An interview with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Sven Lilienström

Founder of the Faces of Democracy initiative | Faces of Peace

“We need to remain vigilant when fundamental rights and the rule of law come under attack”

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
Ursula von der Leyen President of the European Commission

Dr. von der Leyen, you have been President of the EU Commission since December 1, 2019. The very first question we would like to ask you is: How significant are democracy and democratic values to you personally?

They are essential part of who I am and what I believe in, not only as a politician but as a human being. I grew up in a divided country: when I was a student in West Germany, East Germany was under authoritarian rule. I knew that people my age, on the other side of the wall, were not free to speak their mind, to demonstrate, to be themselves. And I knew that my parents, too, had lived under a dictatorship during their youth. I have always felt very lucky to be born in a blessed generation when it comes to personal freedoms and true democracy. I have also learnt that democracy can never be taken for granted. It is a seed that every generation must cherish and nourish. It is our responsibility to protect our democracies, and to improve them.

Crises are increasingly becoming a stress test for democracy – in Europe too. What challenges does our continent face in future, and are democracies actually able to manage them effectively?

Our response to the pandemic shows that a Union of democracies can deliver on its citizens’ needs. Look at all that we have achieved together. More than 75 percent of adults in the EU are fully vaccinated. By procuring our vaccines together, we made sure that all European countries had equal access to them. Meanwhile, we have exported as many vaccines as we delivered to Europeans – becoming the pharmacy of the world. No autocracy has achieved the same results. The same goes for our recovery plan, and for the European Green Deal. Democracies can manage any challenge effectively. Because in democracies, citizens contribute to solutions with all their strength and creativity. Because democracy is what we make of it. Every day anew.

“Fit for 55”: By 2030 the EU wishes to reduce its CO2 emissions by 55 percent – Europe’s “man-on-the-moon moment” on the way to delivering the Green Deal for a climate-neutral continent by 2050. How green will Europe become?

The Member States of the European Union have decided in a democratic process that Europe will be the first climate-neutral continent. We want to reconcile economic growth with our planet’s health. What is new is that we now have a roadmap to reach this goal, measure by measure, sector by sector, target by target. We have a roadmap towards zero-emissions cars, and to step up our production of clean energy. We have a Social Climate Fund, to cut energy bills for vulnerable households. And with our recovery plan, NextGenerationEU, we have unprecedented investment to help us achieve our climate goals – from home renovations to high-speed trains. Nine out of ten Europeans are asking us to act on climate change – and we are delivering on their expectations.

With the “European Democracy Action Plan,” the EU Commission intends to strengthen media freedom and pluralism and counter disinformation. How dangerous is fake news to democracy in Europe?

The pandemic has shown that disinformation can cost lives – literally. Information is a public good: our health, our economy, and the very functioning of our democracies rely upon it. Online platforms need to do more to fight disinformation – and we want to make sure they do so, with our Digital Services Act and by calling for a strengthened Code of practice on disinformation. Last month, we put forward a recommendation to give journalists better protection and announced a Media Freedom Act. Because democracy can only thrive if freedom of information, freedom of expression and media freedom are upheld.

Keyword “gender diversity”: You are the first female leader of the EU Commission, Kamala Harris the first female US Vice President. Do we need a women’s quota, and would such a quota really deliver greater equality?

We must strive for a system where women can always reach for the top, if this is what they want. The first step for this is to give equal opportunities to women and men. And for this, we are working to ensure quality education for all girls and women, to ensure parental leave for mothers and fathers alike, to guarantee equal pay for women, and to strengthen childcare. We have created, for instance, a Child guarantee, so that children in need have effective and free access to early childhood care and education. All parents, from all social backgrounds, should be able to send their kids to childcare and school. This is women empowerment at its most basic. As President of the European Commission, I have put up a team that is fully gender balanced. Yet today, fewer than 7 percent of top companies’ CEOs are women. So yes, years ago in Germany I have pushed for quotas for women on board. And it worked. Clearly, we need to incentivize companies and organizations to open up and give women their fair chance. We simply cannot exclude half of our talents from leadership positions.

Many young people take a democratic, peaceful and united Europe for granted. How can we enthuse young people about the European idea, or put another way: Why is Europe “nice”?

Europe is simply the best place to live in the world. In no other place in the world young people enjoy the same opportunities to study, to travel, to be entrepreneurs, and the same social protections. And in no other place young people enjoy such a broad set of rights and freedoms. This is what makes us who we are, and why we need to remain vigilant when fundamental rights and the rule of law come under attack. Europe must always remain a place where free speech is sacred, where all are equal before the law, and where everyone is free to love those who they wish. And one of our roles, as European Commission, is precisely to be the guardians of these fundamental values, which are guaranteed by the European Treaties. But we can only be successful if all European citizens – young and old – fight with us every day for these freedoms.

Dr. von der Leyen, our seventh question is always a personal one: Where do you feel at home – in Belgium, Germany or everywhere in Europe?

