Facebook’s ‘Cryptocurrency’: All You Need to Know about Libra

Business How To’s

30 July 2019

Facebook’s ‘Cryptocurrency’: All You Need to Know about Libra

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Cryptocurrencies are believed to usher in the next digital wave, and why not? Their potential is undeniable when it comes to easing payment processes and making them much more secure. Add to it the fact that they are decentralized and come with near-zero processing fees, the scope of cryptocurrency is beyond general imagination.

Not someone to fall behind in emulating disruptive trends, Facebook announced its own cryptocurrency, Libra, on June 18, 2019, and is planning to publicly launch it in 2020. Read on to know more about Libra.

How stable is Libra?

Libra is a cryptocurrency that is intended to be sent instantly, and with almost no fees, anywhere in the world. It is built on the same principles as Bitcoin, but unlike Bitcoin, whose stability is followed by a huge question mark, Libra aims to have a stable value backed by trusted international currencies, such as the Dollar, Euro, and Yen. Libra will be pegged to a group of low-volatility assets, including fiat currencies, bank deposits, and government securities, which makes it extremely stable.

Is Libra a pure cryptocurrency?

This is a pretty contentious question that started making the rounds soon after Libra was announced. Let us make it clear for you. Compared to the Rupee or Dollar, Libra is definitely a cryptocurrency, since there’s no central bank that controls its minting.

However, compared to bitcoin, Libra isn’t as pure. While bitcoin is a permissionless system, meaning anyone can participate, Libra is a permissioned system, which means only a trusted few entities can keep track of its ledger (that is, mine the coin). But then, Libra will allow you to buy and transfer money under a pseudonym, which again makes it a cryptocurrency.

According to Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute, Libra is indeed a cryptocurrency and the permissioned model only means it needs less computing power.

How exactly does Libra work?

Basically, you cash in a local currency to get Libra, spend it like you would spend rupees without huge transaction fees or your real name attached, and cash it out whenever you want. Every time you buy Libra, your money is deposited in a bank account where it sits untouched. This is to ensure that every Dollar’s worth of Libra is backed by a Dollar in the bank, so it can generate interest that can be used to pay back the cryptocurrency’s initial investors.

What is the Libra Association?

In an attempt to spur Libra’s adoption and make it more stable, Facebook recruited the founding members of the Libra Association, a not-for-profit that will oversee the development of the cryptocurrency. The association will also monitor the reserve of real-world assets that gives Libra its value so as to avoid any untoward incidents that might nudge the cryptocurrency to crash.

For now, there are 28 founding members of the Libra Association, including giants like Visa, Uber, and MasterCard, which have invested at least $10 million each into the project’s operations. Facebook hopes to reach 100 founding members before the official Libra launch.

How will Libra be governed?

The Libra Association will be responsible for recruiting more founding members. Facebook claims that every member of the association will only get up to one vote or 1% of the total vote (whichever is larger) in the Libra Association Council. This is to provide a level of decentralization that will protect against Facebook or any other player attempting to hijack Libra for their own gains.

Plus, the association will also be responsible for protecting your privacy by never mingling your Libra payments with your Facebook data. Your real identity will not be revealed at any point, so Libra can’t be used for ad targeting.

Conclusion

Despite all the controversy that’s been going around the announcement of Libra, Facebook got one thing right for sure. Traditional money isn’t really accessible to everyone; you’d need a bank account at least. Facebook hopes to create a global currency that can be accessed by anyone with a simple internet connection, sans the concerns of theft, misuse, and heavy transaction fees. If Libra successfully gains universal traction, the world will become a much smaller place than all the News Feed Likes combined.

5 Startup Branding Trends to Adopt in 2019

Business How To’s

14 August 2019

5 Startup Branding Trends to Adopt in 2019

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

It goes without saying that a strong branding game can make all the difference to your business, from helping establish a brand identity and differentiation to ensuring customer loyalty. However, in an unpredictable market and amidst cutthroat competition, branding trends keep evolving every minute and you’ve got to keep abreast of them to stay ahead. Read on to know the top five branding trends that can seal the deal for you in 2019.

Illustrate to engage

A key aspect of branding is engagement, and what better way to entice your audience than with immersive illustrations? Art is capable of humanizing and differentiating brands, while strengthening the connect you have with the customers.

As such, brands worldwide, including giants like Google and Facebook, are realizing the power of incorporating art in their communications to become more personable and easier to connect with. Be it using animation in marketing videos or partnering with artists for new product lines, art is emerging as a popular way to engage and delight audiences.

Adopt minimalism

Minimalism is yet another branding trend connected to art that is becoming popular by the day. it’s a combination of subtle design and clear intentions that come together to provide a precise yet accessible format. The USP of minimalism lies in the fact that it is perfect for mobile-first communications and enhances the experience across devices.

