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The Future of Blockchain Technology

Blockchain is one of the most talked-about technologies in business right now. Blockchain tech has the potential to drive major changes and create new opportunities across industries – from banking and cybersecurity to intellectual property and healthcare. But not everyone agrees on what role blockchain should play in the future. What is blockchain, and what impact will it have on business going forward?

The Easiest Way To Invest In Blockchain Technologies

How Blockchain Works

A blockchain is a decentralized database – an electronically distributed ledger or list of records that is accessible to various users. Blockchains use cryptography to log, process, and verify every transaction, making them secure, permanent, and transparent.

There are two general categories of blockchain:

  • Permissionless, which anyone can join
  • Permissioned, which requires participants to be authenticated by the person or group managing it (this category is further divided into private and community blockchain networks)

Who is Using Blockchain Already

Bitcoin is the most well-known example of blockchain technology, but it is joined by a growing number of early adopters. For example, Google, Goldman Sachs, Visa, and Deloitte are investing in blockchain projects. And businesses working on blockchain based services include:

  • Spotify, to manage copyrights
  • IBM, to build a tracking tool for shipping companies and retail chains
  • Eastman Kodak, to create storage for stock photos

What the Future Holds for Blockchain

Blockchain is an emerging technology, so predictions are still mixed about its potential.

In a TechRepublic Research study, 70% of professionals who responded said they hadn’t used blockchain. But 64% of said that they expect blockchain to affect their industry in some way, and most predict a positive result.

A recent Trend Insight Report from analyst firm Gartner made the following forecast:

  • Through 2022, only 10% of enterprises will achieve any radical transformation by using blockchain
  • By 2022, at least one innovative business built on blockchain technology will be worth $10 billion
  • By 2026, the business value added by blockchain will grow to just over $360 billion, then by 2030 grow to more than $3.1 trillion

Cybersecurity is one of the most promising areas of projected growth for blockchain technology. An ongoing challenge for businesses of all sizes is data tampering. Blockchain technology can be used to prevent tampering, keeping data secure and allowing participants to verify a file’s authenticity.

“We believe that blockchain technology will be transformative in the tech and IT sector in the coming years, similar to what the internet did for the world back in the 90s and early 2000s,”  said John Zanni, President of the Acronis Foundation, in Forbes. “Today, part of our storage and backup software lets users notarize any digital data and put that fingerprint on the blockchain to ensure it can’t be tampered with.”

Blockinvest Ventures is hereby to help you understand more regarding the investment industry with conscientious advice. We hope that you can feel the article was helpful and don’t forget to subscribe our website for further news!

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A hospitable metaverse requires the basic building blocks of virtual life

Meta’s stated mission is to seamlessly connect disparate environments like work, social media and gaming so it can allow people to effectively live and work in the virtual space.

This will clearly have a significant and sustained impact on our networks. We aren’t just talking about a need to be constantly connected, without glitches; we’re talking about fully immersive content streaming seamlessly, in 4K and 8K, with low latency and minimal lag.

We will need to be able to go from one experience to another without being distracted by reboots, operating system or application loading times, network congestion, or anything else that suggests we’re not in a seamless virtual environment.

Accomplishing all of this makes virtual life seem as challenging as moving to Mars.

Yet, it is possible to make the journey to our new virtual world frictionless. We just need to make sure we are putting in place the basic building blocks needed for virtual life.

Starting today, we have the opportunity to make the metaverse habitable and hospitable, a place where our virtual selves can thrive, not just survive.

Metaverse – Tương lai của internet, vùng đất mới cho marketers? |  Advertising Vietnam

Bandwidth is key

We’ll need a lot of bandwidth to make this work at scale. Much like water is a building block of life, there is no way we could function in a metaverse without bandwidth. We need high-performance connectivity capable of supporting the different demands of bandwidth-hungry applications in the metaverse.

That bandwidth must be widespread and affordable, too, to better support our underserved and under-connected communities. Visions of a virtual world often center on equal opportunities for everyone to create and explore. For that to happen inside the metaverse, we need to ensure a level playing field of connectivity in the real world first.

Low latency is as critical as air

Bandwidth is one thing, but if it takes the avatar we’re engaging with several seconds to respond – or worse – then meta life is suddenly annoying and inhospitable. We already find it frustrating to have lag when streaming live sports or gaming online, and this will only be exacerbated when we are trying to fully immerse ourselves into a virtual world.

Technology such as edge computing – which can reduce network latency and improve reliability – will become increasingly important in networks that require real-time responsiveness.

Virtual hardware: The infrastructure of the metaverse

We’ve all been there: Hardware breaks, and we need to fix it. In that time, we need to be able to survive without whatever function that piece of hardware operated. But this can’t happen in a metaverse – or at least it shouldn’t, because we should have utilized virtualized functions for much of what the metaverse requires.

