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Bitfury Expands to Norway With $35 Million Bitcoin Data Center

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitfury Expands to Norway With $35 Million Data Center

Bitcoin mining giant and blockchain tech provider Bitfury is branching out to Norway. After meeting with government officials and partnering with local business leaders, the company is opening the doors of its new energy-efficient, data-mining center, in which executives have already invested $35 million.

The center is stationed in the Mo Industrial Park in the town of Mo i Rana and is expected to create roughly 30 new jobs for local workers.

CEO Valery Vavilov explained that the country’s innovative spirit and “favorable tax code” made Norway a top pick for Bitfury’s future expansion:

Norway is a perfect match for Bitfury’s focus on innovation and growth. We look forward to identifying new customer relationships and designing the products and solutions they need to make their enterprises run more securely and efficiently.

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining have long been criticized for allegedly requiring large amounts of power. Cities like Plattsburgh, New York — once popular among bitcoin miners for the low-cost electricity they provide — have already enforced temporary bans or “moratoriums” due to the growing difficulties of satisfying miners’ needs.

With energy consumption being a major concern, Bitfury mentioned that the data center boasts a power usage effectiveness (PUE) level of 1.05 or lower, and thus stands as one of the “world’s most energy-efficient” operations. Recently, Bitfury purchased approximately 350 gigawatts of power from local renewable energy provider Helgeland Kraft.

The company further explained that it ensured renewability in all its energy sources, as it had acquired “Guarantee of Origin” certificates from its nearby suppliers. Guarantee of Origin is a product of European legislation designed to “document and report” all energy claiming to come from renewable sources. The process works to educate customers about where their energy originates, thus potentially reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and improving overall sustainability.

Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry Torbjørn Røe Isaksen said:

“I am very delighted that the Bitfury Group has chosen to establish their new data center in Norway and Mo i Rana. Data will become an increasingly important resource for the business community, as well as for society in general. This represents a major economic opportunity for Norwegian businesses. The data center industry is growing fast and provides Norway with opportunities of economic growth and new jobs.”

Bitfury also has offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Hong Kong, Ukraine and Japan. In early March 2018, Bitfury opened its seventh office in Russia, which it said would focus on selling its two primary products. The first is “Exonum” and is described as an “open source enterprise-grade blockchain framework” created to allow both businesses and individuals alike to build blockchain networks that solve “administrative” issues.

The second product, simply known as “Crystal,” was released in early January 2018 and is a tool designed to assist law enforcement officials in financial investigations.

Its webpage states: “Crystal provides a comprehensive view of the public blockchain ecosystem, and uses advanced analytics and data scraping to map suspicious transactions and related entities.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bug Caught That Allowed Coinbase Users to Garner Unlimited Amounts of Ether

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bug Caught That Allowed Coinbase Users to Garner Unlimited Amounts of Ether

On March 20, 2018, it was revealed that a bug hidden in Coinbase’s Ethereum smart contract setup could have given users access to unlimited amounts of ether. At press time, it does not appear as though the vulnerability was ever exploited or even noticed by users.

The issue was first discovered last December by VI Company, a Dutch firm that specializes in fintech. The company was planning to give its employees ether bonuses in celebration of the upcoming holiday season when researchers noticed the issue with their “ETH receiving code” while garnering funds from a contract. They saw that by using a smart contract, a series of digital wallets could be “tricked” into recording ether transfers and purchases that had never actually happened.

The team issued the following statement in a vulnerability report later published on the firm’s HackerOne account in January 2018:

“By using a smart contract to distribute [ETH] over a set of wallets, you can manipulate the account balance of your Coinbase account. If [one] wallet transaction in the smart contract fails, all transactions before that will be reversed, but on Coinbase, these transactions will not be reversed, meaning a person could add as much Ethereum to their balance as they want.”

The report specified the following steps for taking advantage of the exchange’s weakness:

  1. Set up a smart contract with a few valid Coinbase wallets and [one] final faulty wallet.
  2. Transfer appropriate funds to the smart contract.
  3. Execute smart contract adding the set amount of ether to the Coinbase wallets without ever actually leaving the smart contract wallet because the complete transaction fails at the last wallet.
  4. Repeat until you have more than enough ether in your Coinbase wallet.
  5. Cash out, transfer to offsite wallet.

