What Are Fintech Developments in 2018?

Ajay NagpalFonta Guilliam developed a fintech company called Sou Sou to extend women and minorities lending opportunities outside of traditional banking, as explained by Samantha Harrington in a Forbes Magazine article. Sou Sou, named after the lending circle tradition practiced in Ghana, provides a platform where entrepreneurs can create their digital lending circles.

Lending circles provide loans to members, who all contribute a small sum each month. Each month, one member receives all the contributions, representing a loan, which they must repay by adding to the circle. The member’s contributions represent their loan payments. This practice mimics the banking system but saves members interest costs.

Technology continues to open financing opportunities, and 2018 is expected to usher in many more fintech developments, as explained by Sunhil Madhu in Forbes Magazine, Madhu predicts disruption for the biometrics industry, though many tech analysts see biometrics making gains. Madhu points to Apple’s decision to share facial recognition mapping data with app developers. Being able to source this data from Apple and possibly other device makers cut out biometrics companies. Before Apple’s decision to share the face mapping technology, developers relied on biometrics companies to provide it. That reliance may soon be a thing of the past.

Madhu also sees 2018 ushering in many AI-related changes. Online fraud detection may soon make tremendous gains through AI’s ability to adapt to online fraudster’s ever-changing tactics. Currently, fraud prevention systems rely on a human entered a system of rules. Hackers identify these rules and then get around them. AI promises to replace this increasingly inefficient defense system with machine learning that can react to hackers at a speed no human can match.

Fintech also promises to plug the hole in online user identification. For the past decade, users have been checking out as guests on e-commerce sites, using data readily obtainable by fraudsters. Biometric capabilities can now provide a solution. By requiring the authorized user to input their fingerprint into their device, ecommerce providers can finally offer 100-percent identity assurance.

Regtech involves using technology to comply with financial regulations. Biometrics and AI have the power to revolutionize reg tech. For example, AI’s data processing ability offers the potential to automate the data processing portion of money laundering investigations. AI can complete these data mining and organizing tasks at speeds previously beyond human imagination. This frees investigators to focus on more nuanced legal and investigative portions of the investigation process.

Blockchain technology has promise beyond cryptocurrencies. For example, technologists are exploring its potential for online identity verification. Many new blockchain technology applications may come onto the horizon.

Few deny that fintech’s impact on the economy of the future will be substantial. Increased ability to create financially beneficial connections promises opportunities. Increased security effectiveness may take a serious bite out of online crime.

Tips to Deal with Debt without Shame

Tips to Deal with Debt without Shame _ Ajay NagpalDebt is all too easy to accumulate and difficult to eliminate. The strain of debt can be financially and emotionally paralyzing. Obligations hinder progress toward financial security and often cause stress which leads to an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.

Whether debt results from adverse situations or unwise choices, many people feel guilt or shame about their situation. Guilt is remorse over behaviors, such as feeling sorry about overspending on junk food. Guilt can be helpful if utilized to avoid repeating missteps that lead to debt. Shame, however, is a negative feeling about oneself. It is self-blame, leading one to feel worthless, stupid, or hopeless. Shame makes it challenging to feel capable of positive change and often fuels the cycle of self-sabotaging habits that need to be discarded.

In rebuilding a financial foundation, assess the current situation and understand that debt is an issue worth addressing. Next, accept responsibility for the debt even if the circumstances that created the debt were uncontrollable. Realize that debt is quite common: neighbors, celebrities, and governments are facing money troubles all over. Formulate a plan to become debt-free as soon as possible. Here are a few ideas:

1. Take charge — stop charging.
Make a budget and set financial goals that include debt elimination with a financial planner or app. Make every financial decision in light of those goals: does that expenditure help toward financial stability? Is it for a legitimate need or a whim? Begin paying for purchases with cash or a debit card instead of a credit card. Pay off consumer debt now.

2. Simplify — scale down.
This step requires humility: it may be necessary to downsize cars and houses or sell extra clothes and “toys.” In doing so, the reduced stress of simple living will override any embarrassment from scaling back. For encouragement, reflect on acquaintances who have embraced a frugal lifestyle, or think of famous literary characters such as Molly Weasley, Jack Reacher, Silas Marner or Katniss Everdeen as models to emulate.

