Tag Archives: socialmedia

Hyundai Commercial Partners With IBM to Accelerate Blockchain Development

Hyundai Commercial Partners With IBM to Accelerate Blockchain Development

            

Hyundai Commercial — a financial services subsidiary

of leading South Korean automobile manufacturer Hyundai — has announced a partnership with American tech giant IBM to modernize its business model using blockchain. The news was announced on Feb. 13 at IBM’s annual tech and business conference “IBM Think 2019” in San Francisco, California. Hyundai Commercial is reportedly “a corporate finance company that provides leasing and financial services for commercial vehicles and construction equipment.” The partnership with IBM will focus on using open source Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology to create a new supply chain financing ecosystem for the Hyundai Commercial network.

Network participants — which include automobile dealers, distributors and manufacturers —  will have access to a real-time, shared view of all transactions on the blockchain, allowing for this data to be securely managed and efficiently distributed. The technology will also offer efficiency gains by automating hitherto manual processes. The announcement also reveals that a separate Hyundai financial services subsidiary, Hyundai Card, will be partnering with IBM to implement its machine learning technology to create an artificial intelligence-based chatbot for customer services.

As previously reported, IBM is fast developing its blockchain-based offerings — across financial services, supply chain, government, retail, digital rights management, healthcare and insurance. Recent projects include the use of blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) to combat drought in the state of California, as well as a $700 million deal with one of Europe’s largest banks, Banco Santander, to accelerate the Spanish bank’s use of blockchain technology.

As reported, Chung Dae-sun — the nephew of the CEOs of Hyundai Group and Hyundai Motors — founded HDAC, a Korean blockchain-based IoT platform and issuer of the Hyundai-DAC token (DAC), alongside a fintech and blockchain subsidiary HyundaiPay. Earlier this week, HyundaiPay signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote the growth of fintech startups in Busan, South Korea’s second most populous city.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/hyundai-commercial-partners-with-ibm-to-accelerate-blockchain-development

 

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Top 10 Messenger App Telegram Plans Blockchain Platform Launch in March: Sources

Top 10 Messenger App Telegram Plans Blockchain Platform Launch in March: Sources

  

Global messaging app Telegram plans

to release the mainnet and token for its blockchain-based Telegram Open Network (TON) platform as early as March 2019. The news was revealed to Cointelegraph by a source close to Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov today, Jan. 23. Telegram — which reportedly counts 200+ million active users per month, placing it among the top ten most popular messaging apps worldwide — raised almost $1.7 billion in two private initial coin offering (ICO) rounds last year for both Telegram and its forthcoming platform TON.

Cointelegraph’s source has emphasized that Durov was reluctant to confirm a concrete date for TON's release and that the March estimate remains subject to change. According to a separate report from Russian business media outlet The Bell, Durov’s team has told investors that TON is 90 percent ready, but that delays are possible, due to the “innovative nature of the development.” As reported, details released so far have suggested that TON will aim to function as “new way of exchanging data,” and will be powered by the platform’s native cryptocurrency, dubbed “Gram.”

As reported in May, 2018, the staggering success of Telegram’s pre-sales prompted the company to subsequently decide to cancel a public ICO that had been slated for later in 2018. Despite rumors that the Russian billionaire and former owner of Chelsea FC Roman Abramovich backed the project, only two entrepreneurs — co-founder of payment service Qiwi, Sergei Solonin, and co-founder of dairy giant Wimm-Bill-Dann, David Yakobashvili — have publicly confirmed their investments to date.

Following news that TON was “70 percent ready” last October, the government of Iran stepped up its restrictions on the messaging app, declaring that any cooperation with the app to launch its Gram token would be considered an act against national security and a disruption to the national economy. Iran has enforced a spate of bans against Telegram since April 2018. The app has also notably been blocked in Russia — Durov’s birthplace — since April 2018, officially due to Durov’s refusal to share the app’s encryption keys with authorities in compliance with a local telecoms law. According to data at the time of the block, around 10 million of Telegram’s users are based in Russia.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/top-10-messenger-app-telegram-plans-blockchain-platform-launch-in-march-sources

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Facebook agrees to do more to tackle scam ads after celebrity defamation lawsuit

Facebook agrees to do more to tackle scam ads after celebrity defamation lawsuit

Facebook has agreed to plough more resource

into combating the use of its advertising platform by scammers, saying it will do more to tackle scam ads that use well-known public figures to try to trick consumers. It plans to launch a dedicated scam ad report button in the UK, slated to go live in around three months’ time, as well as set up a specialist, locally-based team to monitor ad reports, keep an eye on scammer trends and generally work on getting celebrity-exploiting scam ads taken down more quickly than its current AI-aided ad review systems have been doing.

The new measures were announced in a joint press conference with UK consumer advice personality, Martin Lewis, who launched a defamation lawsuit against Facebook in April, saying the social network giant had failed to stop scammers using his image on scores of ads that aimed to swindle consumers, thereby damaging his reputation.

Lewis filed suit after becoming frustrated by the scale of scam ads bearing his image and Facebook’s tepid response to the problem its platform has created — telling the Guardian last year: “What is particularly pernicious about Facebook is that it says the onus is on me, so I have spent time and effort and stress repeatedly to have them taken down.” He confirmed today that he’s dropped the lawsuit after Facebook agreed to make changes.

