Category: News coverage

We support internet neutrality, let’s make sure The European Union does too

We don’t often take public political views at Toshl, but internet neutrality is a very important one, one that deserves our attention. The future free development of the internet depends on it.

The European Parliament will tomorrow (3rd of April) vote on an interesting piece of legislation. It’s a regulation, for all of you who aren’t EU-buffs, that means it’s directly applicable EU legislation. It’s directly applied in all member countries and is hierarchically above the national legislation. It’s entitled Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent – COM(2013) 627.

We know, quite a mouthful. Because it’s a regulation it will be in force everywhere in the EU. It goes a long way toward establishing a single EU communications market, synchronising spectrum auctions, improving consumer rights for the most part… Simply put, if this goes well, there will be pan-European internet operators (mobile and stationary) and you can forget about the roaming charges completely, since it will be all one market. This means better services and content across The European Union and great opportunities for companies, organisations and individuals to make our lives easier.

BUT! There is a caveat, the proposed regulation also contains some very harmful provisions when dealing with internet neutrality. It doesn’t guarantee internet neutrality, in fact, it establishes the right of communications companies to set up special service agreements, which are poorly defined and limited and could lead into the negation of internet neutrality. In practice, that could mean that content providers (think of any website, internet content, tool, app etc.) could be forced to pay extra for preferred access on the network, smaller latencies etc. This would in turn make it harder for smaller entrants to the field to compete as only large players would be able to afford such fees and skew the playing field. It would lessen competition and we would no longer have a longer playing field. In the longer term it could also have effects on freedom of expression if this results in a tiered internet, where content providers need to pay the telcos for decent access and operators are the ones who choose which services they prefer, instead of consumers.

These kind of things are already starting to happen in the United States, where the FCC decided not to enforce internet neutrality. Just see what’s beginning to happen with Comcast and Netlfix. These are only the first steps. It’s likely to get much worse. It can mean higher prices for consumers, less choice and more difficult entry for new entrants to the market. Disrupting old giants could become much harder for startups.

Slovenia, the home country of the Toshl team, already has internet neutrality enshrined into law. It’s the 203. article of Zakon o elektronskih komunikacijah (ZEKom-1 – Law on electronic communications). In that respect we have one of the most advanced legislations in the world as only The Netherlands and Chile guarantee internet neutrality to this extent.

Let’s ensure we don’t fall to the lowest common denominator and ensure that internet neutrality will become part of EU legislation as well.

Read more about the net neutrality vote on La Quadrature Du Net.

They have also prepared email you can send to Members of Parliament or call them, to insure that net neutrality will become law. The members of ALDE, S&D, Greens and GUE/NGL have also prepared an amendment which includes much better guarantees of internet neutrality and stricter definitions and framing of specialised services that exist on the networks.

Keep in mind these is the first reading in the European parliament, to be followed by approval of Member States in the European Council and another round of voting after, depending on the amendments proposed. There is much to be done if the final text will become something that will be to the true benefit of the European Union, not just partial interest of electronic communications operators. The game is afoot.

Posted in News coverage, Opinions

Toshl wins Finovate Europe 2014 Best of Show with a sneak peek of the new Toshl Finance

Lately we have been nestled away in our secret lair, working on the next major version of Toshl. But there comes a time when one has to peek into the light and bathe in the sunshine. So naturally, we went to London. A city widely known for it’s sunny disposition.

