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  • Africa’s budding Fintech Industry and growing cyber attacks

    The FinTech network in Africa has witnessed a 60% rise over the past two years on the back of some serious investment witnessed in the sector. In the year 2018, about $132.8M was raised in funds and innovators growing from 301 recorded in 2017 to 491. The Africa FinTech industry is truly thriving with the report coming in last year proving to the best so far, indicating the sector is truly ready for the next step of its evolution.  As a matter of fact, the advancement made in mobile technology has given the African FinTech ecosystem the room to make a breakthrough in the financial market with Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria accounting for about 65.2% of the FinTech startups in Africa. In Kenya, for example, these FinTech companies are having a substantial impact on the financial markets with the solutions offered, getting to more locals than it could before. The FinTech sector has turned these countries into a more financially inclusive nation with mobile money adding a substantial percentage to the GDP of these countries. 

    The Booming Fintech Industry: A Hunting Ground for Cybercriminals

    As more users and businesses turn to the versatility of digital transactions and its benefits, so have cybercriminals turn their attention to it as a new hunting ground for their crimes. New FinTech startups are more vulnerable than the traditional banking institutions, particularly as a fresh startup, their underdeveloped structure exposes their weak spot for cybercriminals to exploit. In fact, there is seemingly a defined process of cyber attacks on new startup firms.   Furthermore, the increasing number of companies making use of or providing mobile money and cryptocurrencies as a form of payment has seen cybercriminals also venture into the fintech sector use of high-level technologies to perpetrate their crimes. The FinTech industries rely on the internet for most of their operations and that has made them an easy target for cyber-attacks along with other technological problems. Although mobile payment provides a lot of ease during a transaction, there is no doubt that the system is under constant attacks.   One of the fraudulent means of stealing credentials and accessing One Time Passwords (OTPs) is the use of SIM swap by these cybercriminals. They could also cause the victims severe financial loss through resetting the victims’ accounts so as to gain entry into the currency accounts held in FinTech companies, banks and credit unions. A lot of FinTech firms lack the proper infrastructure and cybersecurity measures required to defend themselves against such attacks and protect their customers against theft of crucial financial data. To compound the issue, unregulated markets like cryptocurrency make it even more difficult for any sort of control.  We are witnessing the rise of crypto-ransoms from these cybercriminals due to the anonymous nature of the crypto sector which leaves little to no chance of tracing these criminals. Therefore, awareness campaigns, education on security and treating this issue as urgent is vital as the FinTech industry expands. The need for vigilance cannot be sidetracked as the consumer need to be extra careful with their investment and payment. The African FinTech sector will continue to expand as it continues to offer an avenue for investments and the potential it holds for high growth. Nevertheless, similar to every other expanding digital economy, it presents an opportunity for cybercriminals see opportunities for cybercrime. Although the issue of security in the sector and that of cybercrimes have become talking points recently, there is a need to make it a priority in the industry so that the industry players can reap the full benefits to the FinTech sector.
  • Open Banking and Open X

    Open Banking allows third-party financial service providers with access to your financial information – consumer banking, transaction, and other financial data. This is managed through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) and allows you to avail a range of financial services with much greater ease. Use of Open Banking poses huge benefits for consumers as new services and offerings are made available, while also creating a risk against privacy and data protection.  Third party providers using data obtained through these APIs are usually FinTech startups and and other online vendors. Data gathered can be used to compare or analyse a consumer’s transaction history, create a credit risk profile, or even help send and receive payments. Third-party financial management tools such as Mint, for example, use your banking information to analyse and summarise your spending and help you remain on track to meet your goals. Banks can also be the users of Open Banking, such as Barclays, which claims to be the first UK bank enabling account aggregation in its app, allowing customers to view all their bank accounts in one window.   As banks struggle with the idea of losing control, and FinTechs push for greater access, the new phase of innovation, “Open X” is ready to take over the financial sector. According to the World Fintech Report, Open X will leapfrog past the Open Banking phase, driven by four fundamental shifts:
    • A move away from a focus on products to an emphasis on customer experience
    • The evolution of data as the critical asset
    • A shift from prioritising ownership to facilitating shared access
    • Emphasis on partnering to innovate instead of buying or building new solutions
    According to the report, market players are ready to move to the next phase, which will require much deeper collaboration and integration between financial service providers, and will create an “integrated marketplace, with specialised roles for each player that will enable a seamless exchange of data and services, improving customer experience, and expediting product innovation”. As consumers become more demanding, banks can no longer expect to be the sole solution providers for all their consumer’s needs. Instead, they must think of themselves as a partner working in a shared marketplace, with the aim to make life easy for their consumers. In this new world, standardisation of APIs will be the key, and those that invest in these initiatives today will be well poised to monetise their investments in the future, while retaining leadership and control. Players will need to take on specialised roles, becoming suppliers, aggregators, or orchestrators, while consumers can expect new innovative solutions, backed with a more a more seamless experience While APIs require consumers to explicitly provide permission to access their financial data, through secure systems, risks around privacy remain. Despite layers of protection in place, data privacy and protection are, and will remain the biggest hurdle for Open Banking, as well as for Open X. And with the increasing demands around data sharing by Open X, banks and FinTechs have a tough journey ahead.
  • Fintech to drive growth in UAE by 2020