Had users noticed the glitch, they could have been able to turn themselves into crypto-billionaires overnight.

The problem was resolved after the team changed the contract handling logic. VI Company claimed there were only “accidental” losses for Coinbase and stated there were no attempts to exploit the vulnerability. Coinbase executives later thanked VI Company’s counterparts by sending them a $10,000 bounty for their work.

Though instances like these are rare, they can occur from time to time. In February 2018, popular Japanese exchange Zaif aroused heavy controversy after a bug was exposed that allowed users to purchase bitcoin through its system at no charge. Representatives of the company claimed the error occurred within its “price calculation system” and that seven transactions had occurred where customers bought bitcoin for zero yen. Six of these transactions were later reversed.

Zaif’s parent company, Tech Bureau Corp, had faced several checks the previous month after regulators claimed it was vulnerable to cyberattacks. The exchange later apologized to users, saying the problem would not affect individual customer amounts. Zaif is one of a small handful of cryptocurrency trading platforms currently registered with the Japanese government.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

U.K. Fintech Sector Strategy Announces Crypto Asset Task Force

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

U.K. Fintech Sector Strategy Announces Crypto Asset Task Force

Today, March 22, 2018, at the government’s second International Fintech Conference, Exchequer Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the launch of a Fintech Sector Strategy that looks to keep the U.K. on the forefront of the industry.

The primary component of this new strategy will be the introduction of a Crypto Assets Task Force composed of representatives from the Bank of England (BOE), HM Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The purpose of this team will be twofold: promote the U.K.’s position as a leader in the emerging world of digital currency, while concurrently establishing the infrastructure needed to monitor the “potential risks” associated with the crypto space.

This development follows a recent shift in the British government’s public attitude toward cryptocurrency. In January 2018, at the World Economic Forum, Prime Minister Theresa May voiced her apprehensions toward virtual currency and suggested that stronger regulations should be considered “very seriously” — a sentiment that was echoed earlier this month by BOE governor Mark Carney who, in an interview with CNBC, decried the “speculative mania” that surrounds crypto assets.

His rhetoric, and that of the British government, has since changed. On March 18, preceding the G20 summit, Carney released an official letter through the Financial Stability Board (FSB) that dramatically reasserted his position. It stated that at its current size “crypto assets do not pose risks to global financial stability” and that their underlying technologies “have the potential to improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of both the financial system and the economy.”

He did admit, however, that due to the rapidly evolving nature of the market, that this initial assessment could change — and change quickly. As digital currency becomes more integrated and interconnected with the economic system at large, emphasis should be placed on “support monitoring and timely identification of emerging financial stability risks.”

It would seem that the announcement of the Crypto Assets Task Force represents an attempt by the British government to follow up on this recommendation. By combining three of its most preeminent financial institutions, the U.K. hopes to create a watchdog with the resources necessary to monitor the immediate risks and long-term benefits of this developing technology. Whether this move will be adequate to alleviate anxieties that have arisen in response to the recent volatility of the crypto marketplace is yet to be seen.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Sierra Leone and the Blockchain Election That Wasn't

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Sierra Leone and the Blockchain Election That Wasn't



The big news on March 8, 2018, was that Sierra Leone had just run the first blockchain-based election. The big news in the days and weeks that followed, however, became that the government of Sierra Leone was denying that it happened.

In a press release from Swiss-based blockchain technology company Agora on March 8, 2018, the company led off with this statement: “Sierra Leone’s 2018 presidential elections, which took place on March 7th, represents the first time in history that blockchain technology has been used in a national government election. West District’s results were registered on Agora’s unforgeable blockchain ledger, and the tally made publicly available days before the usual manual count.”

The press release goes on to mention that the company is an internationally accredited observer and how results were posted within hours of the polls closing and various advantages to using their blockchain-based voting technology.

Soon after, the story started breaking around the web that Agora, as the only company in the world with a fully-functional blockchain voting platform, had just run the first blockchain-based election for Sierra Leone.

The results for this election are still unclear and a runoff election will be held on March 27, 2018; however, controversy over Agora’s claims erupted soon after the mainstream media began to pick up on the story.

