Bitcoin At University…Is It A Good Fit?

Firoz PatelIn May of this year, Simon Fraser University became the first Canadian post-secondary institution to install automated Bitcoin vending machines. SFU installed these AVMs at bookstores on each of the school’s three campuses.

For some, the idea that you can use Bitcoin to buy your Psych 101 textbook is merely a fun novelty. But the reason behind SFU’s decision to invest in these AVMs is rather telling.

By purchasing these AVMs, it’s likely that SFU is stating their belief in the current and growing use of this cryptocurrency. Instead of fearing the decentralized, completely digital currency, this university is willing to participate with and provide access to the currency.

The university’s Executive Director of Ancillary Services, Mark McLaughlin, claims that “The plan is to eventually roll it out to our dining hall.”

He goes on to state that the school didn’t incorporate AVMs into its landscape because of financial incentives. However, there were two purported goals in utilizing this new currency at bookstores at each of the three campuses.

While some may argue that there are certainly financial perks that the school’s book sellers receive owing to accepting this type of currency (ie. no transaction fees for the retailer), the school maintains that the objectives were a bit more heady.

First of all, incorporating Bitcoin into the bookstores’ forms of accepted currencies, it started a dialogue on campus about disruptive technologies. Additionally, students and staff members alike had the opportunity to learn about Bitcoin.

Although the school does not disclose the number of Bitcoin transactions that have come through these AVMs, they do remain optimistic about the future of the currency at the school, and pleased with the number of people currently taking advantage of the fact that it is being treated as an alternative to other payment methods at the school’s bookstores.

While only time will tell where and when this trend will catch on, Simon Fraser University will certainly offer an interesting testing ground for how young people choose to interact with this currency when it is presented as a payment option IRL.

Countries Other Than China Set their Sights on Singles Day

Firoz PatelSingles Day started as a holiday in the 1990s in China that essentially served as an opportunity for single people to treat themselves to something nice. With the advent of e-commerce, however, the holiday has become one of the country’s highest traffic shopping days. Part of this is due to significant promotions from e-commerce titan Alibaba. Last year Alibaba earned three quarters of sales from that day. That is to say a reported $9.3 billion USD in sales. A Nielsen survey reports that the average expected amount to spend per person for the holiday is $277.76 USD. This number is based on a sample size of over one thousand internet users based in China.

While Singles Day not only rivals, but exceeds the numbers from Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in the US, another interesting trend of note is the changing demographics in terms of who the buyers are. In China, Singles Day captures the rising middle class and a younger generation that is flush with disposable income and developing a growing desire to spend.

Although Singles Day stems from a holiday first celebrated on Nanjing Campus back in the ‘90s, Alibaba is responsible for not only helping to spread the popularity of the holiday, but to brand it in a way that directly links the celebration to online shopping.

In many ways, Alibaba owns the holiday – and not just in a theoretical way. The Alibaba Group puts a lot of money into creating the advertising and content leading up to the holiday, and has built an infrastructure and system that caters directly to the demands of this day. But in an even more practical sense, in 2012, the Alibaba Group trademarked the term “双十一” (or “Double 11”). Although that is different from the term “Singles Day”, it is associated very intimately with the holiday. And in the fall of 2014, Alibaba threatened legal action against any media outlets that would enter into advertising deals from competitors that used this term.

Alibaba Although Singles Day has continued to grow rapidly over the past few years, this year international markets are clearly taking notice of the potential for this holiday, and Alibaba will celebrate Singles Day by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Although this is not a new holiday, this particular gesture suggests that other countries have really begun to take notice and that expansion of celebrating the holiday globally is likely on the horizon.  

6 New FinTech Cities To Watch

Firoz PatelWhile payment loans and emerging payment solutions tend to be the focus of this site, it’s important to take a step back every now and again to consider the broader industry. Today payment solutions are intrinsically linked with emerging technologies.

And when it comes to fintech, there have been three major players that have been dominating the industry: New York, London, and Silicon Valley. But as the market grows rapidly, other cities are coming up to make their mark. Here are 6 cities to keep your eyes on:

1. Vancouver

Known for valuing privacy and security, Vancouver has acquired an “organic” talent pool of engineers and innovators with their lack of government influence and sponsorship. Within one year, they have already tripled their value from $4 billion in 2013 to a little over $12 billion in 2014.

2. Hong Kong

Hong Kong has been a constant pest to the top fintech cities for awhile now though some experts have argued that it have been dropping off the map compared to other cities. But it’s showing successful numbers similar to Vancouver. The country’s roughly $3 billion market jumped to around $12 billion in 2014. It also repositioning itself towards a leading position with its ever-thriving Cyberport.

3. Dublin

Dublin is ready to challenge London for its leading position by taking a crash course into the European markets. Being an outsourcing location for many companies, It’s the hub for Accenture (a fintech dedicated to the ecosystem worldwide) and the U.S. bank Citi.

4. Singapore

Singapore has become a major player across the board in the industry. Both in global services and in Asia. Over a span of the next five years, the country has pledged $166 million for fintech investments.

5. Sydney

With its thriving deep-rooted professional, creative and digital industries, Sydney has come out of the woodwork and started to utilize its fintech potential. Sydney’s hub has been estimated to be worth over AUS$2 million and continuing to go strong with support from the government and the private companies.

6. Berlin

Known as the startup capital, Berlin has mastered growing tech startups and has become the second largest hub with fintech funding in Europe, bringing in a whopping $300 million in 2014. It’s second to only the U.K.

 

Info courtesy of Procurement Leaders and Tech Crunch.

 

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