Deploying infrastructure functions using virtual machine and container concepts where they, like apps, can be deployed across the network at scale and in real time will be key. Classic network functions such as routing and switching will need to be fully virtualized. They need to be easily updated, upgraded, patched and deployed.

Software intelligence: The mayor of the metaverse

We need the metaverse to be software-defined to enable it to act quickly and seamlessly. It’s the equivalent of a local government or council being able to repair our roads, remove the trash and control traffic flows in real time. This generally happens today in real life without us knowing, until it stops working and we wonder what happened.

Automation and AI, powered by programmable software capabilities, hold the key to helping speed the delivery of network rollouts, making them more accessible and adaptive.

An adaptive virtual programmable network will be able to identify a fault and self-heal, without the need for a physical truck-roll. It can draw resources – compute, storage, bandwidth – from underutilized areas to ramp up other parts of the metaverse seeing increased activity, and revert automatically when required.

Over the next several years, we will hear a lot of talk about the metaverse, but any innovation in use cases will not happen without the required network innovations. An adaptive network that provides software-controlled, high-capacity, low-latency connectivity will be even more important of a foundation for the future metaverse than it is for today’s cloud apps.

The building blocks are already there for the artist formerly known as Facebook to build a hospitable metaverse, and as those technologies continue to evolve – driven by an expected uptick in innovation among tech developers looking to capitalize on the metaverse emergence – Meta will have more world-building tools to work with.

Simply put, it’s not easy to build a virtual universe, but it’s certainly something that we can bring closer to reality through proper network infrastructure investments and innovation.

Is raising money catastrophically challenging for female founders?

“Raising money is catastrophically challenging for female founders, and even harder for Black female founders.”

In the world of technology, we thirst to be a part of the next digital product that benefits from first-mover status and shapes what’s to come at an industry level. This is especially relevant in regard to seeking capital. And while we’ve witnessed some impressive transformations in the developer tools space, with VC-backed funding following suit, sometimes I worry we’re at risk of conflating technological growth for the social progress we really need. Women are still behind. Why?

There are some great female developer founders, like Nora Jones of Jeli, Window Snyder of Thistle Technologies, Edith Harbaugh of Launch Darkly, and Jean Yang of Akita Software, to name a few. There are also some amazing female angels and VCs. These are women I look to as leaders in the industry — those overcoming the barriers of either giving or seeking funding while remaining authentic to who they are.

Limited partners should back more female VCs, and funds should offer women the same graces and latitude that are given to men.

Shanea Leven

Despite those of us trying to make a name for ourselves in dev tools, the reality is the dev tools space is led predominately by white men. For those of us who don’t meet those gender and racial criteria, simply thriving requires more attention to detail, energy and time than is often sustainable.

We need to level-set, acknowledging the current ways in which women must fight to thrive. We need to ask some tough questions.

How to Raise Money to Start a Business - 4 Methods

The fight to be taken seriously

We want to be able to fundraise from other people that look like us, right? But many female investors are fighting just as hard to be taken seriously as the female founders they want to support. If we’re all facing the same social constraint — fighting to prove our legitimacy — we’re probably maintaining the same aversion to risk.

This creates an invalidating cycle in which female investors take fewer risks, particularly in regard to investing in female founders, and garner fewer funds than their male counterparts. How can we break this cycle?

Limited partners should back more female VCs, and funds should offer women the same graces and latitude that are given to men. Female VCs should be promoted to partnerships, where they will be able to write meaningful checks quickly.

I’ve personally witnessed the extraordinary results of empowered female angels and VCs connecting with others to support female founders; the community and sense of sisterhood they inspire have the potential to change the industry. This is what we need to latch on to and scale.

The fight to overcome ingrained psychological barriers

Today, there exists a widespread belief that women are less aggressive in the process of confirming a round, both as founders and VCs. As a female founder, I’ve been told male counterparts are capable of committing larger funds, faster — that women appear to be more risk-averse, often moving slower through the process and requesting less.

So, what’s causing the pause among women? It’s likely the most obvious answer: We are, in fact, facing a greater risk of rejection in the funding process. We also tend to have fewer connections into the VC community, where the “rules of VC” — what to do, say, and how to act — are often confusing and counterintuitive. Nothing like the clear guidelines on writing a good piece of code.

The fight against the numbers

Imagine you have 1,000 potential investors and only 10% of them focus on companies offering technologies like yours. Then, just 2% of them invest in companies at your stage and 5% of those share your same philosophies — and you’re only able to access yet another percentage of those. Now, imagine you’re stepping into those discussions with the understanding that we are ultimately people pitching to people, so you must “click” in an often all-too-brief interaction.

You’ll be committed in business to this investor for the next decade or more. So, while you’re attempting to navigate the numbers — the odds against you — you’re also trying to figure out a VC’s history, personality and perspectives. How have they been burned before? Can we be empathic to their businesses of the past and assure them our business is a worthy investment … all in 30 minutes or less?

