'Crypto trading will only get bigger from here,' says Simon Grunfeld

SIMBA Chain
Simon GrunfeldVP of Crypto at SIMBA Chain talks about solution to provide secure messaging in the blockchain for the DoD, new launches, white-label NFT marketplaces, go to strategy’s, etc. Read on to learn more about SIMBA Chain’s token-driven ecosystem.

The open-source ecosystem will be a first of its kind, offering new value to the NFT community

MEDIA 7: What are SIMBA chain’s Web3 apps? How do they help building economy in REAL-WORLD BUSINESS PROBLEMS
SIMON GRUNFELD:
At Simba, we’ve built supply chain platforms to track coffee production for a Colombian coffee company, an airplane parts tracker for a large airplane manufacturer in the US, and now working with a US state on a pilot program to issue car titles on the blockchain (as NFTs). Separately, Simba is building an ecosystem that we intend on releasing as open-source, designed to enhance, improve and secure the legacy and provenance of NFTs, regardless of where they’re traded or kept. This ecosystem will be token-driven, allowing end-users and enterprise-class platforms, to access the value that the system provides, cross-chain.

M7: What is SIMBA’s white-label NFT Marketplace?
SG:
Simba is launching SimbaMarket.com next month; a curated only NFT marketplace. However, we have customers that are looking to do a very custom marketplace rollout, based on their existing user base and any need to integrate their existing infrastructure (i.e. payments, fan engagement, etc.) The Simba white label allows any organization to spin up a full-featured, front-end, and back-end platform, with options to sell/buy and distribute NFTs to their customers. Simba’s turn-key solution is seamlessly integrated via API and comes ready out of the box with Fiat card payment processing & KYC/AML (recognizing the ever-changing regulatory landscape), and soon we’ll be launching additional products which cater to NFT holders and issuers, which will elevate the experience even more.

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New regulatory requirements in the US will be coming down later this or next year, outlining a new framework for offering crypto trading in the US



M7: How do you tap into your market's potential? Do you see any significant competitors in the same market?
SG:
We’re consistently trying to keep up with advances in technology; one of our patents which we’re submitting this summer is around a new governance model which we’re including in our own token issuance, which will help level the playing field for voting rights (which will be used once our DAO has launched). The open-source ecosystem will be a first of its kind, offering new value to the NFT community, which currently does not exist. So Simba’s stance is to always improve on our tech stack while looking to the future and planning our next roll-outs around what we see as the next evolution in this space. There are a few new competitors in this space, offering a web2 to web3 transformation, but they are offering different services and catering to companies and organizations which are somewhat knowledgeable about blockchain. Simba’s take is that the open-source ecosystem will be a first of its kind, offering new value to the NFT community, which currently does not exist.

M7: What’s your target market? What is your immediate strategy for reaching out to your target market?
SG:
We receive a large number of inquiries on a weekly basis which keeps our BD team pretty busy. Our target markets are spread across Brands, Platform providers, gaming and collector communities, marketplace, and exchanges; essentially anyone that is either currently in the NFT space or looking to jump in, but need the right hand to hold. As our competitors target enterprises that are already in the blockchain space, we take a different approach and realize that the majority of companies out there, need the consulting part of our offering, to help them identify the best go-to-market strategy for their business.

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Bitcoin is and will always be the gold standard in crypto.



M7: What are your thoughts on the future of cryptocurrency in general, and specifically on cryptocurrency trading?
SG:
Crypto trading will only get bigger from here; we’re in a bear market at the moment; a great opportunity for those with cash to capitalize (Imagine going back 3 years and buying BTC at 8K). I think that transparency, security, and pricing will improve with time, and so will liquidity and new means of transacting and settling funds. I also know that (and this is certain), new regulatory requirements in the US will be coming down later this or next year, outlining a new framework for offering crypto trading in the US, which hopefully will eliminate any former non-Federal mandates issued at the state level. No doubt, other jurisdictions will mimic or follow suit.

M7: How do you see the future of cryptocurrencies and major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin?
SG:
Bitcoin is and will always be the gold standard in crypto. It is the one coin that the institutions will always trust (and is safe from any SEC issues). Ethereum is the gold standard for web3 projects (also deemed safe from any SEC issues, from 2018)
Ripple is in the midst of legal action with the SEC and in my mind a TBD. I haven’t seen anything of interest from the Litecoin foundation in a long time, so I'm TBD on them too (I have no opinion one way or the other, on either of them)

ABOUT SIMON GRUNFELD

SIMBA Chain Inc. was formed in 2017 as a solution to provide secure messaging in the blockchain for the DoD. From there, applications have been created for the supply chain for Boeing, food tracking and verification for TOKs, certification and asset management for state DMVs, and NFT marketplaces for sports franchises and clubs, among many others.