I was born and grew up in Brussels, I spent my teenage year and most of my political career in Germany. I feel at home in both of these places. Europe is my longing and I am a true citizen of the European Union. But ultimately, home is where my family is. We are a big family – with my husband, seven children, and a granddaughter too! I live in Belgium now, they are in Germany and across Europe. During the lockdowns, we tried to meet virtually every week. But it is not the same as being all together. Our family reunions – that’s when I truly feel at home!

About the Faces of Democracy and Faces of Peace initiatives:

To date over 1 million people in 50 countries have signed the online commitments of the Faces of Democracy and the Faces of Peace. More than 100 prominent figures from the world of politics, science, media, business and society are now committed to our democratic achievements – including numerous heads of state and government, Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, the publishers and chief editors of leading media publications and the CEOs of international companies. The Faces of Democracy initiative is now in its fifth year of existence.

5 Skills Needed for Success in International Business

5 Skills Needed for Success in International Business
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

International business is so much more involved and politically charged than it was even a decade ago. The need for a unique set of soft skills to help you navigate the international scene has become essential. While you still need to be an efficient negotiator and have analytical skills, the more subtle skill set will make a difference to your success. 

To remain competitive on the international stage, new graduates must have critical soft skills to help them relate to their colleagues and clients. Corporate management is still looking for those that excel at the technical skills but are also interested in candidates that are proficient in networking, adaptive thinking, and collaboration.

With inclusive programs from MBA Discovery, future business associates will learn how to adapt to the changing world of business. Let’s take a look at a few of the crucial soft skills that will help you succeed in international business.

Cross-Cultural Communication

Thanks to the reach of the internet and the convenience of modern travel, companies are doing business across the world. Your role in any industry will include working within a diverse environment. Finding ways to communicate across cultural lines effectively is essential to your success. You will need to keep an open mind, respect differences, and have a high level of appreciation for different cultures, traditions, and religious beliefs. 

Networking Abilities

Developing a collaborative network outside of your home country is essential to success in today’s business world. When you have a strong international network, you are often afforded opportunities you would never have otherwise. Online platforms like Linked In make networking across the globe an easy task. Making lasting connections requires diplomacy, excellent listening skills, and mastering your elevator pitch to be sensitive to all cultures. 

Adaptive Thinking

To be an effective adaptive thinker, you must hone your skills, including tact, impulse control, and humility. Having the ability to think outside of the box can help you to thrive in any international environment. When things change quickly, adaptive thinkers can control their impulses and come forward with a thoughtful solution. 

Resilience

You need to be mentally tough and need to be able to bounce back from the long hours and regular travel that a career in international business demands. Changing time zones, long meetings, and late hours can take a toll. You need to build up your resiliency to be at your best with your international colleagues and clients. 

Emotional Intelligence

Becoming a self-aware and confident business person will help you in your international dealings. Being able to control your emotions in various tense and serious situations will gain you respect from your peers and customers. Strong empathetic skills, a listening ear, and flexibility are all critical aspects of emotional intelligence.

If you are entering the realm of international business, you need to up your game to succeed. Strengthening your soft skills, including your networking abilities, being an adaptive thinker, heightening your emotional intelligence, and increasing your resiliency can assist you in becoming a successful international businessperson. 

A Quick Guide to Bitcoin Kiosks

Cryptocurrencies are on the rise. So many people are investing in cryptocurrency, as well as using it for spending regularly.

And of course, the most commonly purchased cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. There are many ways to buy Bitcoin. One of the most underrated, though, is by using Bitcoin kiosks. 

These are essentially ATMs that allow you to deposit cash or use a debit card to purchase Bitcoin, along with other major cryptocurrencies.

They are fast, efficient, and secure. So should you try using that Bitcoin kiosk located outside your favorite restaurant? Probably!

Here’s everything you need to know about buying Bitcoin using a physical kiosk.

Why Buy Bitcoin

Did you know that in 2010, the first purchase using Bitcoin was for two pizzas? Do you know how much that person spent on those pizzas? 10,000 Bitcoin.

Back then, Bitcoin was brand new, and no one knew what it was worth. Over the course of a decade, it started to catch on as a new form of internet currency. 

Demand for Bitcoin grew, and with it, the price per coin. So while you could’ve purchased a Bitcoin for a few cents back in the day, it would cost you around $40,000 as of late September 2021.

That’s a huge gain. Bitcoins’ price has constantly been rising. Especially lately as it’s become a mainstream investment class, people worldwide are investing in and using Bitcoin regularly.

Many experts agree that Bitcoin’s price is likely to move past $100,000 in the near future.

So why should you buy Bitcoin? Most people buy it in hopes of seeing some of these impressive gains. They would love to make a 100% profit. And doing so is likely, as long as you can hold onto your investment long enough and not panic sell when the price dips.

Bitcoin primarily acts as a hedge. It will protect your money from inflation, which is running rampant these days. 

If you’d like to invest in a unique asset that has provided far greater returns than anything else in the last decade, you should buy Bitcoin today.

What Are Bitcoin Kiosks?

One way of buying Bitcoin is by using a Bitcoin kiosk or ATM. These function just like regular ATMs.

