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Fintech: Fusing Finance And Technology

Fintech is currently the hottest term in the financial industry.

Jeff Broth

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financial-technology

Fintech is short for financial technology and refers to new innovative financial products and services, which through the use of technology, aim to be more efficient, cost-effective and customer-friendly than those provided by traditional financial institutions.

Fintech has become a disruptive force in the financial sector that is threatening the current status quo of banking and finance. The main beneficiary of that is the consumer.

Sectors with Fintech

Within the fast growing fintech space there are companies active in the payments space, wealth management, mobile banking, crypto currencies and the blockchain, alternative financing, insurance, security and risk management, data analytics and financial trading.

These are all areas that are currently experiencing disruption by new firms entering the market, offering better solutions that traditional financial services companies.

Related: How to Write a Funding Proposal

B2C and C2C

One of the leading drivers of the fintech boom has been consumer demand. Consumers desire better, cheaper and user-friendlier financial services, and predominantly prefer to conduct financial transaction online or via their smartphones.

However, private individuals aren’t the only beneficiaries of the emergence of new financial innovations. Small business are also benefitting greatly from the boom in fintech, especially when it comes to raising funds using alternative financing routes.

Alternative Financing

One of the major growth areas in fintech has been alternative financing, in the forms of crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending. Crowdfunding refers to the funding of a project using financial contributions from a range of individuals through the use of an online crowdfunding platform.

While peer-to-peer (P2P) lending refers to a process through which individuals and small businesses can borrow money from individuals without the use of a traditional financial intermediary.

It is one of the most popular new ways SMEs can find funding, but also a great way for individual investors to generate strong fixed interest returns. Through peer-to-peer lending platforms, such as Lendico, individuals can invest in a range of peer-to-peer loans and receive higher fixed income returns than they currently would in the bond markets.

Related: Attention Black Entrepreneurs: Start-Up Funding From Government Grants & Funds

Online Financial Trading

online-financing-trading

Another major area within fintech that has experienced massive growth and disruption is online financial trading for retail investors.

Online brokerages have opened up financial trading to everyday investors, and allow private individuals to trade the financial markets from the comfort of their own home, without the need of dealing with a bank to execute their trades.

One of the leading players in this space is AvaTrade, which was founded in 2006 by entrepreneurs Negev Nozatski and Emmanuelle Kronitz with the aim to provide a customer service-oriented online broker that anyone can use to trade the global currency markets.

The company has since expanded its product suite to meet growing customer demand. It now offers online and mobile app-based trading of all major asset classes, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, commodities, indices and the crypto currency bitcoin.

Fintech in South Africa

Fintech is booming globally and South Africa has managed to position itself as one of the main fintech hubs in Africa. Key areas of focus for African fintech companies are remittance, payments services, alternative financing and mobile banking.

Africa’s heavily underbanked rural population is an ideal target group for fintech companies operating in the before mentioned sectors, as traditional financial institutions have failed with the inclusion of large parts of the continent’s rural population.

Related: New Ways SMEs Can Find Funding

This provides South African fintech companies with huge growth potential, which has not gone unnoticed by investors. Rand Merchant Insurance has launched a fintech hub in Cape Town, called AlphaCode, which provides office space and business networking to young fintech start-ups. Furthermore, Barclays Africa has launched a fintech community and accelerator program called Rise, which aims to boost collaboration and provide the right ecosystem for fintech companies to flourish in South Africa.

Leading South African fintech companies to keep an eye on include the peer-to-peer lenders RainFin and RocMyPeer, payment system provider Gust Pay, mobile banking provider Wizzit, personal money management provider ExpenZA and QR code-based payment provider SnapScan.

Jeff Broth, a business writer and advisor. Consulted for SMB owners and entrepreneurs for 7 years now. Mainly covering finance, stocks and emerging fintech trends.

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6 Money Management Tips For First-Time Entrepreneurs

That $5 coffee every morning isn’t taking you to the next level any faster than brewing a pot at the office.

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How many times have you been told that saving money is a good thing? Financial specialists recommend that you save a bit of money every month, but that’s easier said than done. After all, it’s not uncommon for people to live paycheck to pay cheque.

However, if you want to start a company, you’ll need to break away from this cycle and start budgeting and saving. At times, this will be a trying task, but it must be done if you want to invest in your future as an entrepreneur.

If you want to start managing your money more effectively and set yourself up to become an entrepreneur, follow the six tips below. With these techniques in your arsenal, you’ll start so see immediate changes, and you’ll set good behaviours in motion that’ll serve you throughout your career as an entrepreneur.

1. Prioritise organisation

When you are organised, you can track every facet of your finances. Record all of your financial information in one place so you can refer to it and keep track of your progress.

When you chronicle all of your financial information, you may want to try and organise it by category. For example, when you are recording your current costs, you can categorise them as “urgent” and “future.”

Not only will this system help you stay on top of your personal finances, but it’ll prepare you for entrepreneurial success because it’s a directly transferable skill.

Related: Smart Money For Small Businesses

2. Check your credit

According to a recent MoneyTips survey, nearly 30 percent of people don’t know their credit score. If you are among this group, it’s time to request a free credit report. Once you know your number, assuming money’s tight, feel free to use a few do-it-yourself credit repair techniques to quickly improve your score.

