Send in the crowds – investment opportunities for the masses


In the first of a new series of EntrepreursTalk@CassJeff Lynn, one of Business Insider’s 50 coolest people in UK tech, spoke about the power of putting investment opportunities into the hands of the masses – crowdfunding.

Shaping a new market

Seedrs was the first equity-based crowdfunding platform in the world to receive regulatory approval from the Financial Services Authority. Now, three years after launch, the company which started life as CEO Jeff Lynn’s MBA project is no longer a niche business but part of the financial mainstream. They’re approaching 300 deals done, all the way from £30k to multi-million, from high tech businesses to theatre productions.

As Jeff explained, crowdfunding can be split into three main types, all constructed around the main concept that any platform is acting as an intermediary for an individual or organization to raise finance. Rewards based platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer some non-monetary reward in exchange for your cash, such as the first release of a new product, and they provide an additional advantage by proving to would-be investors that there is market demand for whatever you’re trying to sell. Kano, the build-your-own computer company, spoke at an earlier Cass talk about the benefit they gained had from Kickstarter, particularly in securing VC investment.


Powering financial innovation with Healthcare Intelligence app

healthcare intel

For years, healthcare financial research analysts have been burdened with the process of collecting and analyzing drug pipeline information to better determine the market size and scope for particular disease areas like diabetes, hypertension and cancers.

Typically, this information was gathered from many different sources, which resulted in a practice that was heavily fragmented, inefficient and time-consuming. To improve this workflow, and provide these professionals with the content they needed to make important business decisions, we developed an app that embeds both financial market and healthcare data together in a one-stop location.

Powered by our world-class IP & Science Cortellis content, and streamlined through our flagship financial desktop Eikon, the Healthcare Intelligence app enables users to analyze drug pipelines, revenues and competitive landscape for a given indication and disease in just a few clicks. For healthcare financial research professionals, this means less time collecting and curating drug data from various databases, and more time generating insights, formulating investment decisions and assessing opportunities. In a matter of seconds, users have all the detailed information they need to make educated and timely business decisions for themselves and their customers. (more…)

Machine learning and big data

Big data

A few posts ago, I wrote about the impact of the ‘Findustrial Revolution’ on the financial community. According to McKinsey, there are now 20,000 FinTech companies in New York and London alone.

This seems to be driven by a confluence of events: tougher regulation, massive pressure on cost, newer technologies and thousands of technologists leaving the incumbent banks full of ideas, money and time to disrupt the old model.

Do regulators control or encourage these changes? Does innovation make the financial system better and safer, or more risky?

Several governments are making concerted efforts to attract and encourage more of this activity in their countries, with the UK, US, Israel and Japan leading the charge.

The ‘Findustrial Revolution’ is no longer a question of ‘if’ but a question of ‘when and how.’ (more…)

A global information and intelligence platform to combat modern day slavery


This week Thomson Reuters unveils a potential new weapon in the fight against modern day slavery. We are inviting the community of anti-slavery organizations to work with us to create a global information and intelligence sharing platform.

The International Labour Organization estimates forced labour is a $150 billion industry which enslaves some 21 million people.

The reputational risk to companies unwittingly exposed to slavery in their supply chain is now added to a real legal risk. At our anti-slavery seminar this week, attended by more than 170 people, I sat with Kevin Hyland, the UK’s anti-slavery commissioner and therefore the chief enforcer of the Modern Slavery Act. The Act requires firms to report formally on how they are seeking to combat slavery across their supply chains. And since those supply chains routinely span countries and continents the Act has global reach.


Investing in blockchain technology start-up Fluent


In the latest in a series of collaborations with external organizations (such as with IBM Watson, Samsung, and our Thomson Reuters Labs – Waterloo Region), we have recently announced a sponsorship and investment in Fluent, a financial technology start-up that offers a cloud-based financial transaction network.

Fluent enables real-time, low-cost, simple and secure invoicing and payments along global supply chains via blockchain technology.

The use of blockchain technology and bitcoin, or digital currency for financial transactions online, is relatively new. Bitcoin provides real-time, instant payment in the cloud versus the traditional transaction payment methods through banks or other institutions that can take up to three days.

Bitcoin uses cryptography to provide a virtual, secure payment method that bypasses central authorities like banks and international borders. Blockchain technology is the virtual “ledger” that manages bitcoin transfers, providing faster and more secure payments over the cloud. While there’s some debate around its use, many businesses and companies are exploring the use of digital currency and blockchain technology.