    It’s the dawn of a new era in the United Arab Emirates’ FinTech industry as the government and the regulatory body start to look deeper into the effects of the sector on the country’s economy. The FinTech industry is prime for more interesting deals with startups starting to spring up and investors looking to capitalise on the opportunities in the country.  The UAE houses one-third of the startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In the last decade, the amount raised by FinTech startups was close to $100M going by the State of FinTech report. It is projected that the amount of investment in the region’s FinTech sector will increase two-fold by 2020. Adding to that, the number of registered FinTech startups jumped from 43 in 2013 to 105 in 2015, and it is expected to increase to 250 by 2020.  The industry players are predicting an exciting time for the FinTech industry with the growing markets demonstrating that it is has a very vibrant and rewarding atmosphere for growth and investment. 

    The Numbers Behind the Growth

    Going by the Q3 Mena Venture Investment Report, the startup network in the MENA region is rapidly expanding accounting for $517M of investment from 354 deals in 2019 to date. That is a 30% increase from 2018 over the same period and an increase of 3% in the number of deals done over the same period. The report further highlighted the average deal size which stands at $2.5M, an all-time high if we remove outliers like Careem and Souq. The UAE is holding the top position for the total funding accounting for the largest share in the region standing at 62% in 2019 so far. Egypt is holding the top spot for the number of deals at 27% in 2019 so far.  Going by a report published by the Milken Institute Centre for Financial Markets, the UAE turns out to be a key beneficiary of most of the venture capital investment coming into the MENA region with FinTech sector one of the major areas of investment for investors. Startups in the FinTech industry in the UAE are well poised to gain entry into a growing market in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. That is a region with 3 billion people and an $8T market to tap into, of which about 70% lack access or have little access to inclusive financial services.  The Q3 Mena Venture Investment Report has shown that the MENA region has experienced a continued expansion of venture funding of startups in the MENA region, and the trend is set to continue as there are signs that the startup ecosystem is maturing well putting it in good shape for the year 2020.
  • A new challenger for Revolut, N26 and Monzo: As Swedish FinTech Northmill gets a banking license

    The traditional banking sector has embarked on a significant shift in its operations in a bid to stay updated on the latest technological advancement. However, FinTech companies are still coming in hard on the traditional banking sector. One of these FinTech companies is the Swedish company Northmill, offering cloud-based financial services.  This FinTech company is disrupting the traditional way of banking with its recent acquirement of a banking license from the Swedish Financial Authority and it looks set to commence banking services soon. 

    Improved Services

    Northmill currently provides a series of services with the best among them being its consumer-based product called Rebilla. The service is aimed at helping users save money on interest in an astonishingly easy way. Rebilla is designed to help reduce the interest rates on customers’ debt. After signing up for the service and you review the offer presented to you, you can start saving money once you accept the offer. Rebilla pays off the current debt and customers have to repay it back at a lower interest rate. The newly acquired banking license will allow the company to expand its suite of services to include payment and card transfers as well as saving accounts.  Margareta Lindahl, Northmill’s Chairperson, emphasizes the vision of the company in her address. Lindahl pointed out the growth of the present insurance and credit offering services of the company, which had expanded organically to reach over 200,000 customers. She also highlighted the increase in the firm’s services with its recent launch of ‘Rebilla Reduce’ aimed at reducing the present interest of current credits for customers. She buttresses the point that the ability to operate as a bank will give the company the necessary tools to move to the next level and bring about real progressive change for its customers.  The firm has applied for a banking license as far back as 2017. After being granted the banking license following a two-year negotiation with the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority, the requirement before commencing operation is that Northmill must have at least €5M of initial capital. Additionally, the capital base of Northmill must not fall below the initial capital. Furthermore, the company must have a capital buffer to reduce the chance of going below the capital requirement. Lindahl acknowledges the responsibility it takes to sustain their banking license but the reward is nevertheless satisfying. 