3. Choose wise friends — support each other.
Achieving financial stability and freedom calls for determined focus. Having close associates who will support this goal will make the process easier. Wise friends will not take advantage of each other or persuade each other to make additional money choices in conflict with set goals. Their understanding, advice, and experience will make the path smoother as they share their financial victories.

Budget Yourself & Make Smart Money Moves

calculatorWe can shop without leaving our homes. In fact, we can shop without lifting a finger, thanks to the development of high-functioning devices fit with the purchasing capabilities. In a time where purchasing can be as easy as breathing, let’s practice smart budgeting habits.

It has never been a better time to watch your spending and ensure that money being put to the side for future needs. Monitoring your budget and properly managing your wealth can be the difference between you putting the down payment on your new car or you riding the bus from here to Pasadena.

  1. Quick and Easy Dinners – Create one-pot-wonders that can last you for days. Get staple items, such as beans, onions, carrots, and a meat option to create hearty meals that can last for several days. Don’t know where to begin? Make a crockpot chili or the long-standing crowd-favorite, chicken noodle soup.
  2. Keep Cheap The Staples on Hand – Keep frozen items and dry goods on hand to build meals around them. These options are flexible for any meal.
  3. Track your Spending – Review your budget and see where you can scale back. There are a number of applications you can use to track the money that you spend as well as the money that you save.
  4. Hold the Drinks and Hold Your Liquor – Whenever possible, refrain from buying drinks out. A non-alcoholic drink tacks $3-$5 onto your bill, while alcoholic drinks can add a costly $5-$15, and likely more if you’re having wine or you’re dining at a high-end establishment. Several rounds of drinks can double or triple the bill. Instead, save some cash and go to a BYOB.
  5. Unit Pricing– Compare unit pricing on items in the store, so that you aren’t caught off-guard. Also, make sure to keep track of your spending while walking through the grocery store. Pick a budget and stick to it.
  6. Shop Smart – Stores have products that are soon to out-of-date that are discounted. Buy the items and use them right away. There are also companies, such as Imperfect Produce, which sells “ugly” produce at a bulk rate.

See where you can save financially and be conservative. Remember that items, such as utilities and gasoline, will continue to rise. Keep a calendar of upcoming changes and expenses. Non-monthly expenses (i.e. insurance) should be put on a calendar so that the charges don’t catch you off guard.

7 TED Talks That Will Instantly Improve Your Financial Literacy

7 Ted Talks That Will Instantly Improve Your Financial Literacy | Ajay NagpalWith information now readily available, many readers seek to improve their financial literacy. Below are seven TED talks that can help you go from being lost in the financial world, to crafting a personal finance plan.

1) How I Learned to Read – and Buy Stocks – in Prison

Curtis Carroll delivered this presentation from prison in 2016. The theme of his talk is that financial literacy is a lifestyle more so than a skill. He discusses various strategies focusing on personal finance. Curtis Carroll’s talk is a motivating introduction because if he can do it from prison, surely anyone has hope.

2) Why You Should Know How Much Your Co-Workers Get Paid

This TED Talk was given by David Burkus, who works in the management research industry. In this presentation, he claims that it is best for people in a company to exchange salary details with one another. His research proves that employee happiness increases and company discrimination decrease as a result of this.

3) Saving For Tomorrow, Tomorrow

This talk is given by Shlomo Benartzi, a respected economist. He goes over the importance of saving, and how many Americans continuously put it off. He presents dramatic statistics about the popularity of 401(k) accounts and American saving amounts.

4) The Battle Between Your Present and Future Self

In this TED Talk from Daniel Goldstein, another economist, he opts to use the distinction between our present and future selves as motivation to begin saving. He provides strategies for how we can prevent ourselves from harming our future selves by saving today.

5) Post-Crash, Investing in a Better World

This talk from social commentator Geoff Mulgan is simply focused on how to effectively invest after the most recent economic crash.