But unlike a normal ATM, which puts cash in your bank account, a Bitcoin ATM uses the money you deposit to purchase Bitcoin at the current market rate.

So if you put a $100 bill into a Bitcoin kiosk when the price is $40,000, you would receive 0.0025 Bitcoin. 

You can also use a Bitcoin ATM to sell Bitcoin in exchange for cash. So if you want to sell your 0.0025 Bitcoin one month later, when the price is $45,000, you would receive about $112, minus any transaction fees.

When buying and selling Bitcoin, and any other cryptocurrencies, you’ll pay blockchain transaction fees. These aren’t charged by the ATM but are changed by the blockchain to record the transaction down, which proves ownership over your newly purchased Bitcoin. 

Benefits of a Bitcoin ATM

So why should you use a Bitcoin ATM over an online exchange? Bitcoin ATMs are fast and secure. Plus, they are easy to find these days. You can check out www.bytefederal.com to see where any of their 900 ATMs are located. 

When purchasing via an ATM, you’ll complete your transaction in a matter of moments. And once of the main benefits is that identity verification is instant.

When you sign up for an online exchange, identity verification is an in-depth process. While this is considered a good thing, it’s a sign of solid security; it’s definitely a hassle.

It can take users a few days before they can actually start buying and selling crypto on an online exchange. But with an ATM, the process is instant. 

Plus, your information and your Bitcoin are never exposed on an online exchange. These exchanges are the main targets for hackers since there is so much valuable currency and user data.

Attacks have happened in the past on all major exchanges. But with an ATM, you can bypass all of that. 

How to Buy and Sell Bitcoin Using a Bitcoin Kiosk

So what do you need to do to use a Bitcoin kiosk? First off, you need to have a cryptocurrency wallet. When you buy Bitcoin for the first time, you need a place to store it.

You don’t receive any physical Bitcoin, as cryptocurrencies are virtual currencies that live on the internet. So your wallet is a device that stores transaction files. 

You can either download a software wallet, which is an app on your mobile device or computer. Or, you can purchase a hardware wallet, which is the most secure option since it’s never connected to the internet. These are basically USB drives for storing crypto.

Regardless of what type of wallet you use, you’ll need a QR code, which displays your wallet address. When you visit an ATM, you’ll insert your money or debit card to make a purchase.

You’ll need to show the QR code on your mobile device, or even a printed version, which the ATM scans. Then, it sends your newly purchased Bitcoin to the wallet. 

Keep Your Details Safe

Because your Bitcoin is instantly sent to your private wallet, this type of transaction is considered very safe. The most important thing you can do, however, is keep your wallet details safe.

Each wallet address comes with a private key and a public key. The public key is what you use to receive crypto to your wallet. It’s what you show to your ATM.

If you purchase cryptocurrency online, you would input your public key to transfer it to your wallet. If a friend worldwide wants to send you some crypto for your birthday, you give them your public key.

Displaying your public key is safe, and no one can steal from your wallet using your public key.

Your private key, on the other hand, is what authorizes wallets to send and release funds. Never share this with anyone. Write it down and store it in a safe place because if you lose it, you may lose access to your crypto. 

Make Your First Bitcoin Purchase

Now that you know how to use Bitcoin kiosks to buy and sell this valuable cryptocurrency, it’s time to invest in some for yourself. First, set up your personal wallet, which doesn’t take very long at all.

Then, find your nearest kiosk and make your first purchase today. In a year’s time, you’ll be very glad you did.

Looking for more tips like this? Head over to our blog to keep reading. 

A Quick Guide on How to Build Wealth at Any Age

Ever heard of the wealth mentality and how it can help you build wealth from nothing? Well, if you want to start building wealth, you need to rethink your financial security. Financial decisions that you make in the present will determine how comfortable you’ll live in the future.

Regardless of your age, it’s never too late to start your wealth-building journey. Evaluate your savings, assets, and debt before coming up with a wealth creation plan. Avoid comparing yourself with your peers who have made great financial strides.

Amassing wealth from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated as most people think. Here are proven tips on how to build wealth at any age:

Cut Your Expenses

Start spending less and saving more for you to have enough personal finances to afford the future you want. For instance, you may cook at home instead of going to the restaurant as a way of saving money. With a tight budget, you won’t overstretch your income, and you’ll avoid running into debt.

Track your spending habits and lower your household expenses as part of your money management strategies. You should also cut your insurance premiums and re-evaluate your subscriptions to save cash.

With reduced expenses, you can allocate more money to paying off debts. The extra cash can also help finance a lucrative project or diversify your investment portfolio.

Pay off Your Debts (and Loans) Early

Your debts (and loans) can make it difficult for you to save or invest for the future. Create a debt management plan that allows you to pay off credit card balances and loans early. You should also pay off your mortgage or avoid getting one if it puts pressure on your income.

Pay more than your debt’s minimum repayment amount to settle the balance faster. You can also pay the debt twice or thrice a month to reduce the balance. Start with the most expensive loan if you have multiple loans under your name.

The downside of debts (and loans) is that they accrue interest charges. They may also affect your credit score if the lender submits your loan information to a credit bureau.