    Market competitors

    Having attained a banking license, Northmill joins the ranks of several other ambitious European FinTech firms. The company will face competition from rivals like Revolut, N26, and Monzo also offering banking services to its users. Germany based N26 valued at €2.38B started operations in 2013 and the aim of the company is to ease your financial dealings with its ‘All-in-one’ banking offering zero hidden charges.  Also in the running is the London based Monzo offering only a digital banking service, the company recently raised a fund of €126M in June with the company valued at more than €2.2B. Another UK competitor Revolut provides several banking facilities such as mobile-based current accounts, which enable you to transfer and hold, and exchange money minus additional charges. Additionally, Revolut allows users to exchange cryptos.   Northmill’s unique offerings of customer-focused products could turn the power wheel firmly away from the major industry players. Northmill Rebilla has been touted as a major disruptor of the financial market with its lower interest rate loan repayment scheme. The industry players like Monzo, N26, and Revolut will certainly be on the watch for the latest challenger in the market. It is still earlier days to say if they will be worried about the presence of Northmill in the banking arena, but its progress is something they will certainly want to keep an eye on. 
  • A Very British Rebellion

    There are several videos of Extinction Rebellion (XR) protestors, ascending the tops of trains using ladders propped up against the sides, the gentle manner of the protester looks like he might be taking a purposeful task of clearing leaves from a gutter. Minutes later he’s been pulled down by the ankles and the crowd is attacking him. It’s easy to be cynical. In a city where we hear delays due to “a person under a train” and people respond in a mutter ‘selfish’ rather than acknowledge the reality of a violent suicide — could they have expected a different reaction? But, the group is more interesting than they might at first present themselves.    Formed just 11-months ago, XR is an international movement intended “to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse”. By no means the first group to bring up the issue of climate — there has been a steady discussion of the topic. The movement having been birthed through Britain’s Industrial revolution in the early 19th century; then raised again during the 1970s through Earth Day!  and again in the 1980s with Thatcher as one of (if not the first) global leader to address the matter in her address to the Royal Society in 1988. But, it’s only recently in the 2000s that we have witnessed this explosion of activists groups and interest in our environmental health. XR cites the early Occupy Movement, among other both grassroots and major movements for civil liberties, as a source of inspiration for its development. But, the group will hopefully dodge some of the racist, anti-semite and disorganised criticism which dogged the Occupy Movement and eventually led to it running out of steam with little long-term impact.           Prior to the disruption to the Jubilee train line, XR piqued my interest with its posters of “We’re Sorry” days before the ankle grabbers got at the protesters. It struck me as a very British thing to apologise for the inconvenience of planned chaos. But, the movement has looked internationally for its structure by operating as a Holacracy.  A Holocracy is a form of organisation which focuses on the distribution of decision-making and is intended to be more agile and faster than traditional organisational models. Within a holocracy each person, team (aka ‘circle’) and level in the organisation has a purpose which are closely aligned. Each circle has people that fulfil roles, each with accountabilities and, more importantly, a set of decisions which the role may make. Because of this focus on accountability and the localisation of decision-making specifically to the individual, rather than on a collective level, these are often quicker and more nimble.  Like XR, other more modern or experimental organisations have tried the holocracy model. Both Zappos and Medium are some notable adopters, though Zappos lost nearly 15% of its team (voluntarily) and Medium later abandoned the concept citing that the method did not work for cross-functional collaboration. For now, XR has been able to successfully use the holocracy to quickly and effectively diffuse its message. Whether this message is actually taken up widely by the public is quite a different story.
  • Reducing Big Data project failures with AI

    Two years ago,  Nick Heudecker, who is an analyst, estimated that the failure rate of big data projects was approximately 85 per cent. But as time passes by a growing number of experts are concluding that artificial intelligence has the potential to turn big data failing projects into success stories. But for that, we must know how to correctly use AI. AI can be applied to big data projects whenever the standard predictive analytics incorporates many variables, making models cumbersome to optimize and slow to run. You must keep the following points in mind while applying the knowledge of AI to big data projects:

    Choose the tasks you automate wisely

    According to David Autor, an economist at MIT, artificial intelligence is automating routine cognitive processes very quickly, much like the industrial era machines automated by physical labour. A study cited by white house administration, during the Obama era looked at the error rates of both machines and humans when it came to correctly reading radiology images. The study found that machines had a 7.5per cent error rate; a figure over double that of humans which stood at 3.5 per cent. However, when both machines and human efforts were combined the error rate dropped to only 0.5 per cent — a significantly lower figure than either party alone.  Though clearly impressive, we’d have to consider the additional time required for both, as opposed to just one, reading the images, weighing up whether the additional time (and expense) is worth the reduction in error rates.  

    Choose the tools for big data analytics carefully

    There are different tools available for the tasks that you may want to perform, but each of these tools is different. You must first analyse your data to access which platforms or software to use. Once you are done doing that, these are some of the points that you may keep in mind while making a selection.
    • Ease of Use
    • Ease of Integration
    • Total Costs(Software/Hardware/Operational)
    • Technical Expertise Required
    • Data Permission
    • Data Preparation
    • Time to Deployment
    • Supported Data
    • Budget 

    Ensure that security is designed into every facet of big data analytics

    You must keep data from getting corrupted which means the error in computer data that may arise during reading, writing, or processing. You can use certain systems, processes, and procedures that keep the data inaccessible to others who may use it in harmful or unintended ways. These breaches in data can cause serious damage to the company. Therefore it is extremely important to take these measures.

    Shifts humans to high-value tasks

    With time, AI will be making decisions in industrial settings. One industry which has already begun to benefit from the use of AI is the financial sector. Already, the industry is investigating ways to automate decisions will be made responsible for tasks like approving loans, identifying corruption and financial crimes. This will shift the focus of humans from these boring tasks to higher-value tasks which can’t be accomplished by AI. Artificial intelligence will change the world one way or the other, and it is highly important for companies to learn to keep up with the rest of the world. We hope this article helps you in learning about AI. 
  • ML/AI in Fintech

    Machine Learning is one of the many applications of Artificial Intelligence, which enables systems to automatically learn based on data and experience. It is based on the premise that computers can learn through being exposed to data, and can adapt and improve as more data is made available, without being explicitly programmed. This allows them to learn how to recognise patterns and produce reliable decisions. While machine learning may initially have been applied in games such as checkers, today machine learning is being used across a range of applications – from self driving cars and chat-bots to fraud detection software and money management tools. One particularly interesting area to look at is the application of machine learning in fintech. Fintech revolves around the usage of cutting-edge technology in the world of finance, enabling greater financial inclusion, and lower costs. What better use of machine learning can there be than this? Let’s talk about a few areas in fintech where machine learning can particularly add value.

    Credit Risk Profiling

    With millions of potential borrowers being unserved by the traditional financial industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence can play a large role in assessing the creditworthiness of the unbanked. These individuals are unable to build a strong credit score based on traditional measures.  However, applications like Lenddo and Afirm use a range of non-traditional data and artificial intelligence to assess the probability of loan repayment and an overall credit risk score or profile. This includes social media data, web browser history, geo-locations, and even POS data in some cases. Based on this, financial institutions can determine the loan amount and terms to be provided.

    Fraud Prevention

    Using historical data of fraudulent, as well as regular transactions, machines can learn to recognise patterns of suspicious behaviour, and trigger warnings accordingly. Artificial intelligence can help identify implicit and hidden correlations in data, and learn through new data to help identify risk areas which would have otherwise been missed.  This not only helps save financial institutions the cost of fraudulent transactions themselves, but also helps save man hours wasted in manual monitoring and detection, and costs of recovery and customer service. A report by LexisNexis suggests that for every $1 of fraud, companies have to spend $2.8 to $3.6 (varying by industry and the scale of company) to resolve the problem – all of which can be saved through effective fraud prevention.