On March 19, the National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (NEC) sent out the following tweet:

The NEC also posted the election results online. According to RFI, the NEC confirmed that Agora had only been given observer status for the polls and that the company’s involvement was not official, which partially matches what Agora asserted. The NEC also stated that Agora only performed a vote tally in two of their western districts, which is reflected in the press release, and that their results were different than the official results provided by the NEC, which is not reflected in the press release.

The Sierra Leone Open Election Data Platform (SLOEDP) also sought to set the record straight with this tweet:

The SLOEDP further explained its position in this Medium post, focusing both on the misleading statement in the original Agora press release and on the follow-up media reports in dozens of publications from Slate to RFI that echoed the claims. The SLOEDP response details the work they put into the election. SLOEDP is proud of the work they accomplished and were not happy with the minimization of their efforts and credit being attributed to another organization.

Agora responded to the backlash resulting from the conflicting news reports to clarify exactly what happened. They confirmed that they attended the election as an international observer, which was in their official press release, and they showed proof that they were accredited by the NEC as such.

Agora pointed out that their participation in the election was intended as a proof of concept of their technology — a distinction that was clearly stated in their Telegram channel and in various interviews but less clearly in the original press release. They laid out a timeline, the procedures of how votes were counted; a side-by-side comparison of the numbers from their efforts and the NEC; and screenshots of various tweets, Facebook posts, Telegram discussions and website postings to further support their position.

When Bitcoin Magazine reached out to Agora about their statement, Agora COO Jaron Lukasiewicz said, “I take responsibility for any misunderstandings that exist in the media. We have made an official statement that includes hard facts about our accredited role in the election. As a company, we will now turn our focus back onto building technology for our next election.”

Voting on the blockchain is a natural choice for reduced costs and enhanced integrity. These proofs of concept are necessary to prove the technology and establish trust, and while we are likely still years away from a country allowing their entire election to be run on a blockchain, it is something the world could really use. You don’t have to think too hard to come up with a reason that a government would be against visibility in an election.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

A top SEC regulator just ripped crypto exchanges for being amateurish

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin, Members of Japan's idol group

  • Brett Redfearn, the new director of the Division of Trading and Markets at the SEC, says cryptocurrency exchanges are acting amateurish. 
  • Not a single exchange appears to be anywhere close to being properly registered with the SEC, Redfearn said during a fintech conference in New York on Thursday. 

BRedfearn

When Brett Redfearn joined the Securities and Exchange Commission six months ago, he had no idea how much time he was going to have to spend thinking about bitcoin, the JPMorgan alumnus told a crowd at a fintech conference in New York City.  

Yet, think about bitcoin he must. 

The market for digital coins has exploded since he took his post, with more than 1,500 digital currencies trading across more than 9,000 markets, according to the most recent data from CoinMarketCap. Some are saying the market is in full-fledged mania mode. 

As the new director of the Division of Trading and Markets for the SEC, Redfearn has been grappling with a big question: What to do about the profusion of cryptocurrency exchanges and trading platforms currently serving US investors?

In early March, Redfearn's unit made the answer to that question clearer. If a cryptocurrency exchange has digital assets trading on its platform that resemble a security, then that company needs to register as an exchange. 

"If a platform offers trading of digital assets that are securities and operates as an "exchange," as defined by the federal securities laws, then the platform must register with the SEC as a national securities exchange, or be exempt from registrations," the SEC said in a statement

It's been a little less than two weeks since the release of that memo and still not a single exchange or trading system appears to be anywhere close to registering with the agency, according to Redfearn. 

He said when exchanges come into to the SEC's offices and regulators ask questions such as, "Did you get your broker-dealer registration in with FINRA?" the answer is always "No we haven't started that, no we haven't started that, we haven't started that." 

The degree to which cryptocurrency exchanges and trading platforms are dragging their feet when it comes to conforming to the necessary regulations is concerning to Redfearn. 

"You want to come in and talk about doing things the right way," he said. "Well, you know, come in and tell us how we can help you."

"And let's make this a much more of a real conversation as opposed to a ... statement of intent," he added. 

Even more concerning is the state of the cryptocurrency space's market structure. Here's Redfearn:

"How do we know that there is a fair price, what is the bid, what is the ask, do people know where the market is, what is the concept of best execution in these markets? We haven't really spoken about these things."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's what Jim Chanos is tired of hearing about from Wall Street and Silicon Valley

Bitfury-Backed Bitcoin Miner Secures Canadian Land Deal

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitfury-backed Hut 8 Mining Corp has secured a new headquarters in Canada's Alberta province.

