The Blockchain revolution is upon us. Meet German Kaplun, Artyom Inyutin, Julian Zegelman and Igor Shoifot. They have created TMT Blockchain Fund.
One of the most successful tech focussed venture capital firms in the world has made a move into the decentralized blockchain and cryptocurrency space.
TMT Investments, a phenomenally successful venture capital fund traded on the London Stock Exchange – which has previously invested in companies including Taxify and Pipedrive – has announced the birth of its crypto focussed sister company TMT Blockchain Fund to “embrace a new economy with its new kinds of assets and new mechanisms of wealth growth.”
TMT Blockchain Fund is a separate firm which has been co-founded by four of the biggest names in Angel Investment,all boasting success as serial entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and angel investors. The new $60 million fund will focus on investing in firms that focus on blockchain and cryptocurrencies, with a portion of the fund available to invest in with crypto itself.
Check the Track Record
The very nature of a background in venture capital means that TMT Blockchain Fund will impose a stress tested approach to deal sourcing, scaling and exiting portfolio investments. Backed up by a proven track record of a $1B unicorn and dozens of successful start-ups with up to 17,000 percent revenue growth, TMT Investments’ returns have been in the top 10% of global VC funds.
The co-founders of TMT Blockchain Fund are serial entrepreneurs, VCs and early blockchain supporters who have invested in incredible fast-growing companies, shipped products to tens of millions of users and scaled to triple-digit revenue growth across multiple industries. Between them they boast more than 60 Companies funded, with 18 profitable exits. There have been $70m funds managed by the fund’s partners and $300m follow on funds raised by portfolio companies.
All four are proven early trend spotters. Previous investments were followed by Google and Microsoft and some of their portfolio companies were sold to the likes of AOL, Yahoo and Cisco to name a few.
See the Vision
TMT Blockchain Fund is aiming to harness the synergy between blockchain technology and venture capital to gain fast liquidity with digital assets. The firm plans to invest in blockchain start-ups in the traditional venture capital fashion by offering cash in return for equity, before any potential ICO. Specific companies have yet to be announced, but targeted companies will be at the intersection of blockchain and fintech, large decentralized applications and various private blockchain infrastructure opportunities. The aim is for investment in 20 to 40 start-ups.
By helping companies in the period prior to their ICO’s, TMT Blockchain will aim to teach the companies how to build a sustainable business model.
Where TMT Blockchain’s fundraising stands apart is with its cryptocurrency component. Of the fund’s $60 million total, $45 million will come from traditional investors or limited partners. It is the raising of the other $15 million which is the differentiator as TMT will do this by selling its own cryptocurrency tokens to outside investors. Those investors could then potentially buy and sell those tokens on public exchanges.
“We want to give both smaller individual investors and large traditional LPs an equal opportunity to participate as it is not economically feasible to accept small fiat investments in a traditional VC fund. The ICO process provides an efficient channel for smaller investors to participate. Because we are a blockchain-focused fund, we want to tokenize a portion of the fund and go through the process that many of our future portfolio companies follow,” commented Founding Partner, Artyom Inyutin.
The Fund, through the combined networks of its partners, advisors and portfolio companies, has early access to wide-ranging investment opportunities before they become known to the wider public.
TMT tokens will be used as a traditional security only sold to officially accredited investors. Unlike the case with the typical ICO start-up, that stance would allow TMT to know the names of its investors. Three key advantages of the TMT token include its leverage, in that it gets better terms on pre-sales than individual investors with smaller checks. Secondly, it is fully transparent and compliant with SEC regulations and other relevant regulatory requirements. Thirdly it is risk diverse – thefund offers a portfolio of investments for potential higher return and larger diversification of risks than exposure to individual cryptocurrencies.
Meet the Experts
The four experts who co-founded TMT Blockchain Fund have picked the best applications of blockchain that serve large market needs, successfully investing in high-profile blockchain projects and launched numerous key blockchain ecosystem service providers.