    Trading and Money Management

    A recent survey by the financial research firm, Autonomous Next, demonstrated that only 34% of people would be comfortable following machine-led financial advice. Yet, we are not far from the point where machine learning will be used to make investment decisions and manage portfolios. Computational technology today has caught up, and decisions made through machine learning and deep learning can outsmart human decisions, and with more efficiency. Already, CitiGroup is using artificial intelligence to make portfolio recommendations to clients, whie PanAgora Asset Management uses complex algorithms to test investment ideas. By 2030, machine learning and artificial intelligence is expected to save the banking industry more than $1 trillion. This includes savings gained from all areas work, trough application of chat bots, fraud prevention tools, credit underwriting, identity verification and KYC, and asset management. We are indeed not far from the world where machines will be making decisions for us.
  • The Power of Forgiveness

    On 6th September, a long newscycle ago, a policewoman (Amber Guyger, 31) walked into an apartment. Mistaking the abode for hers she shot a man, blankly as he sat unaware of her unease, on the sofa. Through fear for her own life, Guyger opened fire and killed the unarmed Botham Shem Jean. Unfortunately, the circumstances felt like a replay of the racially tinged interplay between mostly white policemen aggressors and the African-American citizens. There has been much written about the case: from the original light sentencing (originally manslaughter and then later changed to murder) to the Guyger’s ‘racist’ past.  However, what is most difficult about this story for many people seems to be a painful forgiveness which Botham Jean’s brother (Brandt) delivered to Guyger. Softly spoken and said to a hushed room, Brandt stated: “[I] forgive her… I love you (Guyger) just like anyone else and… I want the best for you… I love you as a person and I don’t wish anything bad on you.” Then, looking to the Judge he asked her permission to hug Guyger, where they hugged in the silence of a stunned courtroom.  Brandt’s actions are themselves small: a gently rolled out speech and a simple hug. But, you’d be hard-pressed having understood the history and the details of this killing not to be moved by the scene. His youth and nervousness are evident by his glasses and fidgeting before he steps out of the witness box to greet Guyger.   Many social commentators have commended Brandt for possessing the strength of character to forgive. They repeat that they couldn’t, were they in his circumstances. It is this part of the trial that I looked at and admired.  Forgiveness is the ability to “release resentment” and instead habour neutral, or as was the situation here, positive feelings about the other party. True forgiveness is hard. But, the health benefits are immense including an elevated mood, reduced blood pressure and heart rates and a more positive or optimistic outlook. Unfortunately, forgiveness can often seem like the ‘weaker’ option. It’s paradoxical as forgiving others is not often the easiest option. It takes work to truly forgive, but there is a process Robert Enright, professor at the International Forgiveness Institute, provides four stages to forgiveness
    1. Uncovering and confronting the negative emotions involved and dedicating the appropriate amount of time to dealing with them.
    2. Deciding to forgive the individual, company or group of their wrongdoing or the hurt caused. 
    3. Working through the situation by considering why the other party may have acted in that manner, humanising and seeking the good in that person. However, this does not mean ‘excusing’ their faults. 
    4. Finally, it’s about “deepening” the positive feelings of forgiving and developing a better sense of empathy for others concerned.     
    There is a lot written in religion about forgiveness, most of the Google searches for this article quote verses from various religious texts and Brandt’s source of forgiveness stems from his belief. However, we can all learn to forgive: to improve our mental and physical wellbeing and to increase our overall sense of compassion for others.
  • MicroFinance & Fintech