‘Diet Bitcoin’: Brother of Drug Kingpin Pablo Escobar Launches Bizarre ICO, Claims He Met Satoshi

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The brother of deceased Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar has created his own cryptocurrency. It’s called Dietbitcoin (DXX), and it’s perhaps even more bizarre than you would imagine. Roberto Escobar, who served more than 11 years in a maximum security prison for his role as an accountant for the Medellin cartel, is launching the coin … Continued

The post ‘Diet Bitcoin’: Brother of Drug Kingpin Pablo Escobar Launches Bizarre ICO, Claims He Met Satoshi appeared first on CCN

A United passenger is suing the airline after he allegedly fractured his spine on a plane (UAL)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

united airlines

  • United Airlines passenger Greg Woienski is suing the airline after he allegedly fractured his spine on a February 2017 flight from Orlando to Newark, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
  • In his lawsuit, Woienski alleges that the airline took his wheelchair before he boarded the aircraft.
  • After he boarded, Woienski allegedly fell, fractured his spine, and suffered "several other major injuries," according to the lawsuit.


United Airlines passenger Greg Woienski is suing the airline for allegedly taking his wheelchair away from him before he reached his seat on a February 2017 flight from Orlando to Newark. After his wheelchair was taken, he allegedly fell and fractured his spine, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

According to the lawsuit, Woienski, who was 65 at the time of the alleged incident, was traveling from Orlando International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport to attend his father's funeral. After making his way across the jet bridge, Woienski's wheelchair was allegedly taken from him before he reached the aircraft, despite the fact that he had indicated to the airline he would need a wheelchair for transport, forcing him to step onto the aircraft and walk to his seat by himself.

The lawsuit alleges that Woienski fell "almost immediately" after he stepped onto the plane, fractured his spine, and suffered "several other major injuries." Woienski has allegedly not recovered from those injuries.

United's website says that it offers wheelchairs "non-ambulatory" passengers can use to travel to and from their seats. The website also says that every United aircraft with over 60 seats has a wheelchair onboard.

The airline declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Before the flight, Woienski started a GoFundMe page to pay for his and his fiancee's tickets. On the page, Woienski wrote that he is "on permanent disability" and relies on crutches to move.

United has found itself in a series of customer service mishaps since April 2017, when it dragged a passenger off an overbooked flight. Last week, the airline drew attention after one dog died after being placed in the overhead bin of a United flight and two were sent to incorrect destinations.

SEE ALSO: United can't avoid customer service scandals — and it's becoming the company's greatest crisis

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Goldman Sachs investment chief: Bitcoin is definitely a bubble, Ethereum even more so

Ben is a chatbot that lets you learn about and buy Bitcoin

TechCrunch, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

It’s generally a given that whenever a new technology takes off people rush into the space to build everything under the sun, and eventually natural selection kicks in and only the truly useful remain. For example, chatbots became trendy last year and we quickly began seeing chatbots for weather, movie recommendations, personal finance, etc. Some of […]

US Marshals Office Auctions Off Another $18.7M in Bitcoin

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The U.S. Marshals auctioned more than 2,100 bitcoins off on March 19.

‘I Don’t Think Bitcoin Will Last Forever’: NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

NSA whistleblower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden said that he believes Bitcoin will eventually be supplanted by another cryptocurrency that does not utilize a public ledger. Snowden, who made this statement earlier this month at a Blockstack event in Berlin, said that he believes Bitcoin’s chief drawback does not have to do with its ability

The post ‘I Don’t Think Bitcoin Will Last Forever’: NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin.com COO Joins Blockchain iGaming Platform in Advisory Role

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

This is a submitted sponsored story. CCN urges readers to conduct their own research with due diligence into the company, product or service mentioned in the content below. Truegame has launched its ICO pre-sale to fund the development of their innovative new iGaming concept. The Truegame twist on regular iGaming utilizes blockchain technology, providing a smart … Continued

The post Bitcoin.com COO Joins Blockchain iGaming Platform in Advisory Role appeared first on CCN

What you need to know on Wall Street today

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get the best of Business Insider delivered direct to your inbox.

