The Rise and Fall of Facebook Libra

Facebook Libra has been in the news a lot lately. This cryptocurrency was envisioned as a so-called stablecoin. Libra was designed carefully to avoid the huge fluctuations faced by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The plan was to offer a more stable currency, backed by stable securities. Sponsors like Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal seemed just about ready to get on board with the project.

 

However, by late October, they had all pulled their backing off the table. eBay, Stripe, and Mercado Pago were other potential sponsors who didn’t quite come through. Why the loss of confidence? Many aspects of Libra have been too up in the air for too long. In particular, Facebook’s role in the project opened it up to special concerns.

 

Facebook was famously always the social network that required real names. With Libra, if they offered anonymity, it could create liabilities. The platform could attract lots of black market activity and scams. However, if Libra were too closely linked to people’s Facebook profiles, it could cause problems in terms of privacy issues. The social network has alarmed consumers when it comes to data already.

 

Asking Facebook’s end users for access to financial details could really increase their risk exposure. If the two services were too closely linked, any data breach to either network could prove devastating for everyone involved. The idea of the low-volatility securities backing the stablecoin also seems overly optimistic in the wake of the 2008 recession.

 

Perhaps most importantly, Facebook is already facing calls for increased regulation. These are coming from powerful political figures, including candidates for the US Presidency like Elizabeth Warren. Entering the world of currency will almost definitely lead to more government scrutiny. For one thing, governments need a stable currency and don’t want people to use an alternative that undermines theirs. For another, Facebook has already been implicated in election tampering.

 

Critics of Libra point out that there are already better ways to do many of the things Facebook claims this currency will solve. Solutions like Ripple follow the rules set in place by the federal government. They’re already used to facilitate payments internationally at reasonable costs. There seems to be no real way that Libra would do the same thing at a lower cost, or with more efficiency.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

The Rise and Fall of Facebook Libra

How to Make Money Without Getting a Second Job

Most people want disposable income and walking around money so they can have a more enjoyable lifestyle, but for those who are otherwise content with their current employment situation, it might not be a viable option to switch careers. In this day and age, it is easier than ever to have a lucrative side gig in addition to having a regular job. 

 

For any side gig, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of the time and money that will be spent on your end in order to achieve the ultimate goal of having more cash in your pocket. One way to earn money pretty easily is through passive income – getting paid for something you’ve already done. If you enjoy taking pictures, you can sell your photos online as stock images to a number of online galleries. This is the gift that keeps on giving because after you provide a one-time product, you still reap the rewards.

 

Another good source of income is to offer you and your car as a transfer service by transporting people or goods around town. Roadie is an on-the-way delivery service that helps bring together people with delivery needs and others who happen to be going in the same direction. The major advantage to you, as a driver, is that you can earn money without deviating much from your typical schedule. Ridesharing services are also a great way to earn some extra income. Lyft and Uber are two major players in the mobility service industry by employing regular citizens as contract employees. 

 

Unclaimed funds are a topic that most people don’t even think about, but there are individuals out there who have money waiting for them for various reasons such as uncashed payroll, insurance reimbursement, stock dividends, balances from bank accounts, and estate revenue. It is important to be cautious when checking the online databases to see if your name appears. There are only a couple of sites that are legitimately certified by the government. They are missingmoney.com and the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). You may file a claim to collect any money that belongs to you. Unclaimed gift cards are another way of getting funds with minimal effort. Many establishments will buy back unused gift cards for a small transaction fee. 

 

If you are someone who is handy or possesses a unique skill set, you can sign up for task services. People are always in need of help such as painting and repairs. Task Rabbit is the most well-known app out there for matching peoples’ needs with the right helpers. 

 

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

How to Make Money Without Getting a Second Job

Understanding Retirement Annuities

There are multiple options for investors saving for retirement including employer-sponsored and self-employed pension plans, 401k or 403b plans, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and deferred annuities. Here is some information to help you understand retirement annuities and how they can fit into your financial plans.

 

What is an annuity?

 

Financial institutions, mainly investment and insurance companies, offer annuities to individuals as long-term investments for retirement savings. Someone can make a lump sum investment or monthly installments to fund an annuity. At some future date, the annuity contract will provide a reliable income stream to the individual. Social Security and defined benefit pension payments are classic examples of how annuities are intended to work.

 

It helps to understand the concept of fixed or variable and immediate or deferred annuities. A fixed, or lifetime, annuity provides a lifetime stream of income starting at a predetermined date and continuing until death. A variable annuity is popular as a way to defer some portion of income taxes. An immediate annuity takes a lump sum investment and converts it into payments that start immediately and continue for life. A deferred annuity can be funded with a lump sum investment but usually involves monthly investments designed to grow over time before being converted to the lifetime income payment stream.

