Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com. What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Multigenerational debt holders with student debt are on the rise. There are now 44 million people in the U.S. who have $1.5 trillion in student loans. This debt not only impacts the person who owns it, but the student loan problem also has a far-reaching economic impact. Parents, youth, and even grandparents are struggling with the implications of how to address this debt.In the process, research shows that those with this debt have to face eight to 10 years of delayed home ownership as well as a shortage on 401(k) contributions. Despite the college degrees and lucrative positions, those with student debt still face a wealth gap that many believe is close to impossible to close. Rep. Scott Peters, Co-Sponsor of the Employer Participation in Repayment Act, who aims to revise the tax code to facilitate employer assistance in the repayment of student loans comments, “When I was in college, the cost was much lower, and I benefited from student loans. Today, young Americans are so crippled by college debt they can’t invest in a home, start a family, or save for retirement.”Relieving the Student Loan BurdenHowever, both startups and investors realize the importance of developing solutions that reduce their financial burdens. Enter companies like FutureFuel.io, a technology provider of student debt employer benefits solutions, and its founder, Laurel Taylor. Their approach to student debt is to make student debt benefits part of employer-sponsored benefits plans. Next, add in investors who want to crush this student debt by funding companies like FutureFuel. Today, FutureFuel announced that Rethink Impact, a female-led venture capital firm who focuses on impact investing for women-led technology businesses, is leading a Series A round of $11.2 million to fund their growth. However, they are not alone in helping FutureFuel on this round of funding. Others include Breton Capital, First Data, G9 Ventures, The Impact Engine, Reach Capital, Salesforce Ventures, SixThirty, and Vulcan Capital. To date, FutureFuel has received $15.7 million in funding. FutureFuel’s Platform For Student LoansFutureFuel.io partners with employers to offer a comprehensive approach to the student debt dilemma through its FutureFuel.io Student Debt FinHealth Platform. This SaaS platform offers six main components: Repayment: Employers can offer contributions directly to employees’ student loans. Also, employees can leverage their existing benefits to help pay down student debt. These benefits may include unused vacation days, bonuses, or new employer-sponsored contributions.Round-Up: This automated feature takes spare change and applies it to the user’s highest-interest-rate student loan.Refinancing Marketplace: The company curates multiple lenders on a single platform who then compete to refinance these student loans. Those that have used the marketplace have saved an average of $19,000 over the life of the loan and lowered interest rates by approximately 1.7 percent.Roll Up: FutureFuel’s platform can aggregate a user’s average of four to seven student loans in one place. This helps the user understand, manage, and automate payment. FutureFuel.io also uses metadata on each loan and personalizes how each action the user takes impact their approach to paying down this student loan debt.Recalibrate: Users can access a personalized student loan calculator to better understand their total debt, dollars spent, and days saved by using FutureFuel.io’s features, including refinancing, employer-sponsored repayment, and the round-up tool.Read: To improve overall financial literacy, FutureFuel delivers relevant content through its platform.Regulation: The company integrates student debt benefits in connection with 401(k) program design.FutureFuel’s platform also provides employers with many benefits in the process, making it a win-win. They can recruit and retain top talent, increase workforce diversity, capture additional productivity through decreased stress related to the financial burden this talent carries, and shorten the length of users’ debt load by approximately three to five years. Also, an employer can launch and go live with the platform within one hour with no payroll integration required. From an Increasing Problem to Fueling a SolutionFutureFuel.io is gaining traction, attracting small and medium employers, Fortune 