Gender equality could accelerate fintech post-COVID-19
Zafin, which Roddy describes as “a fintech before fintech”, is a Toronto-based company founded in 2002. Specialising in software that increases the lean and agile capabilities of banks, the company has grown a truly global presence in the market and counts some of the world’s largest financial institutions as its clients.
However, when FinTech Magazine spoke to Roddy, she had a different topic in mind: the gender equality gap.
“Generally, women are disproportionately represented in the workplace. There are women missing at the top, although there are many at the bottom,” she explains. “For example, 7% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women despite the fact that they account for over 50% of qualified graduates.”
In fintech, there is a marked funding gap between men and women, something that has been an unfortunate “long-standing ‘tradition’” in the sector. This is particularly concerning when one considers the gains in education that have been achieved.
“Women represent 33% of STEM graduates, yet this isn’t reflected in the workforce,” Roddy states. “The solution is not obvious; it’s been vigorously debated for decades. Bias against women is equally distributed among both men and women, in Western cultures at least.”
This may account for the disconcerting fact that female executives are less likely to receive funding than their male counterparts, even though research indicates that their - often linked to more cooperative leadership and collaborative decision making.
The business case, then, for greater equality is clear and has been apparent for several years. Therefore, it seems that focused reformation of corporate culture should be the ultimate target.
Digital transformation could offer a solution
The perception of fintech’s ‘fresh and new’ approach to finance might lead one to conclude that it inherently possesses a more flexible culture than incumbent institutions. However, Roddy contends that this is not the case; rather, it is the emerging technology underpinning it that could lead to greater equality.
“Digital transformation offers that chance because these new technologies have no ‘experts’; they provide opportunities to break down preconceptions of competency.”
For companies to realise that the exciting development of fintech makes success contingent on applying the best talent, regardless of gender, is crucial. That companies are now struggling to stay viable during the pandemic makes this point even more apparent.
“Some women, at a certain point, seem to simply ‘drop out’ of the establishment and revert to more ‘alternative’ career choices. However, we need the best and brightest solving the large-scale problems we’re experiencing right now,” Roddy says.
“The effect of this drop off could become significant, particularly as fintech has the capacity to address major societal issues, such as unbanked communities and access to capital.”
Finally, Roddy reminds us that, although there are considerable obstacles still to overcome, women are still achieving considerable success. However, one of fintech’s core objectives should be to make this ‘the rule’ instead of ‘the exception’.
“Women should be supportive of any progression achieved by individuals, but this mustn't distract us from addressing the ongoing issue.”
Amber Group Valued at US$1bn in $100m Funding Round
Amber Group, a cryptocurrency financial services firm, has raised US$100m in a Series B funding round at a pre-money valuation of $1bn.
The funding round was led by Chinese investment firm China Renaissance, and other participants in the Series B include Tiger Brokers, Tiger Global Management, Arena Holdings, Tru Arrow Partners, Sky9 Capital, DCM Ventures and Gobi Partners. Existing investors Pantera Capital, Coinbase Ventures and Blockchain.com also joined in.
Michael Wu, co-founder and CEO of Amber Group said in a statement that the funding would be used to “expand global operations to meet client demand and develop market solutions for the world’s leading crypto investors and companies.”
“We’ve had record months over the past quarter across both client flow and on-exchange market-making volumes,” Wu said in a press release. “Our cumulative trading volumes have doubled from $250 billion since the beginning of the year to over $500 billion.”
Cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly popular, with many people investing, although not everyone seems to know what they are investing in. Using survey data collected from 750 investors earlier this year, Cardify found that only 16.9% of investors who have bought crypto “fully understand” the value and potential of cryptocurrency, while 33.5% of buyers have either zero knowledge about the space or would call their level of understanding “emerging.”
Who is Amber Group?
Amber Group is a global crypto finance service provider with a presence in Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, and Vancouver. Founded in 2017, Amber Group services over 500 institutional clients and has cumulatively traded over $330 billion across 100+ electronic exchanges, with over $1 billion in assets under management. The company said that its assets under management, or AUM, reached $530 million in 2020, representing a 275% increase from the previous year.
Instead of being a cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to trade individual digital coins, Amber Group CEO Michael Wu said the company is bringing a “private banking experience to the everyday customer.”
Their goal is to optimise investment flexibility, maximise investment returns and deliver long-lasting value for their clients. In 2019, Amber Group raised $28 million in Series A funding led by global crypto heavyweights Paradigm and Pantera Capital, with participation from Polychain Capital, Dragonfly Capital, Blockchain.com, Fenbushi Capital, and Coinbase Ventures.