FinancialBuzz.com News Commentary
According to data published by Grand View Research, Inc. the global blockchain technology market size is expected to reach USD 7.59 billion by 2024, at a 37.2% CAGR during the forecast period. The positive projections are the result of an increasing demand for this technology from a variety of industries, including financial services, consumer or industrial products, media and telecommunications, healthcare, transportation, as well as public sectors. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) describes the blockchain technology as a secure database, or ledger, spread across multiple computers. All users have the same record of all transactions. “Crypto” describes the cryptography that underlies it, which allows agents to securely interact, like transfer assets for example. The technology also guarantees that once a transaction has been made, the blockchain remains an absolute record that transaction. Victory Square Technologies Inc. (OTC: VSQTF), ChinaNet-Online Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: CNET), HIVE Blockchain Technologies Ltd. (OTC: HVBTF), BTL Group Ltd. (OTC: BTLLF), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM)
An article in the WSJ by Christopher Mim, indicates that, “Blockchain has the power to transform all these industries for three reasons. First, it’s genuinely well-suited to transactions that require trust and a permanent record. Second, blockchain typically requires the cooperation of many different parties. In cases where it’s implemented as open source software, it avoids the collective-action problem-the disincentives that prevent individuals from adopting something that would benefit them collectively-that occurs when a single company tries to push, and benefit from, a new standard.”
Victory Square Technologies Inc. (OTC: VSQTF) also listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the Ticker (CSE: VST). Yesterday the company announced that it, “is partnering with Keynote to bring the World Blockchain Forum to New York City for the first WBF: Security Tokens & ICOs conference on June 12-13, 2018.
The two-day conference will bring together more than 1,000 major stakeholders in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. Building on the previous World Blockchain Forum theme of “ICOs and Investments”, next month’s event will introduce New York to fintech industry leaders, inspiring speakers, experts and innovators from around the globe, opening up dialogue designed to explore security tokens in blockchain.
“Although bitcoin and blockchain technology are rapidly becoming more understood, security tokens remain a black box to most people,” noted Moe Levin, Founder & CEO of Keynote. “That will inevitably change and change fast because in our view the only real way to unlock the next trillion dollars of value in the ecosystem is by digitizing the traditional financial world through security tokens. Showcasing the best and brightest in the industry has been the aim of Keynote since 2012, and we’re excited to be bringing the 7th edition of the World Blockchain Forum to New York City.”
Peter Smyrniotis, a member of the Board of Directors of Victory Square and CEO of Blockchain Assembly Inc. (“Blockchain Assembly”), will be speaking on the main stage on June 12, 2018, at 10:50 am (EDT). The combined Victory Square and Blockchain Assembly teams will also be hosting a $100,000 USD Investment Prize pool for the top three blockchain companies during the WBF’s Pitch Your ICO session.
Notable ICOs that have launched with Keynote include Ethereum (which is currently at a $27 billion USD market cap), Litecoin ($2.5 billion market cap), Dash ($2 billion), Factum ($70 million) and Blockchain Capital ($30M).
Keynote Events has hosted 14 global blockchain-focused conferences in the past five years, including London, Brussels, Dubai, Los Angeles, Miami, Amsterdam and Chicago. WBF speakers are typically recognized as innovators, thought leaders and decision makers in the blockchain and currency industries. Past speakers have included: Roger Ver, CEO of Bitcoin.com; Halsey Minor, Founder of CNET and Founder of Uphold; Craig Sellars, Co-Founder of Tether; Brock Piere, Co-Founder of Blockchain Capital; Sasha Ivanov, Founder & CEO of Waves Platform; William Quigley, Founder of WAX; Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar, CEO & Co-Founder of RSK Labs; Adam Perlow, Founder of Zen Protocol; and both Dr. Levin and Mr. Smyrniotis.
“Having already partnered with the WBF on two of 2018s biggest bitcoin and blockchain events in Miami and Dubai, Victory Square is excited to bring the World Blockchain Forum to the Big Apple,” said Shafin Diamond Tejani, CEO of Victory Square. “These conferences are strategically essential for us and New York will allow us to connect with the some of the most respected blockchain thought-leaders, institutional investors, regulators, leading companies and projects in the world, while at the same time showing off our own exceptional entrepreneurs and portfolio companies.”
A key for Victory Square are the Pitch Your ICO sessions where it will gain valuable insight from founders of the most promising upcoming blockchain companies. With over 30 leading blockchain companies selected to attend from all over the world to present to some of the leading cryptocurrency investors, Victory Square will judge and select three winners who will share in the special $100,000 USD prize pool.”
“Victory Square continues to be a great supporter of not only the World Blockchain Forum but of the entire blockchain and crypto space,” added Keynote CEO Dr. Levin. “We are pleased once again to have Victory Square as a lead sponsor as they represent some of the most sophisticated minds in the industry today. With an already impressive and growing portfolio of blockchain-enabled assets under the Victory Square umbrella we look forward to seeing them showcase their talented teams in New York City.”
