Russian nuclear scientists arrested for ‘Bitcoin mining plot’

Russian nuclear scientists arrested for 'Bitcoin mining plot'

The arrested scientists worked at the secret factory which made the USSR's first nuclear bomb

Russian security officers have arrested several scientists

working at a top-secret Russian nuclear warhead facility for allegedly mining crypto-currencies. The suspects had tried to use one of Russia's most powerful supercomputers to mine Bitcoins, media reports say. The Federal Nuclear Centre in Sarov, western Russia, is a restricted area.

The centre's press service said: "There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining." The supercomputer was not supposed to be connected to the internet – to prevent intrusion – and once the scientists attempted to do so, the nuclear centre's security department was alerted. They were handed over to the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Russian news service Mash says.

"As far as we are aware, a criminal case has been launched against them," the press service told Interfax news agency. Crypto-currencies like Bitcoin do not rely on centralised computer servers. People who provide computer processing power to the crypto-currency system, to enable transactions to take place, can get rewards in Bitcoins. In the Cold War the USSR's first nuclear bomb was produced at Sarov, during Joseph Stalin's rule. The top-secret town was not even marked on Soviet maps and special permits are still required for Russians to visit it.

Sarov is surrounded by a tightly guarded no-man's-land, with barbed wire fences to keep the curious away. There are suspicions that the radioactive polonium-210 used to kill ex-FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 came from Sarov. The Federal Nuclear Centre reportedly employs up to 20,000 people and its supercomputer boasts a capacity of 1 petaflop, the equivalent of 1,000 trillion calculations per second. Mining crypto-currencies requires great computational power and huge amounts of energy. There have been reports of some other industrial facilities in Russia being used for crypto-mining, and one businessman reportedly bought two power stations for the activity.

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Iceland to use more energy mining bitcoin than powering its homes this year

Iceland to use more energy mining bitcoin than powering its homes this year

Iceland is expected to use more energy mining bitcoin
than powering its homes this year.

Large virtual currency mining companies have established a base on the island, which has an abundance of geothermal and hydroelectric power plants. And with massive amounts of energy needed to run the computers that create bitcoins, it is seen as an ideal base. Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson, business development manager at the energy company Hitaveita Sudurnesja, said he expected Iceland’s virtual currency mining to double its energy consumption to around 100 megawatts this year. That is more than households use on the island nation of 340,000, according to Iceland’s National Energy Authority.

Bitcoin’s value has jumped. ‘Four months ago, I could not have predicted this trend – but then bitcoin skyrocketed and we got a lot more emails,’ he said at the Svartsengi geothermal energy plant, which powers the southwestern peninsula where the mining takes place. ‘Just today, I came from a meeting with a mining company seeking to buy 18 megawatts,’ he said.

Among the main attractions of setting up bitcoin in Iceland is the natural cooling for the computer servers and the competitive prices for Iceland’s abundance of renewable energy. The energy demand has developed because of the soaring cost of producing virtual currencies. Computers are used to make complex calculations that verify a running ledger of all the transactions in virtual currencies around the world.

A worker walks along a row of computer rigs that run around the clock ‘mining’ bitcoin inside the Genesis Mining cryptocurrency mine (Picture: AP Photos/Egill Bjarnason) In return, the miners claim a fraction of a coin not yet in circulation. In the case of bitcoin, a total of 21 million can be mined, leaving about 4.2 million left to create.

As more bitcoin enter circulation, computers need to get more powerful to keep up with the calculations – and that means more energy. The growth has prompted Smari McCarthy, a lawmaker for Iceland’s Pirate Party, to suggest taxing the profits of bitcoin mines. ‘Under normal circumstances, companies that are creating value in Iceland pay a certain amount of tax to the government,’ McCarthy said.

‘These companies are not doing that and we might want to ask ourselves whether they should.’ McCarthy questioned the value of bitcoin mining for Icelandic society, saying residents should consider regulating and taxing the emerging industry. ‘We are spending tens or maybe hundreds of megawatts on producing something that has no tangible existence and no real use for humans outside the realm of financial speculation,’ he said. ‘That can’t be good.’