6) How to Buy Happiness

Michael Norton is a social science researcher who presents on how donating our money to charitable causes can result in more happiness.

7) The Future of Money

In this TED Talk, Neha Narula, who works at Digital Currency Initiative, presents on the power of using a digital currency system.

The information is surely out there and starting with these seven TED Talks, you can improve your financial literacy in no time.

Spectacular Financial Literacy Courses Available for FREE

Spectacular-Financial-Literacy-Courses-Available-for-FREE-compressorEducation centered around financial literacy and personal finance is just be a few keystrokes away.

Did you know that you could take FREE online classes, which could offer you a beginner’s and intermediate understanding of finances, whether that’s wealth management, financial, accounting, mutual funds, compound interest, debt, or savings, or wealth management? It seems that the options are endless.

There are countless resources on the web, offering users the valuable information they seek. While searching the vast internet, you sometimes happen upon a course that empowers you through the info shared during the program.  While many of these resources aren’t necessarily on par with fully developed college courses, some classes are very adept at providing keen insight on how to use financial literacy as an effort to foster a lifetime of economic well-being.

There can be a fee for graded work. However, all materials are available at no cost. For full financial literacy, it’s essential to examine behavior economics, competency about daily spending, and an understanding of stock movement. The variety of courses featured online can provide a clear, functional career path that can construct a healthier and more stable financial reality for many.

So you might be asking, ‘Where do you go to find these incredible, free classes, which could change my financial trajectory?” MOOCs.

If you venture over to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or  Coursera, you’d quickly learn that there are multiple courses that speak to a need for addressing finances. For instance, “Personal & Family Financial Planning,” “Organizational Behavior: How To Manage People,” “English for Media Literacy,” and “Finance for Non-Financial Professions” demonstrate the variety. The courses placed on MOOC are aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web, which means that it’s designed to be utilized by anyone.

Read on to review a quick overview of some of the most acclaimed courses featured on the MOOCs’ website:


Behavioral Finance—Duke University

coursera.org/learn/duke-behavioral-finance

Understanding how decision-making errors impact your financial choices.

Review: “Generally it’s a fantastic online course, which gives me so much insight into an area I have previously unaware of. Behavioral Finance is meaningful because it takes human behavior factors into account of finance models, especially psychology factor. It offers me new insight into a study of interdisciplinary subjects. Class outlines and videos are well-organized and challenging. However, I think the test questions are sometimes a little bit difficult, and test2 and test3 should have answers and analysis like test1. It will always be better to review the knowledge you learned after making some mistakes and being eager to know the causes. I love the course!”


Financial Accounting: Foundations—University of Illinois, Champaign

coursera.org/learn/financial-accounting-basics

Discover accounting basics, which effectively teaches you to manage your finances as you would a business.

“The Course is very practical. I really appreciate the practice quizzes since they allow me time to have a greater understanding of each lectured session. A very good course that I would recommend to anyone who desires to improve or refresh their knowledge of the principles that were explained in all the modules.”


The Art of Negotiation—University of California, Irvine

coursera.org/learn/art-of-negotiation

Learn important negotiation strategy, which could lead to more significant earning and greater wealth.

Review: “Very informative and useful course.“


Financial Literacy—Macquarie University

open2study.com/courses/financial-literacy

Gain a fundamental understanding of the basics: managing debt, savings, avoiding investment scams, and more.

Review: “This class is great for a very basic introduction to Financial Literacy. It gives you the framework from which to build a financial plan for your life including learning how to save, how to create a budget, and how to invest. It is not a very in-depth course, which is the only downfall to it, and it only takes probably an hour an a half for each week of work. But Professor Mordaunt is concise and at times entertaining.”


Securing Investment Returns in the Long Run—University of Geneva

coursera.org/learn/investment-returns-long-run

Identifying the difference between active and passive investing, and provide insights on ROI.

Review: “This course deals mainly with the topic of evaluating the performance of investments and uses the outcomes to discuss the benefits of active and passive funds. Measures are introduced to evaluate the risk-adjusted returns of investments. In addition, evaluation tools for the performance of active managers are presented. The videos are of great quality. The quizzes could be more challenging.”