German Kaplun, Founding Partner is also the co-founder of TMT Investments PLC. German co-founded of RosBusinessConsulting (RBC) in 1993 which launched over 70 start-ups. In April 2002, RBC successfully conducted Russia’s first IPO on Moscow’s MICEX and RTS stock exchanges with its market capitalization reaching $1.7bn at one point. German is one of the most renowned media managers in Russia and he holds a PhD from the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.
Artyom Inyutin, Founding Partner is also a co-founder of TMT Investments PLC. With more than 14 years’ experience in investments, Artyom is a prominent IT and media entrepreneur, who has launched dozens of highly successful start-ups.
Julian Zegelman, Founding Partner is an experienced corporate lawyer, serial entrepreneur and angel investor. He is a Managing Partner at Velton Zegelman PC, a boutique corporate and securities law firm focussing on corporate law, securities, venture capital and cryptocurrency law. He is currently acting as the company’s counsel in numerous high profile global token sales. Julian is also a co-founder of BitFin Capital, a blockchain focused VC fund and an advisor to numerous blockchain companies. He is a multiple winner of the prestigious California SuperLawyers® award.
Igor Shoifot, PhD Founding Partner co-founded Fotki.com which boasted more than 25M users and later sold vInternship.com to the Manhattan Institute of Management. He has started and has run more than a dozen start-ups and incubators in Europe and Asia and consulted many top funds. Igor has written a chapter in the book ‘Masters of Corporate Venture Capital’, co-developed a Stanford graduate course ‘Recreating Silicon Valley’ and has been a lecturer at UC Berkeley and New York University.
Realise The Future
Although TMT Blockchain Fund is a nascent company, the combination of a proven track record, with a straightforward vision and nurtured by an insightful team promises to be an exciting development for blockchain and crypto start-ups across the globe.
“We don’t just write a cheque, we get involved. By providing unique scaling expertise, deep reach into distribution channels and access to top talent we are keen to demonstrate that the future of the new economy is incredibly bright,” said Founding Partner, Igor Shoifot PhD.
“You only have to look at the lack of big guys involved at the moment to see we why we are moving so fast,” added Founding Partner, Julian Zegelman. “There were only 50 VC Investments in Blockchain in 2017. Put that next to the 8,000 total VC investments in the same year and the opportunity is obvious.”
“It is estimated 4 billion people use the internet. Of that, only 11 million hold crypto wallets. That number will only go one way and that’s exponential increase,” concludedFounding Partner, German Kaplun.
TMT Blockchain Fund will be holding its ICO in Summer 2018
ECB launches small climate-change unit to lead Lagarde’s green push
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank is setting up a small team dedicated to climate change to spearhead its efforts to help the transition to a greener economy in the euro zone, ECB President Christine Lagarde said on Monday.
Lagarde has made the environment a priority since taking the helm at the ECB, taking a number of steps to include climate considerations in the central bank’s work as the euro zone’s banking watchdog and main financial institution.
She is now creating a team of around 10 ECB employees, reporting directly to her, to set the central bank’s agenda on climate-related topics.
“The climate change centre provides the structure we need to tackle the issue with the urgency and determination that it deserves,” Lagarde said in a speech.
She said that climate change belonged in the ECB’s remit as it could affect inflation and obstruct the flow of credit to the economy.
The ECB said earlier on Monday it would invest some of its own funds, which total 20.8 billion euros ($25.3 billion) and include capital paid in by euro zone countries, reserves and provisions, in a green bond fund run by the Bank for International Settlement.
More significantly, ECB policymakers are also debating what role climate considerations should play in the institution’s multi-trillion euro bond-buying programme.
So far the ECB has bought corporate bonds based on their outstanding amounts but Lagarde has said the bank might have to consider a more active approach to correct the market’s failure to price in climate risk.
“Our strategy review enables us to consider more deeply how we can continue to protect our mandate in the face of (climate) risks and, at the same time, strengthen the resilience of monetary policy and our balance sheet,” Lagarde said.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Francesco Canepa and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
What to expect in 2021: Top trends shaping the future of transportation
By Lee Jones, Director of Sales – Grocery, QSR and Selected Accounts for Northern Europe at Ingenico, a Worldline brand
The pandemic has reinforced the need for businesses to undergo digital transformation, which is pivotal in the digital economy. In 2020, we saw the shift to online and cashless payments accelerated as a result of increased social distancing and nationwide restrictions.
