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Insights Of A Highly Successful Venture Coinist

The Matt Brown Show, in association with CNBC Africa and social trading platform, Etoro, flew the wildly successful cryptocurrency trader, Luke Martin, AKA Venture Coinist, from the United States to take part in the show’s sixth live (and sold-out) cryptocurrency podcast.

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The Matt Brown Show has built a listenership and captive audience in over 100 countries around the world. #CryptoJHB was the first podcast event to trend in the #1 hashtag position on Twitter in the history of South African media.

CNBC Africa broadcasted a section of The Matt Brown Show, through their programme #CryptoTrader, Hosted by Ran Neu-Ner. The Matt Brown Show tapped into Martins’ deep insight into the cryptocurrency landscape and interrogated issues such as the move from Bitcoin to alternative cryptocurrency (altcoins), the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) frenzy, how he makes his investment decisions and anonymity coins.

Matt Brown says Martin is known for his uncanny ability to read the cryptocurrency market. “Luke has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter. I strongly advise anyone who is serious about cryptocurrency trading to follow him if they are not doing so already.”

Discussing the move from Bitcoin to altcoin, Martin said investor psychology is an important consideration, especially the psychology of people getting into crypto trading late. “Various coins that have been hailed as ‘the next Bitcoin’ attract investors looking for a cheaper coin that will allow them to earn a higher multiple.”

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Podcasting But Were Afraid To Ask

Martin says while the ICO frenzy – where some tokens launch at 50 or 100 times their money – might be a bubble, it might not necessarily be a bad thing. “Good things can emerge from it. The massive fundraising is going to back projects that will disrupt other industries. Of course, we will continue to see corrections of 30%, 40%, 50% or even greater. After all, we’re dealing with a hyper-volatile asset here.”

Looking at the bigger picture, Martin believes the total market cap is going to continue to go up. “Looking at where gold is – at $6-trillion – we are only at about $800 billion. So, relatively speaking, we are still pretty small.”

Talking about how he makes investment decisions, Martin says he thinks of everything in macro terms. “Where a lot of guys dive into projects and wonder if they should invest this or that coin, I go onto the website and do my homework. I like to think of things in terms of the entire market. I also think of them in terms of sectors. Notably, three sectors I am most interested in investing in are: smart contract platforms or protocols (the infrastructure for the cryptocurrency space); privacy coins; and decentralised exchanges.

“Once I have a sector picked out – let’s say decentralised exchanges – I look at it closely. I like to establish who the biggest players are and who have the most potential, healthiest projects and strongest teams (incidentally, I think it’s ZeroX – they have the most activity going on in their ecosystem). And then, maybe I look smaller. If I’m looking to take a larger risk, I may look at a coin that has a smaller market cap, such as Kyber.

Asked to elucidate on the difference between decentralised exchanges and bitfinex or bifinance, Martin says the greatest difference is the level of security. “Right now, exchanges are a centralised point of failure for the entire system. The appeal of cryptocurrency is you are your own bank.

“When you keep your Bitcoin on one of these exchanges and the exchange goes under or gets hacked, all your cryptocurrency is gone. A centralised exchange allows you to connect via a centralised system and exchange tokens in that way. Your money is never tied up in an exchange – it’s always in your own wallet or a smart contract.”

Related: [PODCAST] An Inside Man On How To Disrupt The Banking Industry

Martin is bullish about ZeroX, which was recently listed on Bitfinex, getting a high valuation. “There are so many different projects being built on top of ZeroX. It has a really healthy ecosystem of teams already adopting that protocol.

“Most decentralised models have more than one development team working on it. My advice is to evaluate the strength of the development team that is building around something like ZeroX, check their activity on Twitter and their community. It’s important to see there is ongoing communication.

On anonymity coins, Martin says some believe the block chain in its current format is anonymous. “This is not really the case – it’s halfway anonymous in the sense that your name attached to your bank account. However, all the tokens are traceable. Understandably, most corporations don’t want their bank account credit online. Also, some organisations have amazing trading terms and they don’t want their competitors to see when they pay the money or how much they get paid.”

