Category Archives: Bitcoin

Investing: Use Social Networks, don’t be used

All data indicates a new age of interest in retail investing. Across the world more people than ever are starting to trade for the first time, with reports of retail participation in the US stock market, for example, increasing from 10% in 2019 to 25% in 2020. Even during a public relations disaster, Robinhood- the U.S retail-focused trading app- onboarded 600k new clients in a single day. Our brokerage, Equiti Group/ FXPesa, saw volumes and client numbers increase by multiples across all our key markets and this will continue through this year.

The pandemic created an environment where people were looking for an income in the safety of their own home and, logically, that trading/ investing answered that need. Anything that brings a heightened awareness of financial literacy is a great thing, but it’s also something that we need to nurture. With millions entering the financial markets for the first time, unfortunately, scams, misinformation and false promises follow, and we must increase consciousness of this.

Social Networks: Most of the world has been following the journey of a supposed war between those on a Reddit forum called r/WallStreetBets and hedge funds betting on the demise of American electronic games supplier GameStop (going ‘short’). This battle was trending on all major social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, Telegram and Instagram. These networks are powerful, Reddit has 160 million unique visits to its site each month.

People that had never invested before frantically set up trading accounts and placed trades with as much capital as they could put their hands on. Some naïve first-timers often had very little notion of risk or what they were doing, but instead paid full attention to the latest funny meme or influencer that told them that this stock was ‘going to the moon’. It did, and then it came back again leaving a lot of people losing a lot of money.

Ignoring Fundamentals: Social networks and online personalities have an increasing amount of influence over investors. Recently, Elon Musk the CEO of Tesla added 12% to the value of Bitcoin simply by changing his bio to the bitcoin Twitter hashtag. With the wave of memes, online ‘experts’ and celebrities pushing their agendas, the fundamentals of great companies are becoming secondary. We need to acknowledge this and attempt to educate differently.

A perfect example of this was the recent movement in the Silver price. Silver is widely regarded as an undervalued metal, mainly because of its increasing utility in ‘green technologies’, such as solar panels. Various reports declare solar panels and wind turbines will require three times more silver than what is used today. Silver is also used in electric car production and other tech of the future. When the silver price jumped 12% (its biggest intraday rise since 2008), it was not because of these fundamentals. The price jumped primarily because social media declared the same war with hedge funds and decided to try to do the GameStop ‘trick’ again, making the Twitter hashtags #shortsqueeze and #silvershortsqueeze trend across the world. The silver market is huge and not as easily manipulated as a relatively small stock such as GameStop, and so this attempt was doomed, with silver retracing back very quickly and lots of retail traders losing more money. 

All this focus away from fundamentals, meant that the market was quite late to understand the stellar Q4 earnings shown by some great companies, especially Big US Tech firms. Amazon posted $126 billion Q4 revenue and shows no sign of slowing. Google saw a 23% revenue growth in Q4. Unfortunately, the circa 4-6% share price increases these saw due to these results aren’t considered attractive enough to those only seeking the 16x returns GameStop gave some in just 2 weeks. There is so much real opportunity in the markets, especially now.

Scams: If you were to investigate your junk mail (don’t!), you would have probably been sent a scam email within the last 24hrs. It is most likely centred around cryptocurrencies, where it is promising huge returns from trading obscure crypto that you have never heard of. Some of the recent scams are from hackers sending out tweets from reputable, businessmen like Jeff Bezos and even former presidents such as Barack Obama’s certified accounts. They ask for the trusting public to send bitcoin to a wallet and then wait for 2x back.

Unfortunately, as unlikely as these scams may seem, the public is losing millions of dollars to them daily. In today’s ‘at once’ society, many aren’t thinking of growing knowledge and wealth over a long period. Instead, they want instant gratification and huge profits, as is the expectation in most walks of life now. Now, if you want something, you want it immediately- but my experience of wealth generation is the very opposite of this. It takes time to do it right.