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DREAMSPRING AND WOODFOREST NATIONAL BANK COLLABORATE TO STRENGTHEN SMALL BUSINESS LENDING AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP ACROSS THE U.S.

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

DreamSpring, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and Small Business Administration (SBA) lender, and Woodforest National Bank® (Woodforest), a national bank with over 760 branches across 17 states, are working together to provide access to $1.5 million in debt capital to low- and moderate-income (LMI) small business entrepreneurs. The influx of lending capital from Woodforest to DreamSpring is a milestone in their shared commitment to spur community development and job creation through expanding peer networks and increasing access to capital. "Our collaboration with Woodforest widens the path for entrepreneurs to access much-needed capital and business resources," said Anne Haines, President and CEO of DreamSpring. "With Woodforest at our side, DreamSpring continues to expand our capacity to help small business owners realize their dreams and build stronger, more resilient communities through entrepreneurship." Daniel Galindo, Senior Vice President & Director of the CRA Program & Strategic Initiatives at Woodforest National Bank added, "Working with a strong CDFI like DreamSpring combines both organizations' financial strengths to provide access to LMI small business owners who struggle to get the funds they need to run and grow their business which is a key focus for our team." Both financial institutions share a commitment to empowering communities through entrepreneurship. The term loan agreement will allow DreamSpring to provide microloans to small business owners and LMI entrepreneurs as they start or grow their businesses across 10 shared states in DreamSpring and Woodforest's national footprints: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, and Texas. The agreement between DreamSpring and Woodforest also strengthens the teams' vision to expand peer networks across their shared footprint to provide more resources for small business owners. For instance, in South Dallas, both organizations have embraced the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC) acclaimed Dallas REACh initiative, aimed at increasing LMI access to capital. Woodforest facilitated DreamSpring's connection to the monthly Dallas REACh roundtable, bringing together banks, CDFIs, and community stakeholders and leaders. This collaboration has resulted in a greater network of support in South Dallas, enriching the local small business ecosystem. One South Dallas-based small business owner who has felt the life-changing impact of capital is Taylor Symoné. Her small day spa business offers beauty and hair treatments, therapeutic post-operative care, massages, and facials. When she was first getting started, Taylor remembers calling about 15 financial institutions and feeling frustrated every time by the paperwork needed for a small loan, as well as rigid requirements for only helping businesses with at least two years of operational history. DreamSpring was different. Taylor has since repaid three DreamSpring loans to fuel her business growth and create even more opportunities for her family. "I'm really big on generational wealth," says Taylor. "I like to teach my kids about being their own boss, being the star of their own show, and learning and understanding that you can create your own passageway — you just have to want to." For 30 years, DreamSpring has developed small business training and a range of loan products to meet the needs of entrepreneurs like Taylor. Today, DreamSpring offers credit-building small business loans, lines of credit, SBA 7(a) loans, and commercial real estate loans in 27 states to level the playing field by bridging credit and knowledge gaps that hinder economic mobility. About DreamSpring DreamSpring is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) lender dedicated to accelerating the economic inclusion and strength of underserved communities. Founded in 1994, the organization provides rapid access to capital and customized wrap-around support to the most vulnerable small business owners in 27 states, focusing on communities including people of color, women, low- to moderate-income earners, people with disabilities, and start-ups. To date, DreamSpring has issued more than 48,796 loans totaling over $538 million to small businesses that support an estimated 65,138 jobs. About Woodforest National Bank Celebrating over 40 years of community banking service, Woodforest National Bank has successfully stood among the strongest community banks in the nation, proudly offering outstanding customer service since 1980. Woodforest currently operates over 760 branches in 17 states across the United States and is an Outstanding CRA rated institution.

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TECHNOLOGY

Alibaba.com Introduces New AI-Powered Feature at CES to Boost Efficiency and Growth for SMEs and Entrepreneurs in 2024