“There were over 1,000 on Facebook in a year. And the way that the company acted then wasn’t good enough, so I had to resort to [taking legal action],” he said during the press conference, adding that he had wanted to see “tangible real change to the number of scam ads on the platform”, so was happy to drop the lawsuit because he believes the new report button will do that. Facebook has also agreed to provide funding to help get a citizens scam advice service up and running in partnership with UK consumer advice charity, Citizens Advice. Lewis said he was delighted with that outcome.

The social network giant, which took in $13.73BN in revenue last quarter, said it will donate cash and Facebook ad credits to the value of £3 million over the next three years to help set up the new scam advice bureau within the charity. This will be called ‘Citizens Advice scams action project’ (aka Casa), and the pair said it will aim to provide information and support to consumers who are concerned they are being targeted by or have fallen victim to a scam.

Facebook’s support for Casa breaks down into £2.5M in cash over the next two years, and £500,000’s worth of ad credit coupons for ads on its own platform, which it said will be distributed in tranches over the next three years. There was little detail on exactly how Casa will operate at this nascent stage but given the ad credit donation its work will presumably include running scam awareness ads on Facebook — funded (initially) by Facebook itself. Ergo, part of the company’s donation will be ploughed straight back into its own ad business.

Pressed on whether its approach with an ad report button still puts too much onus on consumers to have to protect themselves from scams being spread on Facebook’s platform, its regional director for Northern Europe, Steve Hatch, claimed it does already take down “huge amounts of these ads” but admitted its ad review systems are “not perfect” — hence the company seeing value in introducing a button for direct user reports of dodgy ads.

For his part Lewis said he had never wanted to have to go to court but said his intention had rather been to draw attention to the problem and pressure Facebook to do more. He said he was therefore pleased it had agreed to do more to tackle scam ads. “This button is only in the UK. This is not Facebook worldwide. This is unique to the United Kingdom that has not been done anywhere else and it is a direct result of this scam ads campaign. And I’m actually very grateful to Steve and his team here in the UK for pushing this on what is normally a global organization that works in a global way,” he said.

Albeit, to be clear, Facebook is not accepting legal liability for scam ads. And there’s no suggestion that any existing victims of the scam ads which bore Lewis’ image are going to be in line for any direct compensation from Facebook for their losses. Asked directly about the compensation point, Hatch sidestepped the question, saying Facebook is focusing on what more it can do to stop scammers from defrauding people in the first place.

Also pressed on why it had taken a lawsuit by a celebrity consumer champion to get it to do more, he said: “This is an area we’ve focused on for a very, very long time. But what [Lewis] has really pushed us towards is this specific focus about the use of public images and celebrity.” While the new measures are UK only for now, Hatch suggested Facebook might look to expand the approach elsewhere if it proves successful.

“We’ve started in the UK,” he said in response to another question. “Like any system if we find it works — and we sincerely hope that it does, we think we’ve got the right amount of focus, we think we’ve got the right amount of investment behind it — it’s very imaginable that we would take this out to other markets. But what we want to make sure is we’re getting this right.”

He also said it would be important for Facebook to find the right partner to work with in other markets, as it’s doing with Citizens Advice in the UK. While Lewis sounded happy to end his publicity focused legal battle against Facebook, having won some tangible concessions from the company, he warned that unchecked scam ads persist on other platforms, and said he is “not ruling out another lawsuit if things don’t improve”– namechecking Google and Yahoo as two of the other platforms now in his sights.

“Over the last few weeks I have again been plagued by scam adverts. A few of them have been on Facebook and when we’ve told Facebook they’ve taken them down very quickly. I can’t expect more. I accept that the technology isn’t perfect. What I want is proactive response, good team set up and them being taken down quickly. But that’s not the case with Google,” he said, adding that the problem is even more difficult to combat where Google is concerned given it’s more difficult to know where the ads are being served, as they can be served across even more touchpoints.

“I believe they’re not even giving us a direct contact at the moment,” he added, discussing Google’s response to complaints his team has filed about scam ads bearing his image. “We’re just having to go through the normal reporting channels, that everything goes through, even though I’m a major target of scam ads. By the nature of what I do, by both being on television and the subjects that I talk about — and being relatively trusted on that subject — means that my click through rate, apparently, for scam ads is really good!” We reached out to Google and Yahoo for a response to Lewis’ comments. (Disclosure: TechCrunch’s parent, Verizon Media Group/Oath, is also the parent company of Yahoo.)

A Google spokesperson told us:

Because we want the ads people see on Google to be useful and relevant, we take immediate action to prevent fake and inappropriate ads. We have a tool where anyone can report these ads and these complaints are reviewed manually by our team. In 2017, we removed 3.2 billion bad ads and we’re constantly updating our policies as we see new threats emerge.

A Verizon Media spokesperson also sent us the following statement:

Deceptive and misleading ads are not acceptable, and we expect our partners to comply with all laws, regulations and our policies, which prohibit this activity. We block ads in violation of our policies, as well as bad actors who work to circumvent our human and automated controls. The landscape of bad actors is continually evolving and we are committed to evolve with it to help keep our platforms and users protected.