This partnership with Fluent bolsters our efforts to explore the potential of bitcoin and blockchain technology for our products and customers. Scott Manuel, head of Product Management & Delivery, Advanced Product Innovation, tells us more: (more…)

It’s all about collaboration

It’s a cliché to say that technology is changing rapidly, and changing the world with it. And yet there seems to be no better way to express what’s happening these days in business. Every sector find themselves increasingly called upon to understand and implement new technologies. For them, it’s about seeing the world in a new way, embracing change, and taking steps to make sure they’re not left behind in today’s information economy.

At Thomson Reuters, our partners are playing a pivotal part in that transformation. (more…)

Message to sports chiefs: stamp out bribery or lose your sponsors


This week suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter made some jaw-dropping revelations to Russia’s Tass news agency about how the World Cup bidding process was run. But football’s sponsors will also have noted this observation from Blatter:

“You cannot destroy FIFA,” he said. “FIFA is not the Swiss bank. FIFA is not a commercial company.”

This follows hard on the heels of comments from Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone, who defended Blatter on Russian TV, claiming corruption should be considered as a tax that has to be paid: (more…)

China’s golden era – of interconnectivity

China's President Xi Jinping and Britain's Prince Philip review an honour guard during his official welcoming ceremony in London, Britain

China dominated the headlines in the UK this week. As its president, Xi Jinping, arrived in London with all the pomp of a state visit, the media turned its focus on how and why China was now being considered a strategic trade partner for the UK, with some £40 billion worth of deals signed during the visit.

Before Premier Xi’s visit, the UK Government keenly briefed journalists on the dawn of “a golden era” of cooperation between the two countries. And at a dinner at London’s Guildhall, where the Premier spoke warmly of Britain and its culture, I heard for myself a speech which contained more emotion and affection than the usual statesmanship expected of a visiting dignitary.

China is indeed entering a golden era, though not exclusively with the UK, and not perhaps in quite the way the Government intends. It is a golden era of interconnectivity, as the country creates myriad links to the world’s financial systems. For instance it was interesting how many delegates attended from Canada.

This interconnectivity includes information networks, of course, and just a few weeks ago I saw for myself in Shanghai how busily the financial sector was forging these vital connections. Such links will help them to attract foreign investment for their businesses and to import goods for their growing middle class, as well as maintaining their thriving exports. (more…)

Help set the agenda for Islamic and ethical finance with the EFICA Gala Dinner

The day before the Global Islamic Economy Summit kicks off in Dubai, UAE, there will be another event—the Ethical Finance Innovation Challenge & Award—to decide the winner of the awards for the industry development challenge and the ethical finance award.  The Gala Dinner will feature insights from Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank, who will speak about the development of the ethical finance innovation (microcredit) that led to his Nobel prize.

The Grameen Bank model has contributed to a wide experiment around the world about how best to promote financial inclusion through provision of credit, which has since been widened to cover more of the financial needs of the poor around the world.  Today, in addition to the provision of microcredit, microfinance institutions around the world also provide deposit products and microinsurance.

In addition to Dr. Yunus’ speech about his own experience, the Gala Dinner will provide attendees with the power to decide how the EFICA Award will be decided.  The judging panel has narrowed each part (Islamic Finance Industry Development Challenge and Ethical Finance Award) down to three short-listed candidates and it will be up to those in attendance at the EFICA Gala Dinner to decide who will receive the $100,000 prize for the Industry Development Challenge and the $50,000 prize for the Ethical Finance Award. (more…)

Emissions scandal – the LIBOR moment for motor manufacturers?


As I write we are in the opening days of a reputational crisis for the world’s biggest carmaker which could conceivably have major ramifications for the entire automobile industry.

Volkswagen, the “people’s car,” has admitted to installing software into its diesel cars to cheat on emissions. This is not just financial fraud, then: it has immediate environmental implications, as it means toxic gases emitted by VW cars were way beyond legal and environmental limits. It was not an accident, nor a cover up, but was allegedly intentional.

It has all the hallmarks of the LIBOR scandal: US regulators finding European companies cheating the law, loss of trust, multi-billion dollar fines, reputations and personal careers destroyed. But this crisis is a public issue which impacts health, trust, consumer confidence, the wider reputation of the car industry and German engineering. A 20 percent share price decline for Volkswagen might just be the beginning.

So what are the lessons learned and what should car manufacturers do now? (more…)