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Mastercard Unveils Small Business AI to Offer Unbiased Advice to ‘Diverse Entrepreneurial Needs’

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As much as 88 per cent of small business owners acknowledge the value of having a mentor, but many don’t have the expertise or employees to turn to. Mastercard is launching a new AI-powered tool to help solve these problems.

Mastercard Small Business AI is a tool that harnesses the ability of artificial intelligence to deliver customised assistance for small business owners across the globe.

Created in partnership with Create Labs, a social venture offering technology access to underserved communities, the tool aims to limit biases and cater to diverse entrepreneurial needs. This tool incorporates generative AI features to offer a conversational experience, drawing on emerging techniques and inclusive design standards to promote a relevant user journey.

Mastercard explained that modern businesses must adapt, enhance their skills and keep pace with rapidly changing consumer demand. Because eight out of 10 small businesses operate without employees, entrepreneurs seek solutions despite having access to very few resources.

Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard, said: “Operating a small business is a point of immense passion and pride for entrepreneurs, but it’s certainly not easy. We are working closely with small business owners at all stages of development and seeing the myriad of challenges they face and the critical importance of mentorship to their success.

“Mastercard Small Business AI aims to create mentorship at scale, offering always-on advice from an inclusive set of sources. This is a testament to our commitment to the small business community and to innovations that lift people up.”

The tool is scheduled to be piloted in the US later this year, with the goal for international markets to follow.

 

‘Uniting for a common goal of inclusivity holds incredible power’

Not only will the AI tool deliver data from Mastercard’s existing repository of content – from the Small Business CommunityDigital DoorsMastercard Trust Center, and Strive USA – a newly formed global media coalition will contribute to that by licensing their business content – such as articles, podcasts and interviews. The following are slated to be the inaugural participants:

Blavity Media Group, a digital media company economically and creatively supporting black millennials; Group Black, a black-owned media company dedicated to connecting brands with diverse audiences; Newsweek, a global digital news organisation; and TelevisaUnivision, the Spanish-language media company, reaching over 53million US consumers across linear and digital platforms.

Bonin Bough, chief strategy officer and co-founder of Group Black, explained the importance of the initiative: “Uniting for a common goal of inclusivity holds incredible power.

“Through collaboration, we are looking to combine diverse resources to enhance a tool designed for all small and medium-sized business owners. We hope that these collective efforts shape a more equitable world for future generations, reducing the exclusion felt by numerous minorities and empowering them with the resources needed to succeed.”

Understanding that time is one of the most valuable assets for any small business owner, Mastercard also has a strong history of developing dozens of business solutions and services that centre around operational efficiency and ease of use.

Mastercard Small Business AI will join the company’s suite of small business solutions designed to empower entrepreneurs to help grow and protect their businesses in today’s digital economy.

 

Source: TheFintechTimes

The post Mastercard Unveils Small Business AI to Offer Unbiased Advice to ‘Diverse Entrepreneurial Needs’ appeared first on Hipther Alerts.

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Supply Chain Finance Market Forecast to Reach $9.4 Billion by 2029: Increasing Emphasis on Sustainable Sourcing

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Global Supply Chain Finance Market

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Web3 Startups Raise Nearly $1.9B in Q1 2024 Despite Overall Downtrend in Crypto VC Interest

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Venture capital funding for cryptocurrency and blockchain projects has seen a notable resurgence in the first quarter of 2024, marking its first quarterly rise since 2021. Crunchbase data released today indicates that Web3 startups secured nearly $1.9 billion in funding across 346 deals during this period. This represents a substantial 58% increase from the previous quarter, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the ongoing downward trend in overall crypto VC interest.

The recent surge in funding can be attributed to investors adopting a more long-term perspective on Web3, as opposed to the hype-driven “tourist investors” predominant in recent years. Chris Metinko, the author of the report, notes that investors are shifting their focus to the AI sector, indicating a change in investment strategy. There is a growing interest in supporting the foundational infrastructure of the decentralized internet, rather than solely concentrating on crypto wallets and lending platforms, which attracted significant investments during the peak period of 2021 to 2022.