Martin’s top three anonymity coins are Monero (which has the largest network; is a truly decentralised project; and doesn’t rely on a single developer, ZCash (which is a bit more risky); and ZClassic. Investors need to be aware there are a lot of Z’s when it comes to privacy coins, but they are not the same,” he says.

When asked how staking coins works, Martin says if investors hold their coins in a wallet, they are pretty much earning interest in the form of more coins. “So, if you’re holding 1 000 ZCoins and you are running a ZNode, you are paid every time a block is found.

In Neu-Ner’s words: “They are making the assumption that if you own the coins, you belong to the network and are therefore a contributor to it. You are rewarded with an ‘interest’ payment, or a dividend related to what the network is making.”

The conversation turns to interoperability challenges. “Interoperability is a kind of decentralised exchange combining a few different things. We’ve already seen network congestion happen with Bitcoin and Etherium, amongst others. These chains aren’t able to interact with each other yet. It would be huge if they could, but right now there is not conversion metric that can take you from the lite network into the Bitcoin network or from the Bitcoin network into the Etherium network.

Related: 5 Answers From Digital Kungfu On Why Podcasts Are Your Best Self Development Tool

For people looking to invest in ICOs, Martin recommends an objective, systematic approach that follows some set of rules. “A friend of mine pioneered a technique of putting the ICOs onto a spreadsheet and breaking them up into categories such as team and qualitative, token metrics, market cap and total supply, amongst others. The next step is to score them before making a decision.”

One recommendation Martin gives to everyone is to split their positions between trades and investments. “Whether they choose to hold two separate portfolios is up to them, but knowing the time horizon that they want to be a particular position is important. With something like ZClassic, the time horizon is really just to hold until the fork. ZRX, on the other hand, is a decentralised exchange where they may want to be positioned and could therefore be regarded an investment.”

A final word of advice from Matt Brown is: “If you understand this space and know how to make great trading decisions, it can really change your life. Attending conferences such as these and following leaders in the cryptocurrency arena can help inform your trading and investment decisions.”

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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5 Businesses You Should Start in 2019

Here’s the lowdown on consumer and technology opportunities in 2019 and beyond.

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Savvy entrepreneurs should keep a close watch on consumer and technology trends in 2019. This, according to Silvertree Internet Holdings Co-founder and MD, Manuel Koser. Having invested in and grown a number of highly successful South African brands (among them Faithful-to-Nature.co.za, UCOOK.co.za, Pricecheck.co.za, CompareGuru.co.za, Petheaven.co.za, Cybercellar.com, and CarZar.co.za). Silvertree’s management team sees several business opportunities set to grow exponentially over the coming decade.

Here’s the lowdown on consumer and technology opportunities in 2019 and beyond.

1. Indigenous and ethical: Personal and home care products

2019 Sees growing potential for personal care products – ‘Those with local and indigenous ingredients, ethical sourcing which is kind to nature and the body,’ Koser explains. ‘There is a lot of room to play in the African haircare market particularly, as it’s often overlooked by the major FMCG companies.’

The Silvertree MD also sees increasing room for innovative natural home cleaners as consumers become increasingly environmentally conscious. ‘Until now, it was all about the well-known cleaning products the major chemical manufacturers put on the shelves. Now, there’s increasing space for new, exciting entrants.’

2. New beverages

‘Locally-sourced ingredients and an earth-first mindset will also play an increasing role in the consumer beverage market. Add to this the fact that major soft drink manufacturers will struggle to produce drinks for increasingly health-conscious consumers. They’re often just not quick enough to adjust to changing consumer tastes – particularly the tastes of millennials. Think less about a standard fizzy drink, but rather one that’s kind to the body, with natural ingredients. Non-alcoholic: water plus, say, cucumber, or another indigenous ingredient. The market for this will grow.’