Long-term side-effects: Social media has been an excellent source of information for new traders, keen to improve their financial futures. However, there is cause for concern if these young and new entrants blindly follow investment ideas that they do not understand, just because the herd are doing the same thing. We have a huge wave of first- time traders ignoring great companies that have incredible distribution channels and solid, multiple revenue streams, instead opting to follow a funny meme of Elon Musk and a Shiba Inu dog (DogeCoin).

A glaring issue is I don’t see how it can work out for these traders. If they make money in these pump-and-dump Reddit schemes, for example, they will invariably put more into the next one and continue until they lose everything. In this search for increasing returns, they are also susceptible to false promises and scams. On the flip side, if they lose their money in the first attempt, they are likely to shut their accounts and never think about their financial futures again. That is a tragedy.

It is far better to work with a brokerage to diversify your investments across global asset classes, regions and short and long-term plays, concentrating on sound fundamental and technical analysis…improving your knowledge day by day, year by year. Understanding this gives you a great chance at achieving real wealth. This has always been exciting enough for me, no meme needed. 

A guest post by Brian Myers (@bjmyersUK), the CEO at Equiti Capital UK.

7th BAFM – Building African Financial Markets – Day Two

Summary of day one of the BAFM.  

The second day of the 7th BAFM – Building African Financial Markets seminar continued with more explanations on changes in the global scene and how they could affect African exchanges.

Michele Carlsson of Nasdaq said immediate top compliance concerns were the need to fully understanding regulations and how they affect exchanges, and the inability of technology to meet current market requirements. She said it was important for exchanges to have market surveillance systems that could look at several assets classes, do powerful visualizations, have flexible alerting, and enable real-time controls as well as being scalable and resilient.

Anne Clayton of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange spoke on the impact that various new European Union regulations that could have on African capital markets. These include rules on general data protection (GDPR, May 2018), benchmark regulation (BMR – Jan 2018), financial instruments regulations (MiFID II –  Jan 2018) and others on derivatives trading. She explained that data on GDPR, EU citizens had to be notified of data breaches and they also the right to be forgotten if they requested it i.e. to have all their data wiped out from a system  – .but that is in conflict with “know your customer” (KYC) and “anti-money laundering” (AML) laws, which require that financial data, is kept for seven years.  African exchanges have low liquidity and the costs of compliance keep going up, now estimated at 5-10% of turnover, even where there is no uptake of products or use of some of the new rules. Many of them have low liquidity and are heavily dependent on foreign investors to provide liquidity, but such investors are sensitive to any policy or taxes which can make them shift to other markets. But non-compliance could result in heavy penalties for companies.

Dr. Anthony Miller spoke of new opportunities from linking exchanges to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through new products. Last week Fiji launched a green bond at the London Stock Exchange while there was a gender bond floated in Asia to support women funded entrepreneurs. This is at a time that companies like Bloomberg are tracking the growth of green funds around the world, while many other investors are eliminating carbon investments, like coal, from their portfolios.

Block chain and bitcoin were top topics of discussion on day two of the BAFM. One talk was an explanation on the different aspects of block chain technology, which could offer African institutions the ability for Africa to leapfrog old hurdles. Sofie Blakstad spoke of using block chain to provide cheaper rural financing that is much cheaper than from commercial banks, and that the technology also enabled an unprecedented level of validation of the impacts of targeted funding programs such as micro-finance institutions  e.g. how ethical or green their funding programs are, by looking at data from the beneficiaries.

(Away from the BAFM, on the same day, Juliani, a popular Kenyan gospel musician launched Juliani “Hela” a loyalty point-based currency earned by customers on every purchase of an official Juliani event ticket, a T-shirt, or album).

David Wagemma spoke about M-Akiba which was the first mobile-traded government bond in the world that cost Kenyan investors just $30 and which took five minutes to sign up and pay for, all via their mobile phones.

Later in a panel on block-chain as a disruptive technology for markets, Abubakar Mayanja said that progressive regulators should have sandbox licensing so that regulation goes on even as new ideas are developed, while Reggie Middleton, said the 1,500 cryptocurrencies in existence could grow on their own without needing each other and they did not need to concern central bankers and regulators in Africa as they had nothing to do with currencies.