“The big problem that we face is that [online advertising] is a Wild West,” Lewis continued, saying the problems he’s faced extend to “many other online advertising tools”. “This is an absolute Wild West with people sitting all over the world, and with very little regulation, no criminal enforcement — because frankly the Met Police are not going to go to whatever these country these people are in and arrest them, and that’s the problem with online advertising. Hence why I’ve targeted the platform to say the only thing we can do… is deny them the oxygen of publicity and deny them access to the individuals.”

“I want online advertisers to see this as a warning shot across their bows,” he also said, calling on Google and the online advertising industry as a whole “to start to take responsibility”, adding: “Real people are seeing their livelihood taken away, their life savings taken away. People are losing money that they need to live on by irresponsible advertising protocols. It’s about time other firms stood up, took responsibility, improved their reporting protocols and started to give money to Citizens Advice scam action.

“Scam adverts make people distrust advertising. So this isn’t just an issue for the people who put the adverts out there but any company who does advertising in the UK legitimately, trying to get their message across, this is diluting what you are doing. So the advertising industry as a whole — not just the platforms — need to try and make sure this stops. Otherwise you’ll get close to the point where someone like me says never trust an advert online.” The issue of direct compensation for consumers scammed via online platforms is a matter for policy makers and regulators to work on, he added.

Article Produced By
Natasha Lomas

Writer

Natasha is a senior reporter for TechCrunch, joining September 2012, based in Europe. She joined TC after a stint reviewing smartphones for CNET UK and, prior to that, more than five years covering business technology for silicon.com (now folded into TechRepublic), where she focused on mobile and wireless, telecoms & networking, and IT skills issues. She has also freelanced for organisations including The Guardian and the BBC. Natasha holds a First Class degree in English from Cambridge University, and an MA in journalism from Goldsmiths College, University of London.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/23/facebook-agrees-to-do-more-to-tackle-scam-ads-after-celebrity-defamation-lawsuit/

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From Tim Cook to Yuval Harari Disrupting Data Protecting Privacy Building Blockchains and Hacking Humans

From Tim Cook to Yuval Harari – Disrupting Data, Protecting Privacy, Building Blockchains and Hacking Humans

In a recent Time article,

Apple CEO Tim Cook calls for legislation to prevent data breaches and irresponsible collection of user profiles. “I and others are calling on the U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive federal privacy legislation—a landmark package of reforms that protect and empower the consumer.”

In 2018, Cook laid out four principles to guide legislation. The principles presented to a global body of regulators included the right to have data minimized, the right to knowledge of data collected, the right to access data, and the right to collect and delete personal data.Still, he believes that laws alone will not ensure privacy rights are observed. He wants tools that can help protect consumers from the shadow economy where data is sold to data brokers without users’ consent.

Cook explains,

“Meaningful, comprehensive federal privacy legislation should not only aim to put consumers in control of their data, it should also shine a light on actors trafficking in your data behind the scenes. Some state laws are looking to accomplish just that, but right now there is no federal standard protecting Americans from these practices.”

“That’s why we believe the Federal Trade Commission should establish a data-broker clearinghouse, requiring all data brokers to register, enabling consumers to track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data from place to place, and giving users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all.”  In 2018 Cook championed the same principles blockchain developers are prioritizing: efforts to build transparent, decentralized systems that give users greater control over their digital identities.

While Cook proposes the creation of a centralized body to tackle privacy issues on the internet, blockchain developers are working on decentralized projects to solve many of the same issues. But the approach is fundamentally different. Cook trusts that a new group of people can sort out privacy issues; blockchain developers put more faith in math and machines. They’re building automated systems that can operate in cryptographically secure environments to monitor and enforce agreements and data-access privileges.

Different blockchain technologies, both public and private, offer different solutions for various privacy issues.

You can check "Have I Been Pwned" to see if your data has ever been breached.

Privacy focused internet browser Brave, for example, is designed to protect consumer data. Brave works closely with blockchain identity startup Civic, using its verification services to protect users’ identities. Brave reports that it currently has 5.5 million monthly users that avoid data-harvesting intermediaries.

Projects such as Enigma, Dfinity, Ethereum and Tron are building scalable blockchain solutions to create a decentralized internet. The idea is to rethink how data is moving in and out of vast silos that are controlled by corporations and governments. By giving users control of their data, and not clearinghouses, blockchain developers are potentially averting what author and historian Yuval Harari believes is the most challenging dilemma of our lifetime.

Says Harari,

“There is a lot of talk about hacking computers and emails and bank accounts, but actually we are entering into the era of hacking humans. And I would say, the most important fact anybody who is alive today needs to know about in the 21st century, is that we are becoming hackable animals. This is the most important thing….

“It starts on the surface. And this is what we already see today. It starts by having corporations and governments amass enormous amounts of data about where we go and what we search online and what we buy, and things like that. But this is all surface, and outside: how I behave in the world. The big watershed, the big change will come once it starts penetrating inside, inside your body. Once you can start monitoring and surveilling what’s happening inside your body, inside your brain, then you can really hack human beings. And this – we’re very close to it.”

Harari says an external system can eventually learn to know people better than they know themselves. “It will never know you perfectly. There is nothing perfect in the world. There is no such thing as perfect knowledge. Amazon or the government will never know you 100%. But it doesn’t need to. It just needs to know you better than you know yourself. And this is not very difficult, because most people don’t know themselves very well.”

