Browsing Category

Business

Luettua: The Bitcoin Standard

June 19, 2018

Tämä ei ole vain yksi Bitcoin-kirja muiden joukossa. Nassim Nicholas Taleb lataa kovilla heti esipuheessaan: vanhan vallan viimeinen linnake, raha, ei ole enää sen monopoli ja siten se tarjoaa meille lopuille vakuutuksen orwellmaista tulevaisuutta vastaan.

Bitcoin toi ihmiskunnan historiassa ensimmäisen kerran todellisen kovan (digitaalisen) rahan, joka jättää myös kullan taakseen. Sitä ei ole mahdollista tuottaa lisää kysynnän kasvaessa. Se toimii automatisoituna keskuspankkina, jonka rahapolitiikka on ennustettavaa ja jonka käytössä ei tarvitse luottaa kehenkään kolmanteen osapuoleen.

Ammous käy läpi rahan historiaa, talousteoriaa ja –historiaa pakaten sivut täyteen asiaa ilman harhapolkuja tai epäolennaisuuksia. Kirja asettaa Bitcoinin oikeaan viitekehitykseen ihmiskunnan historiassa, taloudessa ja vaikutuksessaan tuli se lopulta menestymään tai ei.

Bitcoin poistaa makrotaloustieteilijät, poliitikot, presidentit, vallankumousjohtajat, sotilasdiktaattorit ja TV-ankkurit rahapolitiikasta. Yhdeksän vuoden aikana se on kasvanut vapaaehtoisesti verkostoksi, joka on arvoltaan suurempi kuin monet kansallisvaltioiden valuutat.

Bitcoinin itsenäisyys ja riippumattomuus yhdestäkään kolmannesta osapuolesta yhdessä ennalta määrätyn inflaatiopolitiikan kanssa tekee siitä luontaisen varantovaluutan.

Korkeat siirtokustannukset ja hidas maksujen vahvistus eivät tee siitä jokapäiväistä maksuvälinettä. Näihin nykyiset pankit ja uudet fintech ratkaisut tarjoavat keskitetympiä, nopeampia ja tehokkaampia ratkaisuja.

Bitcoinissa ei ole vastapuoliriskiä ja se tarjoaa suurille transaktiolle lopullisen suorituksen minuuteissa. Siten se on todellinen vaihtoehto maksuissa keskuspankkien ja suurien kansainvälisten rahoituslaitosten välillä.

Kilpailu on saapunut keskelle keskuspankkien ydintoimintaa Bitcoinin muodossa ja se on riippumaton globaali osapuoli kaikille kansallisvaltioille ja niiden poliittiselle ohjaukselle.

Luettua: The Insurtech & Wealthtech Book

June 13, 2018

Parin vuoden takainen The Fintech Book on saanut jatkoa. Nyt tarkastellaan varainhallinnan ja vakuutusalan tulevaa myllerystä.

Formaatti on sama eli lyhyitä artikkeleita monelta alan toimijalta. Toistoa on paljon ja kirjoitusten laatu vaihtelee. Joukossa on helmiä, riittävästi pohdiskeltavaa ja uusia näkökulmia läpikäymiseen.

Alan läpileikkauksen kannalta on mielenkiintoista huomioida, mistä puhutaan, miten ja mistä vaietaan. Molemmissa keskitytään paljon muotisanoihin lohkoketjuista, roboneuvonantajiin ja muihin teknologisiin parannuksiin.

Isommat oivallukset näistä kahdesta alasta tarjoaa vakuutuspuoli. Erittäin konservatiivisena ja kankeana itsekritiikin kohteena se myös tulee uudistumaan hyvin merkittävästi.

Tulevaisuuden vakuutuksille käy kuin öljylampuille sähkön saapuessa ensikerran. Valosta tuli palvelu ja se häipyi taka-alalle. Vakuutukset sisällytetään muihin palveluihin ja tuotteisiin, ovat tapauskohtaisia ja automaattisia.

Vahinkojen korvaamisesta siirrytään ennakointiin ja riskien hallintaan. Pystyvätkö nykyiset vakuutusjätit muuntumaan vai vievätkö uudet pelurit markkinat jää nähtäväksi.

Varainhallintapuolella sodanjälkeiset sukupolvet siirtävät varallisuutta merkittävissä määrin tulevina vuosina. Se tarjoaa mahdollisuuksia, mutta vastapuolella on aktiivisesti hallittujen varojen ala-arvoinen performanssi. Yhdysvalloissa 98,9% aktiivirahastoista alisuoriutuivat kulujen jälkeen.

Passiiviset rahastot ja AI-pohjaiset neuvonantopalvelut puristavat marginaalit minimiin ja varainhallintopuolen nykyiset mallit ovat häviävässä taistelussa nuorempien sukupolvien muuttuneiden odotusten ja mobiilipohjaisten palveluiden kanssa.

Clayton Christenseniä vapaasti lainaten: uuden liiketoimintamallin kehittäminen on hankalinta vanhan keskeltä.

The Obvious

June 4, 2018

Since you’re most certainly already doing most if not all of the following I advise you not to read further and save your precious hustling time.

For the humble, curious or just plain bored I lay out the basics of entrepreneurial startup building.

The big WHY. No, it’s not HOW as in describing at great length all the bells and whistles of what your product is doing or HOW it’s working. No one couldn’t be bother, so not interesting without a context. You need to understand first the relevance.

WHY is the ultimately most important prime mover of any convincing or sales. It’s the context, motivation and reason. Often if not always, it is something far and beyond the solution or the company in question. It provides the purpose.