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Great Marketing Strategies You Can Steal From the Most Successful Super Bowl Ads

Great Marketing Strategies
You Can Steal From the Most Successful Super Bowl Ads

You don't need $5 million to advertise like major brands.

The Super Bowl has been called "The Marketer's Holiday" for good reason.

At $5 million for a 30-second spot, it's one of the highest-grossing media events in the world. And with all the hype around previews before The Big Game, it's become a frenzy to follow all the activity of the big brands before and after the game. And while the Super Bowl is the ultimate in big brand marketing, there are a number of takeaways that would apply to a business of any size. Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from this year's crop of advertising. After all, marketing is a spectator sport, and 2018's spectacle was no exception.

Consider the environment

Context is everything. Make sure you serve up your brand messages in a way that is appropriate to the environment. The Super Bowl is a massive stage, but it's also a space for family, fun, friends and gatherings. So, advertisers stuck to lighter messaging, product benefits and sheer entertainment. Febreze is a great example. The brand reminded people who were throwing a Super Bowl party that there is a key ingredient that they shouldn't leave out. 

Use multiple channels

The best Super Bowl advertising used multiple channels to spread a fully integrated campaign. In those cases, the broadcast advertising is just the launching pad. Many previewed the spots ahead of time via YouTube, utilized influencer networks to review and share, built installations onsite at the game and maxed out engagement on social media. Rocket Mortgage is a good example. The advertising quickly led to an online resource to learn more, and social media also kicked in to generate leads throughout the game. Since it's highly likely that, as a small business owner or entrepreneur, you won't be using broadcast advertising, it's even more important that you use a mix of media to spread your messages.

Lead with an insight 

All good marketing starts with a consumer insight to grab the audience's attention. This should be a given in effective communication. The more emotional your connection, the more memorable the messaging . . . especially if it's tied to a product benefit. Verizon is a good example. The brand honored first responders by connecting survivors with those who rescued them — by having them place a call on the Verizon network, of course. Big brands don't own any special territory when it comes to finding an insight, and in fact, it's quite the opposite. Since small businesses are even closer to customers, finding an emotionally unique insight should be easier and more fruitful.

Make someone smile

Messaging that makes us smile is much more memorable and shareable. So, try to find a sense of humor in the work, and the work will more likely get noticed. Amazon's marketing with Alexa is a good example — it gave us a good laugh as it simultaneously showcased how it can add value to our lives. You should certainly stay true to your brand indeed, but don't take yourself so seriously. The NFL certainly did a good job of that!

Rinse and repeat

In order to be effective, messaging needs to be repeated to be remembered. So be sure to repeat over and over again to ensure message penetration. Tide is as good example. It owned the night with repeated variations of their "This is a Tide Ad." And guess what, the messaging stuck. Yours can too if you put it on repeat mode. As you plan out your own marketing activities, keep these Super Bowl Big Brand lessons in mind. And as you also watch other brands in action, pay attention to how you can apply what they do to your business. After all, marketing is a spectator sport.

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Upbeat Dutch Blockchain and Crypto Action Agenda

Upbeat Dutch Blockchain
and Crypto Action Agenda

Upbeat Dutch Blockchain and Crypto Action Agenda

The Netherlands has an established tradition of being

at the forefront of innovation. And it is following this same path when it comes to Blockchain development. The Netherlands ranks in the top five countries when it comes to digital economies. Amsterdam is named the best tech startup city in Europe, the digital city Groningen is hosting the largest Blockchain hackathon in the world, and Arnhem is the place with high concentrations of merchants that accept Bitcoin payments. This has allowed the Dutch to experiment with payments using volatile cryptocurrencies with their regulation still a distant concept.

