Today we are back with the second interview in our FinTech Growth Forum series – this inaugural event, hosted by the Global Members Association Innovate Finance, will take place on September 19th in London in support of their members on their scaling journeys.
Today we speak to Sakeeb Zaman – co-founder of StrideUp who provide a new, more affordable way for people to buy their home based on gradually increasing ownership of the property instead of using a traditional mortgage.
Over to Sakeeb for his responses to our questions (in bold)
Who are you and what’s your background?
Hi! I am Sakeeb Zaman – co-founder of StrideUp. We provide a new and more affordable way for people to buy their home based on equity-like financing rather than traditional mortgage debt. The motivation to start StrideUp came from seeing first-hand the difficulty caused by housing affordability challenges. Even people with decent savings and income were completely priced out of the market and stuck in sub-standard rented accommodation for much longer than they wanted. I realised that there needed to be a finance solution to this problem – the current system of home finance creates an artificial barrier to home ownership because the threshold to get a mortgage and buy a property is so high. What if there were a way that people could gradually work towards home ownership? They could start by buying e.g. 20% of their home and as they save money, they increase ownership. This is just describing equity-like finance – well established in many domains, but non-existent in home finance.
Before founding StrideUp I worked in banking. I worked on an interest rate structuring desk, so dealt with risk and financing solutions for large corporates and banks. Banking is a good place to start a career, but I knew pretty early on I didn’t want to stay for long. In 2014 I founded a data analytics startup, and in 2016 I started working on StrideUp. Before banking I was at university – I studied Physics and Philosophy at Oxford.
What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
I’m co-founder and CEO at StrideUp. In this role my day to day work includes recruiting, working on key partnerships, working with the team to set direction, investor relations and communicating our vision externally. However given the small team there’s still plenty of fluidity and depending on needs I can have hands-on involvement in a few areas.
Can you give us an overview of your business?
Currently for most people there’s only really one route to buying a home – save a lot of money, ensure you have a strong income, and buy using a mortgage. The problem for average earning people is that they don’t have the income or savings to do so. StrideUp’s solution lets people buy a portion of a property and gradually build up their ownership. They get the security and stability of homeownership without the large debt burden of a mortgage.
In the early days we did a lot of testing with first time home buyers about whether the proposition is appealing. Coming from a strong background in finance, we were confident on getting this to work from a legal structuring and capital perspective, but it’s impossible to predict how consumers will react to it without doing real world testing. So our first step was to exhibit at a first time buyer show and market the offering. That was the commitment moment for us – when we saw the level of frustration with the current situation, the response to our product and the ease with which people understood the benefits, we know we were onto something.
Tell us how you are funded.
Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?
The provision of affordable housing is one of the most pressing societal concerns of our time. There’s no easy solution, but broadening the availability of home finance offering definitely has a role to play.
Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
Our target customers are first time buyers with decent savings and income, but not enough to buy a property with a traditional mortgage. To quote one of our recent customers:
“StrideUp is a unique solution that offered me freedom to select a property that suits me and allowing me to purchase shares of it as I could afford without committing to hefty debt. It meant that I’m not left on private rent while property prices are constantly increasing.”
As for our revenue, we work with select investors and partners to provide the capital we use in the transactions. We charge these partners a fee to deploy their capital.
If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?
I think the financial players closest to consumers (banks, insurance companies, payment providers etc.) have committed to the idea that technology driven innovation is going to change everything and they need to get on the right side of this change. However those one step removed (institutional investors, capital markets etc.) may not fully appreciate the relevance to their business yet. I would be interested in seeing these players more aggressively embrace opportunities to work with businesses testing innovative models.
What phone are you carrying and why?
iPhone 7. I switched to iPhones from Blackberry quite a few years back. Given how well they just work and how easy it is to upgrade to the newest iPhone, there’s a lot of inertia to considering alternatives.
Where do you get your industry news from?
Financial Times, Techcrunch
Can you list 3 people you rate from the FinTech sector that we should be following on Twitter?
Alex Rampell, @arampell
Rob Moffat, @robmoff
Anna Irrera, @annairrera
Can you suggest the name of an Angel Investor or VC that might be interested in being profiled?
What’s the best FinTech product or service you’ve seen recently?
