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Work Hard and Parent Happy with Mirza

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Being a parent can be immeasurably rewarding. Who doesn’t love watching their child grow into a fun, productive member of society? Parenting doesn’t happen in a vacuum, however. It takes a lot of time and hard work. Parenting is a full-time, unpaid gig. Rewarding? Sure. Mortgage paying? Nope. Few people understand this as intimately as Siran Cao, CEO and co-founder of Mirza

I’m an immigrant and raised by a single mom. My mom was one of the many women whose career took a backseat when I arrived, so when my dad left, I grew up watching my mom rebuild entirely in a new country.

“That’s shaped my worldview and what matters to me most–women’s economic empowerment and independence.”

Whether we like it or not, parenting most often falls to the women. That isn’t exactly fair, but it’s what usually ends up happening. Some of that is due to how we’ve evolved as a species, but it has lingered due to unfair gender roles and expectations. So, when it comes to deciding who has to leave work to parent the children, it most often falls to women. 

Women In The Workplace

Women were on track to match, even overtake, men in the workplace. In 2019, women made up 47% of the workforce. Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 2.3 million women have left the workforce, making women’s participation in the workforce the lowest it has been since 1988. 

Though they couldn’t have known the pandemic was about to exacerbate the gender pay gap, Siran Cao and Mel Faxon, COO, founded Mirza as a means to correct that gap for good. 

Choosing between work and parenting shouldn’t be a difficult choice. In a perfect world, a parent should be able to do both. That takes a lot of meticulous planning and budgeting that can be incredibly intimidating. 

I’ll let Siran and Mel do most of the talking here: 

How Mirza Works

The lion’s share of the wage gap is driven by the “motherhood penalty,” and the critical element here is childcare. With families spending a third of their incomes on childcare, it forces this trade-off of one person’s salary against cost of care

That person, usually mom, due to a whole slew of reasons from no paid leave, to gender norms onwards. But just one year out of the workforce means losing 39% of lifetime earnings due to the missed acceleration (promotions, being mommy tracked, etc.) and lost compounding retirement savings. 

“So how Mirza works, we tackle that acute pain point. Our tech reframes that decision for parents and aspiring parents in larger family goals and financial health view, to anticipate upcoming costs and understand tradeoffs, and be better equipped to make fully informed decisions. 

“We then layer in funding for childcare so we can fundamentally change that math of income vs cost of care. At the core, we want to make sure parents (women!) have true CHOICE.

The Math of Parenting

Mel Faxon, COO and co-founder, adds insight:

For us, tackling childcare as one of the core contributors to the motherhood penalty/gender pay gap isn’t just about helping people afford the (often exorbitant) cost of childcare, but changing how they do the math around it. 

“The visibility our product provides into the long-term implications of taking unpaid leave, of having one parent drop out of the workforce entirely for a few years – it’s not a frame through which we normally think about having kids.  

“It’s much easier/more instinctual to think right now, present day, we’d “save” money if one of us stays home rather than pay for childcare – and we’re here to show you why that’s not really the case. 

“We’re currently in a milestone situation politically, where programs like paid family and medical leave and universal childcare are being seriously considered as part of national policy moving forward.”

A New Type Of Working Parent

Mel Faxon continues: 

It could not be more apparent that single-income breadwinner families are no longer the norm. Families need and want dual incomes – and we need to structure work to support that. Care – childcare, eldercare – is something that we all have to do at one point or another, and our workplaces need to acknowledge that. 

“While our product is geared towards the individual, it’s always been fundamental that we work with employers to see that childcare is healthcare, childcare is wellness, it is financial health, and it is the future of work.

It has unfortunately been drilled into the minds of managers and higher-level executives that in order to be a good worker you need to be 100% dedicated to the company at all times with no question. Your home life, your health, your family’s happiness is secondary to the wellbeing of the business. 

That, we now know, is nonsense. “A happy worker is a productive worker” is a bit of a cliche, but it’s true. If an employee has access to healthcare, a comfortably livable wage, and a happy home life, the more productive they will be. It’s a long-term investment. 

In a world obsessed with short-term gains, it can be tough to sell long-term investments. But we need to make that sale, or else this will all crumble. 

What Do Parents Think Of Mirza?

Mel Faxon shares some of the feedback Mirza has received since the launch of their beta on October 22:

You’ve really nailed the fundamentals of what we’ve already been thinking about financially when preparing for kids”

“As soon as I signed up and filled in stuff about me, I saw good content right off the bat. I felt like I was being heard!”

