ELIAN D. ALVAREZ

- VENTURE CAPITAL - ANGEL INVESTMENT -
- ENTREPRENEURSHIP - LATAM - INNOVATION -
- INVESTMENTS - PRIVATE EQUITY - FINANCE -

National Currencies last breath?

Dec
18

The world of digital currency has gained massive popularity in the past couple of years.

Bitcoin has moved over $19,000, whereas, Ethereum is increasing in value every day and its price has crossed over $700. The continuing boom of cryptocurrencies might eventually lead to the next big step, i.e., the end of cash currencies.

Yes, you heard it right. Even the director and founder of Bitt, Gabriel Abed, is of the opinion that cash has been in the market for too long, and all the currencies will eventually be digitized.

 

Rise of the New Economic Age

All the cryptocurrencies, including Ether and Bitcoin, are basically issued by private organizations, groups, and individuals, they mine it through cryptographic protocols  and more and more countries are gradually heading in that direction.

  • Russia has recently announced its plans for a national digital currency called Crypto-Ruble.
  • China and Kyrgyzstan are following the lead.
  • In Japan, over 200,000 stores have been accepting bitcoin as a legal tender and some of the big banks are planning to create their own version of these cryptocurrencies.

In a highly innovative environment, efforts are being made to circulate digital currency in various economies. The Federal Reserve in the United States however, has no such plans of nationalizing the cryptocurrency.

 

Crypto-Ruble – A New Start for Better Russian Economy?

Putin is very strict about following law and order and despite the advantages of having a national digital currency, it has gray areas when it comes to its legal status. This is why he is a little skeptical about cryptocurrencies. Therefore, the aim of Russian official crypto-policy is to eliminate the chances of illegal transactions such as, human-trafficking, terrorism financing, and  money laundering, while at the same time using this technology to modernize the internal capital management of Russia. This is the main strategy behind crypto-ruble.

The crypto-ruble will serve as a connection between the real world and the crypto-world, which would enable the efficient tracking of capital flow in the Russian economy. Those who won’t be able to provide a paper trail of ownership will have to pay tax on crypto-ruble at the capital gain rates. It will encourage the development of low-cost crypto-payment systems, which allows the exchange of rubles for goods only in digital currencies where ownership can be tracked.

 

China Taking a Step to Cryptocurrency Implementation

People’s Bank of China has already created a prototype of a digital currency that may be circulating in the market in times to come, alongside Yuan. The country is testing possible scenarios in a simulated environment and running dummy transactions using digital currency with a few commercial banks in China.

 

Making Quantitative Easing Easier with National Cryptocurrency

The rise of new economic age with cryptocurrency as a national currency will make quantitative easing much easier. Quantitative easing is an economic concept, whereby the central bank purchases predefined amount of financial assets and government bonds to give a boost to the economy. By having a national cryptocurrency, it will be easier to execute the concept of quantitative easing.

 

Why is National Digital Currency a Better Idea?

Abed further added that nationalizing the digital currency is a better option as it is more transparent, immutable, and efficient. In fact, there have been talks between the Central Bank of Jamaica and Bitt to enable testing this technology. At the same time, the company has been running the active pilot programs in other Caribbean countries.

Jamaica is encouraging the FinTech startups by enabling them to operate in the country. The main reason behind these efforts is to foster innovation. A representative of the Caribbean Development Bank said that they do not want to be in a situation where regulatory authorities have a strong and dominant hand initially. He further said that the Caribbean can be used as a virtual space to test the new technology in a secure environment. These efforts will eventually enable them to take bigger steps in the future.

Governments and Venture Capital

Dec
29

Several governments around the world have started equity co-investment programs to bridge the financial gap by injecting Venture Capital (VC) to businesses that do not have sufficient capital but they have high potential. These hybrid (public/private) programs still engage private sector VC firms as a channel through which public support and a large amount of capital is invested.

 

Hybrid Scheme in the United States

In the U.S., models of the Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC) program, such as, hybrid schemes have been launched. It involves a participation by the state as a public guarantor or a special liability partner (LP) for the large part of the total capital raised for investment. Subsequently, full operational autonomy is entrusted to the general partnership (GP) by the state once the investment eligibility guidelines are agreed upon. This is done to attract investment returns to the investors, i.e., the LPs.

These models have been widely adopted by a large number of governments since the collapse of dot.com bubble that violently shook VC funding raising. Moreover, developing countries have also started showing interest in such models to encourage innovation and new startups.

 

Hybrid Venture Capital Schemes – The U.K. and Australia

Other developed countries, including the U.K. and Australia, also followed the SBIC models and designed their own Hybrid Venture Capital Schemes (HVCFs). The Enterprise Capital Fund was formed in the U.K., whereas, the Innovation Investment Fund was formed in Australia.

The UK government devised the program to provide growing startups an equity financing of £2 million ceiling. Under the program, the early stage funds, invested in the growing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups, consist of private investment by the private investors with uncapped profit share and loan or equity from the government with capped profit share. A common structure of investment is one where there is an equal distribution of profit between private and public LPs. However, to increase the expected profits of private LPs, HVCF adopts a number of mechanisms where changes are made to the profit distribution, down-side protection, timings of investments, and the payment of operating cost related to the funds.

Although, SBIC wasn’t a complete success, yet, the governments that are in favor of equity enhancement programs followed its design and changed it to match their own requirements and preferences.

 

Issues Faced by High-Technology Companies

High tech organizations face three major issues when they try to access venture capital. Firstly, they do not have enough information about venture capitalists in the market and there are limited financial channels for technology companies. Secondly, organizations that seek public venture capital causes low demand for other VCs, and thirdly, these organizations need to have creative and dedicated management teams or else they face issues in convincing VCs to provide funds, which further widens the financial gap.

 

Role of Governments in a Developing Country to Counter the Issues of High-Technology Companies

Governments of different countries have taken measures to address these issues. For example, there is a “triple-helix model” that expresses a relationship between: University – Government – Industry to promote innovation in a society.

Innovation can be brought in industry and university via direct or indirect VC investment, government stock, enactment of laws, formulation of policies, and through the promotion of high-tech SMEs. Government can play its role in different ways, i.e., by having a creative function, through venture investment regulations and tax policies that directly leave an impact on VC market, and by other measures that indirectly affect VC industry, such as regulations and laws that govern the labor market, patent, stock market, pension funds, etc.

For example, there is a city in China called Suzhou where 75 percent of the science parks are backed by municipal public VC. A special institute, which is responsible to the Local Science Committee of the central Chinese government, was developed to administer these parks. The employees of the institute are directly recruited and trained by the government. Therefore, as a developing country progresses in becoming a developed nation, a shift in the role of public VC arises from its direct participation in the market environment to provision of services.

 

Governments usually provide support to the Venture Capital markets due to perceived market failure or financing gap faced by startups or early stage businesses, and also due to the positive impact it will have to bring innovation and create job opportunities for a prosperous economy.