500 customers, and channel partners that include Colonial Life, Student Choice Credit Union, and Ultimate Software. To date, several million employees and users are already experiencing what this solution has to offer. Jenny Abramson of Rethink Impact noted, “The results employers have seen from providing FutureFuel.io offerings to employees speak volumes. Employees using the platform are 35 percent more likely to outperform their peers, have a willingness to work for their employer for five years, and women and persons of color indicate they prefer student debt benefits 11 to 1 over 401(k) benefits.”Along with other companies like SoFi student refinancing and student loan marketplaces like Credible, FutureFuel and the investors funding these fintech startups are starting to make inroads into the mountain of student loan debt. In turn, the future may be brighter for university students who can make smarter borrowing choices and more effectively manage their debt as they enter the workforce. Brad AndersonEditor In Chief at ReadWrite Related Posts The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology 6 User-Interface Musts for Personal Finance Apps The Top 5 Issues Faced by Futurists
Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now “I’m about quality, not quantity.”Quality isn’t really your problem. Your problem is you don’t have enough quality, and that means you have a quantity problem. Not enough quantity, not quality.“Yeah, but I don’t want to bang out calls to people who aren’t good prospects. I am not a telemarketer.”Good. Then bang out calls to people who are good prospects. You know who your dream clients are. You know your competitor’s clients. Spend your time calling the contacts who should be working with you, the ones who will benefit massively from what you sell.“Those clients already have someone that they’re working with, and it’s hard to displace them. I want to do something easier than that.”Right. That’s why you are pursuing them. And that is why they are pursuing your clients. The best time to nurture those relationships and pursue their business was 24 months ago. The second best time is today. If you want to make selling easy, do what needs to be done before it needs to be done.“If marketing provided me with ready-to-close leads, I could easily make my number. I am great when I am in front of the client.”Are you in front of enough clients? No? Then you have a quantity problem. You are not doing enough work, or you aren’t doing the work with a great enough effectiveness to produce the results you need.There is no choice between quality and quantity. The two ideas are not—and cannot be—mutually exclusive. That is a false dichotomy. You need quality opportunities, and you need enough of them to be able to reach your goals. If you don’t have enough opportunities, that isn’t a quality problem; it is most definitely a quantity problem. Increasing the quality of your opportunities does nothing to close the gap between the opportunities you need and the number of opportunities you have now.Photo credit: Stephanie Overton Identities via photopin (license).
The Government has allocated some $28 million in the 2019/20 fiscal year to complete construction of two drop-in centres for homeless persons in the parishes of St. Thomas and Trelawny. Under the Assistance to Homeless (Street Project), which is being implemented by the Local Government and Community Development Ministry, the drop-in centres will be used to assess, feed, treat, counsel and otherwise care for these people. The money has been set aside in the 2019/20 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives. Story Highlights The Government has allocated some $28 million in the 2019/20 fiscal year to complete construction of two drop-in centres for homeless persons in the parishes of St. Thomas and Trelawny.The money has been set aside in the 2019/20 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives.Under the Assistance to Homeless (Street Project), which is being implemented by the Local Government and Community Development Ministry, the drop-in centres will be used to assess, feed, treat, counsel and otherwise care for these people.The project, which has been extended from March 2019 to March 2021, is aimed at providing drop-in facilities in all parishes where they are non-existent.Achievements under the project, to date, have resulted in the construction of four drop-in centres.