Dutch Blockchain Action Agenda is the driving force for the innovative application of this technology in both products and services. Under the label “Dutch Digital Delta,” government, industry, knowledge institutions even the Royal family’s Prince Constantijn, with over 20 organizations in the financial sector, energy, and logistics, are active in this initiative. Clearer policy and regulations were needed around the developing cryptocurrency, Blockchain sphere, agreed Dutch politicians, cryptocurrency companies and regulators, who appeared in the House of Representatives at a hearing on Jan. 24, 2018

Fintech

A few years ago the Central Bank of the Netherlands (DNB) created its own cryptocurrency called DNBcoin, for internal circulation only, to understand better how it works. After studying it, DNB concluded that Blockchain might be “naturally applicable in fintech” for the settlement of complex financial transactions, cross-border payments, securities transactions and document and identity validation. At the hearing, DNB representative indicated that while “DNBCoin is still under consideration, it is also investigating a combination of Blockchain based cross-border payment services where cryptos are converted to fiat currencies and prepaid crypto debit cards.” DNB stated “it supports the EU having extended its anti-money laundering directives to include digital money, acknowledging that the Netherlands will adopt it into national laws within 18 months.” And reiterated that “cryptocurrencies are not legal tender, they will not be banned, since it would obstruct blockchain innovation.”

The five Dutch Banks, which control over 90 percent of the Netherlands’ retail banking market are exploring implementing Blockchain technology in their operations. ABN AMRO and Rabobank joined SWIFT global payments innovation project. ING has completed the testing of Blockchain-powered trade settlement platform in partnership with Calypso and the R3 consortium.  And NIBC has set up an Innovation Lab to stimulate the adoption of technological advancements within the bank as well as to enter strategic partnerships with innovative Blockchain companies.

Willem Vermeend, the first official “FinTech Ambassador of the Netherlands,” said:

“Blockchain will become a critical part of the financial sector, but what’s needed is collaboration.  There is a lot of creativity in the Netherlands. The problem is that I have spoken to 20 parties who do not know what each other is doing.”

The Dutch government is exploring how to use Blockchain technology to improve service delivery to citizens as the catalyzer for democracy, transparency, and participation. So far, more than 30 pilots were concluded utilizing Blockchain technology in a variety of areas like income tax, identity, logistics, autonomous vehicles, debt counseling, etc.  

ICO

With 3,200 startup tech companies hitting a scale-up phase in the Netherlands, Initial Coin Offering (ICO) offers a new way of fundraising enabled by digital currencies and Blockchain technology. Currently, the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) does not regulate ICOs.

"When it comes to innovation and developing markets, the Netherlands always held a forward-thinking stance. ICO initiatives are not an exception. The Dutch landscape comprises of bottom-up initiatives such as meet-ups and conferences, Ethereum DEV NL, Skycoin Netherlands, and Bitcoin Wednesday, a thriving startup ecosystem with (pre-) ICO fundraising entities. Not surprisingly, the advisors of some of the most successful ICOs of the caliber of Bancor, Kik, and Monetha live in the Netherlands,” explained Emanuele Francioni, founder of Web3 Ventures.

Merel van Vroonhoven, chairman of the AFM, warned:

“Although the AFM sees the possibilities of Blockchain technology for financial services, it points to the high risks of ICOs in the current hype. The high risk of scams and loss of intake combined with the hype around ICOs at the moment is a dangerous cocktail."

At the latest hearing, AFM urged that ICOs needed to be regulated at an international and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) level because they are cross-border by nature. Last year Prince Constantijn joined the High-Level Group of Innovators that advises the European Commission (EC). On Feb. 1, 2018, the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum announced that “it is partnering with ConsenSys, an Ethereum powered global venture production studio, for the benefit of the single European Union (EU) market, ensuring they work collaboratively across borders to help integrate and consolidate views, analysis and visions coming from the Netherlands in a forum at EU level,” explained EC Spokesperson Nathalie Vandystadt.

Individual taxation of cryptocurrency

The Netherlands is an exciting place for Blockchain and cryptocurrency investments. Investors are urged to take into consideration applicable cross-border tax laws while forming crypto or token investment decisions. “The Netherlands’ Finаnсе Miniѕtеr announced that the Dutch gоvеrnmеnt would be соnѕidеring cryptocurrencies and thе like аѕ “barter items” which are to be declared as a capital asset of the personal income tax return to the extent a person is not someone who actively trades in cryptocurrencies.  As such, cryptocurrencies are taxed as income from savings and investments. This means you have to take its value in Euros on Jan. 1st of the year and declare this value.