 

Why should someone invest in an annuity?

 

There are few arguments against planning for and investing in your retirement. If there is a “con” to investing an annuity, it is that you give up a portion of today’s dollars to create a future income stream. The obvious benefit is that you create a lifetime future income that starts as soon as you retire. Another benefit of deferred annuities is tax savings. Many annuities allow you to defer taxes on investment returns or contributions until you start taking monthly distributions.

 

Considerations

 

There are many annuity products to choose from, so you need to consider the:

 

  • High cost and limited tax benefits of variable annuities
  • Hefty commission associated with fixed annuities
  • Risk of loss due to outliving your assets
  • Risk of loss due to insolvency of insurer or annuity company

Advice

 

Financial planners and retirement planning professionals recommend purchasing annuities from more than one company to reduce the risk of loss, minimize costs, and maximize returns. Even if you choose to invest with a single financial institution, it pays to understand how annuities work. Whether you need to invest a lump sum today to create a lifetime income or need to invest for your future retirement, this information can point you in the right direction for including annuities in your retirement plan.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

Understanding Retirement Annuities

Spotlight: Switzerland’s New Platform 10 Art District

Every year in Basel, Switzerland, Art Basel presents an exhibition featuring high end works by local artists. This yearly exhibition has turned Switzerland into more than just a blip on the map in the world of contemporary art.

 

This event brings together hipsters with art curators and gallery owners to create a community of passionate and dedicated artists. Due to its overwhelming popularity, there are now two competing art shows held in Hong Kong and Miami Beach.

 

Art has always been a significant part of the culture in Switzerland. Since Art Basel was launched, the fine arts have been treasured throughout the country. As a result. Switzerland boasts world-famous art museums. Some of these museums include:

 

  • Bern’s Zentrum Paul Klee Museum
  • Zurich’s Kunsthaus
  • Lucerne’s Rosengart Collection

 

Currently, under construction, Plateforme 10, set to be the largest museum in Switzerland, will be the next-door neighbor of the Lausanne train station. As the center of the city, it will be a prime spot for tourists to visit.

 

Once it is open for business, the Plateforme 10 is poised to set the city’s definition of an art district. It will hold a total of three museums on its property. These three museums are currently spaced out around the city. The Plateforme 10 will be the new home of:

 

  • Musee Cantonal des Beaux-Arts
  • Musee de l’Elysee
  • Museum of Contemporary Design And Applied Arts

 

In total, the three museums will come together to cover a campus stretching 237,000 feet. As a result, all three museums will have more space in which to display their exhibits.

 

To many, Lausanne is the perfect place for this new museum to open. The city is known as the world’s most free-spirited. As the Canton of Vaud capital, Lausanne borders the French Alps and Switzerland’s famous Lake Geneva. The city exudes the vibes of a young generation. As an artistic hub, it embraces a generation that thrives on their creative spirit.

 

Any art lover owes it to him or herself to plan a trip to Switzerland The Platform 10 District is not to be missed. It is an experience that visitors will never forget.

Spotlight: Switzerland’s New Platform 10 Art District

Personal Finance Habits that Everyone Should be Following

Millions of Americans are deep in credit card and student loan debt. There is a big fear of an upcoming retirement crisis because people have so little saved for their golden years. Much of the problem in American personal finance stems from the lack of good financial habits. Here are three great habits that everyone should follow.

 

 

Set up a Budget

 

A budget simply allows a person or family to track income and expenses. Many expenses are fixed each month. For example, a car payment or a rent or mortgage payment will generally stay pretty stable from month to month. Other expenses are variable. Utility bills fluctuate by the season. Food costs can vary widely from one month to the next. At the beginning of each month, it’s a good idea to set aside some time to look at the expected income for the month and then see what’s available for discretionary bills like food and entertainment. One month might require leaner food choices while another might allow for a few steaks. A budget will help a family decide which direction to go.

 

 

Create a Plan for Savings

 

Those who pay themselves after everyone else will have little to save. It’s a good idea to pay yourself first. This requires a savings plan. It’s possible to save even before the IRS takes its share. To achieve this goal, it’s necessary to save in a tax-advantaged plan like a 401(k) or an IRA. The traditional options actually cut taxable income and allows a saver to save every penny of those dollars up to the IRS limit. Starting at a small percentage and then building it over time can allow a family to ease into savings and make changes less painful.

 

 

Pay Down Debt Aggressively

 

Many people are comfortable with debt. However, every dollar that goes toward paying off debts and the interest on them is a dollar that cannot be saved or used for something else that’s more beneficial. Paying the minimum on a credit card could leave a person in debt for 10 or 20 years even on a very small balance. That’s why it’s important to pay more than the minimum each month.