Understanding your credit score and improving it to the best of your ability is paramount when it comes to money management. A little-known fact among aspiring entrepreneurs is that the funding a new business receives is often dependent on the founder’s credit score.

3. Save where you can

People often cringe when they think about cutting back. Fortunately, there are several painless ways to save. Look at your daily habits and see if you have any spending trends. For example, if you spend $5 every day on lattes, you might consider cutting back and only having the expensive latte every other day. Slowly, you’ll get used to this new habit, and your bank account will reap the rewards.

Related: Time Is Money: Tips To Help You Use Yours Well

4. Search for additional information

The Penny Hoarder

Have you heard of The Penny Hoarder or Dough Roller? These are just two personal finance blogs that can help you better manage your money, but there’s a whole lot more out there.

Subscribe to websites and follow podcasts that offer advice on money management. Also, keep your eyes peeled for informative outlets that speak directly about entrepreneurial finances and follow them, too.

5. Set long- and short-term goals

Have you ever noticed that people want to reach their goals in as little time as possible? If you pick up almost any given health magazine, it’ll claim that it can help you achieve extreme results in little to no time.

Unfortunately, crash diets are often ineffective, and “get rich quick” money management techniques often lack substance.

It’s hard to accept that your goals will take time to accomplish, which is why you create short- and long-term goals. In either case, aim to make goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. Ideally, accomplishing your short-term goals will give you the positive feedback that you need to continue striving for your long-term goals.

Related: If You’re Trying To Raise Money, Doing Any Of These 9 Things May Scare Off Investors

6. Find a mentor

If you manage your personal finances and entrepreneurial finances, one thing is certain – at times, it will feel like you can’t keep up with everything. Financial planning can be difficult, and it’s not uncommon for it to feel overwhelming.

As an individual, you can seek out mentors that can help you with personal finances. As an entrepreneur, you can continue to work with these people or seek out more established financial consultants that provide you with guidance you need to run your business.

Managing your finances is a trying and rewarding experience. It will feel messy at times, but the more you practice, the more you’ll improve your personal finances and set yourself up for entrepreneurial money management success.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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How To Raise Working Capital Finance

There are more than 150 working capital funds available for SMEs in South Africa. Here’s what you need to know to access them.

Darlene Menzies

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working capital finance

A healthy cash flow is the life blood of a business. The reality is that most businesses experience cash flow problems from time to time, which could be caused by a structural problem in your supply chain, inadequate debtor controls, poor pricing structures, bad planning, too much capital being tied up in stock or possibly the impact of unplanned growth on your existing resources.

Whatever the reason, the good news is that there are more than 150 different working capital funds available for SMEs in South Africa. Working capital loans are short-term loans that are designed to provide financial bridging to address cash flow needs.

The more you understand about how these funds work, the better you will be able to identify the most appropriate option for your specific needs.

What’s available

Overdrafts and credit cards

Overdrafts and credit card facilities are a good option for relatively small, short-term cash flow problems. Most banks are willing to provide profitable businesses with overdrafts and credit facilities and you will only be charged interest on the money you use. Some banks charge a small monthly fee for these facilities even if you don’t use them, but this is a small price to pay for the convenience of being able to meet financial obligations.

Related: Equity Crowdfunding In SA Explained

Contract finance

Also known as getting upfront cash to fund the work for an approved contract. If the reason for the cash flow problem is high sales volumes that result in a temporary cash flow issue, contract finance can be a good option. Contract financiers want to know that your client is reputable and has a good payment history. They’ll also want assurance that you have the knowledge and experience to fulfil the terms of the contract.

First prize is contract finance that enables you to control both the finance and the contract work although in some cases the lender will insist on controlling the finance and may even want involvement in managing the project. Most contract financiers charge an interest rate linked to prime and you will also be charged for drawing up cession documents if this is relevant.

Debtor finance or invoice financing

Also known as getting cash while waiting for customers to pay invoices. If the cash crunch is caused by customers who will take a long time to pay you, debtor finance can be useful. In this case, unlike contract finance where the finance is provided prior to the work being completed, debtor finance requires that the work has already been done and that the customer has been invoiced. As with contract finance, the credibility and credit history of the client is key to lenders as they rely on their ability to pay your invoice.

On average you can raise between 75% and 80% of the value of the invoice within a day or two of sending the invoice to your customer. There is usually an administrative fee to be paid plus interest on the loan — it can be an expensive way of getting finance but it is better than waiting 90 or 120 days for your customer to pay you if you have cash flow constraints. Debtor financiers offer two options — invoice discounting and factoring. Factoring is when your client pays the lender who then returns the outstanding portion of the invoice to you (less their fees).

Invoice discounting is where the customer pays you and you pay the lender i.e. the client does not know that you have borrowed against their invoice. There are usually big penalty costs for late payments. Be aware that if the client does not pay by the specified date agreed with the lender, you will incur additional penalty costs.