A fictitious yield is to be calculated over the fair market value of the taxpayers’ savings and investments, reduced by his liabilities, per Jan. 1st. This fictitious yield is taxed at applicable rates against 30 percent” explained Martijn de Jong of Amstone law firm. “Non-resident individual taxpayers are only taxed on certain Netherlands sourced savings and investments. Should the non-resident taxpayer’s involvement be assumed to exceed passive management of funds, Dutch taxation in box one could apply. Currently, there is no clear guidance on how cryptocurrencies are taxed,” he added.

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Blockchain-Based ‘Internet Computer’ Gets 61M from Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain

Blockchain-Based 'Internet Computer' Gets $61M from Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain

Blockchain is now being used to build an “Internet computer.” 

Top Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain Capital, a cryptocurrency hedge fund, have invested $61 million in Dfinity Foundation, a firm that intends to connect multiple computers together using blockchain to build an “Internet” computer.

The investment is Polychain Capital’s largest to date. Both investors will receive tokens in the network after its launch later this year. In an introductory video last year, Dfinity Foundation’s founder Dominic Williams explained more about the technology behind his company. “This applies new cryptography to public blockchain technology that is faster and more secure than anything around today,” he said. When the network was tested last year, it was 600 times faster than the prevailing speeds in ethereum’s network at that time.

The Dfinity network is based on a public blockchain and uses an open source protocol. In an interview with Business Insider, Williams said any computer that chooses to run the protocol can participate in the public network. The open protocol will facilitate the building of different businesses and applications on the network.For example, Williams said the “Internet computer” can act as a public cloud that competes with the likes of Amazon.com Inc. “The total cost of ownership of these business systems will be dramatically lower,” he said.

Part of the reason for this is because it will simplify complicated enterprise IT systems that involve multiple components such as databases and backup systems and cut costs by an estimated 90%. According to Williams, the public computer is also more secure because it is decentralized and spread out across multiple systems. It is underpinned by BLS cryptography invented at Stanford University.

Dominic Williams said he intends to use the funding to establish a Dfinity Ecosystem Fund to “support technical teams building applications, tools, and protocols for deployment on Dfinity.” He is also keen on building a so-called NASA for Decentralisation. "We believe ultimately that if you're going to have millions of businesses hosted on the internet computer, you're going to need a team of thousands of people who are constantly analysing the performance of the computer and looking for security threats," he told Business Insider.  Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions.

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RDA subcommittees to aid in digital marketing branding efforts

RDA subcommittees to aid in digital marketing, branding efforts

The board approved a contract with Applied Marketing

Mary Ann Redeker/GazetteBoard members of the Regional Development Association discuss marketing concepts Friday morning in the Trulser Business Center. The board approved a contract with Applied Marketing for the generation of business leads for the Emporia community.Regional Development Association of East-Central Kansas board members focused on amping up their marketing efforts Friday morning during their meeting in the Trusler Business Center. Conversations also centered around the organization’s strategic planning retreat, which was held Jan. 15 in the business center. RDA President Kent Heermann said the board compiled a list of items during the retreat to help aid in the marketing of Emporia.

“We have a couple items that we will really be focusing on,” Heermann said. “One is the coordination of economic development activities, including the development of our digital marketing program for our community. Updating our web presence will be very important.” Heermann said various social media platforms would be important in this process; namely, LinkedIn, as it seems to be the preferred presence in the business community. “With the research I’ve done on it since the strategic planning meeting, I’ve found LinkedIn is a very good method that could be used to get the word out about Emporia,” Heermann said. “It’s a good platform to illustrate what assets are available here for companies, which are looking for future growth and expansion opportunities.”