President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the US will soon impose tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese imports, a move that could eventually trigger a trade war.

The tariffs, which function as a tax on imports, come in response to a Trump administration investigation into the China's theft of US intellectual property, or IP. For instance, the country hasforced businesses to move their patents to China or disclose their trade secrets to do business there.

Trump will impose tariffs on imports of more than 100 different Chinese goods and hit industries from biopharmaceutical to robotics to rail equipment. A full list of products will be released in 15 days according to White House officials, which will give businesses time to petition for certain items to be excluded. The statement will also limit certain Chinese investments into the US.

Chinese officials have already signaled they will respond with tariffs of their own.

Here's the latest:

In Wall Street news, Citigroup will stop doing business with companies that allow certain gun salesHere's who secured Wall Street bragging rights in every key business in 2017. And Wall Street's biggest bull wants to dispel a major misconception about the stock market.

In Facebook news:

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NOW WATCH: Goldman Sachs investment chief: Bitcoin is definitely a bubble, Ethereum even more so

Eco-Friendly Bitcoin Mining Can Reduce Carbon Footprints (Yes, Really)

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

How Eco-Friendly Bitcoin Mining Can Reduce Carbon Footprints (Yes, Really)

With each passing day, it seems as though the conversation on Bitcoin’s energy consumption rages on, though new ground is rarely broken on the topic. Like bears to honey, media outlets flock to FUD stories on mining’s electrical costs and doomsday predictions of a world driven to the ecological brink, thanks to bitcoin mining.

There is a strong argument to be made, however, that far from plunging the globe into ecological disaster, cryptocurrency mining can be sustainable or, better yet, can be used to neutralize the carbon footprint of other energy intensive processes. Indeed, under the right circumstances, mining can produce a minimal carbon output. Moreover, its energy emissions can be recycled for other eco-friendly endeavors.

Bitcoin’s Mining Energy Costs

Bitcoin uses a consensus algorithm known as proof of work to order and timestamp transactions on its blockchain. Basically, miners — those who process transactions — run energy intensive computations on their computers to solve the cryptographic equations that are needed to find new blocks and keep the network secure. As the network attracts more value and miners try to outcompete each other to find the next block, they will invest more energy in solving these equations.

Depending on who you’re asking, this process has Bitcoin consuming more energy than a small country (e.g., Bulgaria, North Korea), which could be anywhere from 1 to 35 terawatt-hours per year. Some have argued that innovations like the Lightning Network will scale this problem out of existence, while other critics claim that a proof-of-stake, distributed consensus mechanism could prove to be more ecologically sound.

Within this debate, there are those who say this process is unsustainable and needs be fixed. Then there are others who argue that the concern is overblown and nothing needs to change.

Andreas Antonopoulos, for example, points out that bitcoin mining can be used to consume the excess energy produced by power plants “that would be otherwise wasted.” The mining proceeds, then, can serve as “an alternative store of value,” making it “an environmental subsidy to alternative energy all around the world because it’s causing [renewable energy projects] to be amortized over a year instead of five.”

Renewable Energy Solutions

Hydroelectric power has earned its own place at the crypto conservationist’s table. Chinese mining farms have long drawn cheap surplus energy from hydroelectric dams, especially in the Sichuan province. One of the oldest of these, BW, for instance, helped to pioneer the practice. Founded in 2014, the mining operation has drawn renewable energy to power its rigs since 2015.

Though its roots are in China, hydroelectric mining has found its way into other regions that offer cheap river-run energy. In Austria, the Damblon sisters at HydroMiner have looked to harness the output of hydroelectric dams in the alps for their own operation. Nadine and Nicole Damblon founded the HydroMiner Limited Company in 2016 alongside a posse of Viennese miners. By 2017, the team established its first facility in Schönberg, Austria, which draws a base energy output of 290 kWh for its 120 mining units. Their second mining farm in Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria, receives a consistent supply of 600 kWh for its 250 Antmine 29s and 1152 GPUs.

The team built this second farm thanks to funds from its H2o token ICO. Each H2o token guarantees 5 kWh worth of mining time, which holders can redeem for any cryptocurrency the facilities mine using the project’s mining portal. As the operation expands, the team plans to launch the H3o token, which will pay holders dividends much like a security and is, according to its creators, “the first fully compliant security token according to European financial law.”