Consider Side Hustles

Turn your talent or passion into a side gig that can earn you extra cash if you have spare time. The side gig will complement your main job and improve your total income.

You may consider online side hustles like transcription, web design/coding, and writing/editing. Working online as a virtual assistant, coach, consultant, tutor, or marketer may earn you extra cash.

Offline side gigs to consider include freelance private chef or part-time adjunct professor. You may also work part-time as a yoga instructor, fitness coach, or freelance property manager.

Sign up for short certification courses to diversify your knowledge base. These certifications can help you land part-time hustles to grow your income and build wealth.

Have a Fully-funded Emergency Fund

An emergency fund will shelter you from the financial effects of an unexpected event. The size of this fund may vary with your income, dependents, monthly costs, and lifestyle. Save three to six months’ worth of your expenses in a locked account for emergencies.

While debt can help you cover a financial emergency, it will come with high-interest charges. An emergency fund will sustain you when you lose your job, unlike a debt or a loan.

Part of your emergency fund should help cover health emergencies. Money from your health savings account may help in instances where your medical insurance can’t be applicable.

Rethink Retirement

Start thinking about where you’ll get income during your retirement years. Your retirement plan should allow you to lead a comfortable and active life as a retiree.

Save a portion of your gross income into retirement accounts with good returns. You may put your money in a secure pension plan that guarantees tax relief. Furthermore, you may rely on your workplace pension (paid by your employer) to save for retirement.

The amount of money that can sustain you in your retirement years will depend on the lifestyle you’d like. You can use an online retirement tool to help you calculate how much money is needed in your retirement savings to afford that lifestyle.

Scrutinize Your Insurance Policies

A good insurance cover will prevent you from dealing with massive financial losses in undesirable situations. You should have affordable health insurance to cover unexpected, high healthcare costs. With the coverage, you enjoy free screenings, preventive care, and essential checkups.

Auto insurance will protect you from the legal consequences, medical expenses, and financial liability when you get in an accident. Depending on your lifestyle and income level, you may need life insurance, travel insurance, pet insurance, and home insurance.

Only spend up to ten per cent of your overall income on insurance policies. Discontinue any insurance coverage that drains your income and no longer suits your current lifestyle.

Diversify Your Investments

Spend part of your income on different assets and asset classes as a way of diversifying your investment portfolio. Only invest in opportunities and assets that you are familiar with to avoid running into losses. You should also look out for the latest investment tips to grow your knowledge base.

To grow your portfolio, consider exchange-traded funds (ETFs) such as stock ETFs, bond ETFs, and REIT ETFs. They give great returns without the market timing, fees, and taxes of mutual funds.

With stock ETFs, you’ll buy a company’s shares and earn money every time the company makes profits.

Bond ETFs allow municipal, federal, and corporate to borrow money from you and pay it back with interest. On the other hand, REIT (real estate investment trust) ETFs allow you to buy stocks of profitable real estate ventures. Your money will grow every time the value of the company or real estate rises.

Need More Insights on How to Build Wealth?

With these financial tips, you can build wealth gradually to secure your future years. Wealth building requires a proper strategy and a positive mindset to succeed. Consult as much as you can on how to make the most out of your hard-earned money.

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7 Helpful Business Banking Tips

Did you know that applying the best banking tips for your business can make it more productive?

In today’s volatile markets, entrepreneurs confront a slew of problems, the major one being business finances.

But having a good understanding of your business account and the services provided by your bank or building society can ensure that you’re getting the most out of your business banking.

A business account will undoubtedly help you manage your money and monitor your income and profit progress. This doesn’t matter whether you are a new venture, solo or start-up trader trying to position yourself. 

Getting accustomed to business banking best practices and checking your company account online will assist you in managing your money. This is especially helpful if you are new to accounting and bookkeeping.

Here is a list of 7 business banking tips to assist you in getting the most out of your business account and prevent any mistakes along the way.

1. Select the Best Introductory Offer

There are numerous introductory bonuses to take advantage of when choosing your first business bank account. This will also assist you in comparing accounts and choosing the one that is ideal for you.

They primarily involve providing a term of free business banking. This means you will not be required to pay a monthly service fee. Based on the provider you pick, introductory deals on existing business accounts can last up to 25 months. This allows you to avoid these extra fees as you establish your new firm.

Some initial deals will also waive transaction costs. This makes it totally free to deposit funds through cash, check, or electronic transfer. If you can look around for the greatest introductory offer, you may avoid costly fees and focus on profit in your initial stages of operation.

2. Speak to Your Business Manager

Starting your own business may be stressful enough. That is why you need to seek guidance wherever possible. Your building society or the best bank are among the best options.

You would most certainly be allocated a business manager by any big supplier, whom you may call whenever you need help. You may also use this opportunity to report a problem with your business account if one arises.

Developing a working connection with your company manager will help you obtain timely advice and address any difficulties that may arise.

This support may be quite beneficial for individual entrepreneurs and start-ups who may know their industry or skill but not about business finance.

Even if you’ve chosen an app-based business account with no local branches, you may get online and mobile assistance.