Retail Finance

For businesses that operate in the retail sector and generate their revenue from debit or credit cards or EFTs there are lenders who provide loans that are repaid by deducting a small percentage of daily sales. You will need to generate a regular income of at least R30 000 monthly to qualify for this type of finance. The useful aspect is that repayments vary according to income generated. During busier months, you’ll pay more, and less during quiet periods.

Terms Loans

Term loans are another popular way of raising finance to cover cash flow gaps. The money is loaned for a fixed period and you agree to repay at regular intervals. Interest charges are usually linked to prime and the rate is linked to your risk profile. The duration of term loans varies according to the business’s needs and lender’s terms.

You will be expected to provide collateral to raise a term loan. Lenders will also check your credit rating and financial statements, business plan and possibly the order book before they agree to lend you money.

Related: The Truth About Venture Capital Funding

What working capital funders expect

What working capital funders expect

The key to obtaining working capital funding is understanding the lenders’ risk. To minimise their risks, lenders will require security for the loan. Providing collateral is often difficult for entrepreneurs who do not own property or have assets or investments that can be ceded to the lender for the duration of the loan.

Lenders will ask you for a list of personal assets and liabilities and based on this information, they may ask you to sign personal surety for the loan. If you do not own sufficient assets, you’ll need to find someone who does who is willing to stand surety for your loan. This means that if the business fails to repay the loan, the lender will approach the person who signed surety, to settle the debt.

For terms loans, retail finance, overdrafts and credit cards, the lender will focus on the financial strength of your business and its trading history. They usually only consider companies that have been in operation for at least a year and can show that the business is profitable, has a regular income and achieves good credit scores. For contract finance and debtor finance, lenders focus on the quality of your client and may fund working capital advances to businesses that are not yet profitable.

Working Capital Loans

Working capital loans are short-term loans that are designed to provide financial bridging to address cash flow needs. The more you understand about how these funds work, the better you will be able to identify the most appropriate option for your specific needs.


Resource

Finfind is SA’s leading access to finance solutions for SMEs. This revolutionary online platform links finance seekers with matching lenders, providing easy access to over 200 lenders and over 350 loan options. Finfind is supported by USAID and sponsored by the Department of Small Business Development.

Go to www.finfindeasy.co.za to find the business finance you need. It’s free and easy to use.

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Equity Crowdfunding In SA Explained

Here’s a brief snapshot of what it is and how it could benefit your business.

Daniel Van Zuydam

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crowdfunding-equity

As an entrepreneur, finding the right funding for your specific start-up is hugely important.

With momentum around crowdfunding growing on a global scale, there is talk about equity crowdfunding becoming a viable option in South Africa. This is very good news indeed, as it has the potential to significantly boost economic growth.

Here’s a brief snapshot of what it is and how it could benefit your business.

Equity crowdfunding is a simple concept: Members of the public (the crowd) are offered equity (shares) in a company (generally a start-up) in exchange for funding. The company then uses that funding to kick start the business.

Related: Quick Shift Deva Kate Emmerson On Crowdfunding

Donations-based crowdfunding and rewards-based crowdfunding have started to gain some traction, with local players such as Thundafund (rewards based) and Backabuddy (donations based) leading the charge; however South Africa is still lagging behind much of the rest of the world, mostly due to the lack of precise legislation around crowdfunding.

The Financial Services Board are yet to decide how they will regulate crowdfunding in South Africa, and so interested parties have been hesitant to engage with crowdfunding, with no-one attempting equity crowdfunding to date.

Another major hurdle is that private companies are not allowed to offer their shares to the public, and the difficulty of registering as a public company is simply too great for a start-up to even bother with. The reason for such stringent requirements though, is to essentially stop fraudulent schemes. The last thing you would want to do is fund an extra round of piña coladas in Mauritius for the opportunistic con-man – the government is therefore right in trying to regulate this area.

Related: Kickstart Your Business Through Crowdfunding

Uprise.Africa

There is, however, light at the end of the crowdfunding tunnel – a new start-up Uprise.Africa aims to launch towards the end of this year. Uprise.Africa will be the first of its kind in South Africa in that it will offer the man on the street the ability to invest in a startup of his choosing and receive equity (shares) in exchange for that investment. This is great news for start-ups, as the public will have a vested interest in the success of the business.

Take the example of a microbrewery wanting to launch their brand and get off the ground: Instead of the public (crowd member) receiving a reward in the form of a case of beers for their contribution, they will receive shares.

They will (probably) order a case of beers from the microbrewery and tell their friends to order beer from the microbrewery, as they will get a financial benefit if the microbrewery succeeds. The microbrewery, as a result, receives funding three times over instead of once – which is a powerful tool for growth.

Essentially, the crowd will be a business partner with the start-up, and in so doing, the first customers of the start-up are already waiting in the wings.

Related: 6 Resources For Start-Ups Looking For Alternative Funding

The World Bank recently predicted that the market potential in Africa for crowdfunding will be up to $2.5 billion by 2025. Equity crowdfunding in South Africa will hopefully tap into that and unleash significant potential in the startups that are based here.

The hope is that the regulators, when they do eventually regulate crowdfunding, do it in such a way that it is not a death knell for the system that has the potential to significantly boost our economic growth.

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