It could take decades before the first human being is potentially hacked. Until then, the focus remains on securing data and eliminating abuses by profit-driven business models. As people try different methods to solve a common problem, from the creation of more centralized bodies or clearing houses, to the proliferation of decentralized blockchains that are both public and private, several outcomes could emerge. And there is no certain way to predict the future. But one question is becoming strikingly clear and increasingly critical as engineers and entrepreneurs move forward to advance various technologies. Which one should we trust more – man or machine?

Article Produced By
The Daily Hodl Staff

https://dailyhodl.com/2019/01/19/from-tim-cook-to-yuval-harari-disrupting-data-protecting-privacy-building-blockchains-and-hacking-humans/

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WordPress Partners with Google News to Launch Open Source Platform for Newsrooms

WordPress Partners with Google News to Launch Open Source Platform for Newsrooms

On January 14, 2019, WordPress announced the launch of Newspack by WordPress,

an Open Source Platform for Newsrooms which will begin operations in mid-2019 with backing from ConsenSys, Civil media and others.

Financial Backing

This new solution is in partnership with Google and the Google News Initiative who contributed $1.2 million to the cause. It is also being backed with financial contributions from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism ($400,000), ConsenSys, the venture studio backing Civil Media ($350,000), and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation ($250,000). According to the statement, another $200,000 from an unnamed fifth source is expected to be given by the end of the month.

Economic Models

The main goal of Newspack is to create source publishing and revenue-platform for news publications. It is widely known in the publishing industry that maintaining an economically viable financial structure for newsrooms isn’t always easy and this new platform helps to bypass that problem. The new platform will also incorporate the best editorial practices from the industry. When Civil first launched their own platform, they spoke about how journalistic integrity is better preserved when the newsrooms are not at a loss for how to sustain themselves financially, and this comes into play here as well.

This sentiment was echoed by Kinsey Wilson, the president of WordPress.com, who said, “Local news organizations are struggling to find sustainable models for journalism — a crisis that has very real implications for democracy. We’re joining with industry leaders to bring technology, publishing and business expertise together in a single platform that can be shared by news organizations across the globe.” The platform will be launched formally in the middle of 2019 and will accept about a dozen news organizations, though there are plans to accept more by 2020.

More Details

Applications from potential charter newsrooms have already opened and close by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. For the developmental period, which will last till 2020, Automattic will fund the project, after which there will be “operating fee’s” of between $1,000 to $2,000 charged per month to participating newsrooms. Requirements for potential participants include a demonstration of either editorial and financial success in the past or a strong business plan, original content being produced and the meeting of the needs of a distinct geographic region or distinct subject area.

Article Produced By
Tokoni Uti

Tokoni Uti is a writer with several years of experience whose work has appeared in the Huffington Post, The Los Angele Free Press, The San Diego Free Press, Genvieve magazine and Blockchain Reporter. She holds a degree in accounting from Bowen University and lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

https://btcmanager.com/wordpress-partners-with-google-news-to-launch-open-source-platform-for-newsrooms/?

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Here’s How to Calculate What’s Working When You’re Marketing on Lots of Channels

Here's How to Calculate What's Working When You're Marketing on Lots of Channels

Determining which channel moved the customer to purchase is tricky when your marketing runs the gamut from Facebook ads to direct mail.


Long gone are the days of blindly spending marketing dollars

without a data first mindset to clearly calculate and prove you are driving a return on your marketing investment (your “ROMI”). This previously linked post demonstrates how to track your ROMI at the 30,000 foot view, based on your overall business revenues vs. costs, or at the unit level of an average transaction. But, if you want to really fine tune your efforts to maximize your ROMI, the best marketers turn to marketing attribution tools to help optimize marketing within every sub-channel of their business. Let me explain.

What is marketing attribution?

Your customers are interacting with your business in many ways. Let’s say you are a retailer, and one customer may be visiting your store, your website, your mobile app, your direct mail catalog, etc. Marketing attribution helps assign value to which of those channels (if not all) should get credit for the sale. So, when you go to calculate your ROMI for that business unit, you are fairly matching revenues with marketing costs.

Calculating attribution is hard.

The above makes it sound like marketing attribution is a relatively straight forward thing to calculate. It could be if the customer only visited one channel, but what happens when they concurrently visit multiple channels? The calculation becomes much harder.  Let’s say a customer receives a catalog in the mail, goes to the website to learn more, then purchases the product in the store. Which gets the credit? The answer: they all should get partial credit, and that is where marketing attribution tools come in to help you calculate that.

Which should get the most credit?

Determining who gets the most credit for a sale is the big debate. Should the first touch point get the most credit, since the transaction most likely started there? Or, should the last touch point get the most credit, as that is where the customer actually pulled out their credit card and purchased the product?

The arguments can clearly be made both ways (especially by the marketing managers in each of those respective departments). I tend to bias toward the first touch point (e.g., the catalog that arrived in the mail), to help me assess if I should keep spending on that specific tactic. But, oftentimes, I simply split the credit evenly between each channel that touched the customer during that sale cycle.