3. Borrow Without Remorse

Many small company entrepreneurs have used personal resources to fund their ventures. This is not suitable as the needs expand. This is because most businesses will need extra cash to support development and expansion.

Any borrowing will come with interest. Hence select your loan product wisely.

4. Don’t Allow Your Cash Flow to Turn Into a Cash Drain

Not every business checking accounts are the same.

The charges you pay for withdrawals and deposits might vary greatly. This is especially important if you run a firm with a considerable volume of transactions. These charges might easily pile up.

Also, not every fee is transactional. There may be extra fees for large amounts of cash, cheques, or coin.

Now, what are you going to do? Inform your banking institutions about your daily usage so that they can assist you in selecting the appropriate account for you.

A financial institution’s cash management services may frequently reduce costs and rates while increasing efficiency. Look for methods to save money by comparing several accounts. Then, select one that will have a minimal strain on your finances.

5. Avoid Overpaying For a Merchant Account When a Simple One Would Suffice

Most retail institutions now provide point of sale payment alternatives. This is because a huge percentage of consumers prefer making purchases using their debit or credit cards rather than cash.

This is useful for both management of cash and record-keeping. But, be certain that the merchant account provider you choose meets your demands in terms of services and charges.

If your transaction volume is not particularly large, a volume-based payment plan may lead to cost savings. In modern days, there are several options available that are tailored to your unique business needs.

Conduct some research and consult with your financial institution about your possibilities.

6. Avoid Combining Personal and Business Expenses

Using a personal credit card to fund your enterprise appears to be a simple solution, and it is a prevalent activity. It is, however, critical to keeping your personal and business spending distinct.

It is for this reason that company credit cards exist. Keeping your company spending separate helps make tax season go more smoothly. It simplifies record keeping and makes your tax accountant happy.

It can help you develop your company’s credit and make it simpler to get other loans in the future. Above all, business credit cards provide excellent incentives explicitly tailored to enterprises.

7. Save Money for Both Your Business and Your Trip Separately

If you are a solo entrepreneur, the boundary between your personal and business money might get blurred.

But, small company owners should keep their personal funds distinct from their business savings. This makes it easy to prepare and budget for expected company needs, such as bulldozers and office supplies.

A long-term savings strategy will enable you to borrow very little and offer a financial cushion for your company. So, put money aside for holidays in one account and businesses in another.

Use the Above Banking Tips to Leverage Your Business Banking Fully

Knowing banking tips and a good connection with your banker may be pretty beneficial for expanding your business.

A competent small business bank will guarantee that qualifying small businesses have enough credit to sustain their operations. Also, they will give solutions to difficulties and go above and beyond to ensure continuous development.

At CFI.co, we offer market news, analysis, and market opinion from around the world. Our specialised editorial staff ensures that readers have a deeper understanding of the factors affecting and transforming the global economy.

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Agtech Firm ‘Natufia’ wins KPMG’s Inaugural Saudi Tech Innovator Competition

Natufia, a Saudi Arabia-based agri-technology provider that enables you to grow fresh plants and herbs all year round, has emerged winner of the KPMG Private Enterprise Tech Innovator in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia competition for 2021. 

Dr Abdullah Al Fozan, Chairman, KPMG Saudi Arabia

Natufia now joins the winning tech innovators from 20 countries worldwide to qualify for the inaugural KPMG Private Enterprise Tech Innovator competition at Web Summit 2021 in Lisbon, Portugal, in November.

Natufia, which goes beyond farm-to-fork to provide herbs and plants from kitchen-to-table since its founding in 2014, was up against four other tech startups in a closely contested competition from BRAQ Aerospace, Juleb, Digital Pharma CompanyMawidy and Tarjama who are shortlisted from 22 applicants in this inaugural edition.

The Natufia Smart Kitchen Garden is an innovative automated garden for every home, offering 100% nutritious herbs and vegetables without GMO or pesticides.  

A panel of four KPMG judges – Dr. Samer Abdallah, Head of ICT Sector, Fuad Chapra, Head of Private Enterprise & Family Business, Mazhar Hussain, Digital Lighthouse Leader, and Buthainah Albaity, Associate Director Private Enterprise and Family Business – chose the final winner after intense deliberations based on six equally weighted categories, including innovation and disruption, market potential, customer adoption, marketing traction, long-term potential, and quality of their pitch.

Dr. Samer Abdallah commented: “The response to the KPMG Private Enterprise Tech Innovator competition was astounding. The competition was pretty intense and demonstrated the thriving and flourishing technology community in Saudi Arabia. Amid innovative ideas and strong pitches from all contestants, Natufia was chosen the winner.”

 “We are excited to be named KPMG Private Enterprise Tech Innovator in Saudi Arabia. We thank KPMG for the opportunity and support received throughout the process. We are all set to head to the Web Summit to share our concept with a global audience,” stated Duaa Albalawi, Chief Botanical Officer at Natufia. 

The award was presented by KPMG in Saudi Arabia Chairman, Dr Abdullah Al Fozan.