zoom The steel-cutting ceremony for the first of two Costa Cruises’ ships to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) was held at Finnish Meyer Turku shipyard on September 13, 2017.The newbuilding, to be named Costa Smeralda, is set to debut in October 2019 with a sister ship following in 2021.With a service speed of 17 knots, the new cruise vessel will feature a length of 337 meters and a width of 42 meters. Costa Smeralda will offer cruises in the Western Mediterranean and will be able to accommodate a total of 6,554 passengers and 1,646 crew.The construction of the Costa Smeralda is part of a strategic plan of Carnival Corporation – a parent company of Costa Cruises – to build seven LNG-powered ships for its 103-ship fleet, starting in fall 2018 when the company’s German-based AIDA Cruises brand introduces AIDAnova.“The two new Costa Cruises ships are a true innovation and set new standards for the entire sector. They will be among the first cruise ships powered by LNG, spurring the development of this green technology,” Neil Palomba, Costa Cruises’ President, commented.The two new Costa Cruises’ ships will be powered both in port and on the open sea by LNG. LNG will be stored in special tanks on board ships and will be used to generate 100 percent of the energy required for navigation and onboard services thanks to dual-fuel hybrid engines. LNG bunkering will be provided by Shell Western LNG (Shell).As informed, Costa Cruises’ ships will be partially built by new machinery and building processes of Meyer Turku. With an investment plan of EUR 185 million, Meyer Turku is aiming to become one of the world’s most modern cruise ship yards.“These new facilities will prepare us for the increasing international competition. 183 900 GT Costa Smeralda is also a step up in ship size – we need the new facilities to answer to the demand of our customers and to increase our competitiveness for the future,” Jan Meyer, Meyer Turku CEO, pointed out.Image Courtesy: Meyer Turku
Yesterday (12 September), the EU Parliament voted through the EU Copyright Directive. This move will, according to critics, put an end to the open internet as know it. We reported on what the EU Copyright Directive means for the developer world earlier this week. Now, that world has been rocked significantly, with engineers, technologists and free speech advocates searching for solutions for what looks like a potentially devastating result. What happened in the EU Copyright Directive vote? Articles 11 and 13 were both crucial issues in this week’s vote. They were the reason the directive was rejected back in July. The vote yesterday was on small amendments to these articles that, for the most part, keeps their intent intact. Article 11 has been described as a link tax – it effectively hands publishers control over who can link to their content and how, while article 13 has been criticised for enforcing ‘copyright filters’ on websites and platforms where users upload content. 438 MEPs voted in favorr of the directive; 226 against it. Why did MEPs vote in favor of the EU Copyright Directive? The EU Parliament press release provides a good indication of the thinking behind the directive. It would seem that the intent is too remove some of the power from large tech platforms – like Google and Facebook – and return some power to media companies and content producers that have been struggling in the digital age. The press release states: “Many of Parliament’s changes to the EU Commission’s original proposal aim to make certain that artists, notably musicians, performers and script authors, as well as news publishers and journalists, are paid for their work when it is used by sharing platforms such as YouTube or Facebook, and news aggregators such as Google News.” Alongside this, there are a number of exemptions in the legislation that the EU Parliament argues will ensure none of the consequences its critics have suggested could happen will actually happen. For example: Small and micro platforms are excluded from the directive. Normal hyperlinks won’t be impacted by article 11: the press release states that ‘merely sharing hyperlinks to articles, together with “individual words” to describe them, will be free of copyright constraints’. Wikipedia and open source platforms like GitHub will be exempt. What happens next? There will be a final vote on the directive in January 2019. However, if this passes, the implementation of the legislation might vary at a national level. Individual EU countries could choose to enact the directive in whichever way they choose. Reaction to the vote The EU Copyright Directive has faced intense criticism since it first appeared back in 2016 – but with the vote yesterday, organizations and individuals have voiced their concern at the result. Julia Reda, MEP and member of the Pirate Party in Germany, who has been a vociferous opponent of the directive in Parliament, called it “a severe blow to the free and open internet.” Similarly, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published a forthright post against the EU Parliament’s decision: “We suffered a crushing setback today, but it doesn’t change the mission. To fight, and fight, and fight, to keep the Internet open and free and fair, to preserve it as a place where we can organise to fight the other fights that matter, about inequality and antitrust, race and gender, speech and democratic legitimacy.” The EFF also put together a letter addressed to Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament. It was signed by some of the best known figures in technology, including Tim Berners-Lee, Guido van Rossum, and Jimmy Wales. The letter ends: “We support the consideration of measures that would improve the ability for creators to receive fair remuneration for the use of their works online. But we cannot support Article 13, which would mandate Internet platforms to embed an automated infrastructure for monitoring and censorship deep into their networks. For the sake of the Internet’s future, we urge you to vote for the deletion of this proposal.” The fight isn’t over yet, but you can sense palpable fear in many quarters about what this means for the future of the internet as we know it.