Apart from being a popular trend, minimalism just makes sense. There’s literally no point in crowding your design with unnecessary bevels and hues, which do nothing but confuse your audience. Brands like Nike and Starbucks have long realized the power of minimalism, and it is evident in their highly creative communications that drive the point home.

Reflect social responsibility

As buying decisions continue to be influenced by consumers’ moral standards and ideologies, especially in the case of millennials, it only makes sense for businesses to reflect social responsibility in their branding efforts. In fact, a Nielsen survey revealed that over 73% millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable goods.

As such, we are witnessing a continuous shift in branding trends that resonate a responsible world view. A case in point is the recent Gillette ad, which received mixed responses for critiquing toxic masculinity – some balked the ad for being accusatory while others appreciated the brand for its bold, progressive stance. Nevertheless, the ad brought the brand to the forefront, which it direly needed. This only goes on to show the impact you can have by resonating with the millennials.

Give your brand the personal touch

The digital age has ushered robust connectivity, thereby putting personalized communications at the forefront of branding. While personalization used to signify exclusivity in the days of the yore, technology has put more power in the hands of the consumers. In fact, according to a survey by Infosys, 86% consumers say that personalization has quite an impact on their purchasing decisions.

As a result, marketers are continually striving to incorporate that personal touch in branding to leave a lasting impact in the audience’s minds. While it may entail rethinking business operations, personalization can give your brand the opportunity to create a differentiated proposition and improve conversion. The e-commerce giant Amazon comes second to none when it comes to behavioural targeting and personalization. Other companies that have nailed personalized branding are Nike, Cadbury, and Google.

Use creative online domain names

Finding a URL that matches your company’s name can prove to be tough. Did you know that Dropbox went by the URL “GetDropbox.com” in its initial days due to scarcity of exact-match domains?

However, this only opens opportunities to get creative with your domain names. The more creative and appealing your domain name is, the greater the chances of it attracting more audiences to your website. Plus, establishing a strong domain name is an important investment. Tools like Domainr, Nameboy, and Domize can come in handy for finding a creative domain name for your business.

Conclusion

Branding is all about connecting with your audience in a meaningful way for maximum brand recall. Adopt these five trends into your branding strategy to entice your customers and beat the competition. As Jeff Bezos rightly said, “Your brand is what people say about you after you leave the room”.

Is Your Company AI Ready?

Business How To’s

24 July 2019

Is Your Company AI Ready?

  • Posted by aurindam ghosal

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to transform businesses across industries by streamlining operations and increasing efficiency. While large corporations have already jumped on to the AI bandwagon, only 8% of startups and small businesses have adopted AI into their processes. This percentage would be even less if we look at India-based startups alone. This is largely due to the common perception that AI comes with a huge appetite for costs and resources.

However, this isn’t entirely true. Inexpensive AI applications have a lot to offer in terms of creating value for small businesses as well – from highly effective customer service to smart marketing solutions. Moreover, a responsive AI solution can extract crucial market insights that can help you stay ahead of competition.

Read on to find out 4 ways your startup or business can leverage AI to its full potential.

  1. Start small

Rushing into AI enablement without considering the business-specific areas of application serves no purpose. It’s better to start slow and small, especially for SMEs. Begin by defining clear expectations as to what you’d want AI to do for your business. You need to figure out a specific business need (for example, sentiment analysis) where AI can come in handy. Then, integrate multiple AI apps to aid this requirement and augment your team’s productivity. You can then gradually move on to adopting open source AI platforms, cloud systems, and scalable AI frameworks, based on your business requirements.

  1. Leverage AI-powered tools

Developing an AI solution from scratch is, of course, complex and resource-intensive. Thankfully, there are several AI-powered tools available in the market that can give you the AI advantage with minimal human interference. Tools like X.ai, Import.io, and Uberflip are some examples of scheduling and marketing tools that can be leveraged across domains, including retail, finance, sales, and strategy.

These tools are easy-to-use, requiring minimal AI expertise at your end, and are also dead cheap with the subscription for X.ai starting at just Rs. 600 per month.

  1. Implement AI for analysis

If you’re looking for safe ways to implement AI in your business, leveraging it for analytics and recruitment would be the best way to go. Analytics is something that most startups find difficult to do because of lack of resources. Recruitment is another dire challenge, with 74% startups finding it difficult to hire good talent.

Hootsuite Insights and Sendible are some effective AI tools that you can leverage for market and sentiment analytics, while CVViZ and Arya are AI-powered recruitment tools that make candidate screening a breeze. The tools are easy to use and require no AI expertise at your end, and you can avail them for as low as Rs. 750 per month.