In their remarks to close the event, Geoffrey Odundo, CEO of the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), thanked organizers, saying that the BAFM had trended for two days and he saw that even the Deputy President was still following the conversation, while Oscar Onyema, President of African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA)  said that this had been the best event in the BAFM series, with the next one to be hosted by the BRVM in Ivory Coast in April 2019 – who would be challenged to excel of the Nairobi event

Day two of the 7th Building African Financial Markets seminar was held at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi Kenya on April 20, 2018.

Idea Exchange: Startup Roundup

Recent and upcoming startup events around Africa

AVCA Nairobi: The African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA) cordially invites you to an informal evening of networking over cocktails on Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 5:30 – 9:00 pm Sarabi Pool & Supper Club Sankara Nairobi. AVCA Members and Qualified LPs: FREE, Non-AVCA Members: £25

ABLAA Africa: 7th All Africa Business Leader Awards will feature winners from West, Southern and East Africa at the AABLA Finale on November 30th in Sandton, which will be broadcast on CNBC Africa on December 7th. West Africa will be represented by Alloysius Attah, Co-Founder and CEO of Farmerline (Young Business Leader of the Year), Oluwatoyin Sanni, Group CEO of United Capital Group (Business Woman of the Year), Mustapha Njie, CEO of TAF Africa Homes (Entrepreneur of the Year), Guaranty Trust Bank (Company of the Year) and Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Bank (Business Leader of the Year).

Startups that use drones are welcomed.

The Airbus BizLab initiative in Africa, launched in August this year, targeted African startups innovating for future applications in the aerospace business. Startups that use Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAVs), satellite Operations and Imagery, 3D Printing, Smart sensors, Internet of Things (IOT), smart energy and Artificial Intelligence (AI) were encouraged to apply. There were 11 finalists who were shortlisted included Aerobot Technologies – Kenya, ESIPPS International – Uganda, Kuunda Three Dee – Kenya, Maisha – Ethiopia, QTRON Industries – Kenya, Swahili Box – Kenya, Savannah Circuit Technologies – Kenya, Startup Lions – Kenya, Track Your Build – Sierra Leone, UAV Kenya – Kenya and the overall winner of the Airbus Bizlab  was lluminum, an Agri-tech startup that uses connected sensor technology with its solar panels to automate and enable remote control of greenhouses. Illuminum greenhouses will get a 10-day trip to Europe to meet with Airbus experts as well as present to Airbus Executives and investors.

I Love Black People Tour & Pitching Competition: Blockchain startup BitMari has teamed up with the National Society of Black Engineers to bring you a unique opportunity to tackle financial challenges across the global African Diaspora and has been inviting undergraduate students, graduate student, and professionals across all fields, including developers, designers, product developers, and entrepreneurs, plus businesses that want to embrace the idea of social innovation or initiatives that combine a positive mission with business. Students can now enter the pitch competition and win up to $5,000 for sending a youtube link with a 60 seconds pitch on an idea that uses Bitcoin technology which will qualify them for a hackathon at the end of November.

Innovate Ventures, the leading Somali tech and business startup accelerator launched in partnership with VC4A, Telesom the Work in Progress! Alliance, had their second cohort of 10 startups from Somaliland and Somalia graduate from their programme. This year’s accelerator saw over 400 applications received and the seed investment given doubled from $15,000 last year to $30,000. First place went to Bilan Baby, a startup that sells baby furniture, accessories and baby clothing as well as maternity products. Bilan Baby received $7,000 in seed investment. Second place went to SAMS, an agritech marketplace for farmers and buyers and Almijet, a digital printing company who received $5,000 each. Finally, Brandkii, an online marketing and advertising startup, received $3,000. Further investment was provided to Muraadso, an e-commerce startup and last year’s winners; they received $10,000.

Kenya Bankers Catalyst Award nominees include Barclays, Commercial Bank of Africa, Cooperative Bank, Diamond Trust, Equity, KCB, Kenya Women’s Finance Trust, Lendable /Levanter, National Bank, NIC, Prime, Safaricom, Standard Chartered, and Stanbic among others.