Another area on which the RDA will be focusing is branding efforts and how to perform them from a community perspective. Two subcommittees were formed for this during the meeting. Board member Rick Tidwell will head up the committee focusing on digital marketing efforts and Vice President Jim Kessler will form the committee dealing with branding. “This project will be a work in process,” Heermann said. “We came up with the concept, did the research and will figure out which direction we want to go. Our strategic planning meeting was successful. We had not had a meeting like that in a long time where we just really talked about things. Usually in meetings, you have your agenda items to focus on. You never just chat, and that’s what we did. There are a lot of bright people on this board, and I wanted to know what they all thought and what their point of view was.”

In other business, the board approved a contract with Applied Marketing in the amount of $21,000 for business lead generation. “The advantage with Applied Marketing is, they will actually arrange a telephone call conversation with five or six different prospect companies,” he said. “A lot of the leads we get from other sources will send information and, if we make that screen, then maybe we might have a conversation someday or get a visit.

“The benefit through Applied Marketing is, we have conversations with prospects and we’ve also had companies come visit Emporia. We do have other marketing techniques we utilize. We have partnerships with the state through Team Kansas and the Kansas Department of Commerce. Last year we had more visits than we normally have in a year. It’s a function of businesses looking to expand and it’s a function of an economy that’s fairly robust, but that could all change tomorrow.”

During the meeting, Heermann also commented on the death of Mike Fiehler, former plant manager of IBP, Inc. and Tyson Fresh Meats. “Mike had retired only about two years ago,” Heermann said. “We worked with Mike on an expansion in early 2000. Then the company endured two layoffs and they were down to 500 or 600 employees on the processing side.”

In 2010, Heermann said Fiehler and his team worked tirelessly to ensure they brought more business to Emporia after the downsizing. “Mike was what I would call a strong plant manager and fought hard to bring jobs back to Emporia’s complex,” Heermann said. “He figured out a way to renovate the hot box area to bring new products here like corned beef and others. He let corporate know if they had other plants that were bursting at the seams, he had plenty of space and workers.”

Heermann said Fiehler was a man who worked quietly for the best interests of Tyson Fresh Meats and the Emporia community. “Mike worked very, very hard and led the quiet charge to get Tyson back to the numbers of around 900 to 925 workers after the downsizing,” he said. “I don’t think many people realize this. He did his best to make sure as many employees as possible were re-employed. He treated his employees like friends and family. He did a great job for the community, and we will miss him.”

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Venezuela’s Cryptocurrency Petro Finds Foreign Investors ICO To Take Place In March

Venezuela’s Cryptocurrency Petro
Finds Foreign Investors, ICO To Take Place In March

Venezuela’s Minister of Foreign Trade and International Investment

José Vielma Mora announced on Thursday, Feb. 8, that foreign investors will be accepting payments for their goods in petro, says Latin American government-sponsored news outlet TeleSur. The petro, an oil-backed state cryptocurrency set to be released in both a pre-sale and an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), was first announced by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in December 2017. The petro’s white paper released Jan. 30 explains that the idea for the petro came from Hugo Chavez, who had envisioned a “strong currency backed by raw materials.” Mora said that Brazilian businesspeople are prepared to invest $300 mln in Venezuela, beginning with a $100 mln inversion investment.

The minister also listed Poland, Denmark, Honduras, Norway, and Vietnam as foreign countries that would be willing to receive petro in exchange for food and medicine, citing a total amount of $435 mln. According to Mora, Canada has also expressed interest in investing in Venezuela in the sphere of “pharmaceutics for humans and animals.” The petro is an ERC20 token that has been pre-mined on the Ethereum Blockchain, with each petro is backed by one barrel of oil. Maduro had ordered the issuance of 100 mln in petro on Jan. 14 in preparation for the pre-sale.

The creation of the petro has been viewed skeptically by critics and members of the Venezuelan opposition parliament who consider the petro a fraudulent currency that could help Maduro avoid sanctions. The petro’s pre-sale will take place from Feb. 20 at -04:00 UTC to Mar. 19 at -04:00 UTC, and there will be 38.4 mln tokens available. Pre-sale tokens “may be exchanged for petro [coins] at any time between the launch date and the closing of the initial offer,” according to the white paper.