So, how can women successfully fight for funding?

The simple answer: We cannot do it alone. Like most professional endeavors, seeking funding is ideally bolstered by a social network. While I wish I could say women intrinsically have everything they need to excel in the world of venture capital, I believe we require allies and support beyond basic networking and spanning gender and race.

We need everyone who has a stake in the game to join the fight for women, with focused attention on the challenges encountered by women of color. We must acknowledge the potential danger to female founders and investors in working from a survival mindset and provide them the coaching and guidance they need to step into funding discussions practiced, prepared and able to speak on behalf of a company with greater strength.

Said simply, we need to trust in the ability and potential of women on both ends of the deal, with no strings attached.

Forta launches with $23M to bring better security to smart contracts

Blockchain cybersecurity startup OpenZeppelin this morning announced a $23 million investment in Forta, a security service aimed at smart contracts.

Andreessen Horowitz led the round, which OpenZeppelin CEO and co-founder Demian Brener described as 3x oversubscribed. The investment also attracted capital from Coinbase Ventures, True Ventures and Blockchain Capital, among others.

Per Brener, OpenZeppelin will retain a stake in Forta.

Forta is a neat project that comes at an interesting point for the larger blockchain community. When bitcoin came to market, it attracted interest as a potential medium of exchange, or perhaps a store of value. The latter use case wound up being the key bitcoin value offering. But while bitcoin was maturing, other blockchains were built that featured more native programmability, allowing developers around the world to leverage smart (self-executing) contracts for a host of use cases.

Ethereum is one of the best-known blockchains to feature smart contracts, which its foundation describes simply as “program[s] that [run] on the Ethereum blockchain.” There’s more nuance to the matter, but that will suffice for our needs today. Forta, in turn, wants to help secure smart contracts across the blockchain market.

We summarized it as an attempt to build Web 3.0 security using Web 3.0 DNA when we were chatting with Brener, and he agreed. By that, we mean that Forta isn’t precisely the sort of company that TechCrunch tends to write about when it comes to venture capital fundraises; instead, Forta is nearly an attempt to empower a community of developers to build the tooling that they need to keep their own projects secure.

Cybersecurity machine learning, secure big data information

The heart of Forta, Brener explained, is a community of “agent writers,” or developers creating pieces of code that hunt up threats — on layer-one or -two chains, and sidechains — that fall into one of four main buckets of risk, namely cybersecurity, financial, operational or governance. The other half of the Forta project is nodes, or essentially what runs the agents themselves.

Per OpenZeppelin, lots of the code used to write Forta agents will be repurposable, which could help code get written once and then deployed with variations to many chains. This is what Brener means when he thinks of Forta as helping developers in the larger blockchain world help themselves.

And the concept is not idle. Per a release from Forta, the team behind the project thinks that the “pace of innovation on public blockchains” is rapid enough that no “centralized solution can effectively address these evolving risks.” So, threats attacking the decentralized market will have to be solved, in Forta’s view, by even more decentralized activity.

TechCrunch was obviously curious how the Forta project would make money. Brener said that for the project to become a business, it will need to first help its community thrive. Part of that is opening its doors a little more today, allowing more developers than it did during its private beta to write agents.

Presuming that Forta can attract as many developers as it hopes, it will become a centralized source of smart contract security tooling. From that point, making money won’t be impossible, though it will be interesting to see precisely what business model Forta eventually chooses.

On the point of organizational centrality, Forta is today run by a set of folks. In time, the company could become a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, Brener said. If that bears out, the blockchain community will have managed to take external capital and internal knowledge, blended the two into a development community, and built not only security tooling for smart contracts, but managed to do so under the auspices of its own smart contract (DAO). So, this is at once a venture capital story and also a meta-moment for how far the crypto world has come in terms of taking care of itself.

I am sure that at some point in the above paragraphs I got something slightly wrong. Such is the risk of covering nascent efforts to build security tooling for the cutting-edges of the digital economy. But what matters more than any particular quibble is that the blockchain world is working to build the tools it needs to keep smart contracts safe; by doing so, using smart contracts should become less risky. And less risk means more market appetite.

That’s something that a16z, with its huge crypto-focused bets, and companies like Coinbase are more than in favor of. The dollars flowing toward Forta are a rounding error for its wealthy backers, even if its possible impact on their favorite market might be anything but.

Blockinvest Ventures is hereby to help you understand more regarding the investment industry with conscientious advice. We hope that you can feel the article was helpful and don’t forget to subscribe our website for further news!

Energy Dome uses CO2 for long-term power storage for renewable energy

Longer-term energy storage is a drag, and a lot of battery tech has been focusing on “how quickly can we charge these batteries so I can drive my EV for another couple of hundred miles.” That’s a fundamentally different problem than trying to capture the power of the sun for 12 hours, before releasing the power for the next 12 hours while the moon is doing its lazy stroll against the nighttime sky.