MasterCard Foundation sponsored ‘Client at the Centre’ Prize which highlights best practices in financial services where client satisfaction is a priority. Jumo, a South African based company beat close to 100 financial services firms to win the$150,000 prize in recognition of its innovative and impactful low-cost financial services that serves poor people. The winner was picked by a 400-person audience during the ongoing Mastercard Foundation’s Symposium on Financial Inclusion  2017 Symposium on Financial Inclusion in Accra, Ghana. The other two Prize finalists were ftcash, one of India’s fastest-growing financial technology ventures which aims to empower micro-merchants and small businesses with the power of digital payments and loans, and Destacame, a free online platform in Latin America that empowers users by giving them control over their data to build their financial capabilities and to access financial products.

Orange  announced the winners of the 7th Orange Social Entrepreneur Prize 2017 in Africa and the Middle East. 49 local winners who were drawn from Orange’s 17 subsidiaries in Africa and the Middle East were entered into the international contest. The winning projects this year were: 1st prize was awarded to Manzer Partazer in Madagascar, a startup that aims to reduce food waste by sharing excess food from restaurants, hotels or supermarkets.  2nd prize was awarded to City Taps which has developed a solution which bridges the gap between water services and the most disadvantaged citizens.  3rd prize was awarded to eFret.tn in Tunisia a website that links up foreign exchange senders with transport and transit professionals in Tunisia .Also a Special Content Prize was awarded to Génie Edu in Cameroon, an e-learning platform which aims to help students having problems by providing online video courses and Internet users were also invited to choose their “User Favourite” project and this was the Malagasy project Majika that facilitates access to renewable electricity and support for rural entrepreneurship.

Reuters Journalism Training Programme (Middle East & Africa): The Reuters Journalism Programme is an opportunity for recent graduates, early career reporters, or professionals with proven experience who are looking to switch careers into journalism. The programme in 2018 will consist of 6 months of formal and on-the-job journalism training, initially in our London newsroom, followed by one of our other main reporting newsrooms or bureaus in the Middle East or Africa.

 

USAID: Enterprises within the Kenya Innovation Engine (KIE), a USAID-funded program Feed the Future initiative have leveraged $8.2 million worth of private sector investment, and created more than 6,000 jobs at the business and farm level. In the course of implementation, in order to ensure sustainability, KIE-supported enterprises formed 56 strategic public-private partnerships with progressive local and international organizations such as Safaricom, Equity Bank, Microsoft Corporation and VISA. Over 670 innovation applications received in four solicitation waves and over $4.2M invested in a total of 26 awards made to date. Project awardees: Stage I (proof-of-concept): M-Farm; Quest Agriculture; The Real IPM Company; University of Nairobi; Virtual City; Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI); Maseno University; Caytree Partners; and Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies (KENDAT). Graduated to Stage II (pilot-roll-out): Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Kenya Livestock Marketing Council (KLMC), iProcure, Amtech Technologies; Wanda Organic; and Kenya Biologics. Direct entrants at Stage II (pilot-roll-out): Lachlan ; Indicus Kenya.; Value Farms and Takaful Insurance.

Village Capital is launching the Fintech Africa 2018 program in collaboration with PayPal. The U.S. headquartered VC firm is recruiting a cohort of 12-14 early-stage fintech startups to go through a three-month investment-readiness program, early next year. They are recruiting from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda and are looking for startups that address insurtech, pensions and savings, cooperative finance, and financial literacy; leverage data for credit scoring and consumer insights; and apply fintech to other sectors of interest: agriculture, energy, education, and health. Two startups will be peer selected by fellow entrepreneurs to receive $50,000 investment each. The deadline for applications is November 24.