Think about Apple vs. Microsoft or Nokia. It’s philosophy, lifestyle, and attitude versus superior product specs. A rational approach versus feelings, heart against the mind.

After winning with the WHY the rest is just assurance and closing the deal by convincing that you can deliver and the thing actually works and does as promised. This is details, and building trust.

Who brings you the MONEY? No, it’s not investors. They bring a little death every time you raise a round and dilute your shareholding. Making fuzz about raising a round is like having a wake or sequence of obituaries for the entrepreneur. You are literally dancing on your investment returns’ grave.

CASH. So bourgeois and plain vanilla yet it is the ultimate unicorn. Dividends are sexy, despite the fame for valuations in billions. Free cash flow gives you the freedom and leverage. More importantly it directs you to do the things that matter: customer experience, a commitment to deliver and close, and most importantly it validates what you’re doing. Someone is willing to pay for what you’re offering. A true success is paying customers.

PEOPLE. Who makes your success? A-players. A mediocre idea can win in the market place any day with a brilliant team. Switch the parts and the formula does not have the same outcome. Probably the most undervalued success factor is picking the right people. It requires patience, courage, and tough calls. Often, this lessons is learned only when your title is serial entrepreneur. Just think about it. Again. And again.

HUMBLE. Everybody is figuring out things while they go along. The difference is how they appear to the others. Empty barrels make the most noise. Asking for advice, being open to ideas and criticism, knowing oneself and taking responsibility are forms of true bravery. Weak signals, agility and a low cost structure enable fast moves and adjustments when needed. Mission driven approach to your venture ensures the steady course during a hardship, peer pressure or weak moments.
It’s all very simple and obvious, really. Just do it.

The article was published on Grow with Tech magazine’s Spring ’18 issue (pdf).

To the moon and back in Crypto, AR&VR, and for real in space

December 20, 2017

Being prepared does not make you less surprised nor stop the second-guessing. This is the feeling of cryptocurrency mania in 2017.

Fluctuating prices are nothing new for long time Bitcoin followers but to follow closely how a fringe technology catches larger audiences and traction is always an experience. In 2017, this happened in multiple fronts.

The ICO rush has similarities with dot com era behaviour. Slap a dot com on top of anything and you’re good to go for higher valuations. Now, token is the miracle term that makes everything magical.

Yet, technology is a neutral enabler and it seldom makes a business case itself. Crypto technologies are a revolution and disruption but like in the Internet era they need to be developed from the foundations upwards. We are still at the early 90’s of Internet in Crypto.

This time the disruptive forces are already knocking on doors of traditional centralised institutions and industries such as banking, finance and government services where a trusted central party has been a crucial component for service provisioning.

Decentralisation of trust and direct peer-to-peer services will start to democratise highly protected and often profitable sectors. Expect a backlash and protective measures that are trying to linger in the status quo.

Raising concerns of ICO oversight and regulation are just the beginning. 2017 was an example of fast movers taking advantage of seemingly non-regulated space. The window was open only a few months before a tide of copycats and sheer scammers started to overflow the market.

Who trusted online shopping in the 90’s? Not many, but the shock will wear out soon and we will start to see the new amazons, paypals and the like. When you focus on the capabilities and the overall potential it is hard not to get excited. Yet, building something robust, user-friendly and catchy for a wider audience takes patience and many trials on the way.

2017 was also a year of deflating hype. AI bots and voice interfaces were expected to become mainstream in consumer services and products. Alexa was the clear winner that has been becoming more ubiquitous. Still most of the intelligent service bots are still very specialised and narrow in focus.

A slight disappointment was also how Apple treated Augmented Reality in its 10th anniversary iPhone release. The big news was that Google and Apple have their respective AR kits available for larger mass adoption now. In the next years, we will start to see a rapid deployment of these technologies in everyday applications and use cases. Pokemon Go was a good pilot case that was ahead of the curve.

The writing is on the wall for 2018. From a regulatory perspective Revised Payment Service Directive (PSD2) will finally open up banking to third party services. Banks have been preparing for the change but now is the time for prime time.

New apps will start to compete for consumers’ attention with their agile and user friendly pricing models. Incumbents will try to stay relevant and avoid the role of having large overheads and regulatory burdens without much appeal from the users. A utility provider label is not a compliment.

Another EU imposed change is General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will put a serious focus on data privacy. Most of all, this will have implications how user data needs to be approached and handled in a holistic perspective.

This alone is a major shift in perception but when it is combined with the crypto revolution things will shift to a higher gear. We start to see applications and solutions where all user-generated data is controlled by the end user herself. Software is separated from the content and user is in the total access control.

Decentralisation of Internet away from current godzilla silos such as Facebook and Google will spring new innovations and approaches to privacy. Consumer awareness towards their private data will escalate in steps but not necessarily in sync with new alternative solutions.

Large data breaches such as Equifax underline the fact that no single centralised party, private or public, can be trusted with your crucial data. Misuse or data breach are unavoidable eventually. You’re vulnerable if you don’t have control over your data that has consequences on your wellbeing.

Smart homes, IoT, listening devices such as your phone, alexas and security cameras are just the beginning. When your service provider has oversight of everything you consume in AR or VR environment we are stepping into a new level of data privacy.

Space is the new Internet stated Jezz Bezos. Commercialisation of the low orbit starts to catch the awareness of wider masses. The elite status of space is coming down fast with more frequent and affordable logistics that SpaceX, Blue Origin and others are commercialising.

Most of the new space activity has direct impact on our lives here on Earth. New applications, solutions and opportunities are opening up with cheaper start up costs. Spacepreneurs will enter the startup lexicon soon.

This article was written for the Winter ’18 issue of GrowWithTech.