Energy Dome today announced the close of its $11 million Series A fundraise, with the goal of deploying the first commercially viable CO2 battery in a demonstration project in its native Sardinia, Italy.

The company told us that a CO2 battery’s optimal charge/discharge cycle ranges from four to 24 hours, positioning it perfectly for daily and intra-day cycling. It points out that this is a fast-growing market segment, not well served by existing battery technologies. Specifically, the hope is to charge the CO2 battery during the daytime when there is a surplus of solar-generated power, before discharging during the peak evening and nighttime hours, when demand for electricity outpaces what solar can deliver. Because, well, I’d hate to feel the need to spell this out for ya — but there’s no sun at night.

Energy Dome 2

Built using commodity components, the company claims that its CO2  battery achieves a 75%-80% round-trip efficiency. Perhaps more interestingly, though, is that the operational life for the batteries is projected to be in the neighborhood of 25 years. If you’ve been keeping an eye on other power-storage solutions, you’ll have made a mental note that the operational life of most other solutions starts to degrade significantly by the time it hits the one-decade mark. The company projects that considering the whole lifecycle cost of its product, the cost of storing energy will be about half of the cost of storing with similarly sized lithium-ion batteries.

The tech is pretty neat — the company is using CO2 in a closed-loop cycle where it changes from gas to liquid and back to gas. The company itself is named after the “dome” component of the solution — an inflatable atmospheric gas holder filled with CO2 in its gaseous form.

When charging, the system draws electrical power from the electric grid, which drives a compressor that draws CO2 from the dome and compresses it, generating heat. The heat is stored in a thermal energy storage device. The CO2 is then liquified under pressure and stored in liquid CO2 vessels, at ambient temperature, to complete the charging cycle. When discharging, the cycle is reversed by evaporating the liquid CO2, recovering the heat from the thermal energy storage system and expanding the hot CO2 into a turbine, which drives a generator. Electricity is returned to the grid and the CO2 reinflates the dome without emissions to the atmosphere, ready for the next charging cycle. The system has up to 200 MWh in storage capacity.

4 sustainable industries where founders and VCs can see green by going green

Environmental technology concept. Sustainable development goals. SDGs.

For the last fifty years, venture capital has had a pivotal role in discovering, bringing to market, and scaling transformative technology innovations in all economic sectors, from healthcare to transportation. As modern societies battle some of their most wicked challenges to date and aspire to reach net zero by 2050, more than a third of emissions reduction is expected to depend on breakthrough tech innovations. Are VCs around the world seizing these opportunities and, if so, what lessons can be drawn from the investment strategies of sustainability VCs, and adapted by regional and local funds to increase the pool of money for the cleantech startup ecosystem?

Record-high levels of VC funding in cleantech

If the ongoing COP26 conference is highlighting one message, that is the need to share responsibility. We need advocacy, policy instruments, innovative business models, and  financial instruments and strategies aligned around the same goals. 

But this alignment hasn’t produced the expected impact and returns in the past. Instead, it fueled a cleantech bubble.

Closer to the turn of the century, VCs – especially in Silicon Valley – were already looking at cleantech as the next big thing. Between 2005 and 2006, VC investment in cleantech rose from a few hundreds of million of dollars to $1.75 billion and further tripled by 2008. 

Yet the timing was unfortunate. A mix of factors including the 2008 financial crisis, increased competition from China’s solar energy industry, and reductions in the price of natural gas left energy sectors largely dependent on fossil fuels – and the valuations of cleantech companies spiraling down. VCs lost more than half of the investment directed in cleantech innovations between 2006-2011. 

Now, VCs are once again in the game. Pledges to combat climate change from all sectors of society are more urgent than ever. This time, Europe is leading the way towards decarbonization of the energy sector and the economy at large, driven by the EU’s ambitious agenda. 

In the first three quarters of 2021 alone, sustainability VCs’ investment in climate tech amounted to a record annual level of ~$31 billion, 30% higher than in 2020, according to PitchBook. While investments span across multiple industries, the EV sector attracted half of the money in areas such as electric mobility, charging infrastructure, and battery technology. Finally, cleantech exits are also on a roll, doubling in number compared to last year, up to ~60 at the end of Q3.

Yet, it’s worth noting that overall global VC funding grew faster during this time  – it was already 50% higher at the end of Q3 than in 2020. And climate tech still makes up only 6% of VC money. VC funds, especially those with a regional or local focus, are prudent about long-term returns, high capital intensity, and other particular risks associated with cleantech investments.

