Container ship outside Hong Kong

Blockchain and trade finance have always seemed like natural partners, and a company based in India is taking another stab at cracking the code.

Persistence has built the back-end infrastructure for a trade finance system that will allow small and medium-sized buyers to more easily find financing for commodities purchased from sellers, traveling between the main trade hubs of Asia, places like Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai, among others.

The startup closed a $3.7 million token round led by Arrington XRP, along with Alameda Research and South Korean stablecoin company Terra, among others. The backers are purchasing the Persistence token, or XPRT, which is set to be released sometime late this year or early next year, once macroeconomic conditions appear to be stabilized, said Persistence CEO Tushar Aggarwal.

Related: Boardroom Raises $2.2M for Blockchain Governance Toolset

“Commodity trading is a notoriously difficult industry to penetrate,” Aggarwal told CoinDesk in an interview, noting that other firms like Perlin and Centrifuge have already entered this space.

Persistence’s advantage, Aggarwal said, lies less in its technology than in its business-development strategy.

To build an application that would appeal to companies outside of the blockchain industry, Persistence settled on Tendermint as its base layer, after investigating both Ethereum and Waves.

“A big focus of ours is the institutional folks. On the institutional side we tried to abstract away some of the complexity,” Aggarwal said.

Related: Dapper Labs Raises $18M in Token Sale for NFT-Centric Flow Blockchain

Read more: Cosmos Gains Traction in India Amid Broader Crypto Resurgence

The specific trade finance platform was built as a separate application atop Persistence, called Comdex. That platform was turned over to a third party that already has access to the trade finance industry. Invoices get turned into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that can then be collateralized to back

We asked the members of the 2020 Female Founders 100 for their best advice about money. These are the highlights.

Suma Wealth
If you go into a room where everyone looks the same and no one looks like you, think, “No one has my experience, and that’s why I’m valuable.”

Eight Sleep
To build a strong, diverse investor roster, you need to start early and be patient. It’s much easier and better to get women investors in the early rounds.

The Alinker Inventions
All my employees make a living wage, as determined by the MIT calculator. I think I make around $21 an hour. I refuse to focus on money: It takes all of us to run this company and to build this community.

Heal
Just when you think you really should give up: Don’t. With the five minutes extra that you put in, there might be someone around the corner who wants to help you. It happens just at that moment where you’re like, it’s not going to happen.

Outer Aisle
We had to raise money to build our manufacturing facility. There was so much skepticism from investors. We made a pact that we wouldn’t be desperate to get the money. We walked away from some deals with far-reaching onerous terms. If you don’t do the math and understand what the legal covenants mean, very quickly an investor owns your company. Also: Get a very good securities attorney.

Summersalt
Learning how to tell our story differently was the biggest thing that allowed us to raise $17 million. Investors tend to ask female founders mostly “prevention” questions–in other words, how are you going to mitigate risk? Male founders mostly get “promotion” questions: How big can this be? If you never get the opportunity to paint the biggest picture of your



a man holding a sign: A banner for communications software provider Twilio Inc., hangs on the facade at the NYSE to celebrate the company's IPO in New York City


© Reuters/Brendan McDermid
A banner for communications software provider Twilio Inc., hangs on the facade at the NYSE to celebrate the company’s IPO in New York City


(Reuters) – Cloud communications platform provider Twilio Inc plans to buy customer data infrastructure company Segment for $3.2 billion, Forbes reported on Friday.

The deal, which had not been finalized as of Friday afternoon, was expected to be at least partially based on Twilio stock, the report added, citing two sources it did not name.

San Francisco-based Segment has recently been open to acquisition offers, according to the report.

Twilio declined to comment to Reuters. Segment was not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.

Segment raised $175 million in a Series D funding round in April 2019. The startup said in September that it worked with more than 20,000 businesses including Intuit, FOX and Levi’s, employing more than 550 people.

Cloud companies have seen a surge in demand this year as more businesses use their services to meet the demands of the switch to work from home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Twilio is a beneficiary of pandemic-catalyzed digital transformation acceleration,” brokerage JP Morgan said in a note this month.

Last week, Twilio estimated third-quarter sales above its previous forecast, as the switch to remote working and learning boosted demand for cloud services.

(Reporting by Juby Babu and Kanishka Singh; Editing by William Mallard)

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New Partnership Allows Decent to Offer Health Plans to Small Businesses, Self-Employed in Texas’ Rural Communities

Decent's virtual health plans can make accessing a doctor easier, especially in areas facing a primary care shortage.
Decent’s virtual health plans can make accessing a doctor easier, especially in areas facing a primary care shortage.
Decent’s virtual health plans can make accessing a doctor easier, especially in areas facing a primary care shortage.

Austin, Texas, Oct. 07, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Decent, an Austin, Texas-based startup disrupting the health insurance industry through a partnership with the Texas Freelance Association, will soon offer health plans in small and rural towns throughout the state, expanding access to health insurance in regions where there has always been limited availability. 

“Most rural Texans live in ‘health insurance deserts’ where there is just one expensive health plan option that costs more than their mortgage. It means many forego coverage altogether,” explained Nick Soman, CEO and co-founder of Decent. 

Decent is able to extend its unique health plans to small businesses in rural Texas in addition to major cities such as Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas, under a partnership with AXA, a global leader in insurance, which allows Decent to use its extensive medical network for wraparound coverage for its members and immediate families. In 2018, Decent, with the Texas Freelance Association, launched health plans for self-employed individuals in Austin, Texas and recently announced it would also offer health plans to small businesses. 

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs often are presented with two inadequate choices – health insurance that is expensive or health insurance that is skimpy,” explained Soman. “We started Decent to give groups left out of the current marketplace access to health insurance, which should be available no matter where you live.”

Rethinking Rural Health Insurance 

Texas has one of the largest rural populations in the U.S., making up about 10 percent of the state’s total

Neuron Mobility, a Singapore-based e-scooter rental startup, announced today that it has added $12 million to its Series A. Led by Square Peg, an Australian venture capital firm and GSR Ventures, this increases the round’s new total to $30.5 million. The company, which operates in Australia and New Zealand in addition to Southeast Asian markets, first announced its Series A in December 2019.

Part of Neuron Mobility’s growth plans hinges on the increased adoption of electric scooters and bikes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are using their cars less frequently because they are working remotely or there are movement restrictions where they live. When they do go out, electric bikes and scooters offer an alternative to public transportation and ride-hailing services for short trips.

Neuron Mobility’s chief executive Zachary Wang said the company raised a Series A+ instead of moving onto a Series B because more cities are “opening up to the possibility of micromobility, particularly rental e-scooters as they present an individual transport option that takes pressure off public transport and allows people to continue social distancing.”

“We’ve been experiencing tremendous growth in ANZ and the pandemic has made us fast track our plans,” he added.

Though Neuron Mobility currently does not operate in other Southeast Asian countries besides Singapore, Wang said it is “constantly evaluating opportunities across APAC.”

The new funding will be used to speed up Neuron Mobility’s expansion plans in Australia and New Zealand, where it claims to be the leading electric scooter rental operator. The company is currently present in nine locations, including Auckland, New Zealand, and Australian cities Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Canberra and Townsville. Neuron Mobility plans to expand into five new cities over the next two months and part of that involves hiring 400 more people in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.