Marketing attribution tools

Many companies turn to sophisticated software packages to help them. Some of the more sophisticated tools are found in expensive enterprise grade solutions from Adobe and others. But, there are others that serve the SMB market, as well, including Bizable, Bright Funnel, LeadsRx, Looker, Track Maven, Active Demand, Tealium, ABM Analytics and Attribution, to name a few. You can learn more about those products from their websites, or the marketing attribution sections of software user review sites, like G2 Crowd or Capterra.

You can calculate it own your own.

Let’s say you spend $10,000 on a direct mail piece, and you get 100 of those people — 1 percent —  to buy a $200 product from you. Fifty purchase through your call center and 50 through your website. You know the website orders were tied to the direct mail piece, because the user needed to enter a unique promotion code to redeem the offer in the mailer. 

I would attribute 50 percent of the 50 web orders to the catalog and 50 percent of those web orders to the website, as they both equally played a role in the sale. So, the catalog gets credit for 75 orders ($15,000 in revenues) and the website gets credit for 25 orders ($5,000 in revenues) from this one campaign.

Then, you need to carry that logic through to expenses. You need to allocate 75 percent of the mailer costs ($7,500) to the catalog division and 25 percent ($2,500) to the website division. And, in reverse, if the website has costs to operate, let’s say $10 per transaction (or $250 in total web orders from the mailer), you need to add those costs to the catalog division’s total campaign costs. The call center costs of $25 per order (or $1,875 in total catalog orders) will be incurred entirely by the catalog division, as the call center was not used by the website orders.

So, totaling it all up from this campaign, the catalog had: $15,000 in revenue less $7,500 in mailer costs, less $1,875 in call center costs, less $250 in website costs. For a total profit of $5875 and a total ROMI of 2x (ignoring product costs). And, the website had:  $5,000 in revenue less $2,500 in mailer costs, less $750 in website costs, for a total profit of $1,750 and ROMI of 1.54x. Voila! Both divisions that participated in the sale, sharing in the sale credit in a fair and equitable way.

620{P}tential pitfalls in your calculations.

There are many instances that create calculation challenges. For example, which gets credit for a repeat sale, the channel that began the customer relationship or the channel that got the repeat order? I bias the most recent channel, but give credit for the lifetime value calculations of the first channel.

What happens when the tracking data is incomplete and you are not sure who should get credit for the sale? In that case, allocate the untracked orders pro rata in the same percentages as the tracked orders. For example, if your website accounted for 50 percent of your clearly tracked orders, there is a good chance it represented 50 percent of your untracked orders, as well. So, add those untracked orders to each respective tracked channel. This is as much an art as it is a science, so it will take time to set your rules and optimize them over time.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Hopefully, you now better understand what marketing attribution is, and why it is so important to track:  it helps you to fine tune your ROMI calculations by marketing channel to make sure you are optimizing your marketing spend by channel. The better you understand your customer behaviors (e.g., touchpoints) with a customer-centric omni-channel mindset, the better you will be able to truly take your marketing efforts to the next level.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Marketing.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

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This startup is creating the cultural cryptocurrency for museums and institutions

This startup is creating the cultural cryptocurrency for museums and institutions

Cultural tourism is a big segment of the wider travel and tourism industry.

While large online players like TripAdvisor provide a huge amount of information for travellers about museums, landmarks, and historical sites, there is still a need for innovation in the space. For example, the EU has a working group for digitally capturing, preserving, and exploring cultural heritage through new technologies. Austrian startup Cultural Places believes it has an answer by bringing cultural heritage and blockchain technology together. It wants to reinvent every aspect of the cultural industry, from ticketing to fundraising.

At its core, Cultural Places is a social network for artists, curators, and patrons, built by Oroundo, whose founders developed the concept over the last three years, which is creating a cultural ecosystem connecting customers and suppliers. The first version of the app has already been deployed with more than 30 institutions and landmarks including the Stephansdom cathedral in Vienna and the Borobudur Buddhist temple in Indonesia. But now it is moving on to its next phase – the Cultural Coin. The token is the platform’s dedicated cryptocurrency for purchasing tickets to museums and theatres or supporting galleries and exhibitions. Cultural Places will be running an ICO to raise financing for further development and deployment of the platform. Long term, the founders envision Cultural Places as the go-to platform for discovering and booking trips.

Streamlining ticketing

Traditional ticket booking is dogged by high fees, sometimes up to 30 percent, not to mention the high levels of fraud and ticket touting on the secondary market. On Cultural Places, tickets are handled via smart contracts on Ethereum, which removes the need for intermediaries. Smart contracts also allow for sharing and reselling of tickets to avoid anyone being ripped off. Customers get reasonably priced tickets and artists know that their tickets are being sold to actual fans rather than ticket touts.

This has been a massive pain point for ticketing across numerous industries and several startups are trying to solve it with the blockchain but Cultural Places is one of the first to design a blockchain solution specifically for this industry.

Social network & crowdfunding

Cultural Places aims to be all-encompassing. It will be a social network for travellers and culture buffs where users can build connections with others that have similar interests and shop on marketplaces for physical and digital goods. The platform helps institutions to collect and analyse user data to refine and hone the content they share to users. Furthermore, this data will inform more precise advertising compared with other social networks. Cultural institutions, like museums, will be able to build offerings using Cultural Places’ API and receive payments using the Cultural Coin cryptocurrency. Beyond that, the platform allows institutions and bodies to digitally represent and spread awareness around their work.

