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Crypto comes of age in 2020 – year in review

Despite volatile cryptocurrency prices during 2020, Bitcoin has been resilient during the global economic downturn, this according to Marius Reitz from Luno

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Despite volatile cryptocurrency prices during 2020, Bitcoin has been resilient during the global economic downturn.

According to Marius Reitz, Luno’s General Manager for Africa, crypto has withstood the Covid-19 stress test and emerged with new support from previous naysayers. Reitz unpacks some of the key highlights for crypto this year.

Bitcoin has been resilient during the global economic downturn

Climbing Bitcoin price amidst turmoil

The Bitcoin price burst through its all-time high of $20,000 at the end of November – the last time Bitcoin traded at these levels was almost three years ago, but the space has evolved significantly since 2017 and Bitcoin is showing its staying power.

At the start of the Covid-19 panic, crypto and fiat markets followed very similar trajectories during the global sell-off. A shift followed and the price of Bitcoin began to move in the same direction as gold, bolstering the view that Bitcoin is an emerging safe-haven asset and decoupling from the traditional market. It has been rising ever since.

Luno is South Africa’s largest cryptocurrency exchange with five million customers across 40 countries. The exchange reported record volumes on the Luno platform and there have been sustained levels of new customers during 2020.

Stellar performance of an alternative asset class

South Africa ranks third globally in cryptocurrency ownership with the primary use case being investment and speculation rather than using cryptocurrency to make payments.

There are differing opinions on whether Bitcoin is a safe haven asset. Many predicted a flight to Bitcoin during the global market sell-off, but it declined initially with the stock market as investors liquidated their investments to access cash. Another view is that investors divert to alternative assets such as gold (and now Bitcoin) in times of economic uncertainty to diversify their investments.

Bitcoin has shown itself to be resilient in its first global crisis. It has outperformed traditional markets like the S&P 500 and gold this year, indicating that cryptocurrency is able to decouple from macroeconomic movements.

This year’s rally differs from the previous bull run in 2017 in that the first one was largely driven by retail investors’ fear of missing out. This time, sophisticated investors are taking up longer positions.

The pandemic seems to have caused many fund managers to re-evaluate their attitude towards cryptocurrency. JP Morgan, whose chief executive once branded Bitcoin a fraud, now stated that cryptocurrencies have longevity as an asset class. Institutional investors are finding novel ways to incorporate digital assets into their overall strategies, which is a key indicator of a maturing marketplace.

Factors that made cryptocurrency attractive in 2020

Bitcoin has a finite supply. It operates on a model of deflation, meaning gradually fewer Bitcoin will be released until we reach 21 million. There is currently around 18.5-million Bitcoin in circulation.

This is different from fiat currencies which use an inflationary model where central banks can print extra currency at will. Venezuela and Zimbabwe are examples of this strategy and therefore some investors consider Bitcoin a hedge against inflation.

The third Bitcoin halving took place in May 2020. Two previous halvings led to dramatic price increases. Halvings are planned reductions that happen once every four years or so.

When the first halving took place in 2012, there were only 43,000 bitcoin addresses. By the second halving in 2016, there were around seven million and today there are more than 48 million bitcoin addresses, but this is still a relatively small number.

The potential use cases for blockchain technology and crypto assets have been accelerated by Covid-19, giving a glimpse into how they could be used in the financial system of the future.

Blockchain technology has the potential to create a framework for delivering global, sustainable, and scalable universal basic income. The technology would make it possible to send money directly to citizens without the need for intermediaries, reducing both cost and corruption.

Crypto companies in a post-Covid-19 world

A recent survey conducted by Luno for the second year in South Africa, Nigeria, UK, France, Italy, Indonesia, and Malaysia revealed that while a single global currency is not yet seen as of value by respondents in Europe and Asia, Africans are ready to embrace a global currency. More than half of the respondents in Africa believe that a global currency would improve the current financial system.

Unsurprisingly, people feel less financially secure than in 2019. 59% of South African respondents foresee a decrease in the rand’s value over the next year – only 38% think it will increase and 18% think it will remain unchanged.