“We haven’t really thought about loss in terms of paid time off, I [had] no idea, so it’s great that it’s included in the planning process.

Things are still early, but the impact is already being felt. Mel shares one particular feedback:

A really impactful comment we got the other day from one of our users, was not only that she wished she’d had this when she was family planning, but that Mirza has made her realize that she no longer has to just accept the way the world is. 

We can actually change the way things work for parents and for women, and she feels like we’re providing the information and ways for that to happen.”

What’s Next For Mirza?

Siran shares where she anticipates Mirza will move in the next 5-10 years. 

We’re tackling the childcare crisis, so that means unlocking affordability for parents first, then we’ve designed our next steps for our financial product to be able to support providers! 

“We think of an end-to-end solution to work across the childcare ecosystem: funding care for parents and helping them navigate the available support, providing the platform for providers to access funding resources and increasing earnings ourselves, innovating in care delivery itself.

Mirza is just getting started. If you’re a new parent or are about to be one, you can create an account right here

The pandemic stripped away a lot of critical progress. It’s time we work to gain it back and then some. Our children deserve it.

Chris Blondell is a Philadelphia-based writer and social media strategist with a current focus on tech industry news. He has written about startups and entrepreneurs based in Denver, Seattle, Chicago, New Haven, and more. He has also written content for a true-crime blog, Sword and Scale, and developed social media content for a local spice shop. An occasional comedian, Chris Blondell also spends his time writing humorous content and performing stand-up for local audiences.

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Business

The Shift Towards Banking-As-A-Service

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The changing times and the pandemic have created a significant shift in how we bank. In addition, our expectations from banks have also differed through the years. The digitalization of the financial services industry has furthered the plan to get free access to banking data. This is in connection with the Open Banking initiative and the dramatic rise of fintech companies and neo-banks.

The market space that the traditional banks once dominated has now given new players the opportunities to compete alongside them. Indeed, the commoditization of bank services has inevitably begun.

A void to connect banks and these new players has been filled in the form of banking-as-as-service (or BaaS for short) providers. It’s only logical that a service such as this emerges. It’s the order next in line to streamline the customer experience and provide products that are built to engage the modern world. 

What exactly is banking-as-as-service?

The easiest way to explain what banking-as-as-service is is through a few examples, these are:

  • Bank accounts
  • Lending systems
  • Credit card payments

The digital world is changing the relationships of brands and businesses with their customers. It is rapidly shifting and improving that even non-bank companies have already integrated financial services to their customers. Established companies such as Walmart, Apple, Uber, or Amazon have already been doing this to add value to their products and services.

Why businesses should take the banking-as-as-service opportunity

To those in the know, banking technology is a complex matter. Developing it from the ground up can be laborious and expensive. Add to that the challenge of getting a bank license which turns off those trying to get in that niche. What banking-as-as-service does is to connect businesses with banks that take care of the requirements and provide the technology they need to provide financial services through a slew of digital channels.

This process will make banking services more engaging and less transactional. Businesses can now integrate services throughout the buying journey without redirecting them to a different platform. This means customers will no longer do the rigamarole of going from one channel to another. They will get what they need when and where they need it.

And statistics show that it is working. Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services are steadily climbing at a rate of 39% per year for approximately 10 million Britons making their online purchases. 

What now for traditional banks?

Since traditional banks have little appetite for risks, they weren’t built to handle the demands for embedded finance. BaaS companies make it faster and easier for fintechs and other companies to increase their offerings by embedding digital banking services directly into the purchase. Instead of seeing this as competition, traditional banks should collaborate with BaaS to benefit from this embedding.

What can Banking-as-a-service do?

With the help of banking-as-a-service, new players in the finance industry will have the capability of targeting niche communities and coming up with slimmer product sets. Also, the solutions that BaaS offers can give valuable insights to businesses on how they can improve their products or services. They will have the much-needed data to learn about industry trends, saving and spending behaviors, and general engagement with their offerings.

All these means that businesses can have more information on how they can improve the overall customer experience. This also means companies can deliver products and services that are more targeted towards the right customers. The possibilities that banking-as-a-service offers are endless in terms of innovation in the banking and financial services market.

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Playrcart Gives You What You Want – Immediately

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We’ve all watched ads and immediately thought, “I want that. Right now.” Some of us wish we could jump right into the TV and into that sexy Ford F-Series quicker than we can have a second thought. But how many of us have gone to make a purchase only to be discouraged by the needlessly complicated payment process? “Too many,” says UK-based startup Playrcart

We believe this is the future of advertising.” 