Next, The Recursive looks into the strategies and outcomes of sustainability VCs that use investment tools to fuel tech as a force for good.

hen there are the protein replacement companies that we wrote about earlier. Impossible foods Beyond flesh Memphis Meats, Mosa Meat, Nuggs, Future Meat Technologies, and Shiok Meats (a seafood company) are developing methods for making meaty proteins that are less dependent on animal husbandry. Perfect Day and its competitors do the same for the dairy industry.

There is also a tremendous need for new sources of protein to feed the animals that people around the world still love to eat. That’s why there are companies like Ynsect, that provides insect proteins for industrial fish farms; or Grubly Farms, which provides feed to families who raise their own chickens.

For these opportunities, which raise hundreds of millions in funding, there are others that require the kind of high-margin software solutions that have yet to be developed. These are visual technologies for tracking, monitoring, and managing food production. Sensors to improve the warehouse and supply chain, software to manage production and track products and products from farm to table. Venture investors are also starting to invest in these companies.

Blockinvest Ventures is hereby to help you understand more regarding the investment industry with conscientious advice. We hope that you can feel the article was helpful and don’t forget to subscribe our website for further news!

Crypto API provider Conduit wants to be the Stripe of decentralized finance

Financial institutions continue to search for ways to pile into the crypto market, and decentralized finance (DeFi) products are one mechanism that could help them capture share. Investors in DeFi products can earn yield on their capital by lending out their cryptocurrency in exchange for interest

But DeFi lending is far riskier than traditional lending, in part because of the volatility of the asset class. Just as “high-yield” bonds compensate investors with more cash for betting on riskier-than-average companies, DeFi lending can offer far higher interest rates than the traditional savings account wherein customers essentially lend their money to a bank.

Conduit is building a set of APIs that developers can use to build platforms that provide access to DeFi products. As VP of product at crypto wallet BRD, which Coinbase acquired in November last year, Conduit CEO and co-founder Kirill Gertman experienced firsthand the challenges of finding vendors that would provide the backend tools that his team needed to build its user-facing product. After a stint at Arrival Bank and half a year as product head at consumer fintech Eco, Gertman created Conduit to be the backend solution he was looking for but couldn’t find.

Conduit aims to be a one-stop shop for neobanks and financial institutions to plug their own products into the DeFi ecosystem, which Gertman said is made easier because Conduit itself is regulated and compliant, taking the compliance burden off of companies using its tools.

For consumers to earn DeFi yields, their fiat currency is first converted into stablecoins, a type of cryptocurrency pegged to the fiat currency’s value, so it can be invested into various crypto protocols like Compound and AAVE. Conduit offers two solutions to help companies access these yields.

The first is its growth earnings account, which neobanks offer to customers so they can invest their fiat currency in DeFi. The second is Conduit’s corporate treasury solution, which offers high-yield DeFi accounts to companies. 

“We do the ledgering, and we do a lot of stuff that basically creates a very simple bundle for [our clients], so they don’t have to worry about the complexities,” like how to convert dollars to stablecoins or how to calculate rates, Gertman said. 

Gertman declined to name specific Conduit customers, but said they fall into two categories — neobanks and small cryptocurrency exchanges, particularly in regions like Latin America. Its largest clients are in Canada, where its product first launched, and Brazil, and it is looking to expand into markets including the U.S. and Europe next, Gertman said. 

Gertman sees two types of benefits from the expansion of DeFi products, he said. The first is access — DeFi protocols are permissionless, allowing any user to lend and borrow funds without needing to provide a credit score, identity verification or collateral. The second is that DeFi connects users globally, allowing investors in countries with extremely low or negative interest rates to earn higher yield, and making it easier for companies to borrow money at favorable rates by drawing from a global liquidity pool, Gertman added.

Conduit says it plans to triple its headcount, which is fully remote, during the next year across the North America and LatAm regions by hiring engineering, sales and compliance professionals with localized knowledge. Regulation has played a role in which countries Conduit has targeted, he added, saying that a lack of regulatory clarity from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has slowed Conduit’s entry into the U.S.

Blockinvest Ventures is hereby to help you understand more regarding the investment industry with conscientious advice. We hope that you can feel the article was helpful and don’t forget to subscribe our website for further news!

Global Processing Services adds $100M to its coffers to grow its embedded finance and API payments platform

Embedded finance continues to be the engine driving the growth of fintech, with one group of companies building core banking, payments and other financial technology, and a much bigger group tapping that technology through APIs to build customer-facing businesses. Today, one of the bigger players on the core technology side — Global Processing Services — is announcing $100 million in funding, a sign not just of how popular embedded finance remains as a business, but also GPS’s traction in the space.

Singapore investor Temasek and U.S. firm MissionOG are the two investors in this latest tranche of funding, which is coming in the form of an extension of a $300 million investment that GPS announced back in October 2021, closing out the full round at $400 million. Advent International and Viking Global Investors co-led that previous round, which gave them a controlling stake in GPS. Other investors in the company include Visa. As with the earlier part of the round, GPS — which is based in London, England — is not disclosing its valuation today.

