FinTech Daily: Bitcoin is Now Worth More Than Gold; Toronto Fintech Firm Raises $17-million For Glob
One Bitcoin is Now Worth More Than One Ounce of Gold
For the first time ever, the price of one bitcoin has surpassed the price of one ounce of gold. While today’s swap can be attributed to a good day for bitcoin (up ~3%) and a bad day for gold (down ~1.3%), the big picture is that bitcoin has more than doubled in the last year (up ~185% from a year ago) while gold is essentially trading exactly at the price it was a year ago. When it was first launched, many said bitcoin would eventually replace gold as the preferred alternative asset and store of value for investors. This hasn’t happened yet for many reasons, including the fact that it’s still complicated to invest in bitcoin, as well as its volatile price history. So today’s price swap could be a sign that more mainstream investors are allocating at least some portion of their alternative investment portfolio to bitcoin. It may become much easier to invest in bitcoin very soon, as the SEC is about to announce whether they will approve the Winklevoss bitcoin ETF, which would be the first bitcoin ETF in a U.S market, and make it much easier for both Wall Street and regular investors to buy the digital currency.
After Raising $17-million, Toronto Fintech Firm Eyes Global Expansion
Sensibill Inc., a Toronto-based startup that offers digital receipt technology for banks, has raised $17.3-million to supercharge its global expansion and dig deeper into artificial intelligence. The financing is being led by fintech-focused Information Venture Partners of Toronto, which is throwing in more than $5-million, followed by Toronto-based OpenText Enterprise Apps Fund and San Francisco-based Operative Capital, among others. Sensibill, which was founded in May, 2013, offers digital receipt technology for mobile banking apps, such as Scotiabank’s eReceipts and TD Bank’s UGO Wallet. Sensibill is working on ways to get its software to further categorize consumer products. For instance, pineapple on a receipt wouldn’t just be listed as “fruit,” but “tropical fruit.” The company is also working on software that will allow consumers to split items on a restaurant bill by singling out and then summing up which items each person ordered. Corey Gross, Sensibill's co-founder and chief executive officer, says the new money will help the company expand its services in Canada and expand internationally including into the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. The financing will also help Sensibill improve its products using artificial intelligence and so-called "Deep learning" technology, which is when algorithms can make decisions about data.
Japanese Banks Plan to Adopt Ripple's Blockchain Tech For Payments
A consortium of Japanese banks is planning to use distributed ledger technology — better known as blockchain — from a Google-backed fintech start-up to make domestic and international payments. This follows a successful implementation of a pilot program, where the 47-member consortium used technology from blockchain start-up Ripple for a cloud-based payments platform called RC Cloud. The platform allows member banks to do real-time money transfers in Japan as well as make cross-border payments at a significantly lower cost. The consortium was launched in October and represents over 30 percent of all banks in Japan. Members include AEON Bank, Nomura Trust and Banking, Resona Bank and Mizuho. Many small banks that process low volumes of payments have to rely on their larger peers to clear the transactions because of a high fixed annual cost for membership at the clearing houses. As a result, they have little control over the fees they are charged per transaction, making it expensive and unprofitable. This is where blockchain — which is the basis for Ripple's technology — comes in. It records and stores all of the transactions online securely on a peer-to-peer network, which eliminates the need to have an intermediary bank or a central hub to do the clearing and settlement. According to analysis done by Ripple, looking at retail remittances and corporate payments, distributed ledger technology has the potential to bring down transaction costs by 60 and 50 percent, respectively.