Founder Glen Dormieux, along with CTO, Richard Mason, created Playrcart born of that very frustration.

What we’re seeing right now is fairly traditional – they’re doing the same thing time and time again.

Currently, when viewing an ad, you have to go through several pages in order to complete a purchase. How many sales are lost in that time-consuming process? “Too many!” say business owners in a Mr. Krabs-esque demeanor. 

How Does Playrcart Work?

Playrcart has designed its platform to convert digital assets into instant transactions within the ad itself. How is that possible? Technology, stupid. 

You can actually make the transaction go directly within the asset itself. So you engage with the ads, you interact with the purchase within the ad without ever leaving that same piece of content.

It effectively dilutes numerous clicks that you normally have to navigate through. The average of reduction clicks is about 75 percent.

With Playrcart, you can watch the trailer for a new Spider-man movie and buy tickets before it’s even completed. You can schedule a test drive in the Ford F-Series as you’re watching a professional drive it on a closed course. 

Consumers will now have the option to purchase something when their emotional response to an ad is at its peak. You can see an ad for a major event and as you’re riding that emotional wave you click and purchase tickets. As the ad concludes, you can emotionally conclude with it – satisfied. 

You can see Playrcart’s technology in action here

Playrcart is capitalizing on our instant gratification society, and they’re doing it with modesty and innovative advances in technology. 

We want to hit them instantly while you’ve got their attention.

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Crazy Things That Happened in 2021

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Although 2021 would probably go down in history as one of the craziest years in recent times, 2021 is looking like it’s catching up. Here are a few of the crazy things that happened this year:

Capitol Hill Riot (January)

Early January saw a massive riot happen at the US Capitol. Former President Trump was charged with incitement in his impeachment trial in the Senate. This resulted in a mob that was pro-Trump, breaking into the building. This forced members of Congress to evacuate and left five dead.

Battle of the Billionaires (January)

Elon Musk has surpassed Jeff Bezos to become the richest man in the world. This, thanks to the increase in Tesla’s share price giving him a net worth of more than $185 billion. Bezos was the holder of this title but went down with his $184 billion worth.

Trump Impeachment (January)

A call for Former President Trump’s impeachment happened twice this year. Some Democrats and members of the progressive group, The Squad, called for his impeachment. This, after his supporters stormed the US Capitol.

Frigid Weather in Texas (February)

Brutal winter storms ravaged Texas for more than seven days. It caused unprecedented devastation that claimed the lives of at least 26 people.

The Grammys Breaking Records (March)

Records were broken in this year’s Grammys, with Beyonce winning more awards than any in the award-giving body’s history. Along with Megan Thee Stallion, they became the first female artists to win best rap performance, breaking records. BTS also made Grammy history by being the first foreign act to perform solo and the first KPop group to be nominated.

The Free Britney Movement (April)

Pop icon Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship by her father since 2008. In April this year, the hashtag #freebritney gained traction as fans cried for the singer to be free from the legal binding. 

The Friends Reunion (May)

Not really a follow-up to the lives of the Friends character, but a reunion in which the main cast members reminisced about the good ol’ times. The fans were treated to a recreation of the set along with some table reads from scenes that were rehashed. 

Bitcoin Price Plunge (May)

After hitting a record high of $64,829 in mid-April, Bitcoin prices plunged to around $30,000 at one point. All this is in connection with Elon Musk’s Tesla’s suspension of purchase with the cryptocurrency, citing environmental concerns over the mining process.

The End for Keeping Up With The Kardashians (June)

The month of June saw the end of the reality TV show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. After 20 seasons on the air, the show ends with a two-part reunion special. However, this isn’t the end for the Kardashians-Jenner, as they will star anew in a Hulu reality series later this year.

On another note, the year also saw the divorce of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West after six years of marriage.

All Eyes on Simone Biles (July)

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics was held in 2021 due to the pandemic. And on this one, all eyes were on Simone Biles as she has proven that she’s not superhuman after all. The celebrated gymnast withdrew from the team gymnastics finals citing the “twisties” and her efforts to focus on her mental health.

Facebook Name Change (October)

From Facebook to Meta, the rebranding was announced in October in an attempt to own the metaverse. The company says that the new name is reflective of their ambitions that go beyond being a social media platform. CEO Mark Zuckerberg considers the move as a nod to the metaverse, the concept of a three-dimensional version of the internet.

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