“This is not something on which we wish to be drawn, but what we can say is that we continue to aspire to be one of the largest paytech companies in the world, mirroring the success of providers on the acquiring side of payments, such as Adyen, Stripe and Checkout.com, and Marqeta on the issuing side,” said a spokesperson in response to the valuation question. “We believe we have built a special platform. This injection of capital by the world’s leading experts in payments and next generation technology will enable us to bring financial empowerment and enable more of our fintech clients around the world on their journey to unicorn status.”

BJHGLOBAL – Trang Array – BJHGLOBAL

The funding will be used to continue growing GPS’s business — which includes a range of fintech services such as payments, direct debits and standing orders; virtual cards; mobile wallets; fraud prevention; expense management; cryptocurrency management; BNPL and more (these are sold under the GPS Apex brand).

Specifically, the company wants to expand further in Europe and Asia Pacific, as well as in more emerging markets across the Middle East and Africa; and it wants to bring on new products. (Notably, there are no loan products in the mix right now, so that could be one area it explores; insurance could be another, and so could solutions tailored for specific verticals.)

The reason for the investment and investor attention is that GPS, and the space it’s active in, have both seen a big surge of activity. On one hand, neobanking services among consumers and businesses have been rising in popularity (and credibility); on the other, we’ve seen an ever-expanding range of non-fintech businesses (such as telcos and retailers) that are tapping the concept of embedded finance to add new features and revenue streams into their own platforms.

More generally, consumers and businesses made a big shift to carrying out all of their financial activities online as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the world, and even as/if that abates, it looks like they will not completely go back to their analogue ways. That has had a knock-on effect on venture funding for the whole fintech industry. It was just yesterday that another big player in fintech, the payments startup Checkout, raised a whopping $1 billion at a $40 billion valuation.

GPS itself focuses mainly on those working more directly in fintech, with its customers including Revolut, Starling, Curve, Zilch and Paidy. It said its services are being used today in 48 countries and that last year it processed more than 1.3 billion transactions, with 190 million cards now issued to date.

“GPS is an innovative technology company, and we believe their unique position at the heart of the global payments ecosystem ideally positions them to power the next generation of financial services,” said Gene Lockhart, the general partner at MissionOG, in a statement. “With the deep network and experience MissionOG brings to the table, we look forward to being a trusted and valued partner of Joanne and the entire team.” Notably, Lockhart is taking on a role as chair at GPS with this investment.

“The upsizing of this latest round of investment is an important step forward for the company and a strong endorsement of our strategy,” added Joanne Dewar, GPS’s CEO. “We are a company that has grown rapidly in recent years, driven by our commitment to innovation and the delivery of a single scalable technology platform. The expertise that our new partners bring to GPS will be invaluable as we enter our next phase of geographic expansion and technology innovation.”

Blockinvest Ventures is hereby to help you understand more regarding the investment industry with conscientious advice. We hope that you can feel the article was helpful and don’t forget to subscribe our website for further news!

Hyundai Motor Group unveils its hydrogen strategy, plans to offer fuel-cell versions of commercial cars by 2028

Hyundai Motor Group Vision FK

Image Credits: Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai Motor Group is backing hydrogen as a top energy solution for sustainability. With its new fuel cell system that it plans to launch in the next few years, the South Korean automaker said it will provide hydrogen fuel cell versions for all its commercial vehicles by 2028.

Hyundai announced its strategy for the future of hydrogen on Tuesday during a livestream of the automaker’s Hydrogen Wave conference. Saehoon Kim, executive vice president and head of the fuel cell center at Hyundai Motor Group, said Hyundai’s goal is to also achieve cost competitiveness comparable to that of EV batteries by 2030.

The company also shared details about its high-performance, rear-wheel-drive hydrogen sports car, the Vision FK, with a 500kW fuel cell system that can push it from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in less than four seconds and has 600 kilometers (373 miles) of range. Hyundai did not share when the vehicle would go into production.

As most automakers begin to roll out electric vehicles for both passenger and commercial use, hydrogen is still a bit of a niche market, but one that is growing as Europe, China and the United States set ambitious emissions reductions goals. Toyota Motor Corp., BMW and Daimler have all begun embracing hydrogen fuel cell technology to varying degrees, even as they continue to develop exclusively electric vehicles. For its part, Hyundai’s commitment to hydrogen doesn’t deter from its commitment to electric. With the climate situation as it is, we’re facing an all hands on deck situation. May the best fuel win.

At the event, Kim also announced Hyundai’s plans to launch two new hydrogen fuel cell powertrains in 2023, which the company hopes will help make hydrogen mainstream by 2040. The third generation of Hyundai’s hydrogen fuel stack will come in either 100kW or 200kW outputs for either passenger cars or commercial vehicles, respectively.