About the competition

The KPMG Global Tech Innovator competition is hosted in more than 20 countries around the world. The Tech Innovator finalist in each country will represent their country on the world stage at Web Summit 2021, where they will be given the opportunity to get recognised as the global winner.

How to Find the Best Bank For Your Needs

Do you want to open a bank account but aren’t sure which bank to choose? Selecting a bank is one of the most important financial decisions you will ever make. All the banks aren’t the same. They differ in the financial products and services they offer to individuals, small businesses, and startups. With so many choices and you may not know where to even start. This is why you need to be more strategic and conduct thorough research to find the best bank that fits your needs.

If you’re wondering which bank suits your needs, here are things you should consider when shopping for a bank. It’ll save you a lot of hassle and money.

1. Identify the Type of Account You Want to Open

Comparing all the types of products and services different bank offers can be overwhelming. To make it much easier, you should identify the type of bank account you want to open depending on your financial goals. Knowing whether you want a checking account, savings account, money market account, certificates of deposit (CDs), can help narrow down your search.

While both saving accounts and CDs help you stash money you don’t want to use for a while, one major difference is that CDs store your money for a pre-determined amount of time and lock in your interest rate for the full term. If you’re looking to keep the money you’ll spend regularly, you should opt for a checking account.

Money market accounts are also similar to a savings account, except the bank can send you a debit card or paper checks, making it easy for you to access your savings.

2. Consider Interest Rates

Most checking accounts don’t usually pay interest, and if they do, the rates are very low. If you want more interest, you can try opening a savings account, CD, or money market account. The rates depend on the bank you choose. In case interest rates matter to you, ensure you find a bank with competitive rates.

3. Find a Bank That Charges Low or No Fees

Opening an account with an institution that charges costly fees isn’t beneficial. You end up losing money instead of saving. When it comes to monthly maintenance fees, you need to choose a bank that charges no fees, low fees, or fees you can waive.

You should also watch out for ATM fees, foreign transaction fees, excess transaction fees, and overdraft fees. If you overdraw a checking account, you may have to pay an overdraft fee. While you may opt for an overdraft protection program, you may end up paying more. So when you’re looking for a new bank, you should find one with more lenient overdraft policies.

Paying fewer ATM fees will depend on the bank and the type of account you want to open. If you often travel in foreign countries, check the bank charges for using your debit card abroad. Also, look at how much different banks charge when you go over your withdrawal limit.

And when you find your perfect account, do this:

Link your checking account to another account at your financial institution so that if you run out of money in your checking account, the bank will pull money from the other account to cover the transaction. You may be charged a fee for this, but it’s typically less than an overdraft fee.

Sign up for low-balance alerts through your bank or credit union’s website. These alerts, which you may be able to receive on your phone, will alert you when you are at risk of overdrawing your account.

4. Consider the Convenience of Your Bank

When it comes to banking, accessibility is a vital factor since you want to be able to access your money as soon as you need it. You need to see if the bank offers convenience in terms of branch location, ATM location, and the availability of digital banking.

Also, look into the bank’s customer support. You want to choose a bank with dependable customer services so you can reach them when you have an issue.

5. Find a Bank That Fits Your Lifestyle

When scouring for banking options, you should stick with a bank that meets your needs. For entrepreneurs, you should opt for a bank that can provide support as you grow your business.

If you’re trying to save money, look for a bank that can help you reach your goals. You may find a bank that lets you open and name separate savings accounts. This can help you create savings account for different uses including a travel fund, emergency fund, and more.

What’s more, your spending habits can give you an idea of a bank you want to work with. If you love tracking your expenses, you can choose a bank that has budgeting tools built into its apps or websites.

6. Examine the Bank’s Digital Features

If you value high-tech digital experiences, you should look into a bank’s digital capabilities. While most banks offer basic services like the ability to pay bills, transfer funds, make mobile deposits and check balances, you also need to see if you can access advanced digital services.

Advanced digital capabilities such as the ability to lock your debit card and manage mobile banking alerts can help enhance your banking experience.

Research the banks you’re interested in and read online reviews to see if they have the digital features you’re looking for.

7. Understand the Terms and Conditions

Before you choose a bank, you should read the fine print. It helps you know if a bank is insured. A safe bank to consider should have insurance, ensuring your money is safe in case something goes wrong and the bank shuts down.
You should also read through your banking account disclosures to ensure you’re aware of the regulations and fees required.

Find the Best Bank for Your Financial Needs

To manage your finances, you’re going to need a bank. Always look at what you need and what each bank can offer you before you choose the best bank.

Also, remember, your choice isn’t permanent. You can change if you outgrow the bank you started with. Read more banking blog posts to learn more about banking and finances.

KPMG Report: NBFIs Lending in Saudi Arabia Sustained Growth in 2021

Khalil Ibrahim Al Sedais, Office Managing Partner – Riyadh at KPMG in Saudi Arabia
Khalil Ibrahim Al Sedais, Office Managing Partner – Riyadh at KPMG in Saudi Arabia

Highlights

  1. Report provides a directional view on the $14.5 billion NBFI industry.
  2. It is covering the real estate, automotive, commercial equipment and other consumer financing.
  3. NBFI sector is expected to grow further backed by the measures taking inspiration from the AML compliance, fintech advancement, cybersecurity, business continuity planning and digitalization.
  4. Currently, more than 35 NBFIs are operating in Saudi Arabia.
  5. SAMA has further applied a new framework for the supervision of finance companies.

