Facebook Narrows Scope of Proposed Libra Cryptocurrency

Facebook and its partners pulled back their ambitious plans for the Libra cryptocurrency, which was unveiled last June as “a futuristic global money” that could be the foundation of a “new kind of financial system.” In the months since its June debut, the Libra project has encountered a range of obstacles and the scrutiny of regulators. The Swiss-backed Libra Association, citing global opposition to the project, now aims to create a payment network with coins tied to a local currency. Continue reading Facebook Narrows Scope of Proposed Libra Cryptocurrency

Ransomware Attacks Increase and Demand Bigger Payouts

An increasing number of cities, hospitals and businesses are being attacked by ransomware, by which bad actors shut down the victim’s computer network until a ransom is paid. Up until now, these attacks have been hard to measure since many of those impacted quietly paid the ransom without notifying any authorities. Security firm Emsisoft just reported a 41 percent increase in ransomware attacks between 2018 and 2019, with 205,280 businesses and other groups submitting evidence of such intrusions in 2019. Continue reading Ransomware Attacks Increase and Demand Bigger Payouts

Alternative Data Company Thasos to Offer Info to Bloomberg

Your smartphone creates data constantly, and now a few companies are leveraging it to give Wall Street traders a leg up on market movements. So-called alternative data includes a range of information, from credit-card charges to construction permits. Thasos is one of the leading companies reaping such data from about 1,000 apps, which share the user’s location. Beginning this month, AI-based data analytics firm Thasos Group will offer its data through Bloomberg terminals. Company founder/chief executive Greg Skibiski calls the smartphone a “beacon.” Continue reading Alternative Data Company Thasos to Offer Info to Bloomberg

Google Is Developing Its Own Blockchain-Related Technology

Google is one of the largest information holders in the world, and while it’s security is strong, there is still room for improvement. To that end, Google is working on its own “blockchain-related technology,” according to Bloomberg. Sources close to the project say that Google is working to develop its own “distributed digital ledger that third parties can use to post and verify transactions.” Essentially, it would project consumer information stored on its cloud services. No release date has yet to be announced.

Continue reading Google Is Developing Its Own Blockchain-Related Technology

The Rapid Expansion of Bitcoin Networks Called Off for Now

Bitcoin supporters that wanted to double the number of transactions that run through Bitcoin-supported networks have lost the fight, at least temporarily, to do so. They were opposed by another camp composed of many programmers working on Bitcoin who worried that too rapid expansion would make it easier for a government or company to exert influence over a system prized for being decentralized. Those who wanted to expand Bitcoin wanted to switch to a new software version that would have created a split in the network. Continue reading The Rapid Expansion of Bitcoin Networks Called Off for Now

Latest Cryptocurrency Cybertheft Could Shake Faith in Bitcoin

Hong Kong exchange Bitfinex was hacked and funds were stolen, marking a setback for digital currency Bitcoin. Bitfinex director of community and product development Zane Tackett posted on Reddit that 119,756 Bitcoins had been stolen. “Before the hacking was made public, that number of Bitcoins would have been worth about $72 million,” explains The New York Times. “Now that the currency has slumped, the figure is closer to $65 million.” During its investigation, Bitfinex has stopped all trading, deposits and withdrawals. The security breach is the latest in a series of events that could impact the viability of virtual currency. Continue reading Latest Cryptocurrency Cybertheft Could Shake Faith in Bitcoin

Global Markets React to UK’s Decision to Exit European Union

British voters cast their ballots yesterday regarding the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum, and surprising to many, the country has opted to exit the European Union. Shortly after the results were announced, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he would resign his position later this year, while leaders in Northern Ireland and Scotland have indicated they will seek independence referendums in order to reenter the EU. The immediate response has been a dramatic ripple effect in markets worldwide with expectations for future uncertainty and potential crises. The tech industry, which often benefits from the EU’s liberal trade and economic policies, will likely be impacted. Continue reading Global Markets React to UK’s Decision to Exit European Union

21 Bitcoin Computer Enables Machine-to-Machine Payments

When Andreessen Horowitz established Bitcoin startup 21 Inc., the goal was to turning Bitcoin into an Internet protocol or common language between connected devices, enabling machine-to-machine payments. The company just unveiled its first product and first step on the path to that end. The 21 Bitcoin Computer, which will go on sale Monday for $400 and ship in November, is aimed at developers, not consumers, and offers the Bitcoin protocol as a feature of its Linux-based operating system. Continue reading 21 Bitcoin Computer Enables Machine-to-Machine Payments

‘Favoriting’ on Twitter is More Discreet than Re-Tweeting

The “favorite” feature in Twitter allows users to mark a tweet and keep it, such as a bookmark in a Web browser. When favoriting, it signals the originator that it has been marked, without a public acknowledgement in a feed. Favoriting is also another way to affirm the value of a tweet, but can also be tracked, which is what Favstar is doing. The company monitors favorites, and ranks tweets and their creators by the favorites that they generate.

Continue reading ‘Favoriting’ on Twitter is More Discreet than Re-Tweeting

Will Amazon Virtual Currency Reach Beyond Apps and Games?

Amazon will release its own virtual currency, Amazon Coins, in May. Each coin will be worth a penny and will allow Kindle Fire customers to purchase apps, games and in-game items. Amazon will maintain its 30 percent revenue draw on all purchases made with Amazon Coins. While Amazon plans a small initial launch, some speculate customers could one day use Amazon Coins to purchase e-books, digital music and other products. Continue reading Will Amazon Virtual Currency Reach Beyond Apps and Games?

Plastic Surgery: First Polymer $100 Bill Goes into Circulation

  • Canada distributed the first of its new plastic money (polymer banknotes) in the form of $100 bills last week. A similar $50 bill will be available in four months and more plastic money is expected by the end of 2013.
  • “There’s no other currency like it anywhere in the world,” said Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney.
  • The new bills are said to last at least 2.5 times longer than traditional paper money and will eventually be recycled when taken out of circulation. They are more durable, less likely to tear or crumple, and can be run through the clothes washer.
  • However, the main objective is to avoid counterfeiting. Featuring a transparent window with double-sided holograph and hidden text, each bill contains a “unique combination of transparency, holography and other sophisticated security elements,” explained Carney.
  • He further noted that many people still use cash over credit or debit for transactions, suggesting: “Our research shows that cash is used for more than half of all shopping transactions and Canadians, as a consequence, need a currency that they can trust.”
  • The article includes a video featuring Canadian news reports about the design and production of the polymer bills.