3. Ethical snacking

Plant-based, vegan, ancient grains, ethical, protein-rich snacks – these are just some of the trends Koser sees dominating in the snack segment in 2019 and beyond. It’s about unique, tasty, functional foods that cater to the modern, time-starved consumer, Koser explains.

4. Buy, sell and compare online

In the technology space, marketplaces, e-commerce sites and classifieds will all gain momentum in 2019 and beyond. This encompasses aggregators as well as more unusual online businesses, which are increasingly able to find and reach consumers interested in niche products and services.

‘Consider an online ice-cream business. Once, something like that would have been unthinkable,’ Koser explains. ‘But as consumers demand greater choice, room for niche products like this grows.’

Yet, dabble online and seamless execution and delivery become make-or-break factors. ‘Many South African consumers use services such as Google, Amazon, Uber and Spotify daily – world-class products that function on a global scale. You can call an Uber and wait for just two minutes before getting a ride,’ Koser explains. ‘It’s quick and totally seamless. Consumers have come to expect that level of service across the board. Aligned to this is the fact that the millennial wave is currently hitting Cape Town right now, and Joburg secondarily, meaning a number of opportunities are opening up. Go after products and services in the right space and consumers will follow.’

5. Reinvent the wheel – and make it better

The final type of business entrepreneurs should keep an eye on is those that currently have low Net Promoter Scores. ‘This means that very few people like them, or the services they provide are of very poor quality,’ Koser explains. ‘Think of postal service providers or telecoms companies. With any monopolistic or oligopolistic structures, the service is often terrible because the heavyweights hold so much power. There’s a huge gap here.’

An allied approach for entrepreneurs is to assess opportunities for automation, or cutting out the middleman with technology. ‘Once, many markets – such as real estate were opaque, meaning you needed a middleman to help you transact. However, as the capabilities of technology have grown, markets have become far more transparent – making it easier for buyers to match with sellers safely. Today, a lot of this is easy to automate services – think about connecting a homeowner to a prospective renter through a digital solution where renters can be qualified, for example, in terms of their finances, personal information and criminal records. Quick and simple. And no middleman.’

The biggest opportunities here centre around where consumers spend the greatest amounts of time and money, Koser notes. ‘Housing and rent are always major costs. In terms of where consumers spend their time, on the other hand, much of it is, on a mobile phone, or PC.’

However, entrepreneurial success is never down to any one magic formula, Koser emphasises. Nor does Silvertree invest in prospective entrepreneurs solely on the basis of the product or service they offer. ‘It’s about passion, perseverance and tenacity as much as it is about the quality of the product.’

Silvertree Internet Holdings is an investment growth partner who aims to understand, grow and scale business, consumer and digital brands to unlock the brands’ exponential growth.

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What To Watch For In Tito Mboweni’s First Budget Speech

By Rob Cooper, tax expert at Sage, and chairman of the Payroll Authors Group of South Africa.

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Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, delivers his first Budget Speech on 20 February at a difficult time for the South African economy. Even though President Cyril Ramaphosa has done much to restore business confidence in his first year in office, GDP growth remains weak, government finances are in relatively poor shape, and renewed load shedding is hurting business confidence.

Judging from his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in October last year, I expect Minister Mboweni — backed by the team in the National Treasury—to deliver a relatively cautious budget. Much of the focus will be on refinancing the state-owned enterprises and putting them back on to a sustainable footing.

We probably won’t see much in the way of radical thinking since the room for manoeuvre is so limited. Click each header below for an indepth video on the upcoming topics.

National Health Insurance (NHI)

Renewal of the country’s public healthcare system with a mandatory health insurance fund and free healthcare at the point of need has been the ANC government’s policy for years, but progress has been slow to date. There isn’t much money in the country’s coffers to fund something as ambitious as NHI, yet the government will want to show that it is advancing the concept ahead of the elections.

With an NHI bill to be tabled in Parliament soon, we could learn more about how NHI will be funded in this year’s Budget Speech — it’s still not clear whether we will pay for it through payroll taxes, VAT increases or other fundraising measures. As an initial step, we could see medical aid tax credits reduced (or at least not adjusted for inflation) to free up some funding for the NHI.

