The Next Wave of Digital Money Transfer

Money, technology and accounting in real time—with all deference to spiritual learnings, that might just be the mantra for modern life. At the very least, it makes for a potent brew that says a lot about how we do just about everything we do.

Image courtesty of Graur Codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Graur Codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The trinity is in the news in our industry because late in March, mobile payment and merchant services provider Square launched a new integration program with accounting software specialist Xero. Built around a new API (application programming interface), the deal enables transaction data from Square to be fed directly into financial records managed by Xero. That’s a big market and growing: Xero claims 200,000 paying customers in more than 100 countries, with a cloud platform approach that allows a wide range of business applications—from large companies like ADP and PayPal to new entries—to be integrated easily into the ledgers of Xero users.

Of course, in many ways, that’s exactly what Quickbooks does too. Which is why, when the most recent version of Quickbooks was released last fall, owner Intuit also announced a major partnership with Square. That deal, which formally launched a few weeks later, is specifically designed to help small businesses that use the mobile payment service to automatically feed data from those transactions into their books. By all accounts, the arrangement has proved quite successful.

As observers have been quick to point out, these companies are competing furiously with each other. For example, Xero has a Quickbooks conversion service to draw users from its desktop rival, and Intuit has launched Quickbooks Online as its own cloud-based alternative. Meanwhile, Square is increasingly branching into other accounting-related services.

While the market has been waiting for options such as Facebook Credits and Amazon Coins to gain traction, Square is putting its money—in a sense literally—where its reputation is with Square Cash. This is not really another form of currency, per se, but it does represent another form of financial flexibility in the digital era. With this personal payment app, users can ‘email money’ to other individuals with nothing more than a debit card.

For the record, plenty of other companies offer similar services. Larger entities like PayPal and Google allow person-to-person payments, and as in every other category, there are newer entries like Dwolla and Ribbon are also in the mix. And let’s not forget clearXchange, the consortium created by Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase. This is clearly a work in progress: Capital One just joined, but founding member Chase has yet to come online.

And that’s really the problem in a nutshell. This is a market that exhibits all the characteristics of the technology sector—it moves forward at warp speed, seemingly solid players get nudged aside by startups, fierce competitors find ways to cooperate with each other, fickle users constantly change in their behaviors and tastes, and products go from killer app to legacy in a heartbeat. Meanwhile, banking industry giants seem to be just lumbering along—a consortium with huge names that makes more of a ripple than a splash.

Why does so much of the really exciting stuff always come from the technology side? Why do innovations from the banking industry never seem innovative enough?

It’s not as if tech companies will be replacing banks anytime soon. The barrier to entry on that side of the fence is much lower, hence there’s more experimentation, and as a result more successes (and more failures). What they do enables us to do what we do—nothing more, nothing less.

But remember, much of the customer base is now made up of a generation that never goes inside a bank branch, has precious little brand loyalty and expects instant digital gratification in every sphere of life, work and play. Other industries such as retail and music have had their very existence undermined by these tectonic shifts, some of which they never saw coming. Our world keeps changing too. Are we changing enough, and fast enough?

How Bitcoin has Gotten Involved in Property – Three Interesting Tales

Bitcoin has been hitting the headlines a lot of late and becoming an increasingly common form of transaction.

Of course, one of the most intriguing things about the currency is the significant accumulation of worth. In the last 12 months it has hit highs of 1,000% of its 2012 value. On the way there’s been a real rags to riches story, many of which seem almost akin to the gold rush or oil prospecting of the 20th century. We’ve heard all sorts of stories of people who purchased the crypto currency a few years ago end up with millions made from a few dollars.

Along the way we’ve seen a number of people that have accumulated large sums of money, use Bitcoin to invest in property. This has led to a number of interesting and intriguing – so let’s have a look at the Bitcoin property tales.

 

Norway

Norway has done well throughout the economic malaise the rest of the world found itself in the throes of. However, it didn’t stop a Norwegian man Kristoffer Koch put $22 into Bitcoin in 2009. Mr. Koch remembered he had the assets after hearing of the dramatic rise of the currency. Turns out he had over 5,000 Bitcoins and used part of the windfall to purchase an apartment worth a quarter of a million dollars. At current levels he still has millions left over – not a bad call on a $22 investment.

North America

One of the biggest headlines we saw when the currency began making headlines back in March was that of Taylor More. More sold his him for $400,000 in Bitcoin – he received around 5,750 Bitcoins at a cost of around $60 a coin. It was a risk at the time but it’s paid off handsomely and the coins are worth a lot, lot more than the price of the home now. It was a very quick thinking, smart move but a gamble nonetheless. These new millionaires with appreciating assets are the sort of people who can help to buy your house.

China

China has really taken Bitcoin to its heart – well until recently that is. The Chinese government has stopped its banks from trading the crypto currency and is becoming increasingly stringent on its use. However, before things went a little downhill, the Chinese were investing in Bitcoin and also real estate.

In fact, one real estate development could be purchased in Bitcoins. The Shanda Group was offering Chinese people the chance to purchase apartments from its 300 unit block for one Bitcoin to 1,000CNY. This resulted in plenty of Chinese offloading Bitcoins and though the value of the Bitcoins went up afterwards they have fallen since and the developer will have lost out significantly. It’s a quite obvious showing of the gamble Bitcoin investment is.

However, it was a bit of a watermark moment as it was the first time the currency was used en-mass to purchase property.

 

Bitcoin is an interesting idea and one that’s set to cause plenty more news in the property market and also in the world of finance and investment. It’s been used for a number of interesting areas and though it may not be the future of money, it’s certainly intriguing nonetheless.

 

Cormac Reynolds has written for a number of sites and is a strong believer in Bitcoin and it as a means of transaction for property among other areas.  

The National Debt: How Do Uncle Sam’s Accounting Skills Measure Up?

How good are Uncle Sam’s accounting skills? With the national debt approaching $17 million, where does this borrowed money come from? Did you know that the D.O.D. cannot explain missing $1 trillion + 56 airplanes, 32 tanks and many other missiles?

Reader Dave Sawers shared the infographic below from Masters in Accounting which includes more interesting stats on the subject.

Take a look and let us know what you think by posting in the comments below or tweeting at @Bankingdotcom.

 

Missing Money
Image compliments of Masters in Accounting Degrees