XL Africa: Twenty of the most promising African digital start-ups will take part in the XL Africa  residency, the flagship initiative of the business accelerator launched last April by the World Bank Group’s infoDev program. The residency will conclude with the XL Africa Venture Showcase, a regional event organized in association with the African Angel Investor Summit.  With support from African investment groups, XL Africa will help the startups attract early stage capital between $250,000 and $1.5 million. Selected from a pool of over 900 applicants, the startups participating in the event are: Aerobotics (Data, South Africa), Asoko Insight (Data), Coin Afrique (Marketplace, Senegal and Benin), Edgepoint Digital (Jamii) (FinTech – Insurance, Tanzania) , Electronic Settlement (FinTech, Nigeria), Lynk Jobs (HR, Kenya), MAX (Transport, Nigeria), ogaVenue (Venue Platform, Nigeria), Ongair (SME Services, Kenya), Pesabazaar.com (FinTech, Kenya), Prepclass (EdTech, Nigeria), Printivo (Printing, Nigeria), Rasello Company (SME Services, Tanzania), Rensource (Energy, Nigeria), Sendy (Delivery, Kenya), Snapplify (Publishing, South Africa and Kenya), Sokowatch (Delivery, Kenya), TalentBase (HR, Nigeria), Timbuktu (Travel, South Africa), and Tizeti Network (Connectivity, Nigeria)

Deloitte on African Art and Finance

The value of African art can grow tremendously over the next decade with investment and support from buyers both within Africa, and others who live beyond the continent, as well as from African art schools, governments, museums, galleries, art professionals and banks to stimulate and support more interest in African art.

These are some of the findings from the Art & Finance Report 2017 that was unveiled at Deloitte’s 10th Art and Finance conference at the Italian Stock Exchange in Milan this week and which estimated that the value of art owned by Africans collectors was $12.7 billion in 2016 and that it  could grow to $20 billion by 2026. This still accounts for less than 1% of the global art market currently estimated at $1.6 trillion with an annual turnover of $50 billion.

Some key findings of the report which looked at the global art markets include:

  • The art market should be self-regulated and there is great support for art to be part of wealth management offerings to customers at more private banks.
  • Banks need more specialists to properly value and manage art markets.
  • Art can be used as collateral, enabling art collectors and galleries to realize liquidity without having to make unfavorable sales to meet short-term cash-flow needs. See this on how to borrow against art.
  • Art as an investment class poses risks that are no different from others that banks manage and have to guard against, including vices like price manipulation, insider trading, money laundering and terror financing.
  • The top categories in the global art market are  “post-war & contemporary art”, followed by “modern & impressionist art”, “Chinese & Asian art” and ” jewels & watches”.

Some excerpts from the report on the African art market include:

  • International dealers and auction houses like Bonhams and Sotheby’s are seeing a gradual shift in the African contemporary art buyer base from mainly African art collectors to a more international and diverse group of art collectors.
  • London experienced a 12.5%  rise in African art auction sales between 2015 and 2016, with Bonhams controlling a 65% market share.
  • Sotheby’s London joined the African art auction trend in 2017 with its first auction focused purely on African contemporary art. It achieved total sales of over $3.6 million and 79 of the 116 lots were sold.
  • In 2017, record-breaking hammer prices recorded at auction for contemporary art were achieved by Nigerian artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby, whose work sold for less than $100,000 at auction in 2016. However, less than a year later, the artist’s piece “Drown” sold for a record-breaking US$1.1 million at a Sotheby’s auction and a few months after that, her 2012 painting “The Beautiful Ones” sold for US$3.1 million at a Christie’s London auction.

There is currently an inter-section of art, wealth, and technology with the possibility that bitcoin / block-chain can be used to assist banks and financiers with tools to help with transparency authentication, copyrights and ownership of art objects and there are already platforms such as Blockai, Ascribe.io, Chainmark, and smArtchain etc. in use.

The greatest demand for African art is currently from high net worth individuals in Nigeria and South Africa, which are the two largest economies in Africa. The report also notes that there is increasing demand from corporations such as the Nigeria Stock Exchange

Elsewhere In Kenya, Stanbic was working on investor management portfolio offerings that include wine and African art, while Nigeria has Access Bank in Nigeria. There are also other innovations coming up in African art and finance from leading banks and galleries in Kenya, South Africa and Europe.