If you’re interested in learning more? Please visit Coursera and Open2Study.com.

Financial Mistakes That Even Experts Make

Financial Mistakes That Even Experts Make

For those just starting out on their own, money can be intimidating. In those first few years, mistakes are just as inevitable as the financial losses that follow a misstep – and as painful as those errors are, they serve as signposts on the road to financial stability.

Even experts who have built their careers around finance have made a few bad calls in their earlier years – and learned from their mistakes.

Here are a few of the errors that they made, along with a few tips for avoiding similar mishaps!  

Trusting Personal Relationships Over Logic

Financially successful individuals don’t cross friendship and business. While agreeing to invest in a close friend’s or even a family member’s business proposal can seem like a fun idea or even just a polite response to being asked, you should decline. More often than not, interpersonal feelings bias you against an objective view of the asker’s business plan, and leaves you poorer in time, money, and friends.

Expert Case Study: When Jacki Zehner, current CEO of Women Moving Millions invested time and energy in getting a friend’s recording studio off the ground, she lost her investment, her friendship, and most significantly – her time.

 

Failing to Review the Fine Print

Contracts can be slippery, and end up costing you far more money in technicalities and rollover costs than you ever expected to pay when you signed. It can be easy to be lulled into complacency after months of regular payments – and costly! Read the fine print, and don’t forget to shop around for better bargains if you feel that you’re paying too much for the service you receive.

Relatedly, make sure to go over your credit card bills and account statements at least once a month to check for fraud. While reconciling bills and accounts can be a pain during busy months, a quick check will catch any unauthorized transactions and potentially save you thousands of dollars.

Expert Case Study:  Justin Modray, founder of Candid Financial Advice, got caught up in a stressful move to a new house and didn’t notice that he’d been swindled out of three thousand pounds until he checked his statement a few months later. He reached out to his bank and managed to get the stolen funds back – but he made sure to regularly reconcile his accounts after the scare!

 

Overspending

Purchases add up. Even a couple of nice dinners and a great deal at that store you love can launch you significantly over budget. Crunch the numbers! Work out how much you need to set aside for bills, savings, and living costs every month, and then decide how much you can afford to spend on fun.

Expert Case Study: Financial author Kate Northrup blew through far more money than she should have when she was in her twenties. She explains her rationale: “I had this idea that I needed to look a certain way and that I needed to look like I had it more together than I did. That, to me, meant spending more money than I actually had because I wanted to look more successful than I actually was.”

As Northrup suggests, real success comes more slowly, and requires patience and financial foresight. Looking well-off only goes so far when you don’t have money left at the end of the month.

Greedy Investments

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Stay away from investments that promise quick returns in short periods of time. Not only do such ventures normally crash, but sometimes they can have shady roots! You stand to lose all that you contribute – if not more – by buying into a greedy scheme. Instead, look into more stable, long-term investments.

Expert Case Study: Alex Davies, co-owner of WealthClub, made the mistake of investing almost £20,000 in a minerals company that went under within a year! The nearly double return he received initially slipped through his hands when the questionable firm fell apart. Don’t invest in deals that promise quick returns – they rarely last!

 

While it’s tempting to follow an impulse or make a decision based on emotion, biased or split-second choices will inevitably lead you into financial trouble. It’s vital to keep a level head and learn from your mistakes, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or financial expert!


Ajay Nagpal, the Chief Operating Officer at investment management firm Millennium. Ajay Nagpal supports social entrepreneurship through his work as a Board member of Echoing Green. Please visit his social entrepreneurship blog to learn more about that! Also, find him on Behance!

16 Budget Tips For New Entrepreneurs

16 Budget Tips For New Entrepreneurs - Ajay NagpalBudgeting skills are essential knowledge for anyone managing a business, and this is especially true for new entrepreneurs who are looking to enter the business world on a sturdy leg. Small businesses are no joke, and piloting one means keeping one’s eyes ahead, while always knowing how to gauge your peripherals and keep it from crashing.