The ICO will take place a day after the end of the pre-sale, Mar. 20 at -04:00 GMT, with 44 mln petro available for sale at a reference selling point of $60 – the price of a barrel of oil in Venezuela in the second week of Jan. 2018. The price is subject to market fluctuations, according to the white paper. The white paper writes that the Venezuelan government will accept petro as payment for national taxes, fees, and public services, and it will be regulated by the Cryptocurrency Superintendency and the National Blockchain Observatory.

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SEC CFTC Breathe Life Into Floundering Crypto Market

SEC, CFTC Breathe Life Into Floundering Crypto Market

Bitcoin and its crypto brethren received an unlikely lifeline

from American trading regulators on Tuesday this week, which ended in a complete turnaround after a nasty market crash. The Commodities and Future Trading Commission and the US Securities Exchange Commission held a highly anticipated hearing on Tuesday, focused on their stance towards cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings and Blockchain technology. The discourse came at a crucial juncture, as the overall cryptocurrency market endured a spiraling sell off which saw Bitcoin reach lows below $7,000, a figure not seen in over five months.

Industry experts and pundits took to social media platforms, posting updates from the hearing which saw CFTC Chair Christopher Giancarlo and SEC Chair Jay Clayton make some highly influential statements about the current stance towards the overall cryptocurrency and Blockchain space. With a prevailing sentiment of fear, uncertainty and doubt, a negative stance from the two bodies that hold the future of mainstream cryptocurrency trade could have been as good as a death knell.

But both bodies unveiled balanced and positive sentiments towards cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology. Giancarlo delivered an upbeat address saying “if there was no Bitcoin, there would be no distributed ledger technology,”  when he was asked about the value of Bitcoin. He also made it clear in his written testimony that cryptocurrencies are here to say and that regulation needs to nurture the sector while

protecting investors.

“Virtual currencies mark a paradigm shift in how we think about payments, traditional financial processes, and engaging in economic activity. Ignoring these developments will not make them go away, nor is it a responsible regulatory response. The evolution of these assets, their volatility, and the interest they attract from a rising global millennial population demand serious examination.”

Clayton echoed the sentiments of the CFTC chair, but he also produced a discourse that gave credit to the cryptocurrency industry for adding a new paradigm to

the financial system:

“Distributed ledger and other emerging technologies have the potential to further influence and improve the capital markets and the financial services industry.”

Clayton also hammered home the importance of fair regulatory frameworks that will create an environment that benefits all

parties involved.

“Said simply, we should embrace the pursuit of technological advancement, as well as new and innovative techniques for capital raising, but not at the expense of the principles undermining our well-founded and proven approach to protecting investors and markets.”

Markets react favorably

The overarching reaction following the hearing has had a positive effect on the cryptocurrency markets. Bitcoin and Ethereum had seen 20 percent growth in value, according to CoinMarketCap data, at the time of writing, and the rest of the cryptocurrency market was in the green. This latest development has provided the first bit of positive sentiment in over a fortnight. China has reiterated it’s zero-tolerance of cryptocurrency, India’s regulatory stance has been taken badly, and a number of mainstream banks have ruled out cryptocurrency purchases with credit cards.

These developments culminated in a highly volatile, selling-spree in the cryptocurrency market.But, with regulatory bodies like the CFTC and SEC promising to foster environments conducive to the growth and development of legitimate cryptocurrencies, fears have been allayed. What remains to be seen is if this is the start of a fresh wave of positive growth in value for the cryptocurrency space. The developments have had a number of high profile pundits posting upbeat predictions in response. Canadian Twitter user Armin van Bitcoin said that the Mayer Multiple is signaling a

strong buy signal for Bitcoin:

Smart #bitcoin investors capitulate based on long term trends. The Mayer Multiple is a great example of this, using the 200 DMA to derive its formula. The multiple is currently signalling a $BTC buy.

200 DMA: $6,858
Current Price: $8,425

 

Software engineer Pierre Rochard quoted Xapo CEO Wences Casares in a tweet that emphasized patience in the world of

cryptocurrencies.

“If I am impatient – that’s my problem, that’s not Bitcoin’s problem. Bitcoin has all the patience in the world.” Onwards and upwards! Bitcoin’s greatest days are ahead.