Revolut have a very cool product. But what’s also caught my attention about them is their velocity of execution, so would expect big things to come.
Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector?
At the moment a lot of fintech is playing around the edges of banking and finance. For example, whilst challenger banks are clearly building experiences that customers love, in no way are they ‘disrupting’ banking, quite simply because they are not yet touching the core revenue generator in banking – using the balance sheet to extend credit. I believe the next few years will be an exciting time during which startups begin to encroach on the core banking revenue generators. For challenger banks this might mean unbundling financial services through a marketplace model; for alternative finance players it maybe means operating at a scale at which their capital sources are on par with bank levels. Exactly how it plays out remains to be seen, but I think we’ll see more startups focussing on these core banking opportunities.
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President Maduro: Venezuela Seeks Opportunities To Use Cryptocurrency For Global Trade
- Venezuela’s cryptocurrency story continues as the country’s President Nicolas Maduro has presented new use cases.
- A recent report informed that the South American nation is studying the possibility of using digital assets in trades alongside the national Petro.
- President Maduro has presented new anti-sanctions law in the Constituent National Assembly. In a recent speech, he asserted:
“The anti-sanctions law is the first response to give new strength to the use of petro and other cryptocurrencies, national and global, in domestic and foreign trade, so that all cryptocurrencies of the world, state and private, could be used. This is an important project that is under development.”
- The news comes after Maduro suggested last year that his country could adopt cryptocurrency payments.
- Additionally, Venezuela signed a new tax agreement this summer that enabled the nation to start collecting taxes and fees in the Petro.
- A study reported by CryptoPotato revealed that digital assets already play an essential role in the country’s struggling economy. Venezuela’s intensifying financial crisis has catalyzed significant interest in cryptocurrencies as people seek opportunities to escape the devaluating national currency.
- The Bitcoin peer-to-peer volume exemplifies the growing interest in the primary cryptocurrency within the country. As per data from coin.dance, the BTC P2P volume on LocalBitcoins has been continuously surging in the past several months.
Leader That Allowed Scams: TRON’s Justin Sun Responds to Claims by Ex-Employees
Yesterday The Verge published an elaborate article portraying a picture of Justin Sun’s leadership at BitTorrent post the peer-to-peer file-sharing site’s acquisition by the TRON foundation.
Sun later responded to the ‘false-claims’ made by TRON/BitTorrent’s ex-employees in the article with ‘An Open Letter to Anyone Who Cares to Read’ on Medium.
Claim: Megalomaniac Leader; Response: True Libertarian
In the supposedly expose piece, author
Refuting the above portrayal of his leadership, Sun, in his response, stated that he has devoted his entire life ‘to being a responsible, global citizen’. Adding to this, Justin said that is a true champion of libertarian principles for a significant portion of his life.
I have devoted myself to being a responsible, global citizen throughout my entire life, spending significant portions of my personal and professional life to activities promoting universal values of respect, liberty, equality, and kindness.
The TRON and BitTorrent chief impressed further on his ‘global’ approach to things. He explained that the TRON Foundation harbors a ‘global team of talented contributors and developers’. And that he takes ‘pride in working’ with this global community to make TRON ‘one of the greatest decentralized blockchain protocols’.
Claim: Freedom Suppressor; Response: Upholder Of Human Rights, Individual Values
Dunaway reportedly engaged in conversations with folks who are/were associated with the TRON brand and the work culture. From what he gathered, Justin enforced a draconian company culture, with employees officially following the ‘9-9-6’ norm.
According to the article, TRON’s HR had Slack replaced with its Chinese counterpart DingTalk. The communication platform had an in-built surveillance mechanism that would use ‘Apple Health to count people’s steps’. Also, DingTalk used to ping employees literally all the time.
To this, Sun responded by saying that he has left no stone turned in, establishing a work culture that respects.
diversity and individuality through a culture that cherishes fundamental human values freedom of speech, user privacy, intellectual property protection, kindness, a diversified working environment, and compliance with legal standards.
Justin went on to comment that TRON and BitTorrent operate with a ‘globally collaborative team’. One that upholds and respects the ethos of cross-culture teams. Sun claimed that the folks at TRON folks have ‘worked hard’ to create a collaborative work culture. One that values freedom of speech and individual privacy.