While some things go without saying for business leaders, finance and budget tips bear repeating. Look the 16 tips below, which offer some insight on budgeting for your business.

  1. Keep your personal life separated from business finances, which will ultimately help you with your budget. The commingling of personal and business can distort accuracy. You won’t have an accurate estimation of how much money your business grossed or how much it might need to succeed. Payroll is one of the biggest costs that a business has, so you must identify how much it will cost to pay your salary. The use of appropriate budgeting techniques and credit cards will starve off future obstacles.
  2. Don’t forget about your taxes, which is a recurring expense that’s sometimes left out of financial calculations. It’s recommended that you open a separate bank account and deposit 20 percent of gross revenue or up to 35 percent of your monthly net income. Failing to plan ahead for taxes can lead to a late fee or an audit.
  3. It’s important that first-time entrepreneurs, hold on to all of your receipts, and kept them organized. While many first-entrepreneurs take their largest expenses into account, they sometimes fail to account for overtime and smaller costs. Keeping those receipts on hand offers a clear understanding of your budgets and your finances, providing a glimpse into growth-related expenditures.
  4. Lean on your supplier if you feel like prices are a little too steep for you. As long as you’re polite, it doesn’t hurt to try to cut costs. Inquire if you can get a discount if you purchase in bulk or if you can get a discount by paying for supplies upfront.
  5. Always search for the best deal. By investigating your options, you’re more likely to save your business money in the long run.
  6. Understand that loss is on the table, and a good way to make sure that you hold to what you have is to shed some non-essential expenses.
  7. Overestimate your expenses when you’re planning for the future. If you do this, you won’t be devastated if a surprise cost takes you by surprise.
  8. Rather than hiring costly full-time employees, hire freelance writers, designers, and delivery people. Do so means that you’ll save money on training, hiring, and sourcing. Additionally, you’ll save money when it comes taxes, fees, and payroll.
  9. However, when you choose to hire your employees and budget for salary, consider the cost of training materials, insurance, taxes, payroll fees, and additional equipment.
  10. Shop smart and try to buy used furniture, equipment, and electronics, which will cut down on costs. However, don’t skimp on things you need.
  11. Brick-and-mortar locations are attractive, but when you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, it’s important that you notice that rent, furniture, and transportation can cost you thousands. If you sincerely require a physical location, then try working out of your home. You can even receive tax deductions if you opt to operate out of your home-based office.
  12. Use Mint and similar budgeting software to help you analyze, track, and monitor your spending. There are some intuitive and free programs you can use that will aid with online management of cash and spending analysis.
  13. When you’re looking to create a small business, you’ll have to bear your credit in mind, which is important if you’re interested in taking out a loan. Also, if you happen to take out a loan and you’re late with repayments, it could hurt your credit score and your business. Plan loan repayments within the monthly and yearly budget.
  14. Partner with other business professionals and save money on promotion, flyering, and overall advertising. If you split costs, you’re saving money.
  15. Seek out free advertising by reaching out to news publications to cover your events, pumping up your social media presence, and by volunteering at local events where you can advertise your business and connect with potential customers. Joining an industry association can offer you a network, which is great for word-of-mouth, discounts, and finding new ideas.
  16. Insurance is an important expense that’s not worth skipping. Budgeting for insurance before an incident can ultimately save your business.

Ajay Nagpal, the Chief Operating Officer at investment management firm Millennium. Ajay Nagpal supports social entrepreneurship through his work as a Board member of Echoing Green. Please visit his social entrepreneurship blog to learn more about that! Also, find him on Behance!

 

Early Financial Education: Equipping Youngsters With Tools to Acquire Financial Freedom

Ajay Nagpal, Early Financial EducationEarly financial education is crucial; in fact, some, including a blog post published on DaveRamsey.com argues that these fundamentals are necessary, as this knowledge will help children to one day manage their finances, balances, and budgets once they’ve graduated from college and look to take care of their own personal finances. Financial literacy, which an ability to understand how money functions in the world, is considered necessary for personal success.  Teaching young people about how someone earns money or makes money, as well as how one manages money, invests money, or event donates money positions them for a distinct pathway to financial freedom.