All content in the app is created by the institutions themselves so it’s always up to date and accurate. Museums for example are already able to integrate beacon and NFC technology in their buildings with the app to act as a walking tour guide when you’re actually at the location. Furthermore, the crowdfunding feature will help cultural businesses and artists to raise funds in a transparent way amid an environment where cultural investments are under strain. Much like ticketing, the startup claims that the crowdfunding process will be more transparent for all parties. This may be contributing to the costs of running an exhibition or helping to fund an archaeological dig.

Lower costs for the user

Cultural Places promotes its model of transparency and lower fees compared to incumbents in the marketplace but its chief business model is still revenue from transactions like ticket booking. All purchases made on Cultural Places will incur a six percent fee. Of this, three percent goes to Cultural Places and other three percent is distributed across the community: One percent will be returned to the user in Cultural Coins as a sort of loyalty program. Another one percent of the transaction will be distributed to all Cultural Coin token holders as a reward for being part of the ecosystem. And a final one percent will be distributed to all institutions to encourage further participation.

The Cultural Coin

The company is holding an ICO for the Cultural Coin, which is supported by the digital marketing agency Digitalsunray. The  Cultural Coin is a utility token that will be operational across the platform, though payments will also be available in fiat.  In the sale, 1.5 billion coins will be generated, with 900 million (60 percent) of these coins being made public in the sale, concluding on April 5 with all unsold tokens being destroyed. 150 million coins (10 percent) will go into a stability pool; 30 million (two percent) will be reserved for a bug bounty program; 75 million (five percent) will be distributed among existing Oroundo shareholders; and 345 million (23 percent) will be held for other early stakeholders, team members, and advisors in the project.

The sale is taking place in five phases: a pre-ICO and four separate sale phases with the value of the coin going up at each phase. In the pre-ICO, the coins are valued at €0.015 and will then increase to €0.018, €0.021, and €0.024 before finishing at €0.030 on the final phase. Unlike many ICOs, the company has already launched a working product with iOS and Android versions of the app. The funds raised by the ICO will help further development of its blockchain features and growing its partner networks. It is working with startup Flashboys for the blockchain implementations. Flashboys is the creator of Wizzle and will list the Cultural Coin on its exchange. Cultural Places is also working with customer satisfaction rating company RateMyTate.  The startup will first integrate the blockchain ticketing system this year with a view to building out the payments and crowdfunding features in 2019.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

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Payment Provider Fleetcor to Pilot Ripple’s XRP Cryptocurrency

Payment Provider Fleetcor to Pilot Ripple's XRP Cryptocurrency

Workforce and fleet payments provider Fleetcor Technologies

has become the latest to trial Ripple's xRapid product, which utilizes its custom cryptocurrency XRP. New York-based financial consultants Cambridge Global Payments, which Fleetcor acquired last year, will also be part of the partnership, a Ripple spokesperson said. Cambridge has been a Ripple client since 2017, though it has largely used the startup's xCurrent product.

Stepping back, the news comes over a month after telecom provider IDT and payments provider Mercury signed on to pilot xRapid. Similarly, MoneyGram soon after revealed it was piloting the same product to test its speed and efficiency for international payments, as previously reported. At present, the companies must use pre-funded bank accounts in various countries in order to facilitate transactions. Cuallix, a Mexican financial services company, has been using XRP as an alternative since last year, and noted in a recent blog post that the liquidity provided by xRapid helps it process direct payments between the U.S. and its southern neighbor both quickly and cheaply.

Various other companies have also signed on with Ripple in recent months, using its blockchain technology stacks, but not XRP, to ease cross-border transactions. Over the past few months, Abu Dhabi-based UAE Exchange, China-based LianLian and the UK arm of Santander Bank have all signed on to use xCurrent. At the time, the companies largely announced they were looking to lower the cost and time required to send funds across borders.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

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Mexican Lawmakers Pass Cryptocurrency Regulation Bill

Lawmakers in Mexico have reportedly advanced a bill

that was drafted to regulate fintech, including cryptocurrencies, in the country. According to Reuters, the bill was passed by Mexico's Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of its legislature, on Thursday and currently is pending signature from Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto before it goes into effect as law. The latest legislative move follows a previous green light from the country's Senate in December 2017 that cleared the way for the bill, which is aimed to bring certainty on the status of cryptocurrency, as well as to prevent use of the tech in illicit activities such as money-laundering.

As reported by CoinDesk, the framework aims to set out that cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in Mexico, a stance in line with comments from the country's central bank in early 2017. In a local report, Agustin Carstens, the then-governor of Banco de Mexico said bitcoin should be considered a commodity, not a currency. In addition, the bill also seeks to put the operation of cryptocurrency exchanges under oversight of the country's central bank.

The Reuters report, though, indicates that the bill, drafted in general terms, will also see further development of a secondary law by other financial regulators such as Mexico's securities commission, the central bank and the finance ministry in the coming months. The changes are expected to bring rules on activities such as fund-raising by cryptocurrency firms.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
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Micro-Influencers: The Marketing Force Of The Future?

Micro-Influencers:
The Marketing Force Of The Future?


When one thinks of social media influencers, who comes to mind?
Is it a group of the most highly-followed social media stars with millions of followers or is it someone more approachable and relatable, with a smaller, yet immensely dedicated following? If it’s the latter, they are likely micro-influencers.