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

Alibaba.com, a leading platform for global business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce and part of Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group (AIDC), will launch its latest Smart Assistant features powered by artificial intelligence (AI) at CES in Las Vegas, NV from January 9-12, 2024. The Smart Assistant, an AI-powered global sourcing tool, caters to both newcomers and seasoned entrepreneurs in the dynamic world of global commerce. As a one-stop B2B sourcing platform, Alibaba.com remains committed to delivering innovative solutions to help buyers and suppliers streamline operations to more efficiently reach their goals and continue to grow. The Smart Assistant updates unveiled at CES will help business owners adeptly enhance their supply chain and solve complex sourcing needs and challenges as they seek to stand out in today's competitive marketplace. "Today's small businesses face a variety of headwinds, but with the right technology and support, they can feel confident that they will overcome obstacles and help their business thrive, which is why we're expanding the features of our new Smart Assistant tool to better serve today's entrepreneurs," said Chris Lu, General Manager at Alibaba.com North America. "With advances in AI, we are ushering in the next generation of sourcing and empowering small businesses to succeed with our Smart Assistant at their side." The Smart Assistant: Shaping the Future of Sourcing Alibaba.com developed the Smart Assistant as an AI-powered, intuitive personal guide to sourcing that helps small business owners discover new opportunities, stay up-to-date on trends, seamlessly track orders and more in a single, efficient touchpoint. First announced at CES and coming soon to the Alibaba.com Smart Assistant is the Instant Help feature, which leverages an AI-powered chatbot to answer basic inquiries and offer real-time insights and resources, regardless of time zones or language barriers. The Instant Help feature provides buyers with essential knowledge and industry insights about a variety of verticals and product types, as well as offer tips to elevate their communications with suppliers. It will help ensure small businesses can increase efficiency, purchase smart and keep up with trends by leveraging AI to increase competitive advantages. Since their launch in September 2023, the first two features of the Smart Assistant – Upgraded Image Search and Smart Request for Quotation (RFQ) – have already provided significant benefit to entrepreneurs using the Alibaba.com desktop platform. Based on Alibaba.com's internal study since September 2023, buyers using the Upgraded Image Search have seen a 28% higher deal closing rate than those only using traditional text search. Buyers who used the Smart RFQ tool saw 29% more quotes from suppliers, while suppliers saw a 21% increase in buyer responses to quotes as compared to the original RFQ process. "Developed from buyer-supplier feedback and embedded with profound industry knowledge, we are excited to demonstrate how the Smart Assistant rapidly and accurately produces product requests and images aligning with buyer needs," Lu said. "Smart Assistant helps buyers embrace their creativity, improve the efficiency of matching buyers and sellers, while making sourcing more accessible for all." Alibaba.com will provide a showcase of Smart Assistant features at their booth on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at 11:00 AM PT, hosted by smart sourcing expert Stella Shenshen. The Alibaba.com booth is located at the Las Vegas Convention Center's Tech East in the AI and Robotics section in North Hall's Grand Lobby on level 1, Booth 9017. Visitors to the booth will also have the opportunity to network and connect with 20 top-rated suppliers in-person, personally experiencing the ways Alibaba.com offers buyers advanced sourcing solutions and AI-powered tools to take their business to the next level. Tech and AI Power the Future of Businesses, E-commerce and Sourcing In addition to announcing new Smart Assistant features at CES, Alibaba.com leadership will discuss the evolution of e-commerce and sourcing, as well as how sourcing has been influenced and improved by AI and other technological innovations. Going "Entreprenuts" to Support Small Business Innovation To complement its presence at CES, Alibaba.com is also debuting a new campaign celebrating entrepreneurial spirit and innovation. The Entreprenuts campaign highlights how entrepreneurs are willing to bet big, as well as maintain persistence and boundless creativity, against daunting odds. In other words, they can go a little "entreprenuts" to achieve their dreams and create new products – just like the products showcased each year at CES. Throughout the Entreprenuts campaign, which will run from January 8 through February 8, 2024, Alibaba.com will encourage buyers to share stories of their craziest entrepreneurial moments, utilizing the most "nuts'' stories in a video highlight to showcase what it means to be an Entreprenut. Buyers can also earn their Entreprenut badge and profile by answering a questionnaire that will determine their unique Entreprenut characteristic. At the end of each quiz, buyers will be provided with exclusive tools and services to help them achieve their goals as they kickstart 2024. "This campaign demonstrates Alibaba.com's continued support of small and medium-sized businesses in the United States and helping them realize their entrepreneurial dreams and push beyond what others might believe possible," said Rah Mahtani, Head of Marketing for North America at Alibaba.com. "As buyers share their experiences, Alibaba.com will offer innovative new resources and products to help these 'Entreprenuts' succeed on their journey." The campaign debuts at a key crossroads for small business owners. The US has seen a surge in the number of newly registered businesses, which hit record highs in both 2021 (5.4 million) and 2022 (5.1 million). Sadly, 20% of these new businesses face failure within the first two years, and a staggering 45% of startups do not surpass the five-year mark due to challenges such as market volatility, supply chain disruption, shifting consumer demands, and inventory management. This makes the tools and capabilities Alibaba.com offers, which are designed to help entrepreneurs level up their sourcing and supply chain operations in the increasingly competitive small business arena, more valuable than ever. About Alibaba.com Launched in 1999, Alibaba.com is a leading platform for global business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce that serves buyers and suppliers from over 200 countries and regions around the world. It is engaged in services covering all aspects of commerce, including providing businesses with tools that help them reach a global audience for their products and helping buyers discover products, find suppliers and place orders online fast and efficiently. Alibaba.com is part of Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group.

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