While large funding rounds were relatively uncommon in Q1, several notable investments stood out. Exohood Labs, a company integrating AI, quantum computing, and blockchain, secured a remarkable $112 million seed round at a valuation of $1.4 billion. EigenLabs, an Ether token “restaking” platform, raised $100 million in a Series B round led by a16z crypto. Additionally, Freechat, a decentralized social network leveraging blockchain technology, secured $80 million in a Series A round. These investments, among others, contributed to the increase in valuations and the emergence of four new Web3 unicorns in Q1.

Despite the recent progress, the future trajectory of Web3 remains uncertain. Metinko suggests that the next few quarters will be pivotal in determining the industry’s direction. While investors anticipate a rebound in investment as the decentralized internet evolves, it may take another year for venture capital activity to stabilize after the exuberance of 2021. Factors such as the approval of U.S. spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds and the upcoming Bitcoin halving could also influence the market, given the rising prices of Bitcoin and Ether.

A noteworthy example of significant funding in the Web3 space is Monad Labs’ recent successful funding round, which secured $225 million led by Paradigm. Monad Labs is a layer-1 blockchain compatible with Ethereum, offering faster transaction processing. This funding round harkens back to the golden era of crypto funding in 2021-2022, when L1 solutions attracted substantial investments.

Earlier this year, Balance, a digital asset custodian based in Canada, announced that it had once again reached $2 billion in assets under custody (AUC) amidst the recent market recovery. Similarly, Korea Digital Asset (KODA), the largest institutional crypto custody service in South Korea, has experienced remarkable growth in crypto assets under its custody, expanding by nearly 248% in the second half of 2023.

Analysts at Bernstein Research project that crypto funds could reach an impressive $500 billion to $650 billion within the next five years, representing a significant leap from the current valuation of approximately $50 billion. This forecast underscores the growing optimism and potential for substantial growth within the crypto industry in the coming years.

Source: cryptonews.com

The post Web3 Startups Raise Nearly $1.9B in Q1 2024 Despite Overall Downtrend in Crypto VC Interest appeared first on HIPTHER Alerts.

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ASIC cracks down on blockchain mining firms

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Three blockchain mining companies – NGS Crypto, NGS Digital, and NGS Group – along with their directors, Brett Mendham, Ryan Brown, and Mark Ten Caten, are facing legal action from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for allegedly operating without a license, in violation of Australia’s Corporations Act. ASIC initiated legal proceedings against these entities on April 9, citing concerns about their non-compliance with financial regulations and their solicitation of Australian investors.

According to ASIC, the NGS companies promoted blockchain mining packages with fixed-rate returns to Australian investors, encouraging the transfer of funds from regulated superannuation funds to self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) for conversion into cryptocurrency. Approximately 450 Australians invested a total of around USD 41 million in these packages, raising concerns about potential financial losses.

The legal action filed by ASIC alleges that the companies violated section 911A of the Corporations Act, which prohibits companies from providing financial services without a valid Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL). ASIC is seeking interim and final court orders to prohibit the NGS companies from offering financial services in Australia without an AFSL.

ASIC Chair Joe Longo emphasized the importance of investors carefully considering the risks before investing in crypto-related products through their SMSFs. Longo stated that ASIC’s actions send a message to the crypto industry about the regulator’s commitment to ensuring compliance with regulations and protecting consumers.

In a separate development, the Federal Court appointed receivers for the digital currency assets associated with the NGS companies and their directors to safeguard these assets amid concerns about the risk of dissipation. Mendham was also issued a travel restriction order, preventing him from leaving Australia.

While a court date for the proceedings has not been set, ASIC’s investigation is ongoing, with the regulator continuing to gather evidence and build its case. It is worth noting that the investigated companies share a similar name with NGS Super, a legitimate Australian pensions provider, leading to potential confusion among investors. NGS Super clarified that it is not involved in selling cryptocurrency or related products and has taken legal action to protect its trademark and members’ interests.

Source: iclg.com

The post ASIC cracks down on blockchain mining firms appeared first on HIPTHER Alerts.

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