With the ICO proceeds, HydroMining will look to establish a facility outside of Austria, either in Canada, Georgia or some other country with low-cost, clean energy. According to the Damblons, hydroelectric energy in Austria is 85 percent cheaper than average electricity costs. They can pump energy into their mining rigs for 3-5 cents per kWh, and the Austrian climate is ideal for keeping their hardware cool. When overheating is a problem, they can reroute water from the rivers to keep their system’s from running a fever.

Speaking of heating up, the warmth mining rigs produce is ideal for heating a home, especially in colder climates. In the tiny Siberian town of Irkutsk, Russia, Ilya Frolov and Dmitry Tolmachyov are using the heat emitted by their mining rigs to keep their micro home warm. The system heats up a water source connected to the mining hardware, and once warmed, the water is piped to a space heater to keep their abode nice and toasty. Using locally sourced energy from a nearby hydroelectric power plant, the men can warm their home without having to draw any additional energy for heating, and they even get to pocket an additional $430 per month after covering mining costs.

One company has taken this concept and run with it. The Qarnot QC-1 streamlines Frolov and Tolmachyov’s design by combining the miner and heating unit into one; it looks like a space heater, runs like a space heater and feels like a space heater, but it’s actually two GPUs with a default to mine Ethereum.

There are even more creative and unconventional innovations still: just take a look at the Myera Group, a Canadian sustainability solutions company. At the tailend of 2017, company president Bruce Hardy began using the heat from bitcoin mining to run a sustainable greenhouse and fish farm in Manitoba, Canada. The heat from the miners warms the greenhouse plants, while nitrate-rich wastewater from the fish tanks keeps them watered.

In the same vein, NakamotoX, a Czech cryptocurrency exchange, is also using mining heat to grow tomatoes with help from “100% bio-waste produced energy,” according to Kamil Brejcha, the exchange’s founder.

In yet another example, NastyMining is an Arizona-based, bitcoin mining organization that harnesses solar and wind energy to run its mining rigs. Since 2012, NastyMining has worked to find a middle way for Bitcoin’s energy issues, encouraging “socially responsible” mining from the 30,000 miners contributing to its pool. Since 2017, NastyMining has ramped up its commitment to these sustainable mining practices, utilizing a wind turbine donated by YoBit exchange and a generous donation of solar panels from SunPower solar company to run the ASIC rigs in its facility.

The team at NastyMining is part of a wave of miners who have looked to harness natural forces to negate their carbon footprint, and there are more resources than just wind and solar at these innovators’ disposal.

Thus, there are innovators who see mining’s weakness as its strength, and they are exploiting the problem as the source of its own solution. These examples are not exhaustive and offer just a sampling of the myriad ways entrepreneurs are challenging the limits of crypto’s mining potential. As more solutions come out of the woodwork, these innovations paint a different picture of what mining can do and what ecological impact it may have on green initiatives going forward.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin slides after reports of crackdown on the largest crypto exchange in the world

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Slide

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

Bitcoin was trading lower Thursday amid fears that regulators in Japan might tell one cryptocurrency exchange to cease its operations in the country.

The digital currency fell approximately $200 early Thursday morning around the time Bloomberg News and other publications reported that Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA) has been preparing to tell Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, to stop operating in the country without the necessary regulatory green light.

At last check, bitcoin was trading in the red, down 3.1% at $8,635, according to Markets Insider data

Read the full story, here>>

Here are the current crypto prices:

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SEE ALSO: Google is banning all bitcoin, ICO, and cryptocurrency ads starting in June

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NOW WATCH: Harvard professor Steven Pinker explains the disturbing truth behind Trump's 2 favorite phrases

Zapped Out: Washington County Places a Moratorium on Bitcoin Mining

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Washington’s Chelan County public utility district (PUD) has drawn a line in the sand on bitcoin miners. Chelan’s PUD won’t accept or process any more applications for the energy-intensive process of cryptocurrency mining, the agency announced. The moratorium is in response to being “inundated” with applications, and it gives the county the opportunity to potentially lift

The post Zapped Out: Washington County Places a Moratorium on Bitcoin Mining appeared first on CCN

Citigroup will stop doing business with companies that allow certain gun sales — here's the memo (C)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Michael Corbat

  • Citigroup announced it would require its clients to adopt stricter standards for firearm sales.
  • The new policy requires companies to restrict sales of guns to people over 21 years old who have passed a background check. It also prohibits selling bump stocks or high-capacity magazines.
  • Citigroup said it would stop doing business with clients — from small companies to institutional giants — that don't adopt the policy.