ChinaNet-Online Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: CNET) announced earlier this year that the company announced it has entered into an agreement with Wuxi Jingtum Network Technology and Ford tree Beijing Blockchain Technology Co., Ltd. to establish a new joint venture company (“new JV”) to research and develop blockchain technology and its applications for ChinaNet’s blockchain technical and business units. ChinaNet will act as the controlling shareholder leading all aspects of the project. According to the Agreement, Jingtum’s Chief Technology Officer and other leading experts will be involved in the establishment of the new JV. The R&D team under the new JV will help ChinaNet design the underlying foundation of unique layered blockchain architecture, develop the cross-chain functionality between the principal and subordinate chains, realize the circulation of certain assets between different chains, design intelligent contract mechanisms to support complex logic, and complete the cloud service model and other important underlying technology.
HIVE Blockchain Technologies Ltd. (OTC: HVBTF) on May 1st announced the further expansion of its GPU-based digital currency mining complex with the completion of the third phase (“Sweden Phase 3”), which commenced mining at the end of April 2018. This is the second expansion brought online in the past month and the precise execution of the Company’s mining roadmap has resulted in on-time completion of the facility. Sweden Phase 3 increases HIVE’s energy consumption dedicated to cryptocurrency mining by 6.8 megawatts (“MW”) to 24.2 MW, an increase of 39%. “HIVE is well positioned as an industrial-scale digital currency mining operator in stable jurisdictions with low-cost power and operating profiles. We continue to exhibit healthy gross mining margins and have a growing inventory of cryptocurrency. We are committed to achieving profitable growth and evaluating opportunities for the deployment of capital to further enhance shareholder value.” said Harry Pokrandt, CEO and Director of HIVE.
BTL Group Ltd. (OTC: BTLLF) is an enterprise technology platform provider that is developing Interbit, a proprietary next generation blockchain platform. This year the company provide further information on the next phase of its previously announced European energy trading project, under which four oil and gas supermajors and five leading energy traders including Eni Trading & Shipping, Total, Gazprom Marketing & Trading Limited, Mercuria, Vattenfall, Petroineos and Freepoint, propose to participate in using BTL’s Interbit blockchain platform to deliver gas trading reconciliation through to settlement and delivery of trades. This enterprise solution is being called OneOffice and is a revenue generating project for BTL.
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) earlier this January, together Maersk announced their intent to establish a joint venture to provide more efficient and secure methods for conducting global trade using blockchain technology. The aim of the new company will be to offer a jointly developed global trade digitization platform built on open standards and designed for use by the entire global shipping ecosystem. It will address the need to provide more transparency and simplicity in the movement of goods across borders and trading zones. The attributes of blockchain technology are ideally suited to large networks of disparate partners. A distributed ledger technology, blockchain establishes a shared, immutable record of all the transactions that take place within a network and then enables permissioned parties access to trusted data in real time.
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U.S. inauguration turns poet Amanda Gorman into best seller
WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The president’s poet woke up a superstar on Thursday, after a powerful reading at the U.S. inauguration catapulted 22-year-old Amanda Gorman to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.
Hours after Gorman’s electric performance at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, her two books – neither out yet – topped Amazon.com’s sales list.
“I AM ON THE FLOOR MY BOOKS ARE #1 & #2 ON AMAZON AFTER 1 DAY!” Gorman, a Los Angeles resident, wrote on Twitter.
Gorman’s debut poetry collection ‘The Hill We Climb’ won top spot in the online retail giant’s sale charts, closely followed by her upcoming ‘Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem’.
While poetry’s popularity is on the up, it remains a niche market and the overnight adulation clearly caught Gorman short.
“Thank you so much to everyone for supporting me and my words. As Yeats put it: ‘For words alone are certain good: Sing, then’.”
Gorman, the youngest poet in U.S. history to mark the transition of presidential power, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country in Wednesday’s rendition.
“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” Gorman said on the steps of the U.S. Capitol two weeks after a mob laid siege and following a year of global protests for racial justice.
“We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free.”
The performance stirred instant acclaim, with praise from across the country and political spectrum, from the Republican-backing Lincoln Project to former President Barack Obama.
“Wasn’t @TheAmandaGorman’s poem just stunning? She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait,” tweeted former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
A graduate of Harvard University, Gorman says she overcame a speech impediment in her youth and became the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.
She has now joined the ranks of august inaugural poets such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Her social media reach boomed, with her tens of thousands of followers ballooning into a Twitter fan base of a million-plus.
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I,” tweeted TV host Oprah Winfrey.
Gorman’s books are both due out in September.
Third on Amazon’s best selling list was another picture book linked to politics and projecting hope: ‘Ambitious Girl’ by Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris.
(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Why brands harnessing the power of digital are winning in this evolving business landscape
By Justin Pike, Founder and Chairman, MYPINPAD
Delivery of intuitive, secure, personalised, and frictionless user experiences has long been table stakes in digital commerce, well before the era of COVID-19. As businesses harness the revolutionary power of digital technologies, they have pursued large-scale change to adapt to evolving consumer preferences (some more successfully than others, but that’s a blog for another day). Digital transformation is a term we hear repeatedly, and it looks different for each organisation, but essentially, it’s about utilising technology and data to digitise, automate, innovate and improve processes and the customer experience across the entire business.
