Boardroom briefing: podcasting, trade finance and blockchain strategy


Podcasting gets serious, WEF says developing countries need better access to trade finance, and blockchain strategy receives scepticism. Readings from around the world on business, leadership and management.

Podcasting now big business

If you’ve yet to discover the joys of podcasts, here’s a nice round number for you to conjour with: US$100 million.

It’s the value of a three-year deal signed between audio streaming service Spotify and podcaster Joe Rogan for the exclusive rights to his ‘Joe Rogan Experience’ podcast. According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s one of the largest podcast deals ever signed and indicates that this audio platform is now a big business.

‘Since 2005, more than 700,000 podcasts have been created, with over 30 million episodes of content, most of them for free,’ reports US marketing consultancy Brandtastic. ‘Incredibly, about a third of those episodes have been created since June of 2018.’

The entry of streaming services like Spotify into the podcast game has vastly increased the potential audiences for podcasts the world over. Many major broadcasters such as the BBC, ABC and NPR create podcast episodes for their regular shows, while there are plenty of podcast-only shows out there.

Two of our favourites are by names familiar with those who have attended Business Advantage’s Papua New Guinea Investment Conferences in recent years: demographer Bernard Salt’s new COVID-19 podcast for KPMG, What Happens Next?, and futurist Mark Pesce’s forward-looking Next Billion Seconds. Great listens for when you’re on your exercise bike at the Grand Papua, looking out over Ela Beach.

Trade finance a priority

Motukea Port. Credit: PNG Ports

The World Economic Forum is highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on trade by developing countries like PNG, and it suggests one of the major problems is access trade finance.

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‘Access to trade finance was already an issue prior to the pandemic. The global trade finance gap is estimated at $1.5 trillion and it is mostly impacting small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries. Over 50% of requests for financial support to trade are rejected.’

Actions to improve access to trade finance are ‘more important now than ever before,’ it says.

A key part of the solution is providing ‘financial commitments, debt restructuring and relief, and stimulus packages supporting SMEs’. This latter is something PNG is trying to do with its recently-announced K250 million SME package.

The WEF says we need to go to further: ‘governments and financial institutions need liquidity and trade finance to ensure their ability to participate in what currently remains of international trade. It is important to strengthen investment and maintain resilient and sustainable supply chains, including logistics and transport.’

Blockchain roadmap

While blockchain seems to attract its fair share of sceptics, Australia’s fintech sector was eagerly awaiting the release of the country’s National Blockchain Roadmap earlier this year.

Estimating that the global blockchain-related economy could be worth US$175 billion [K601 billion] by 2025, the strategy paper proposes the full gamut of the usual government initiatives: a steering committee, working groups, user groups, consulting with industry and the education sector, encouraging startups and research, and so on.

The blockchain-enabled models it canvasses for Australia’s wine export industry, professional accreditations and certifications, and ‘know your customer’ checks in the financial services sector are certainly worth a look.

Not everyone has been impressed by the strategy, however. Indeed, as the Innovation Aus website observed at the time, ‘the blockchain roadmap released by the government is also at odds with advice provided by its own Digital Transformation Agency recently.

‘The DTA received AUD$700,000 [K1.7 million] in the 2018 budget to investigate the technology, but was less than enthused by blockchain tech and ended up only spending a fraction of this budget on the project.

‘The agency told a Senate Estimates hearing that after its investigations it had discovered that “for every use of blockchain that you would consider today, there is a better technology”.’

One up for the sceptics.

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