The biggest challenge on all businesses into 2021 will be how they continue to adapt and react to the ever changing new normal we are all experiencing. In this context, what should we expect this year and beyond, in terms of developments across key sectors, including transport, parking and electric vehicle (EV) charging?
Mobility as a service (MaaS) and the future of transportation
Social distancing and lockdown measures have brought about a real change in public habits when it comes to transportation. In the last three months alone, we have seen commuter journeys across the globe reduce by at least 70%, while longer-distance travel has fallen by up to 90%. With it, cash withdrawals for payment has drastically reduced by 60%.
Technological advancements, alongside open payments, have unlocked new possibilities across multiple industries and will continue to have a strong impact. Furthermore, travellers are expecting more as part of their basic service. Tap and pay is one of the biggest evolutions in consumer payments. Bringing ease and simplicity to everyday tasks, consumers have welcomed this development to the transport journey. In-app payments are also on the rise, offering customers the ability to plan ahead and remain assured that they have everything they need, in one place, for every leg of their journey. Many local transport networks now have their own apps with integrated timetables, payments, and ticket download capabilities. These capabilities are being enabled by smaller more portable terminals for transport staff, and self-scanning ticketing devices are streamlining the process even further.
Ultimately, the end goal for many transport providers is MaaS – providing an easy and frictionless all-encompassing transport system that guides consumers through the whole journey, no matter what mode of travel they choose. Additionally, payment will remain the key orchestrator that will drive further developments in the transportation and MaaS ecosystems in 2021. What remains critical is balancing the need for a fast and convenient payment with safety and data privacy in order to deliver superior customer experiences.
The EV charging market and the accelerating pace of change
The EV charging market is moving quickly and represents a large opportunity for payments in the future. EVs are gradually becoming more popular, with registrations for EVs overtaking those of their diesel counterparts for the first time in European history this year. What’s more, forecasts indicate that by 2030, there will be almost 42 million public charging points deployed worldwide, as compared with 520,000 registered in 2019.
Our experience and expertise in this industry have enabled us to better understand but also address the challenges and complexities of fuel and EV payments. The current alternating current (AC) based chargers are set to be replaced by their direct charging (DC) counterparts, but merchants must still be able to guarantee payment for the charging provider. Power always needs to be converted from AC to DC when charging an electric vehicle, the technical difference between AC charging and DC charging is whether the power gets converted outside or inside the vehicle.
By offering innovative payment solutions to this market segment, we enable service operators to incorporate payments smoothly into their omnichannel customer experience that also allows businesses to easily develop acceptance and provide a unique omnichannel strategy for EV charging payments. From proximity to online payments, it will support businesses by offering a unique hardware solution optimized for PSD2 and SCA. It will manage both near field communication (NFC) cards and payments from cards/smartphones, as well as a single interface to manage all payments, after sales support and receipt with both ePortal and eReceipts.
Cashless options for parking payments
The ‘new normal’ is now partly defined by a shift in consumer preference for cashless, contactless and mobile or embedded payments. These are now the preferred payment choices when it comes to completing the check-in and check-out process. They are a time-saver and a more seamless way to pay.
Drivers are more self-reliant and empowered than ever before, having adopted technologies that work to make their life increasingly efficient. COVID-19 has given rise to both ePayment and omnichannel solutions gaining in popularity. This has been due to ticketless access control based on license plate recognition or the tap-in/tap-out experience, as well as embedded payments or mobile solutions for street parking.
These smart solutions help consider parking services more broadly as a part of overall mobility or shopping experience. Therefore, operators must rapidly adapt and scale new operational practices; accept electronic payment, update new contactless limits, introduce additional payments means, refund the user or even to reflect changing customer expectations to keep pace.
2021: the journey ahead
This year, we expect to see an even greater shift towards a cashless society across these key sectors, making the buying experience quicker and more convenient overall.