Money Management International published a post about teaching children financial lessons through fundraisers. This is an incredible idea because 70 percent of U.S. children are asked to participate in fundraisers on behalf of their community, organization, or school.  This opportunity allows most parents to teach their growing children basic math skills as well as financial responsibility. Also, fundraisers help children to basic business skills, goal setting, charitable giving, and budgeting.

The proposition of a fundraiser begins as a noble initiative but becomes so much more when it offers children a tiered system by which they can earn prizes and trinkets after they’ve set realistic goals and earned money for a project using only the resources made available to them.

Counting change, organizing receipts and demonstrating responsibility conditions them to be suited for entrepreneurship. However, fundraisers aren’t the only way to direct children to grow their financial knowledge. There are numerous ways to help children get an early start on money management:

For younger lots, such as those in elementary and kindergarten, ‘simple’ tends work be best.

  • Lead by example: Be mindful that your children are looking to your habits to learn about expenditure.  Your children notice your conversations and bouts about frivolousness and frugality. Practice healthy habits. Also, rather than paying with your credit card each time you visit the mall or grocery store, use physical cash and count the money out, so your child gains a better understanding of what a $10 bill can purchase them and how much change is due.
  • Mason jars over piggy banks: Rather than storing change in the piggy bank, help your child to store his or her money in a transparent jar so that they’re offered a visual image of financial accumulation. They’re likely to develop pride around watching their personal wealth mature. Encouraging them to count the money often and view it as a reserve, rather than something to be spent, is an important way to push him to see the long effects of long-term saving.
  • Money doesn’t grow on trees: Prior to any adventure involving the spending of money, share your budget with your child and educate them on how much everything costs. Also, when shopping, allow them a bill or two from their personal saving jar and allow them to understand what they can or can’t afford with the money they have on hand.

Teenagers and adolescents have increased awareness/understanding of money, as many of them have jobs or they receive an allowance,  however, many still forget that money isn’t a magical object that merely appears, so continue to teach them in ways that are diverse, yet simple.

  • Weighing decisions; Teach your child about the importance of financial choices. By demonstrating opportunity costs, they learn that if they choose to spend money a game console, they won’t have the money to purchase a new mp3 player.
  • Philanthropy and charitable giving: Young people should recognize the importance of giving as early as possible because it instills the importance of community, and they giving has an intrinsic effect. While some give money to charities or churches, others choose to fundraise, volunteer or donate goods.
  • Earning allowance: Kids shouldn’t merely be given a stipend for floating around their home, children should earn their allowances through chores and housework, so that understand the process by which employment and occupation function. Consider giving them a slight raise when they’ve proven that they’re committed to their tasks, and consider decreases when they’ve demonstrated that they’re not interested in earning.
  • Banking account: While checking accounts come much later, it’s never too early to get a child a banking account, which would not only equip them with responsibility but teach them that money management is more than personal but institutional. Also, they’ll learn about interest and percentages, and learn that they’ll earn more interest through saving more.
  • Credit card dangers: Credit cards are going to piped right into your child’s hands as soon as he or she turns 18, so it’s important for you to communicate that your credit and financial existence can be horrifically wreaked by making poor credit card choices early.
  • Employment: The best way to teach financial responsibility is enable your child to understand the value of earning their own money. Help your child scan the papers and ask friends so that your child get comfortable with the prospect of earning money during school breaks or even after school. This will acquaint your child with notions of esteem, leadership, and importance.  

To put it simply have to prepare yourself to talk to you children about money and equip your child with the tools to succeed financially. Being honest, setting family goals, and discussing value may put your child on the path to becoming a leader in the financial industry or a developer of educational fintech applications that may make it easier of future generations to access and utilize personal wealth.  


Ajay Nagpal, the Chief Operating Officer at investment management firm Millennium. Ajay Nagpal supports social entrepreneurship through his work as a Board member of Echoing Green. Please visit his social entrepreneurship blog to learn more about that! Also, find him on Behance!