Regulation will be an important catalyst for broader cryptocurrency adoption. SA’s FSCA recently announced a draft declaration of crypto assets as a financial product, which effectively means that any entity or person who renders intermediary services in relation to crypto-assets must be an authorised financial services provider.

We are seeing significant signs of crypto adoption. PayPal, for instance, is rolling out direct sales of cryptocurrency to its 325 million users.

This article was written by Marius Reitz, General Manager for Africa at Luno.

Featured image: Marius Reitz, General Manager for Africa at Luno (Supplied)

The Bitcoin price burst through its all-time high of $20,000 at the end of November – the last time Bitcoin traded at these levels was almost three years ago, but the space has evolved significantly since 2017 and Bitcoin is showing its staying power.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2020/12/crypto-comes-of-age-in-2020-year-in-review/

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Ventureburn

Wayja releases SA’s first peer-to-peer betting app

Wayja launches its cashless peer-to-peer betting app, available on the Wayja site and on all major app stores by December 2021.

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Joburg-based startup Wayja launched its cashless peer-to-peer betting platform earlier this month. The application allows users to connect with friends and make cashless wagers on anything, from anywhere.

Officially founded in 2020 by Reece Jacobsen and Clinton Holroyd, the startup has thus far been funded by seed capital from the founding team but will look to additional funding rounds as the platform scales.

Betting big on peer-to-peer growth

The SA gambling industry is currently estimated at R30-billion and Wayja fully intends to infiltrate the market. Wayja CEO Reece Jacobsen explains that the idea for the platform grew out of a simple human insight.

Peer-to-peer betting is fast overtaking more traditional forms of gambling

“Everybody loves that feeling of winning bragging rights over your peers. We see countless bets being placed in everyday situations between friends, colleagues and counterparts. If you’ve ever been in an office pool on Superbru, making bets on the golf course, or even if you’re making bets with friends over who will be the next to get married – then this is for you. Wayja is there to make informal betting simple, quick and cashless.”

Globally, peer-to-peer betting is fast overtaking more traditional forms of gambling. With the popularisation of cryptocurrency and online marketplaces, recent trends reflect that Gen-Z no longer places their trust in middlemen but prefers complete control of financial transactions. Wayja allows users to connect directly with potential opponents without the help and inevitable cost of a bookie.

Co-founder Clinton Holroyd clarifies: “The potential for scale is what makes this such an exciting venture for us – we’re already making headway into switching Wayja on in key international markets such as the US, UK, India, and Nigeria all while gaining further traction here within the South African market.”

Jacobsen is optimistic about the startup’s growth so far. “Our first few weeks in business have been very encouraging and has strengthened the conviction that we’ve built a platform that is filling a gap in the market. We believe that these early sign-ups will snowball as more people get exposed to the platform. The informal bet against friends is not a new phenomenon by any stretch, but Wayja truly brings it into the modern era,” he says.

The application is immediately available on the Wayja site and will be available for download on all major app stores by the end of 2021.

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Read more: How to Secure Funding as an SME [Opinion]

Featured image: Reece Jacobsen, Founder and CEO of Wayja (Supplied)

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/sa-startup-wayja-releases-peer-to-peer-betting-app/

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Spot Money app launches stokvel feature

Spot Money has released a shared wallet feature on their fintech app, Spot to create transparency for shared financial investments like stokvels.

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South Africa’s newest digital banking platform, Spot Money has launched a shared wallet feature on their fintech app, Spot. The feature is a digital solution that seeks to create transparency for shared financial investments, like stokvels.

New Shared Account feature

The Spot app offers customers transactional banking; a free monthly account and a marketplace for everyday needs. With the new Shared Account feature, up to 10 people can manage their finances easily through a shared wallet. There is no monthly account fee, which allows for accessibility at every income level.

The Spot Shared Account feature allows up to 10 people to transact transparently

“Fintech is pioneering the way that the financial management needs of stokvels are serviced. The adoption of such technology is being driven by young, urban populations, with many members using modern financial technologies to better manage their investments,” says Josephine Mbire, Head of Customer Support at Spot Money.

The stokvel savings concept has seen increased legitimacy in recent years, operating just outside the financial sector and financing households throughout Africa for decades.