On the surface, it seems as though an influencer’s total following matters more than anything else. And while the overall following numbers do attract attention, engagement is the key factor in an influencer’s ultimate success when it comes to commercial viability. Brands and marketers are now focusing on the interaction between influencers and their audiences and that is measured by likes, comments and the ultimate trust followers have in the influencers they are following. Micro-influencers often have very high engagement with their fan-bases and are often over-looked by brands in the social media campaigns they are pursuing.

Who Are Micro-Influencers?

Although the range of the number of followers an influencer must have to qualify as a micro-influencer is subjective, I believe that it is someone who has anywhere between 10,000 and 500,000 followers on social media channels. It's not necessarily the number of followers as much as how engaged that audience is. Micro-influencers have specific niche audiences and are deeply connected to them.

Some Examples of Micro-Influencers and Their Niches

Micro-influencers can be found in almost any sector: they could be focused on health and wellness, food and cuisine, entrepreneurship or fashion and beauty to name a just a few prominent categories. An interesting example of someone in the health and wellness world is Alexandra Lerner, who posts about her work as a yoga and wellness influencer on instagram. Allie Lerner writes about her passion in her blog (http://www.alliemichellel.com), writes and publishes books, has her own podcast and collaborates with like-minded brands like the yoga-inspired apparel manufacturer Spiritual Gangster. In the beauty and fashion world, Marta Pozzan (https://www.instagram.com/martapozzan/?hl=en) is a globe-trotting influencer who travels from fashion week to fashion week promoting brands from Kenzo to Bulgari and beyond.

How Can Micro-Influencers Help Brands?

Micro-influencers are people who have already built the audience a brand looking for, and they’ve already established trust with them. This post on social selling by Hiloipa.com, a CRM built for multi level marketers, reminds us how important it is to tell a story, rather than blatantly sell to audiences. Influencers have established relationships with their followers through their stories. And when they’re willing to share a brand’s story, their followers are ready and willing to listen. When you consider that 40% of Twitter users have made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer, it’s easy to see why many brands use influencers to spread their message.

Working with Micro-Influencers for the Best ROI

For a brand to achieve the best possible ROI on a campaign, it’s ideal to hire a group of micro-influencers. Micro-influencers will not have the same reach as the macro influencer celebrity, therefore, working with a group of micro-influencers is necessary to increase the reach of a campaign. The concept that an influencer must have millions of followers to be valuable to a brand is misleading. The reality is that the larger the following an influencer has, the lower the engagement rate is. Hiring a combination of micro-influencers and celebrity influencers may raise the ROI of a campaign and lower the overall marketing spend.

How to Find Micro-Influencers to Work With

The first thing a brand should do is to look through its own followers on its social media channels. Who is the brand already associated with that might be a potential representative? Who is interested in telling the brand’s story and is already talking about it? This can help to find the micro-influencers that match the brand. The best way to establish and build relationships with micro-influencers is to engage with them, follow them and show appreciation for their content. When micro-influencers receive direct messages from brands, this will help to make them more likely to reply when an actual campaign is being built.

Ways to Work with Micro-Influencers

There are a number of ways to work with influencers. Sometimes speaking with them yields the best results in determining the best way to build a mutually beneficial relationship. For example, the influencer can take over a brand’s social media account for a fixed period of time.

Brands also send micro-influencers product to sample and take photos of to post on their social media accounts. Content that shows product in organic, real-life situations resonates with followers and consumers. Micro-influencers can also create content on their social media channels such as videos and blog posts. Brands can then share the content on their own social media channels with branded hashtags so followers can keep track of it all. Micro-influencers are accessible to businesses of all shapes and sizes. When a brand doesn’t have the budget to work with a celebrity, it can still get the benefit of working with influencers and watch the brand grow on social media.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

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Is Bitcoin a Waste of Electricity or Something Worse?

Is Bitcoin a Waste of Electricity, or Something Worse?

 

Tom Pillsworth, right, whose company operates and maintains Bitcoin machines

located at a former paper warehouse in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Credit Jacob Hannah for The New York Times  WASHINGTON — A manufacturing start-up recently announced plans to move into a shuttered aluminum factory in upstate New York, taking advantage of abundant cheap electricity from the St. Lawrence River.

Instead of smelting aluminum, however, the company plans to turn that power into Bitcoins. Money is supposed to be a means of buying things. Now, the nation’s hottest investment is buying money. And the investment rush is raising questions about whether one reason for the slow pace of economic growth in recent years is that the nation is busy distracting itself. While Bitcoin mining may not be labor intensive, it diverts time, energy and capital from other, more productive activities that economists say could fuel faster growth.

“It appears that much of our evolving digital infrastructure is devoted to activities, like the proliferation of cybercoins, that are worse than frivolous,” said James McAndrews, the former head of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. By a wide range of measures, America has a productivity problem. The economy is growing slowly, and almost 20 percent of adults in their prime working years are neither working nor trying to find work. Americans who do have jobs are less likely to start their own companies. Even the most basic kind of production is in decline. Americans are having less sex and making fewer babies.