As I said, this was already well underway but then came 2020 and no industry escaped the disruption of the coronavirus outbreak, which has had an indelible impact on businesses performance, operations, and revenue. Regardless of whether the impact of COVID has been very positive or very challenging, it has forced organisations globally to re-evaluate and re-orient strategies to adapt.
As lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions continue to change daily life, this raises the question of how we can balance a dramatic shift to digital and the benefits it brings, while ensuring business continuity and innovation both during and post-COVID, and protecting everyone against fraud?
Digital is an essential survival tool, and even more so in a COVID world
No one could have predicted the dramatic digital pivot that has taken place over this year. Indeed, within weeks of the COVID outbreak cash usage in the UK dropped by around 50%. Digital solutions including delivery applications, contactless payments, mobile commerce, online and mobile banking have become essential components of a touchless customer experience in the era of social distancing. It’s no longer just about an enhanced and superior customer experience, it’s also about health, safety and survival.
In store, businesses have benefited from contactless payments enabling faster throughput and reduced need for consumers to touch payment terminals (therefore requiring greater cleaning, which degrades the hardware much faster). Mastercard reported a 40% increase in contactless payments – including tap-to-pay and mobile pay – during the first quarter of the year as the global pandemic worsened. Digital has also become an essential sales channel for many B2C brands. Where brick and mortar stores have been required to close, digital commerce enables continuity of customer relationships and revenue. This channel also provides brands with rich customer data, which can be used to enhance and personalise the customer experience and typically results in greater levels of engagement and uplifts in revenue.
Industry forecasts estimate that worldwide spending on the technologies and services enabling digital transformation will reach GBP 1.8 trillion in 2023 – a clear indication that the process represents a long-term investment and a global commitment to digital-first strategy. The key point here is that digital brings significant benefits, and regardless of COVID, is here to stay.
The challenges that rapid digital transformation brings to businesses
Regardless of whether businesses are operating in developed or less-developed economies, these times of crisis have levelled the playing field in the sense that all businesses are facing similar issues. Access to products and supplies, maintaining customer relationships, accelerating sales for some and declining sales for others, health and hygiene are just a few of the unique challenges brought about by COVID.
Many businesses in physical environments have had to swiftly implement changes to significantly reduce safety risks for staff and customers, such as contactless payments, mobile ordering and delivery options. But with these changes come a host of other benefits of digitisation, such as faster transactions, and reduced human error at the point-of-sale.
The reliance on technology, however, can also expose organisations and consumers to certain vulnerabilities. In particular, the risks of fraud and cybercrime have dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic as scammers have taken advantage of digital technologies to target both businesses and individuals.
As a McKinsey report illustrates, new levels of sophistication in the activities of fraudsters have placed more pressure on companies that have been previously slow to go digital, bringing “into sharp relief how vulnerable companies really are”, and damaging the financial health of small and large businesses. In fact, the Bottomline 2020 Business Payments Barometer reveals that only one in 10 small businesses across the UK report recovering more than 50% of losses due to fraud.
But take these stats with a grain of salt. While it is important to be aware of the risks and challenges this new business landscape brings, it’s equally as important to have a lens firmly across your own business, industry and audience, and to identify the changes you can make internally to mitigate risk as well as improve your customer experience. Where can you make some quick wins? Do you have the right skillsets internally to achieve what you need to achieve? What technology is out there that will enable your business goals? There are tech companies like MYPINPAD that are making huge strides in software development, which will transform businesses globally.
A digital world post-COVID
Almost a year in, the line between business success and failure remains fragile. However, an ongoing transition towards greater digitisation will be the difference between survival and the alternative.
There is a wide range of initiatives businesses can implement to weather this storm. If we look at the space MYPINPAD operates within, secure digital consumer authentication is crucial to the ongoing success and security of not only financial products but also identification and verification across a range of different industry verticals. Shifting the authentication of consumers securely onto mobile devices enables businesses to completely reshape their customer experiences. By bringing together a more seamless, frictionless customer experience, accessibility, privacy, security and access to consumer data, businesses are able to drive digital transformation across day-to-day activities.
Against this backdrop, software with stronger security standards continue to play an ever more vital role in supporting society, protecting consumers and businesses from the increase in risks that rapid digitisation brings. Already, merchants can deploy PIN on Mobile technology from companies like MYPINPAD, onto their smart devices to speed up the digitisation process many are now tackling.
Essentially, opening up universal payments and authentication methods that feel familiar, for both online and face-to-face transactions, will be key to opening up a world of possibilities when it comes to redefining how businesses engage with consumers.
Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says
LONDON (Reuters) – Food supply problems in Northern Ireland are due to Brexit because there are now a certain amount of checks on goods going between Britain and Northern Ireland, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.
British ministers have sought to play down the disruption of Brexit in recent days.
“The supermarket shelves were full before Christmas and there are some issues now in terms of supply chains and so that’s clearly a Brexit issue,” Coveney told ITV.
The Northern Irish protocol means there are “a certain amount of checks on goods coming from GB into Northern Ireland and that involves some disruption,” he said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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