Nearly 12 million South Africans belong to these informal savings clubs where members take turns to receive a fixed amount of money. Stokvels finance groceries, school supplies, household appliances and attract about R50-billion a year in investments, making them a legitimate vehicle driving our country’s economy.

“There has long been a need amongst stokvel members for greater transparency of where their money is going, and assurance that it’s being handled prudently. Traditionally, one person would collect all the money, and they would effectively hold all the power over how and when payments would be made, with other members having little insight into the movement of their investments,” explained Mbire.

The app’s scan-to-pay feature means that stokvel members won’t risk carrying big cash amounts when making group purchases. Users can also earn instant cashback rewards into their Spot Rewards wallet when shopping at partner stores such as Checkers, Shoprite & USave.

“Until now, shared accounts meant a primary account holder would provide limited access to chosen beneficiaries. Our approach makes all account holders equal partners and gives everyone full sight of what’s going on in the account: they can see who paid and received money and are able to top up and make payments out of that account through a range of channels,” said Mbire. ‘Stokvels have been around forever, and it’s high time the formal financial sector started catering to them. We believe Spot offers stokvels a great way to manage their money more effectively.”

Read more: Expert tips for SMEs this tax season
Read more: Initiative provides SMEs with free logo design and business support

Featured image: John Schnobrich via Unsplash

“Fintech is pioneering the way that the financial management needs of stokvels are serviced. The adoption of such technology is being driven by young, urban populations, with many members using modern financial technologies to better manage their investments,” says Josephine Mbire, Head of Customer Support at Spot Money.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/spot-money-app-launches-stokvel-feature/

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The secret to levelling up your business

Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth provides key insights into finding, forming and implementing win/win partnerships for startups and SMMEs.

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When Uber and Spotify partnered up a few years ago to give users custom music for their rides, it was a massive win/win for both companies, with each able to increase their reach to various audiences, offer extra value to users, and grow brand recognition and awareness.

Taking your business to the next level is a challenge many business owners face

But we can learn a lot from the Uber-Spotify collaboration. By forming strategic partnerships, you can often leapfrog on progress. Done right, a good partnership can have a tremendous impact on company growth, from increasing sales and reaching new markets to driving efficiency in your operations.

In fact, says Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth, in today’s age of collaboration, finding like-minded businesses to create alliances with can be a valuable tool in taking your company to greater heights.

Since their launch in 2014, SweepSouth have formed many partnerships with companies such as Unilever, FlySafair, FNB, @home, Superbalist, and NetFlorist, and it’s one of the smart strategies that’s propelled them from being a small tech start-up to taking their leaderboard place as SA’s largest on-demand home services platform, with recent expansion into Kenya.

“When we first partnered with other companies, we sought them out, but we’ve had such tangible results that it’s become a more organic process for us, with companies now seeking us out for strategic alliances,” says Pandor.

“Going into business partnerships is an age-old practice that remains relevant today. In our ever-more connected world, successful partnerships can go beyond signing paper contracts to building valuable relationships that form the stepping stones for exciting new ventures.”

For instance, a successful partnership with Airbnb last year gave them an additional avenue to reach Airbnb hosts who may have not have heard of SweepSouth before. It also provided Airbnb hosts, faced with stringent Covid-19 regulations, the chance to hire SweepSouth cleaners trained and certified in Airbnb’s enhanced cleaning protocols.

Alliances that complement your activities can be crucial to business growth. To help you find the right partnership fit and get the most out of it, here are some guidelines from Pandor.

Do some pre-work

“Before you set out to find a business to partner with, take stock of your company’s strengths and weaknesses and identify what gaps or functional requirements are needed to achieve your vision,” advises Pandor.

Establish exactly what you’d like to get out of an alliance with another company. Is it to find a different route to market, provide new services or products, expand into other territories, fill a skills gap, or gain exposure to a new client demographic? Partnerships manifest themselves in different ways. SweepSouth, for example, regularly does promotional partnerships with companies like McCain and UCook (for Father’s Day this June), which helps them reach new audiences.