Claim: Suppressed Criticism, Allowed Scams; Response: No Control Over Protocol Functioning
The Verge piece mentioned that ‘decentralization’ was just a facade for what was happening behind the curtains. Justin Sun and his core officials exercised strict control over content moving about and within the TRON network.
This involved allegedly paying a Redditor to ‘erase negative posts’. Which later drew the ire of the community.
Free speech is part of the ideology of decentralization, where ideas flow without gatekeepers. Tron started deleting any post it wanted.
The article also claimed that TRON’s administration team was silent and allowed the perpetration of scams on the network. While this happened, scammers and the scammed continue to grow in numbers while the management did nothing to interfere.
Justin, in his Medium post, said that he and the entire TRON administration team function sans control. Even though the team at TRON works to upgrade the platform, they do not exercise any censorship/regulation.
…we have no control or discretion over what applications use the protocol, what data is transmitted, or how its community members use it.
Sun went to add that he and his team are proud of TRON and BitTorrent’s achievement over the years. He went to quote that both have collectively ‘served 2 billion users around the world. These include ‘numerous enterprises, universities, and governments’.
Lastly, the TRON and BitTorrent boss struck down all claims made by ex-employees Lucasz Juraszek, Richard Hall, and Cong Li. Justin declared that the TRON foundation’s legal counsel has submitted all the requisite proofs and evidence pieces to the court. “We believe the decision will speak for itself”, he said.
BTT and TRX’s price didn’t seem to undergo any correction following the release of the bitterly scathing Verge piece. On the contrary, BTT is actually up 2.3% in the last 24 hours.
Featured image courtesy of QZ.com
Ethereum Price Analysis: Will ETH Surpass 2019 Highs Towards $400?
ETH/USD – Bulls Struggling To Pass 2019 Highs
Key Support Levels: $350, $336, $325.
Key Resistance Levels: $364, $378, $390.
Ethereum pushed higher last week to reach the 2019 highs at around $364 over the weekend. Unfortunately, it has not been able to overcome this resistance in the past four days of trading as bearish divergence popped up on the short term charts – highlighted in our last analysis.
For now, Ethereum is finding strong support between $350 and $355; however, it is looking increasingly likely to break this support soon as the short-term bearish divergence continues to play out.
ETH-USD Short Term Price Prediction
If ETH does penetrate back beneath $350, the first level of strong support lies at $336 (100-days EMA). Beneath this, additional support lies at $324 (.618 Fib), $320, $310, and $300.
On the other side, the first level of resistance lies at $364 (2019 highs). Above this, resistance is expected at $378 (bearish .382 Fib), $390, and $400.
The Daily RSI did dip beneath the mid-line to suggest that the sellers are battling to gain control of the market momentum.
ETH/BTC – Bears Continue To Face Resistance at Falling Trend Line
Key Support Levels: 0.033BTC, 0.032 BTC, 0.0315 BTC.
Key Resistance Levels: 0.0337 BTC, 0.0347 BTC, 0.0352 BTC.
Against Bitcoin, Ethereum continues to face the resistance at a falling trend line that has dictated price action during September. Each time ETH attempted to break above this falling trend line, the coin was rejected and headed lower.
On Monday, ETH attempted to push beyond the March 2019 support at 0.0337 BTC but could not pass it. As a result, ETH moved sideways this week and has returned to the falling trend line. Here, it can be expected that ETH should be heading lower – especially with the daily RSI flattening out in the bearish territory.
ETH-BTC Short Term Price Prediction
Looking ahead, if the trend line rejects the sellers, the first two levels of support lie at 0.033 BTC and 0.032 BTC. Beneath this, support lies at 0.0315 BTC (100-days EMA & downside 1.414 Fib Extension), 0.0311 BTC (.618 Fib Retracement), and 0.0305 BTC.
On the other side, if the bulls can penetrate the falling trend line, the first level of resistance lies at 0.0337 BTC (March 2019 Support). Above this, resistance lies at 0.0347 BTC, 0.0352 BTC, and 0.0361 BTC (March 2019 High).
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Cryptocurrency charts by TradingView.
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