Hyundai Motor Group, which includes Hyundai, Kia and Genesis, has one fuel cell bus on the market today, the Elec City Fuel Cell bus, with 115 buses live on the road in South Korea. The automaker also has one fuel cell truck, the Xcient Hyundai, on the market, 45 of which were launched in Switzerland last year.

Hyundai boasts a fuel cell SUV, the NEXO, with plans to introduce the next model in 2023, alongside a hydrogen-powered multi-purpose vehicle model. The company announced at the IAA Mobility conference in Munich that it would also launch a large fuel cell-powered SUV after 2025, as well as four more commercial vehicles by the end of the decade. The company aims to provide fuel cell technology for different use cases, including emergency vehicles, ships, freights, trams, forklifts and other vehicles for industrial processes.

“Fuel cell is a proven technology that can deliver the benefits of hydrogen to people around the world in various fields,” said Kim. “Basically, a fuel cell is a power generator like an engine. It differs from a battery which stores electricity. A fuel cell system consists of a fuel cell stack that generates electricity, a hydrogen supply system, an air supply system and a thermal management system. It generates power by combining hydrogen and oxygen, similar to the engine of an internal combustion vehicle, but without the carbon emissions.”

Kim went on to explain that fuel cell systems produce energy through chemical reactions and operate as long as hydrogen fuel is supplied, unlike a battery which just passively stores energy. He said Hyundai is working on building up the necessary ecosystem to create success in the hydrogen space, including production, storage, fuel cell technology and infrastructure. Much of the infrastructure would be solar and wind sources that would produce the renewable energy needed to create clean power to split water into oxygen and “green” hydrogen.

Alongside its own research and development, Hyundai Motor has also already invested in hydrogen startups like H2Pro and has announced plans to establish green hydrogen infrastructures in countries with supportive governments and abundant renewable energy resources.

Much of the movement in this space comes after the group announced its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2045 and to reduce its emissions by 75% below 2019 levels by 2040. By 2030, Hyundai expects 30% of all vehicle sales to be zero emission, with battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles taking up 80% of total fleet sales by 2040.

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Coinbase to propose a federal regulatory framework for crypto to US officials within the next month

Coinbase Co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong

Image Credits: Steve Jennings / Getty Images

Cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase wants to help guide any emerging regulation on exchanges like itself, for obvious reasons, and in an interview with TechCrunch Editor-in-Chief Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 on Tuesday, Coinbase CEO and founder Brian Armstrong revealed it’s preparing a draft regulatory framework for consideration by federal lawmakers which it aims to distribute sometime within the next month.

“Coinbase wants to be an advisor and a helpful advocate for how the U.S. can create that sensible regulation,” Armstrong said in the interview. “In fact, there’s a proposal that we’re putting out at the end of this month, or maybe early next month, that is our proposed regulatory framework.”

Regulators typically seek industry feedback when forming new rules, particularly in industries where the pace of technological advancements mean that progress in the market has far outpaced the development of new, and amendment of existing, regulation. Armstrong said that he has in fact been asked multiple times for such a proposal.

“When I go to DC, I’ve met with a number of people in government, and they typically will ask us ‘Well, do you have a draft, do you have a proposal of something we could try to shop around about how this could be regulated federally?’,” he said. “Because right now, Coinbase has, you know, 50 different state regulators for money transmission licenses, 50 for lending licenses, you know, FINCEN, and SEC, and CFTC, and IRS and Treasury and OFAC.”

Armstrong clearly would prefer if there were an overarching federal framework that would alleviate the burden of dealing with independent state-by-state rules and agencies. But he also did seem aware that any proposal they put forward will definitely be just a single piece of a larger puzzle, which will include input from other industry entities working in crypto as well as guidance from existing related regulations.

“We have a proposal that we actually want to put out there that could help maybe create at least one idea about how to move forward,” he said. “But this is going to require input from a lot of people and that willingness [on the part of lawmakers] to kind of engage with private industry and learn about what the opportunity is here.”

Coinbase recently clashed with the SEC after teasing the launch of a ‘Lend’ product that would allow its users to stake their crypto holdings in exchange for a return in the form of yearly interest. The SEC threatened to sue over the product since it signalled that this would represent security, and be regulated as such, and Coinbase quietly walked back its plans to debut the product for now shortly after making public the SEC’s threat and articulating its lack of comprehension about the potential regulatory backlash.

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PayPal launches its ‘super app’ combining payments, savings, bill pay, crypto, shopping and more

New PayPal app Dashboard 2

Image Credits: PayPal

PayPal has been talking about its “super app” plans for some time, having recently told investors its upcoming digital wallet and payments app had been given a go for launch. Today, the first version of that app is officially being introduced, offering a combination of financial tools including direct deposit, bill pay, a digital wallet, peer-to-peer payments, shopping tools, crypto capabilities and more. The company is also announcing its partnership with Synchrony Bank for its new high-yield savings account, PayPal Savings.