 

 

These are just three financial habits. However, few are more important when it comes to building wealth and achieving financial freedom. Getting started as soon as possible is the key to long-term success in personal finance.

 

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

Personal Finance Habits that Everyone Should be Following

Five Top Fintech Companies in the USA

Financial technology continues to be one of the most exciting emerging industries in the United States. As businesses begin to brace for the changes brought to us by fintech companies, early adopters stand to gain the most from these innovations. 

 

Let’s look at 5 of the top fintech companies in the USA and examine how they can help everyday consumers. 

 

Coinbase 

 

If you’ve followed the financial technology sector, you’ve probably heard all about cryptocurrency. If not, cryptocurrency is all the rage in Silicon Valley and Coinbase is the premier cryptocurrency exchanges facing USA customers. 

 

Best of all, Coinbase is regulated and insured. American customers can quickly sign up and buy a number of different cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and other types of altcoins. 

 

Founders: Brian Armstrong, Fred Ehrsam

 

Funding: $525.3 Million

 

Founded: 2012

 

Robinhood 

 

Investing in the stock market can seem intimidating and challenging. Robinhood has changed the game on brokerage accounts by letting users buy stocks without an account minimum. 

 

Robinhood directly drafts the money out of your checking account and the Robinhood app functions as brokerage account with no commission fees. 

 

There is a premium Robinhood service that gives you more features but Robinhood has changed the game by opening up the world of stock trading to normal, everyday hardworking people. 

 

Founders: Baiju Bhatt, Vlad Tenev

 

Funding: $539 Million

 

Founded: 2013

 

Stripe 

 

Businesses of all sizes benefit from Stripe’s simple to use merchant API. With Stripe, businesses are able to get predictable merchant fees when they process credit cards and ACH payments. Stripe integrates with a plethora of apps simplifying the accounting and receivables portion of your business. 

 

Founders: John Collison, Patrick Collison

 

Funding: $785 Million

 

Founded: 2010

 

Credit Karma 

 

Think of Credit Karma like a toolbox for your credit. The better your credit score, the more access you get to better financing offers. 

 

With Credit Karma, members can utilize all the free services offered by the company. As the consumer’s credit score improves, Credit Karma will target special financing deals to consumers that net Credit Karma referral fees. Credit Karma claims that it has upwards of 85 million users. 

 

Founders: Kenneth Lin, Nichole Mustard, Ryan Graciano

 

Funding: $868 Million

 

Founded: 2007

 

Avant 

 

Consumers need access to capital and sometimes, they need it fast. With Avant, consumers can gain access to up to $35,000 in as little as one day. These personal loans can be used to fund vacations, debt consolidation or personal ventures. 

 

Founders: Al Goldstein, John Sun, Paul Zhang

 

Funding: $1.8 Billion

 

Founded: 2012

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

Five Top Fintech Companies in the USA

Financial Advice for Married Couples

One of the biggest challenges faced by modern couples is finances. Getting ahead of their finances takes planning, education and consistency. Although disagreements over finances can and do come up, there are some simple steps that can keep such disagreements to a minimum so you can focus on what is really important.

 

Maintain Separate and Joint Accounts

A simple way to cut down down disagreements is to maintain your own accounts. Although some joint accounts will also be necessary, each spouse should have the opportunity to manage some money as they see fit.

 

Track the Money

Tracking income and expenditures is key to maintaining financial well-being. The easiest way to do so is to create a budget. A good budget will consider necessary bills as well as fun money and savings or investments.

 

Determine Priorities

The same things are not important to every couple. Some may wish to purchase a home while others may elect to rent and travel frequently. Make a plan together, taking into account what your top needs and wants are.

 

Talk About Money

The best way to keep the lines of communication open is to talk about money and to do so regularly. Frequent conversations can keep you on the path towards financial freedom, while also enabling you to address any issues that come up along the way.

 

Save Save Save

Make a savings plan and then stick to it. Although the amount of savings will vary based on income and expenses, a good rule of thumb is to look to save at least 10 percent of income.

 

Handle Debt

Any debts also require planning and execution. Once debts are paid off, make it a priority to remain debt free.

 

Be Open and Honest

Financial secrets are a great way to ruin an otherwise-good marriage. Make sure to always be open and honest when it comes to everything, especially money. Financial problems can be dealt with, but dishonesty or lying cannot.

 

Plan for Bumps in the Road

Despite the best planning and strategy, things can and do come up. Unemployment, for example, can quickly change your financial picture. Plan ahead for such issues by building and maintaining an emergency fund.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

Financial Advice for Married Couples