Business Insider’s Frank Chaparro shared a story on the Winklevoss twins, who have released bullish sentiments on Bitcoin following the SEC and CFTC hearing this week. Winklevoss Twins see bitcoin hitting 320,000, saying non-believers will suffer a ‘failure of imagination

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Why Businesses Will Struggle to Adapt to 2018’s Social Marketing Challenges

Why Businesses Will Struggle to Adapt to 2018’s Social Marketing Challenges

Opinion:
Influencers might become irrelevant, or at least not as effective

2018 might bring a fresh list of PR mishaps,
legal issues and other unanticipated challenges

In its ongoing efforts to redefine popular beauty standards as part of its decade-long Real Beauty campaigns, Dove learned the hard way about the thin line that exists between positive social message and controversy. For a company that has so successfully promoted positive body image in the past, it must have come as a shock that an idea so well thought out (or so it thought) ended up being so misinterpreted. But that’s just one of many examples that what looks good on paper might not look as good on Twitter.

While the marketing mistakes we saw in 2017 might have taught us a thing or two about social marketing, 2018 might bring with it a fresh list of public relations mishaps, legal issues and other unanticipated challenges. By looking at trends, we can predict and prepare for what’s to come in 2018.

People will expect authenticity

As brand messaging, giving to charity and claims of “green” become popular ways to attract customers, consumers are putting their guard up and being very selective about what they believe. “Consumers are no longer being impressed by new old tactics that used to be woven together into cause marketing,” Electra Cruises CEO Randy Clayton said. “Going forward, businesses will need to be more believable.”

The answer to this is authenticity. To be able to connect with consumers at a personal level, social marketers––and marketers in general––will need to cultivate an authentic voice that customers can easily identify with. The messages sent out must reach customers, be genuine and at the same time enhance brand principles—something that’s not been very popular in 2017. So, what can you do to make your voice more believable?

“The time is ripe for transitory content,” RockHer CEO Jim Vernon said. “Social marketing will need to pick up the momentum set on transitory content such as Instagram Stories and Facebook Live videos in 2017. This type of content has a better shot at making your brand credible, as opposed to other types of content, which look and feel rehearsed and perfected.”

Brands will be required to be even more transparent

Back in 2015, Machinima had to settle charges imposed on it by the Federal Trade Commission for failing to adequately disclose paid endorsements to YouTube influencers for the promotion of Microsoft’s Xbox One. This is a case of influencer marketing done right (Machinima had promised its client 19 million views) but against the law. With the rising application of influencer marketing, sponsored content and other related techniques taking center stage in social marketing, brands are under a lot of scrutiny. This has called for more transparency on their part in the way that they leverage these methods to get their products out there.

Speaking of the Machinima settlement, Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, explained, “When people see a product touted online, they have a right to know whether they’re looking at an authentic opinion or a paid marketing pitch.” Lawsuit Settlement Funding CEO Chris Janish said, “The legal aspect of advertising has long been a non-issue, but now, companies will need to carefully consider this area before they can even begin to sell their message.” With such developments, influencer marketing might become irrelevant, or at least not as effective in 2018 as it has been in the previous years. Customers will find it hard to believe a message if they can clearly see that an influencer has been paid to push it.

Managing messaging across channels will be more challenging

Traditionally, the idea of optimizing content for different channels was to take the same piece of content and make small changes to fit it into the target channel. However, as it is, every piece of content has to be created for a particular channel, from the start. The content-creation process is changing drastically, and social marketers will need to adapt to these changes. They will need to constantly look back at past content and see what has worked before, including the social data and target audience information.

“Each platform provides unique opportunities for you to tell the story of your brand,” Scorum CEO Vladislav Artemyev said. “To succeed in each, social marketers have to clearly define the type of content to create for their audience in each of the channels. They have to know the key pillars of each platform; what content matches the target audience, and which types to do away with; and the audience engagement levels on each platform.”