These changes shift PayPal from being largely a payments utility that’s tacked on other offerings here and there to being a more fully fleshed out finance app. Though PayPal itself doesn’t aim to be a “bank,” the new app offers a range of competitive features for those considering shifting their finances to neobanks, like Chime or Varo, as it will now also include support for paycheck Direct Deposits through PayPal’s bank partners with two-day early access, bill pay and more.

These features could make PayPal more competitive, as getting paid earlier has been one of the bigger draws among those considering digital banking apps instead of using traditional banks.

In addition to shifting their paychecks to Payal, customers’ PayPal funds can then be used for things that are a part of daily life, like paying their bills, saving or shopping, for example.

The enhanced bill pay feature lets customers track, view and pay bills from thousands of companies, including utilities, TV and internet, insurance, credit cards, phone and more, PayPal says. When bill pay first arrived earlier this year, it offered access to (single-digit) thousands of billers. Now, it will support around 17,000 billers. Customers can also discover billers through an improved, intelligent search feature, set reminders to be notified of upcoming bills and schedule automatic payments for bills they have to pay on a regular basis. The bills don’t have to only be paid from funds currently in the PayPal account, but can be paid through any eligible funding source that’s already linked to their PayPal account.

Via a Synchrony Bank partnership, PayPal Savings will offer a high-yield savings account with a 0.40% Annual Percentage Yield (APY), which is more than six times the national average of 0.06%, the company says. However, that’s lower than top rivals in the digital banking market offer, like Chime (0.50%), Varo (starts at 0.20%, but users can qualify to get 3.00% APY), Marcus (0.50%), Ally (0.50%), ONE (1.00% or 3.00% on Auto-Save transactions), and others. However, the rate may appeal to those who are switching from a traditional bank, where rates tend to be lower.

PayPal believes its high-yield offering will be able to compete not based on the APY alone, but on the strength of its combined offerings.

Image Credits: PayPal

“We know that about half of customers in the United States don’t even have a savings account, much less one with a very competitive rate,” notes PayPal SVP of Consumer, Julian King. “So all in all, we think that by bringing together the full set of solutions on the platform, it’s a really competitive offering for an individual.”

The app has also been reorganized to accommodate the new features and those yet to come.

It now features a personalized dashboard offering an overview of the customer’s account. The wallet tab lets users manage Direct Deposits and connect funding sources like bank accounts and debit and credit cards alongside the ability to enroll in PayPal’s own debit, credit and cash cards. And a finance tab provides access to the high-yield savings and the previously available crypto capabilities, which allows users to buy, hold and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.

The payments tab, meanwhile, will hold much of PayPal’s traditional feature set, including peer-to-peer payments, international remittances, charitable and nonprofit giving, plus now bill pay and a two-way messaging feature that allows users to request payments or say thank you after receiving a payment — whether that’s between friends and family or between merchants and customers. This addition could bring PayPal more in line with PayPal-owned Venmo, which already offers the ability to add notes to payments and make comments.

Messaging also ties into PayPal’s new Shopping hub, which is where the company is finally putting to good use its 2019 $4 billion Honey acquisition. Honey’s core features are now becoming a part of the PayPal mobile experience, including personalized deals and exclusive rewards.

Image Credits: PayPal

PayPal users will be able to browse the discounts and offers inside the app, then shop and transact through the in-app browser. The deals can be saved to the wallet for future use, so they can be applied if shopping later in the app or online. Customers will also be able to join a loyalty program, where they can earn cashback and PayPal shopping credit on their purchases. The company says these personalized deals will improve over time.

“We’ll use AI and [machine learning] capabilities to understand what kind of shopping deals are most interesting to customers and continue to develop that over time. They’ll just get smarter and smarter as the product gets more usage,” notes King. This will include using the data about the deals a customer likes, then bringing similar deals to them in the future.

Also new in the updated mobile app is the addition of PayPal’s crowdsourced fundraising platform, the Generosity Network, first launched late last year. The network is PayPal’s answer to GoFundMe or Facebook Fundraisers, by offering tools that allow individuals to raise money for themselves, others in need, or organizations like small businesses or charities. The network is also now expanding to international markets with Germany and the U.K. to start, with more countries to come.

As PayPal has said, the new app is laying the groundwork for other new products in the quarters to come. The biggest initiative on its roadmap is a plan to enter the investment space, to rival other mobile investing apps, like Robinhood. When this arrives, it will support the ability to buy stocks, fractional stocks and ETFs, PayPal says.

It will also later add support for paying with QR codes in an offline environment, and tools for using PayPal to save while in stores.

The updated app is rolling out starting today in the U.S. as a staggered release that will complete in the weeks ahead. However, PayPal Savings won’t be available immediately — it will arrive in the U.S. in the “coming months,” as will some of the shopping and rewards tools.

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