The Punt: New frontier for Facebook?
There has been all sorts of speculation about what Facebook might get up to if it makes a full-frontal assault on the financial services sector.
It was recently revealed that the social network goliath is close to securing regulatory approval from the Central Bank here to launch a service that would allow subscribers to store money on Facebook and use it to pay and exchange money with other users.
Becoming an "e-money" institution with approval in Ireland would enable it to offer services throughout the EU. But while banks may have been fretting about a possible Facebook incursion onto their turf, the global head of Facebook's financial services unit said getting involved in the payments business is not a focus for Mark Zuckerberg, and that Facebook had no intention of moving into banking by holding deposits.
Instead, Facebook's Neil Hiltz said the company will remain an intermediary between its users and financial institutions. "At the end of the day, no matter what we do, we are going to be underpinned and backed by the banking system," he said. "We might be a communication layer between (banks and their customers) but transactions are going to be drawing out of a current account or a card – it is going to be backed by the banking system."
One less problem for the banks, perhaps.
Mystery of the other Noonan
There are two important Noonans in Irish business life.
You all know Michael but what is the first name of the Small Firms Association's AJ Noonan, who hosts the SFA's annual conference in Dublin's Clyde Court hotel today?
AJ, as he inevitably calls himself in press releases, Facebook and LinkedIn, wants to spotlight SME success despite the "horrendous impact" in the years since 2008.
The Punt agrees, of course, but knows that many of you sitting at the conference will be distracted by a simple question; What does AJ stand for? Why does old AJ go to such lengths to hide his name?
Is is Anthony John, perhaps? Or could the A stand for something really horrible like Adolf? Unlikely, but we all know parents who are nice but insist upon giving their children dreadful names.
The Punt is proud to be able to confirm to you exclusively what AJ's real name is; Aeneas Joseph Noonan. That's Aeneas, the mythical hero of Troy and Rome, son of the goddess Aphrodite and Anchises.
There. It's not so bad, and now you will be able to listen to old AJ without wondering too much.
Crowd funding goal for SMEs
There's wall-to-wall talk of the need for credit availability for SMEs and the introduction of a new state-backed company to help free up loans for small businesses.
Crowd funding is becoming a popular alternative it seems. One initiative – Moneybush – claims about €1m has been advanced to 15 projects since it began trialing late last year. The value of finance seeking ranges from €10,000 to €600,000.
Moneybush is the brainchild of businessmen Ger Nunan and John Whelan. It's fair to say both have branched out with this latest business venture. Mr Whelan's interests have included 'Irish Medical News' and 'The Waiting Room' magazine, while Mr Nunan has held senior business development roles in the logistics, technology and business services sector.
Michael Noonan has stressed on several occasions that businesses have to start looking at non-bank lending options, and crowd funding is making its mark it appears.
Messrs Nunan and Whelan may find it a promising venture.