While 2017 gave us lots of Kendall Jenner Pepsi ads, it also gave us Heineken’s Worlds Apart ads. So, nothing is predetermined. Some marketers will still rise above the challenges and use the trends to their advantage. But the time to act is now.

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Cryptocurrency market could hit 1 trillion this year with bitcoin surging to 50000 experts say

Cryptocurrency market could hit $1 trillion this year with bitcoin surging to $50,000, experts say

  • Cryptocurrencies could go on a bull run greater than last year and pass the trillion-dollar value mark, Jamie Burke, CEO at Outlier Ventures said.
  • Technological advancements and new investor products could push bitcoin to $50,000 in 2018, Thomas Glucksmann of Gatecoin told CNBC.
  • Investors may focus on so-called "utility tokens" this year which are digital coins that can power blockchain technologies, according to one expert.

Cryptocurrencies could go on a bull run greater than last year

and pass the trillion-dollar mark in terms of value, experts told CNBC, following a recent violent sell-off across digital coins. Bitcoin has seen a huge fall in recent days, dropping below $6,000 for the first time since mid-November. On Wednesday, it was trading above the $7,000 level as the cryptocurrency market stabilized. At its lowest point on Tuesday, the total cryptocurrency market saw over $550 billion wiped off its value. But industry insiders see another rally ahead.

"Increasing regulatory recognition of cryptocurrency exchanges, the entrance of institutional capital and major technology developments will contribute to the market's rebound and push cryptocurrency prices to all new highs this year," Thomas Glucksmann, head of APAC business development at cryptocurrency exchange Gatecoin, told CNBC by email on Tuesday. "There is no reason why we couldn't see bitcoin pushing $50,000 by December." The technology advancements Glucksmann referenced include bitcoin's so-called Lightning Network, which would boost the very slow transaction speeds using the cryptocurrency.

"One possible appetizer for the bulls, or the catalyst for the recovery, will be the release of another cryptocurrency backed instrument listed on a major exchange. There are several candidates in the pipeline, it's only a matter of time until we have a cryptocurrency backed ETF (exchange-traded fund)." Last year, the CME and CBOE both released bitcoin futures products that people could trade. And Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman told CNBC in a recent interview that the exchange was "continuing to investigate" cryptocurrency futures.

There is still not a bitcoin ETF or exchange-traded fund on the market. An ETF tracks the price of an asset and would allow people to trade bitcoin without having to buy the digital currency on an exchange. Noted cryptocurrency investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the brothers who founded the Gemini Trust digital currency exchange, had an ETF application rejected last year.

'Crypto winter' is coming

The recent cryptocurrency sell-off came after huge price rises for many coins last year. Bitcoin was up nearly 1,300 percent, while ethereum rose over 8,000 percent and ripple surged over 32,000 percent. Even though the price rises were massive, some experts think that this year could be even bigger. "We believe after February the market will likely go on a bull run comparative if not greater than last year potentially reaching the trillion-dollar mark before a proper crypto winter sets in where the market becomes more focused on proper market fundamentals," Jamie Burke, CEO at Outlier Ventures, a venture capital firm that focuses on blockchain investments, told CNBC by email on Tuesday.

'Utility tokens' to watch

Many commentators have noted that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have no fundamental value. But others have suggested that digital tokens like ethereum, which can be used to build new blockchain applications, could have value in the future as the industry moves forward and develops.

Some companies like IOTA and NEO are trying to create blockchain platforms that developers can build on. Those applications can be powered by IOTA or NEO tokens. The same is true of ethereum. Mick Sherman, co-founder and CEO of Hercules Tech, a data science company focusing on blockchain and big data, said these are the digital coins that could see their prices appreciate the most this year.

"Utility tokens and assets with a working platform and a clear-cut reason for requiring both a blockchain and their own token, are more likely to appreciate in value this year. Some of these cryptoassets will not be used for years, meaning they have no utility value," Sherman told CNBC in an email on Tuesday. The CEO warned that many of the blockchain projects could be years away and more bubbles could arise. "The revolutionary nature of blockchain technology is what's driving the hype and even though we may be years away from viable blockchain-based assets, we may very well see several more bubbles," Sherman said.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

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