    Traditionally, microfinance has revolved around providing small loans to the underprivileged – women, minorities, and individuals suffering from poverty or lack of access to traditional financial services. Over time, the definition has broadened to include not just microcredit – but a variety of financial services such as savings accounts, insurance, and payment solutions, to a much wider audience. The aim of microfinance today is to provide affordable financial products and solutions to “everyone”. With a large portion of the world still unbanked, new technologies and services in the financial space offer a great avenue for improving the world of microfinance, particularly in the sphere of microcredit and small loans. When you hear the word microfinance, the typical thought that comes to mind is a group of women co-guaranteeing small loans for each other, using these loans of USD 200 to 500 to set up a small business. Fintech, in contrast is the use of advanced technology and innovation in the world of finance. What could the two possibly have in common you wonder? Fintech and microfinance may be closer allies than you might think. With both aiming to improve financial accessibility. By embracing fintech, microfinance institutions have the ability to achieve their mission faster, and more efficiently than they could ever imagine. There are many ways that the use of fintech in microfinance can be a huge opportunity for improving financial accessibility. Firstly, fintech can be leveraged to make loan disbursement and loan repayment easy and efficient – using mobile money, or mobile wallets that may already be in existence. Secondly, fintech’s data capability can be used to analyse profiles, make loan decisions, and improve communication. In both cases, the use of fintech can greatly improve the speed, and cost of doing business for these institutions. There are already a number of businesses making great progress in the overlapping sphere of microfinance and fintech. Tala, founded in 2011 is a US based mobile technology company that aims to serve the unbanked. With offices in Kenya, Philippines, Tanzania, Mexico, and India, the company allows individuals to gain personalised loans based on alternate credit checks. Tala’s mobile app uses cellphone data including call logs, text messages, and other behavioural data to build a customer’s credit profile, leading to instant loans ranging from USD 10 to USD 500. Loans are approved within minutes and disbursed through mobile payment platforms. Tala also helps customers build their credit profile by sharing this information with local credit bureaus, allowing them to secure larger loans in the future. Using a similar premise of alternate credit checks, China’s MYbank uses non traditional sources of data such as social network data, and payment transaction data to ascertain the ability of a business to repay its loans. Having loaned USD 290 billion to 16 million small companies over 4 years, this fintech backed by Alibaba is revolutionising lending in China. With an average loan size of  USD 1,500, and a default rate of just 1 per cent, this FinTech is allowing many small entrepreneurs, who would have otherwise been unable to gain access to a loan, grow their business beyond what they could have ever imagined. Talking about customising loans to the needs of the entrepreneur, Grab Financial, Southeast Asia’s leading fintech, has entered the lending space, offering drivers a suite of financial services. This includes loans, payment and insurance. By building an alternate credit scoring mechanism, Grab aims to tailor its product to the needs of a ride-sharing driver (unlike traditional car loans), and hopes to serve millions across Southeast Asia. These are just a few companies that are using fintech to reach the unbanked and the small business owner. As fintech grows, it is clear that microfinance will grow alongside.
  • The SoftBank Ecosystem

    Softbank Group Corp, one of Japan’s largest conglomerates, was established almost 40 years ago in 1981. Starting out as a software distributor, the company slowly ventured into publishing, followed by mobile communication, broadband, e-commerce, and software. The holding company currently has large investments in Yahoo Japan, Alibaba, Sprint, BrightStar, and Softbank Corp among others. The group also manages VisionFund, which is the world’s largest technology focused venture capital fund. After Toyota, SoftBank is Japan’s largest publicly traded company. The holding company’s vision is to “contribute to people’s happiness through the Information Revolution”, and to become “the corporate group needed most by people around the world.” This vision closely ties in with the company’s actions to advance the Information Revolution through leading technology and superior business models. According to the Group’s Chairman, Masayoshi Son, he has invented a strategy for the group to grow continuously for the next 300 years. This is the Cluster No. 1 Strategy, which entails building a holding company that owns majority shareholdings in leading companies in their fields, with ownership of  20-30%. The two primary features (investing in leading companies, and holding 20-30% shares) of this strategy are key to its success. This helps ensure that the companies part of the portfolio are truly contributing to the groups overall success, while non-performers are slowly divested away. Recent focus has been towards the venture capital fund, worth USD 10 billion, which has already dealt with one-tenth of worldwide VC volume in 2019.  Another part of SoftBank Group’s investment ecosystem, is that they do not heavily control the companies in the group. A key example is the investment in Alibaba, where no changes to the brand name were made despite a majority shareholding. Known to support and encourage startups, Softbank has invested in a number of firms in the tech space, including Uber, WeWork, PayPay,  and DoorDash.  Recent events however, may have forced Son to rethink his strategy. With WeWork’s failed IPO and the ousting of its co-founder Adam Neuman, Softbank has a new message for startups – “Your dreams better be profitable”. SoftBank Group may need to write down its investment in the venture, which is said to be worth only USD 15 billion (compared to USD 47 billion when SoftBank Group invested). In order to save some of its value, the company is believed to be bringing in Marcelo Claure, executive chairman of Sprint, to turn the business around.  Among other recent events, the Japanese hotel operator Unizo holdings recently withdrew its support for a USD 1.3 billion take-over bid by a SoftBank backed fund, after previously welcoming the same terms. It seems Softbank will need to raise its price, with the current market value being JPY 500 per share above the current offer.  Despite the recent turn of events with WeWork and Unizo, investor confidence in the firm is still high. SoftBank Group raised JPY 400 billion worth of bonds in less than 3 minutes last month – or 146 seconds to be precise. Investors raced to purchase these 7 year notes priced at 1.38%. Another JPY 500 billion was raised 5 months ago in April. While Son has an apparently sound business strategy in place, it is yet to be seen how long investor support remains.

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