty.

What is an e-wallet

An e-wallet is an electronic medium that holds, stores and transfers virtual money to make small payments virtually. As with a traditional bank account or wallet, the e-wallet amount is deducted from the account as payments are made until the available balance is completely exhausted. At this point, it must be topped up so that it can remain operational.

This type of e-wallet often uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to make payments at physical retailers simply by bringing the cell phone closer to the POS terminal. They are also used for online payments. In both cases, the purchase amount is charged to a bank card or an account associated with the wallet.

E-wallets emerged in the late 1990s thanks to the Internet’s success and the generalization of virtual pay-per-view channels. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that they became hugely popular because of the dramatic growth of cryptocurrencies in general, and Bitcoin in particular. In fact, as businesses have started accepting cryptocurrencies as payment channels, e-wallets are becoming an important part of the financial system.

The reality in Africa: millions of e-wallets and little banking activity

Although e-wallets are a fairly common payment method in Europe, this doesn’t compare to their use in Africa. Since M-Pesa, a mobile telephony product of Safaricom, a subsidiary of Vodafone, entered Kenya in 2007, the use of e-wallets via cell phones has grown exponentially in Africa. The continent is the global epicenter for this technology. Today, it has more than 450 million active users, and Africa is the region where these payment solutions are most used.

In fact, according to a recent report by the GSM mobile operators’ association, 2019 saw how the 1 billion-mark was passed in terms of mobile money accounts, most of them in developing countries. Specifically, its forecasts are for the sub-Saharan African region to exceed 500 million accounts by the end of this year.

This situation is especially noteworthy in some countries. For example, in Nigeria, 60% of the population does not have access to bank accounts, as many of the traditional banking transactions are completed through their e-wallets, demonstrating the importance and effectiveness of these payment channels.

Kopernet, a provider of cloud-based enterprise solutions, has highlighted the importance of loyal customers, who account for only 20% of its total customer base, but up to 80% of its total business turnover and 72% of its visitors. In addition, loyalty program members are 70% more likely to recommend the business to their friends and family.

One of the most important elements to help generate loyalty among customers is the use of an e-wallet, through which you can increase the frequency of visits to your business. Whether through a points program, offering discounts on the purchase of certain products or providing excellent customer service, it is undoubtedly useful to attract recurring buyers.

Depending on the type of customer and the use they make of the e-wallet, one advantage or another may be provided. For example, when the e-wallet is topped up, you can identify whether or not they are a regular customer and then offer one type of bonus or another. The same is true when customers pay by placing their cell phone near the POS terminal. At this point, you can offer a personalized discount for the use of that e-wallet by quickly identifying the person making the payment.

There are plenty of possibilities, and the use of cell phones and payment terminals provides a rather interesting option to be able to attract more and better users, and thus retain more and more customers. After all, a good shopping experience is always an incentive that helps you attract new customers to your business.

APIs and e-wallets, an interesting option to integrate into your systems

Opening up the banking infrastructure is giving e-wallets an extra push. For example, third parties outside the banking business can develop applications that meet the needs of companies thanks to APIs, thus facilitating the integration of a fully operational financial system into an completely independent third-party ecosystem (platform, app or website).

As a result, any user (an employee, supplier or customer) can open a digital account directly from the business platform, thanks to APIs such as BBVA’s Accounts, without having to go to the branch themselves. Lately, they can link their e-wallet to that account if they want to and start operating.

In addition, with this API, you can issue a co-branded card with BBVA linked to your digital account and manage transaction and balance queries in detail and under the look & feel of your own platform.

Source: How to gain your customers’ loyalty through your own e-wallet

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Will mobile payment replace cash? It looks like that. In many countries, mobile payment is part of everyday life. No matter if paypal, google pay or apple pay there are many possibilities to pay mobile. The money is stored with e-wallets. But how secure are e-wallets and is it really practical? Let’s take a closer look at this topic in this episode. Do you already use e-wallets? Write it in the comments… ▸ subscribe to our channel: https://goo.gl/UupwgM #EWallet #MobilePayment #ElectronicPayment
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