  1. Deploy chatbots

If you’re skeptical about implementing AI in your backend operations, one of the best ways to achieve measurable results from AI would be to implement it with frontend processes like customer service. Chatbots are an affordable means of providing a great customer experience, while also helping generate leads and converting customers.

Developing chatbots is easy and surprisingly cheap. In fact, you can opt for readymade chatbots at a minimal price. All you have to do is visit chatbot marketplaces like Botlist and choose a chatbot closest to your business needs. You barely need a couple of hours to get a readymade chatbot up and running.

Conclusion

AI’s applications in businesses, small or large, cannot be undermined, given the immense benefits it offers in terms of optimizing operations and improving ROIs. It is especially an efficient technology to  keep abreast of the ever-evolving market conditions and to stay ahead of competition.

Budget 2019: 13 Key Takeaways for Startups and MSMEs

Business How To’s

12 July 2019

Budget 2019: 13 Key Takeaways for Startups and MSMEs

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Nirmala Sitharaman, the first female Finance Minister of India, presented her debut budget in the parliament on July 5, 2019. She unveiled a slew of reforms and initiatives for MSMES and startups – from reducing corporate taxes to interest subvention. Let’s take a look at 13 key takeaways for small businesses that this budget has to offer.

  1. Exclusive TV Channel for Startups

Mrs. Sitharaman proposed an exclusive TV channel for startups to be operated under the Doordarshan umbrella and managed by startups themselves, which will discuss everything and anything related to startups. The channel will also help in matching startups with venture funds and investors.

  1. Tax Reduction

The Finance Minister extended the lower rate of 25% corporate tax to smaller companies with an annual turnover of up to Rs 400 crore, from an earlier cap of 200 crore. This is expected to encourage more business and profits in the MSME sector.

  1. Budget Allocation Under the Interest Subvention Scheme

The Interest Subvention Scheme was introduced in 2018 by PM Narendra Modi in an attempt to improve the ease of doing business and provide MSMEs better access to market, credit and technology upgradation. The Finance Minister allocated INR 350 crore under the interest subvention scheme for the financial year 2019-20, for 2% interest subvention for all GST-registered MSMEs on fresh or incremental loans.

  1. Uniform Payment Platform for MSMEs

Mrs. Sitharaman announced that the government will create a payment platform for MSMEs to enable easy and secure filing of bills and payment. This is expected to eliminate delays in payment and boost the investments in MSMEs.

  1. Pension Benefit for Small Retailers

For retailers with an annual turnover of less than Rs. 1.5 crore, the FM has announced a pension scheme under the Pradhaan Mantri Man Dhan Yojana, which is expected to benefit more than 3 crore shop owners.

  1. Online Portal for Quick Clearance

The FM also announced that the government is planning to create an online portal for loan clearance for MSMEs. According to her speech, the portal will be able to clear loan of up to Rs. 1 crore in less than 59 minutes.

  1. Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme

More than Rs. 3.75 lakh crores has been blocked in litigations in the pre-GST regime of service tax and excise so far. The budget has proposed a dispute resolution-cum-amnesty scheme called Sabka Vishwas Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme, which will allow prompt closure of such disputes, with reliefs varying between 40% and 70% of the tax dues.

  1. Minimal Scrutiny of Funds Raised

For startups and investors who file all the required and relevant declarations, the budget proposes to introduce an e-verification mechanism that will not require any tax scrutiny with respect to the valuation of share premium.

  1. ASPIRE scheme for agro-rural industries

The budget proposes setting up of 80 Livelihood Business Incubators (LBI) and 20 Technology Business Incubators (TBI) in 2019-20 to develop up to 75,000 skilled entrepreneurs in agro-rural industry sectors under the Scheme for Promotion of Innovation, Rural Industry and Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE).  

  1. Encouragement of Digital Payments

The budget proposed a 2% tax levy on cash withdrawals of over Rs. 1 crore in a year to encourage digital payments across the MSME sector.

  1. Elimination of MDR charges

According to the budget, businesses with an annual turnover of over Rs. 50 crore must offer low cost digital modes of payment. The customers and merchants of such businesses should not be imposed with any merchant discount rate (MDR) fees.

  1. Faceless IT Assessment

In an attempt to reduce harassments faced by taxpayers, the budget has proposed to launch an electronic mode of income tax assessment with zero human intervention.  

  1. SFURTI Scheme

The budget proposes setting up of 100 new clusters during 2019-20 under the Scheme of Fund for Upgradation and Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI), enabling 50,000 artisans to join the economic value chain.

Conclusion

Startups and MSMEs are crucial contributors to job creation and, consequently, a strong and stable national economy. The measures announced in the 2019 budget, if properly implemented, are sure to help incentivize young firms in boosting job creation and thereby bolstering the startup and MSME ecosystem in the country.