As a result, merchants and operators must make the consumer experience their top priority as trends shift towards simplicity and convenience, ensuring online and mobile payments processes are as secure as possible.
Opportunities and challenges facing financial services firms in 2021
By Paul McCreadie, Partner at ECI Partners, the leading growth-focused mid-market private equity firm
Despite 2020 being an enormously disruptive year for businesses, our latest Growth Index research reveals that almost three quarters (74%) of mid-market financial services companies remained resilient throughout the pandemic.
This is positive news, especially when taking into account the economic disruption that financial services firms have had to go through since the crisis began. No doubt 2021 will also hold its own challenges – as well as opportunities – for firms in this sector.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest short-term concern for financial firms for the year ahead involved changing pandemic guidance, with 42% citing this as a top concern. With the UK currently experiencing a third lockdown many financial services businesses will have already had to adapt to rapidly changing guidance, even since being surveyed.
Businesses will also be considering the need to invest in working from home operations, and there may be uncertainty over re-opening offices on a permanent basis. According to the research 30% of financial services firms are planning to adopt remote working on a permanent basis, so decisions need to be made now about whether they invest more in enabling staff to do this, or in their current office premises.
Due to Brexit, UK financial services firms are no longer able to passport their services into Europe, which may cause problems, particularly in the next 12 months as the Brexit deal is ironed out and the agreement is put into practice. Despite this, Brexit was only cited by 24% of financial firms as a short-term concern. While it’s comforting to see that UK financial firms aren’t hugely concerned about Brexit at this juncture, it is going to be vital for the ongoing success of the industry that the UK is able to get straightforward access to Europe and operate there without issue, otherwise we may see these concern levels rise.
Looking ahead to longer-term concerns for financial services businesses, the top concern was global economic downturn, of which 40% of firms cited this as a worry when looking beyond 2021.
Investing and adopting tech
Traditionally, the financial services sector has been slow to adopt digital transformation. Issues with legacy systems, coupled with often large amounts of data and a reluctance to undertake potentially risky change processes, have meant many firms are behind the curve when it comes to technology adoption. It’s therefore promising to see that so much has changed over the last year, with 45% of financial services firms having invested in AI and machine learning technology – making it the top sector to have invested in this space over the last 12 months.
One business that exemplifies the benefits of investing in machine learning is Avantia, the technology-enabled insurance provider behind HomeProtect. The business has undergone a large tech transformation in the last few years, investing in an underlying machine learning platform and an in-house data science team, which provides them with capabilities to return a quote to over 98% of applicants in under one second. This tech investment has allowed them to become more scalable, provide a more stable platform, improve customer service and consequently, grow significantly.
This demonstrates how this kind of tech can help businesses to leverage tech in order to offer a better customer experience, and retain and grow market share through winning new customers. This resilience should combat some of the concerns that firms will face in the next year.
Additionally, half (51%) of financial services firms have invested in cybersecurity tech over the last year, which allows them to protect the platforms on which they operate and ensure ongoing provision of solutions to their customers.
Clearly, there is a benefit of international revenues and profits on business resilience. In practice, this meant that businesses that weren’t internationally diversified in 2020 struggled more during the pandemic. In fact, the businesses considered to be the least resilient through the 2020 crisis were three times more likely to only operate domestically.
Perhaps an attribute towards financial services firms’ resilience in 2020, therefore, was the fact that 53% already had a presence in Europe throughout 2020 and 38% had a presence in North America. This internationalisation gave them an advantage that allowed them to weather the many storms of 2020.
Looking at how to capitalise on this throughout the rest of 2021, half (51%) of are planning overseas growth in Europe over the next 12 months, and 43% in North America. Further plans to expand internationally is not only a good sign for growth, but should further increase resilience within the sector.
While there are many concerns, the fact that financial services businesses are investing in technology like AI and machine learning, as well as still planning to grow internationally, means that they are providing themselves with the best chances of dealing with any upcoming challenges effectively.
In order to maintain their growth and resilience throughout the next 12 months, it’s imperative that they continue to put their customers first, invest in technology and remain on the front foot of digital change.
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