The Employment Tax Incentive (ETI)

The ETI Act came into effect on 1 January 2014; as a fan of this incentive, I was delighted that President Ramaphosa announced that it will be extended for 10 years another decade in his state of the nation address. However, I have also long argued that the scheme is not performing to its true potential because it is so complex for payroll managers to administer.

The introduction of the national minimum wage adds even more complexity— until and unless the ETI Act is amended, SARS is of the opinion that the National Minimum Wage will not qualify as a “wage regulating measure”. I hope the Budget Speech will announce steps to align the ETI with the national minimum wage and take other measures to simplify administration.

Tax hikes

I don’t expect any major increases to corporate or personal income tax this year since the taxpayer doesn’t have much more to give. I think the top 45% rate will remain unchanged, while tax bracket creep relief (to compensate for inflation) will be limited to lower income earners. It seems unlikely that the Minister will increase VAT again this year, given last year’s increase.

That means the Minister is likely to look at ‘moral’ taxes (sin and sugar taxes) to raise more money; we can expect another steep increase in the fuel levy. Perhaps we’ll also hear about efforts to improve SARS’ revenue collection after several years of under-performance. The agency seems ripe for a turnaround strategy, with high-powered team looking for a permanent chief to take the reins at SARS.

Follow us on @SageGroupZA on 20 February 2019 for LIVE expert insights from the annual Budget Speech.

For more information about Sage’s annual tax seminars, please visit: https://get.sage.com/PRL_19Q1_C4L_ZA_EVCU_NPS_AnnualPayrollTaxSeminar2019

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Top SA Entrepreneurial Competition Praises Sector Optimism And Calls For 2019 Entries

Entrepreneurs interested in entering the competition can enter online here.

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Even in the face of ongoing sluggish growth, exacerbated by widespread allegations of corruption and muted domestic economic activity, South African entrepreneurs remain overwhelmingly optimistic. This was revealed in the Real State of Entrepreneurship Survey 2018, which found that the vast majority of over 1000 business owners surveyed feel very positive about the business climate and outlook for the 12 months ahead.

It is these resilient individuals who will have their deserved time to shine in the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, says Kobus Engelbrecht, spokesperson for the competition, who says entries for the renowned competition – now in its 31st year – are officially open.

Entrepreneurial competitions of this nature, however, serve a greater purpose than just celebrating South Africa’s spirited self-starters, notes Engelbrecht.

“Credible platforms such as the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition also act to inspire the next generation of budding entrepreneurs, who have the potential to drive real economic growth at a time where the country needs it most.”

Engelbrecht refers to the World Bank’s recent downward revision of South Africa’s projections for economic growth in 2019 to just 1.3% – 0.6% lower than the South African Reserve Bank’s earlier prediction of 1.9% in November.

“Despite these challenging economic conditions, year on year we still find exceptional entrepreneurs who continue to identify gaps in the market and transform these into viable businesses.

“It is our aim, through this long-standing competition platform, to continually recognise, encourage and support the hard-working entrepreneurs who continue to do well despite the challenges they are faced with. We use the competition to convey our appreciation for the role they play in inspiring others to venture into the world of business,” he says.

In addition to offering valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure, Engelbrecht says that the2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, offers prizes valued at over R 2 million, which includes cash prizes of R 70 000 for each main category winner, and R200 000 for the overall winner.

“All South African businesses are eligible to enter this competition, and prizes will be awarded across six categories, namely: Overall Entrepreneur of the Year®; Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year®; Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®; Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®; Job Creator of the Year; and Innovator of the Year.”

Entrepreneurs interested in entering the competition can download entry forms online at www.eoy.co.za as well as interact with fellow entrepreneurs and entrants on the competition’s social media platforms www.twitter.com/@EOY_SA and www.facebook.com/EOY.SA. The closing date for the competition is 31 May 2019.

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