(RIYADH, DUBAI) – September 27, 2021:  The first edition of KPMG’s Future of Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs) Financing looks into the performance of these institutions in the Kingdom. The publication provides a directional view on the $14.5 billion (SAR 54 billion) NBFI industry covering the real estate, automotive, commercial equipment and other consumer financing. This sector is already playing a pivotal role in lending to specific segments of borrowers in Saudi Arabia.

“Despite market turbulence, we have observed growth momentum during the first half of 2021 that started during the second half of 2020 after consumer confidence was regained. It is especially noticeable in the mortgage industry, where volumes were all time high due to domestic demand of housing, low interest rate environment and government guarantee for the first house of citizens. The NBFI sector is expected to grow further backed by the measures taking inspiration from the AML compliance, fintech advancement, cybersecurity, business continuity planning and digitalization in Saudi financial services sector,” said Khalil Ibrahim Al Sedais, Office Managing Partner – Riyadh at KPMG in Saudi Arabia.

Currently, more than 35 NBFIs are operating in Saudi Arabia. As at the end of FY 2020, the total paid up capital of these entities was SAR 14.2 billion ($3.8 billion) where real estate companies stand at SAR 3.9 billion ($1 billion), non-real estate companies SAR 8.8 billion ($2.3 billion) and Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC), as the refinancing entity of the industry, SAR 1.5 billion ($403 million).

Industry-wide total assets as at the end of FY 2020 were SAR 53 billion ($14.2 billion) which included real estate companies’ assets amounting to SAR 14 billion ($3.7 billion), non-real estate companies’ assets amounting to SAR 31.5 billion ($8.4 billion) and SRC assets amounting to SAR 7.5 billion ($2 billion). Moreover, there was an outstanding loan book, on and off-balance sheet, of approximately SAR 54 billion ($14.5 billion) which included real estate companies’ loan book of SAR 23.5 billion and non-real estate companies’ loan book of SAR 30.6 billion.

Despite SAMA’s new regulations allowing deposit-taking by finance companies, currently, NBFIs are highly dependent on borrowing and securitization as the main source for financing their lending activities. At the end of 2020, equity and liabilities totaled SAR 53 billion of which, liabilities accounted for 63%, while capital and reserves represented 27% and 10%, respectively.

Ovais Shahab, Head of Financial Services at KPMG in Saudi Arabia
Ovais Shahab, Head of Financial Services at KPMG in Saudi Arabia

Ovais Shahab, Head of Financial Services at KPMG in Saudi Arabia, said: “Over the past two years, major developments took place in the sector, including enhanced governance through issuance of new regulations mainly to govern deposit-taking, debt-based crowdfunding, provisions for the expected credit losses etc. Moreover, we have seen competition in the market and some players have gained market share on the basis of their customer reach and efficient onboarding process. SAMA has further applied a new framework for the supervision of finance companies, a risk-based supervision approach to oversee the sector and increase the maturity level of NBFI, a framework that is similar to those implemented to oversee the banking and insurance sectors and similar to what is used by other international regulatory bodies.”

Different Types of Stocks: A Guide for Beginner Investors

If you are considering investing in stocks, the first thing you need to do is understand the different types of stocks and how they work. You can then make a more informed decision as to what the best investment option is for you. Start by checking out the following guide for beginner investors.

Common Stock

You can buy stocks in companies from a wide variety of sectors, from technology firms to casinos. You may like to invest in the latter if you enjoy playing games like roulette and blackjack at online sites like Kazoom Casino or in the former if you have a penchant for things like computers and machinery. But your investment choice needs to be based on the best financial option first and foremost. Before you begin looking at different sectors to invest in, you need to understand the different types of stocks that are available. The commonest form of stock that people invest in is aptly called common stock. It represents partial ownership in a company. As a shareholder, you can potentially have unlimited upside potential. However, there is a risk. If the company should fail without having any assets left over, you would lose everything. But if assets are left over, you would receive a proportional share of the remaining assets.

Preferred Stock

Investing in preferred stock works much like investing in common stock. The main difference is if the company should dissolve, as a preferred shareholder you have the right to receive dividend payments before common shareholders do.

Cap Stocks

Market capitalization involves stocks being categorized by the total worth of the shares. The companies that have the largest market capitalizations are called large-cap stocks. As companies get successively smaller, they are called mid-cap and small-cap stocks. Large-cap stocks are generally considered to be the safest investment. On the other hand, mid-cap and small-cap stocks are riskier but they have a greater capacity for future growth.

IPO Stock

IPO stocks are available in companies that have recently gone public via an initial public offering. IPOs always generate a lot of interest when the companies are creating a buzz and using a promising business model. But IPO stocks can also be volatile, especially if the investors disagree about the prospects for growth and profit. The very nature of IPOs means investors have to act early. A stock typically retains its IPO status for between one and two years, but it can be an IPO stock for as long as four years after it first goes public.