“Exposure is imperative for your business, but it can be expensive to always promote your product or service on your own,” says Pandor. “Promotional partnerships are fairly simple, giving you access to a wider client pool and leveraging the trust and brand reputation associated with each company to deliver a higher level of perceived value for customers. The best of these partnerships are profitable to both sides, and also enhance business credibility and image.”

Once you’ve decided what kind of partnership you’re looking for, spend some time defining how you’d like the partnership to function, what you’d expect from it, and the metrics by which you’d measure its success. By outlining your expectations before you start searching for a partner, your efforts will be more productive than simply trying to decide if you just ‘like’ a potential company or not.

Things to look for in a partnership

To find a strategic partner that’s perfect for your business – and vice versa – do your due diligence and make sure the following boxes are ticked:

  • This might sound obvious, but choose a partner that makes sense to your business and to your clients. Think about your customers and the kinds of partnerships that would benefit them most.
  • The partnership must be a win-win-win relationship, and hold value for both companies, for it to be worthwhile.
  • Make sure that your brands align. “Being compatible in terms of vision, purpose, and goals forms a good basis for a successful partnership,” advises Aisha. “Having similar corporate priorities will help to ensure compatibility. If you choose a partner whose objectives and values clash with yours, it could drive a wedge between you over time.”

Benefits of a strategic partnership

Provides a competitive advantage. A good partnership boosts your expertise and resources to create better services or products, offer stronger value to clients, or help you reach a different audience, thereby taking your business to a new level.

It inspires you. It’s easy to get stuck into a day-to-day routine in your business. Seeing how other companies do something can provide a fresh perspective and help you think in creative new ways.

Gives access to knowledge. A big benefit of a strategic partnership agreement is the opportunity to learn from other professionals who bring different skills and strengths to the table. You can then use that knowledge and information to better your business.

Broaden your network. Networking and making professional connections are key to business success. By forming an alliance with a company, you’re exposed to new colleagues, contacts, and customers.

Strengthens your company. Operating in isolation and trying to do everything yourself, especially if you don’t have the know-how in a specific area, can cost time and money. The right partnership can help you better your weaknesses and enhance your strengths, making your business more stable and strong. Some collaborative relationships can even help to reduce costs, such as if you share development and marketing expenses.

Going forward

Once you’ve found a company to partner with, draw up clear agreements, taking the time to iron out every detail. Set clear expectations and goals, defining what the partnership should accomplish for each company.

Next, set your partnership up for success by forging a strong way of working together. “Make an effort to build and cultivate the relationship, and communicate frequently to minimise misunderstandings,” advises Pandor. “Check-in regularly to see what is doing well and what can be improved, and give each other honest feedback. Trust, transparency, and respect are key for a partnership agreement to work. Both parties need to view each other as necessary equals to keep things going forward.”

Sometimes, even though seemingly promising at the start, a business partnership doesn’t work out. “It’s okay to end it if it’s failing,” says Pandor. “A poor partnership can cause massive problems, so rather walk away and focus on finding something new.”

A good partnership, on the other hand, can be of value to even the most successful of businesses, freeing you up to focus on other activities and areas that drive growth. Moreover, if done right, a strategic alliance can be built into something that can benefit both companies for years to come.

This article was written by Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth.

Featured image: Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth.

Aisha Pandor

Aisha Pandor is the co-founder and CEO of SweepSouth.SweepSouth is Africa’s first online platform for booking, managing and paying for home cleaning services. Pandor has led SweepSouth to become one of the fastest-growing startups in the country. Venture-backed, SweepSouth became the first South African startup to be accepted into the prestigious 500 Startups accelerator in Silicon Valley.Pandor completed her PhD in Human Genetics at the University of Cape Town. Following her studies, she went on to work as a management consultant before launching SweepSouth, which connects unemployed and underemployed domestic workers with homeowners, providing work opportunities for thousands of women. Aisha was recognised by the World Economic Forum in 2017 as one six African female breakthrough innovators.

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In fact, says Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth, in today’s age of collaboration, finding like-minded businesses to create alliances with can be a valuable tool in taking your company to greater heights.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/the-secret-to-levelling-up-your-business/

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