Today’s profile is with Steve Polsky, founder of Juvo, whose vision is to establish financial identities for the billions of people worldwide who are creditworthy, yet financially excluded, via their everyday use of smartphones.
Over to Steve for his responses to our questions – in bold.
Who are you and what’s your background?
Hi. I’m Steve Polsky, CEO and Founder of Juvo. My career to date has focused on building early stage technology ventures – Juvo is my fifth start up. I’ve helped successfully launch and grow four companies (VoicePlex Corp, Amber Networks, Edusoft, Flixster) across the telecoms, data communications, education and consumer internet industries. Overall, I’m passionate about the use of technology to solve real-world problems and love turning concepts into reality that touch the lives of millions of consumers.
Juvo is a culmination of 20 years of effort across the telecoms and consumer internet industries. After Flixster, where I was president and COO, was acquired by Warner Bros, I knew that I had one more challenge in me. More than anything, I wanted to confidently be able to say that I had made a real impact. This motivation is a big part of how Juvo came to be.
Before developing the idea for Juvo, I digested over 60 technical books and taught myself everything, from how to build iOS and Android apps to server code to Amazon Cloud Services. It was all in preparation while searching for the right concept and hoping that I would have the skills and expertise at my fingertips to make it happen.
Away from work, I’m proud to be a visiting lecturer for the Wharton School of Business’s undergraduate course in entrepreneurship.
What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
I’m the CEO and Founder of Juvo with overall responsibility for the company. Currently, my main areas of focus are the growth of the organisation, expansion of our reach around the world and investing in the development of forward looking financial services offerings.
Can you give us an overview of your business?
Juvo was founded with an overarching vision: to establish financial identities for the billions of people worldwide who are creditworthy, yet financially excluded, via their everyday use of smartphones. In partnership with mobile network operators, Juvo’s proprietary Identity Scoring technology uses data science, machine learning and game mechanics to enable millions of consumers to build their own personal financial identities and thereby gain access to otherwise unattainable mobile financial services.
Juvo is currently live in 23 countries and is expanding rapidly. Our overarching target is to enable as many of the 5 billion prepaid mobile phone users worldwide to build financial identities as a stepping stone towards greater mobile financial services.
Tell us how you are funded.
Juvo is Venture Capitalist funded, backed by global business leaders and luminaries in the world of tech, mobile and finance. Its executive team comprises accomplished industry leaders across the data science, consumer internet, financial services and mobile telecoms fields.
Current investors in the company include Freestyle Capital, Seed Resolute and Wing Venture Capital. As well as numerous private investors including the former CEOs of AT&T Wireless, NYSE, Sprint, Telefonica International and Vodafone Group. (Stay tuned as we will soon have an update on this! )
Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?
Our mission, and reason, for setting up Juvo was to help enable hundreds of millions of consumers around the world to build financial identities, starting with their everyday use of their prepaid mobile phone. Nearly 80 percent of the world’s mobile phone users are on prepaid mobile devices and over 2 billion of those users are currently excluded from financial services. Through the reach of mobile devices, consumer facing experiences and data science, it is possible to change this and enable financial access for millions of consumers.
Using data science and machine learning, Juvo’s Identity Scoring technology builds real-time personas for prepaid mobile subscribers. We start with simple transactions around mobile phone usage and through transparency, education and incentives walk users up a pathway to an increasing set of financial services.
Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
Our target customers are global mobile operators. Currently Juvo partners with a number of mobile operators around the world, including Millicom and Cable & Wireless. We help our partners build deeper relationships with their prepaid consumers – reducing churn on average by over 40% and increasing their monthly revenues from 10% to 15% among prepaid mobile subscribers.
If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?
It is exciting to see all of the innovation in the financial services space currently happening across the globe. Given a magic wand, I would like to see a closer collaboration between governments and regulators and the technology community to unlock the enormous potential that exists today to impact populations around the world.
What is your message for the larger players in the Finance industry?
It is very simple: team up with innovative technology providers to unlock today’s potential. The financial services industry has moved at a relatively slow pace in consumer innovation. Today, what is possible with mobile distribution and cloud-based data science unlocks incredible potential for having an impact and providing access to a whole new swath of consumers. The right combination of innovators with existing large players can truly unlock this potential.
What phone are you carrying and why?
I use both an Android and an iOS device. Given our focus, understanding usage across both platforms is key to our success.
Where do you get your industry news from?
At Juvo we track financial services news and innovations across a whole host of publications and have an internal channel that aggregates the latest information – that is my main source.
Can you list 3 people you rate from the FinTech sector that we should be following on Twitter?
Ron Suber (@RonSuber) is always my FinTech go-to source of news.
Can you suggest the name of an Angel Investor or VC that might be interested in being profiled?
What’s the best FinTech product or service you’ve seen recently?
I’m incredibly biased here and am 150% invested in Juvo’s offerings and its impact around the world.
Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector?
Based on the main trend Juvo is seeing the primary focus of our predictions is that in the next 5-10 years over a billion new consumers will come online. We believe this will be transformative for financial services offerings across the globe.
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Crypto.com Integrates PayID Offering 5M Users an Easy and Unique Way to Send & Receive Crypto
HONG KONG, October 19, 2020 — Crypto.com today announced PayID, a universal payment identity developed by the Open Payments Coalition, is now available on the Crypto.com App.
Crypto.com’s 5M+ users can register for a PayID from the Crypto.com app, consolidating complex wallet addresses and accounts into a simple ID that works across any payment network and currency. Users who register for their unique PayID will get an exclusive Crypto.com-branded, easy-to-read ID — such as “yourname$payid.crypto.com — that enables users to send/receive crypto payments from other compatible wallets with just a single ID, easing their ability to connect to 100M+ crypto users worldwide.