Growth Stock

Although growth stocks carry a higher risk level than many other stocks, their potential returns can be very attractive. Successful growth stocks have businesses that are on top of the rising demand among customers to identify long-term trends. There can be a lot of competition for growth stocks, though, and there is always the risk of a growth slowdown, which would make stock prices quickly fall.

Value Stock

Value stocks carry less risk than growth stocks, so they are seen as a more conservative investment option. You will typically find value stocks for experienced and well-known big companies that have little room for expansion because they are already market leaders and their business models have stood the test of time. If you are looking for more price stability, value stocks can be a good option.

Dividend Stock

You could choose a dividend stock, which means dividend payments are paid to shareholders on a regular basis. Choose the right stock, and your dividends could provide you with a valuable income. But due to that reason, they are highly sought-after. Furthermore, stocks are not required to pay dividends and non-dividend stocks can still be an excellent investment option.

A Guide to Online Banking Safety

71% of bank customers regularly use online and mobile banking options. However, many people do not completely trust online sources and may worry about their information being stolen when choosing an online bank. 

Are you looking for ways to protect information and improve your data security? Keep reading these tips for online banking safety to learn more!

Don’t Use Public Wifi or Computers

One of the most important online banking safety tips to keep your information secure is to only sign in on your personal network or device. When you use public wifi that many people have access to, you never know who will be able to see your browser history or password. 

This is also true for public computers. If you were to accidentally save your password for your online banking institution, it would be easy for a complete stranger to access your bank from the same computer. 

To avoid these potential disasters, it is always best to use your own devices and your own wifi network whenever you have to log into a password-protected website. 

Scan Statements for Fraud

While you want to do everything you can to prevent fraud, it is also important that you are able to identify any fraud as soon as possible. 

One way that you can do this is by regularly scanning your statements for fraudulent activity. Check your bank statement for any purchases that you do not remember making. 

While banks do their part to identify fraud, some purchases may not stand out to them. By looking for fraud in your own account, you may be able to catch suspicious activity. 

Use Anti-Virus Protection

Next, it is important that you protect your devices with anti-virus protection. This can keep you from getting attacked by any viruses or malware. 

Most computers come equipped with some type of anti-virus software, but you want to be sure that you frequently update it for the best protection for your computer. 

Understand Common Scam Techniques

Something else you can do to protect your online banking information is to recognize and understand common bank scam techniques. Scammers will frequently use the same tactics to gain access to your information, so understanding these will prevent them from targeting you. 

One common scam technique is sending you links in an email. While the email may look legitimate, you may find that clicking on this link may lead you to a fake website that looks just like your financial app. Digital currency investors are a big target for this type of scam due to the increase in cryptocurrency prices. A famous example of this was when MyEtherWallet users were sent an email asking them to update their login credentials. In doing so, they gave cyber criminals access to their account where they stole all the assets.

To avoid this scam, it is always best to re-type the URL to your banking institution rather than clicking on a link. 

Your bank will also never request your private information over the phone or over email. If anyone is asking you for information to gain access to your account, you should hang up and call your bank directly. 

Regularly Update Passwords

Many people will re-use the same password for many different websites. However, if someone guesses your password for one website, they may try using the same password on another website.

This is why you should always make your banking password unique from other websites. 

The easiest way to combat keep people from guessing your password is to update and change your passwords regularly. Typically, it is best to change your password once every few months.

Then, anyone who had access to your account will be kicked out with the new password. 

You should also be thoughtful about the types of passwords you use. If you make them one word or if your password is something easy to guess, like your name, people will easily be able to gain access to your account. 

To make your passwords more secure, you should make them a long password with multiple words, numbers, or special characters. 

Sign Up For Text Alerts

If you want to make it easier to identify any fraudulent purchases, you can always ask for text alerts from your online bank.

Banks can send you emails or texts whenever there are large transactions made from your account or if your balance drops too much. 

If you notice that you didn’t make a purchase or transfer money from your account, you can immediately call your bank to stay protected from fraudulent activities. 

Carefully Choose Your Bank

Finally, it is important that you do plenty of research to find the best online bank. If you know that you can trust your bank, you know that they will do anything to protect your assets and information. 

Make sure you check online reviews for banks and you understand your banking needs before you make a decision. You should also prioritize finding an institution with high security to prevent data leaks or hackers.

For example, things like multifactor authentication make it much more difficult for people to gain access to your account without your knowledge.  

If you want to learn more about choosing a bank, check out this article on factors to consider when choosing a bank. 

Improve Your Online Banking Safety Today

You can easily improve your online banking information when you focus on data security. By following each of these banking safety tips, you will not have to worry about fraud, scams, or any other data leaks. 

However, the most important thing you can do to improve your online banking safety is to choose a reliable and trustworthy organization to work with.

Make sure you choose the best online bank so you can be confident in your banking!

Do you want to learn more about online banking and other safety tips? CFI.co can help! Check out our articles on finance and banking to learn more helpful tips.