Weather-based sarcasm aside, we went there to attend Finovate Europe, a conference on the future of financial technology. We went there to offer a sneak peek at the upcoming version of Toshl Finance, make connections in the financial and tech industry as well as meet existing ones.
As all the presenting companies, we were given 7 minutes on stage to demo what we’ve made. No slides and pre-canned videos allowed, it had to be a live demo. We were presenting the new Toshl Finance UI, both on iOS and the Web, with even more focus on making finance fun. The presentation was themed accordingly, which might have been a bit unusual to a suit-clad audience of banking executives used to presentations with a bit less zest.
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Nevertheless, the reactions were great as we talked to the people at the conference at our booth after the presentation. Luckily, there was also the Twitter feed, where we could see what people were saying during the presentation itself. Here are some of our favourite ones:
The video of our demo is not yet available, but should be in about a week or so. We’ll post it here once it is. We don’t want to leave you hanging meanwhile. The Next Web was covering the conference and they’ve written a nice article about some of the new things coming in Toshl Finance 2.0, including a few of the screenshots we sent over.
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Toshl wins Finovate Europe 2014 Best of Show
During the 2-day conference 67 companies demonstrated their products. Finovate Europe was sold out this year, with about 1000 people attending. The attendees which were not presenting could vote for their 3 favourite demos. I’m very glad to say that Toshl was in fact one of the 9 most voted for companies which won the Best of Show award.
The whole Toshl team has been doing great work on this new version and I’m incredibly excited as we steam ahead towards the launch in the upcoming quarter. May your finances be fun!
Update: The Toshl Finance 2.0 Finovate demo video has been posted. See how the new Toshl will be like. 

Posted in Announcements, News coverage

Improving Financial Literacy – The Case of Hinkley Finance Club

The first step on the road to long term financial sustainability and peace of mind is education. Learning not to live above your means, saving, planning and budgeting properly are all very important skills often neglected by school systems around the world.

That’s why we were so delighted when we heard of The Hinkley Finance Club using Toshl Finance to help students learn about personal finances at the Hinkley High School in Aurora, Colorado in the United States. We gladly provided some tips about the apps (they didn’t really need much) and Toshl Pro accounts to help them with their noble goal.

Hinkley Finance Club

The Club is already in its eight year of helping students better understand their finances. They meet weekly, after normal school hours, over a five-month period (January through May). The program consists of a series of personal finance workshops on such subjects as: The Financial Planning Process, Budget and Spending Plans, Savings and Investments, Credit, Insurance, Financial Institutions and Services, and Vocations and Careers.  These workshops are presented by the Club’s founder, David McConico, who receives assistance from various volunteer presenters.  These assistants include Bob Noyes, a Hinkley math teacher, who was also instrumental in organizing the Club.

Here’s what they had to say about Toshl Finance:

“In conjunction with the Budget and Spending Plans segment, we looked at a number of smart phone applications that would allow users to record expenses in a convenient manner as well as allow for the comparison of such expenditures to a budget. We selected Toshl Finance.  Toshl had all the features we were looking for (it is particularly user friendly and the students immediately grasped how to use it) and it was available on multiple phone platforms.

Finally, we were impressed with Toshl’s Excel download feature. Next school year we want to use Excel with our advanced students and having their personal finance data on a spreadsheet will provide an excellent segue to this session.”

The Club requires its members to 1) complete quizzes and online financial education modules, 2) open savings accounts, and 3) compete in financial games that involve financial rewards.  Participants are provided with financial incentives (up to $300) for achieving certain objectives. Meals are also provided to the students as part of the program.

It’s run through the FEET Center, a local non-profit organisation, whose volunteers help educate the students and run the program. In the future, they hope to expand to other high schools in the Aurora district and even set up financial education competitions with scholarships for the top performing team members.

At Toshl we certainly wish them all the best in their mission and hope their example will be followed around the world. With better financial education, people can have more stability in their lives, less stress and more time and will to improve all round.

Big thanks to the everyone at the Hinkley Finance Club and David Milanesi for providing us with a summary of their activities.

Posted in Guest posts, News coverage

Toshl in Start-up Now guide

We had an awesome ride at Seedcamp New York, summer 2011. Learned a lot, met awesome individuals and teams, worked a lot as well. And a small chunk of what we learned has just been published in Start-up Now guide.

Seedcamp is an early stage startup program with long history of activity and success. Basically they are there to help great teams with awesome ideas to get even greater and better at what they do.
And since they are good guys (and gals, of course), they share this profound experience and knowledge everywhere they go, using all means possible. As a result of that, they just published a quick overview of shared experiences across many applicants of Seedcamp, including Toshl, in a slideshare eBook.

A must read for all future-to-be seedcamp companies and startups in general.
Go get it now!

Posted in Announcements, News coverage