PayID solves a key pain point in the crypto payments world, which consists of many closed and complex networks. Participants must manage multiple long and random wallet addresses, increasing the likelihood of erroneous transactions. PayID creates a free, open and common protocol that allows for interoperability between any payment network or currency.
Starting today, Crypto.com is offering early access for select customers to register their unique Crypto.com PayID. To be eligible:
- Stake 10,000 CRO or more in Crypto.com Exchange; or
- Stake 10,000 CRO or more in Crypto.com App
On 2 November 2020 all Crypto.com App users can register their own Crypto.com PayID within the Crypto.com App.
Once registered, users can send crypto from other compatible wallets to the Crypto.com App with just their PayID, instead of a full-length crypto address. At launch, supported cryptocurrencies include CRO, ETH, BTC, XRP and many more ERC20 tokens. Users can also send crypto to other compatible wallets using PayID hosted by other members in the Open Payments Coalition.
Crypto.com was founded in 2016 on a simple belief: it’s a basic human right for everyone to control their money, data and identity. Crypto.com serves over 5 million customers today, providing them with a powerful alternative to traditional financial services through the Crypto.com App, the Crypto.com Card, the Crypto.com Exchange and Crypto.com DeFi Wallet. Crypto.com is built on a solid foundation of security, privacy and compliance and is the first cryptocurrency company in the world to have ISO/IEC 27701:2019, CCSS Level 3, ISO27001:2013 and PCI:DSS 3.2.1, Level 1 compliance. Crypto.com is headquartered in Hong Kong with a 600+ strong team. Find out more by visiting https://crypto.com
Crypto More Popular Than Gold Among Russian Investors: Report
A survey among over 2,000 Russian investors has placed cryptocurrency next to gold in terms of popularity. Moreover, younger investors aged below 30 have displayed significant favoritism towards digital assets.
Crypto Ranks Above Gold Among Russian Investors
According to the study published by the World Gold Council, investors from the world’s largest country by landmass have allocated the most funds into generally accepted as safer instruments such as savings accounts, foreign currencies, real estate, and life insurance.
When asked what sorts of investment tools they had invested in the past 12 months, they placed cryptocurrencies as the fifth most popular asset with 17%. Interestingly, gold came next with 16%.
World Gold Council Director of Central Banks and Public Policy, Dr. Tatiana Fic, commented that gold had been a valuable part of Russia’s history. She explained that the development of the gold mining industry began in 1745 with the discovery of gold in the Urals. In the next 100 years, more than half of the global gold production came from Siberia.
However, she noted that the investment market has declined in interest lately. Dr. Fic reasoned that there’s an evident lack of education, resulting in people steering clear from the bullion. She also claimed that investors fear buying fake or counterfeit gold products.
It’s worth noting that Russia seized purchasing gold earlier this year following half of decade of increased accumulation.
Younger Generations Keen To Experiment With Crypto
WGC’s report confirmed previous narratives that younger generations prefer allocating funds into riskier investment instruments such as digital assets.
“18-to-24-year-olds are much more willing to take risks to get exponential growth, rather than take a long-term view. For example, they are the least likely to have invested in a savings account but are the most likely to have invested in collectibles – and around two-thirds are considering investing in cryptocurrencies.” – the report reads.
The paper highlighted that the growing role of mobile apps linked to investment accounts have made it easier for tech-savvy youth to purchase their preferred assets. Cryptocurrencies lead the way “with nearly 80% being bought exclusively online.”
Although physical gold has been bought mostly offline, the report noted that online investments in gold-backed ETFs and vaulted gold have jumped in the past few years as well.
Swiss Government Starts Discussions on Local Blockchain Regulations
A new consultation process on blockchain laws is set to begin in Switzerland. Initiated by the country’s Federal Department of Finance, the operation is focused on initiating a blanket ordinance in the local blockchain and distributed ledger technology environment.
For Better Laws In Blockchain Industry
A number of parties, individuals, and other interested groups are set to be included in the upcoming consultations in the blockchain spectrum. The project is planned to go on for three months, ending on February 2 next year.
As per a recent report by Switzerland’s Federal Department of Finance, the blanket ordinance is set to help legislative amendments, recently voted by Parliament, turn into law at the federal ordinance level. The grand plan is that the Federal Council will bring amendments to the acts and ordinates into force on August 1, 2021.
The news appears a month after the Swiss Parliament unanimously adopted a Federal Act on the Adaptation of Federal Law do Developments in Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). With it, the government amended several active finance and corporate laws, re-shaping them with additions in favor of blockchain technology and DLT.
According to the report, the act has improved the framework conditions for the country to turn into a significant, innovative, and sustainable place for blockchain and DLT firms to settle.
A Further Leap Into The Crypto Means Of Payment
The recent news comes shortly after the Swiss government announced that soon cryptocurrency would be operable for tax payments. As CryptoPotato recently reported, Bitcoin and Ethereum will become acceptable assets for the purpose, as Zug, a canton in Switzerland, announced its partnership with cryptocurrency broker Bitcoin Suisse. Both sides declared their readiness to realize the acceptance of cryptocurrency for tax payments, starting from February 2021.
Individuals using the crypto option for tax payments would be able to notify authorities and, thereafter, get a QR code through email.
According to the announcement, Bitcoin Suisse will assist in converting crypto to francs, this way avoiding state incurring losses due to price volatility.
The option will give taxpayers, both individuals, and companies the opportunity to pay their taxes with cryptocurrency up to about CHF 100,000 ($110,000).
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