Some economists see evidence that people are playing video games instead of going to work, logging on instead of getting it on, and plowing a growing share of their time, capital and natural resources into virtual products like social media, games and the latest fad: virtual currencies. Bitcoin, the largest virtual currency, is a particularly voracious consumer of resources because new Bitcoins are distributed in a kind of lottery where each ticket is purchased with electricity.

Bitcoin miners compete for the coins by submitting answers to difficult math problems. Instead of solving the problems, miners use computers to submit a flood of guesses. This can be lucrative: Each Bitcoin is currently valued at about $10,550. Believers insist it is a worthwhile endeavor. They describe Bitcoin as a superior currency that will eventually come into wide use, and they predict even broader applications for blockchains, the digital bookkeeping method used to record ownership of Bitcoins and to verify transactions.

Currently, the average price of one Bitcoin is about $10,715, according to Blockchain.info, a news and data site.But Bitcoin remains so hard to use that a major Bitcoin conference in January had to stop accepting Bitcoin. It is, in practice, a speculative investment, like gold. And Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University, said mining gold was a better use of resources, because even if it lost value, it could be used to fill teeth. “Once the Bitcoin power is burned, it is never coming back,” he said.

Colin L. Read, the mayor of Plattsburgh, N.Y., also sees it as a public nuisance. The city was guaranteed a fixed supply of cheap electricity as part of the construction of power-generating dams on the St. Lawrence in the 1950s. Bitcoin mining companies are plugging into that power supply like a swarm of hungry mosquitoes. Mr. Read said that Bitcoin mining now consumes about 10 percent of the city’s power, and that is forcing Plattsburgh to buy a growing amount of extra electricity on the open market, at rates up to 100 times higher than its base cost.

Mr. Read, who is also an economics professor, said he would rather sell the city’s supply of cheap power to companies employing large numbers of people. Mold-Rite Plastics, which makes bottle caps, also uses about 10 percent of the city’s power, but it employs about 200 people. The mining companies? “They hire a security guard,” he said. “And a guy who comes when something breaks.” David Bowman, who describes himself as Plattsburgh’s first Bitcoin miner — “I started a long time ago, around 2014,” he said — started with a handful of computers. Now he has 20 machines.

Mold-Rite Plastics, a maker of bottle caps in Plattsburgh, N.Y., uses the same amount of electricity as Bitcoin miners, but employs about 200 people. Credit Jacob Hannah for The New York Times Bitcoin companies have begun moving into space at an old paper mill in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Credit Jacob Hannah for The New York Times  A few years ago, he rented a room in an old paper warehouse, where he runs the specialized hard drives around the clock. They sit side-by-side on wire racks, fans whirring to dissipate the heat. About half a dozen other mining companies have since moved into the same building.

Mr. Bowman, who is from Plattsburgh, said he sympathizes with the mayor’s concerns. He is the only employee of his company, and he is presently a full-time medical student on the Caribbean island of Grenada. But Bitcoin mining paid his college tuition and it is paying for medical school. And he doesn’t see that Plattsburgh has better options. “The place needs all the jobs they can get,” he said, although his company employs no one beyond him. He does pay fees to an investor-owned company that operates and maintains the machines and has one employee.

Other governments also are grappling with the merits of virtual currencies. Enel, the largest European power company, said earlier this month it would not sell electricity to a virtual miner, citing environmental concerns. “Enel has undertaken a clear path toward decarbonization and sustainable development and sees the intensive use of energy dedicated to cryptocurrency mining as an unsustainable practice that does not fit with the business model it is pursuing,” the company, partly owned by the Italian government, said in a statement.

Some Bitcoin miners emphasize their reliance on renewable energy, but the energy they use might otherwise be put to other purposes. Consider the example of Quebec, one of the world’s largest producers of hydroelectric power. Local demand has flatlined, leading the province to consider exporting electricity to Massachusetts, which is seeking to increase the share of current power consumption generated by sustainable sources. But Quebec is now weighing that possibility alongside a wave of proposals from mining companies.

David Bowman owns a Bitcoin mining company called Plattsburgh BTC in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Credit Luvnish Karnani for The New York Times  Some American utilities, too, are hungry for new customers. Domestic demand for electricity is in decline as power-hungry industries, like aluminum smelting, have moved to other countries and households are increasingly using LED light bulbs. “They’re thankful that anyone still wants to use energy,” said Robert McCullough of McCullough Research, an Oregon energy consultancy. And plenty of places are hungry for jobs — even the relatively few jobs that virtual mining brings.

Massena, the town with the shuttered smelter, is about two hours from Plattsburgh. It also enjoys a guaranteed supply of cheap electricity, but it has lost several of its major employers, including the smelter and a General Motors factory. The New York Power Authority reserves 490 megawatts of low-cost power for industrial users in Franklin, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties, the northern tier that includes Massena. The decline of local industry means only 52 percent of that power is currently committed, which is why officials were delighted when a company called Coinmint proposed to install 16,000 computers in the old aluminum building.

The company, which is still negotiating contracts, told the power authority it would employ 150 people. Employers historically have created 30.5 jobs in exchange for each megawatt of low-cost electricity, according to the power authority, while Coinmint is proposing to create just new 10 jobs per megawatt. But 10 is more than none. “The plan is to get anybody here that you can,” said Steven D. O’Shaughnessy, Massena’s town supervisor. “I have said all along, I’ll take whatever I can.”

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

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