The US banking giant Citigroup is requiring its clients to impose stricter standards for gun sales — and says it will stop doing business with those that don't.

Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat announced in a memo Thursday that the bank was instituting a new commercial firearms policy "designed to respect the rights of responsible gun owners while helping to keep firearms out of the wrong hands."

"Over the last several weeks, I have had many conversations with clients, colleagues and friends who hold a range of opinions on the regulation of firearms in the US," Corbat said in the memo. "It is clear to me that most people believe there are areas of agreement and practical changes we can make to find common ground."

The new policy requires clients to adopt these "best practices," Corbat said:

  • Not selling firearms to someone who hasn't passed a background check.
  • Not selling firearms to anyone under 21.
  • Not selling bump stocks or high-capacity magazines.

The policy applies across the firm, Citi said, including "small business, commercial and institutional clients, as well as credit card partners, whether co-brand or private label."

Citi is just the latest corporation to change its stance on guns or the National Rifle Association since the shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

The bank said it would stop doing business with clients that don't adhere to the new standards.

"We have already begun to engage with them in the hope that they will adopt these best practices over the coming months," the memo says. "If they opt not to, we will respect their decision and work with them to transition their business away from Citi."

Here's the full memo:

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last several weeks, I have had many conversations with clients, colleagues and friends who hold a range of opinions on the regulation of firearms in the US. It is clear to me that most people believe there are areas of agreement and practical changes we can make to find common ground.

Citi is ready to do our part to help our country move in that direction. Today, I am proud to announce a new US Commercial Firearms Policy that promotes the adoption of current best practices regarding the sale of firearms. The policy was designed to respect the rights of responsible gun owners while helping to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.

This policy will apply across the firm, including to small business, commercial and institutional clients, as well as credit card partners, whether co-brand or private label. Under the policy, we will require new retail sector clients or partners to adhere to these current best practices: (1) they don't sell firearms to someone who hasn't passed a background check, (2) they restrict the sale of firearms for individuals under 21 years of age, and (3) they don't sell bump stocks or high-capacity magazines.

It is clear our current clients care about these issues as well, and we believe we can make meaningful progress together. We have already begun to engage with them in the hope that they will adopt these best practices over the coming months. If they opt not to, we will respect their decision and work with them to transition their business away from Citi.

We have few relationships with companies that manufacture firearms. For those that do, we will be initiating due diligence conversations to better understand the products they make, what markets and retailers they sell to, and the sales practices of those retailers to ensure adherence with the best practices outlined above. We will apply the same due diligence screening to potential clients going forward.

We know that our efforts cannot lead to real change unless we work with others. To that end, we are initiating a dialogue within the financial services industry and with other stakeholders to understand whether there are additional technology solutions or voluntary standards that can be enacted. We know a solution may not come quickly, but we are committed to the conversation.

As an avid outdoorsman and responsible gun owner, I know that some will find our policy too strict while others will find it too lenient. We don't have the perfect solution to supporting our Constitution while keeping our children and grandchildren safe. Best practices are going to continue to change, and we understand the limitations of our efforts. But we shouldn't let that stop us from doing our part.

— Mike

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United can't avoid customer service scandals — and it's becoming the company's greatest crisis (UAL)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

oscar munoz

  • Customer service scandals have become a common occurrence for United Airlines in recent years.
  • Some observers believe the company's problems start at the top, with CEO Oscar Munoz.
  • While Munoz has made an effort to improve the airline's operational efficiency and relationship with employees, his initiatives haven't resulted in great customer service.


In the age of smartphones and social media, customer service scandals are inevitable for airlines, but they've become a common occurrence for United Airlines over the past few years.

While the infamous April 2017 incident in which aviation officers dragged a customer off an overbooked flight dominated headlines for months, the airline's troubles extend far beyond a single mistake. In recent years, the airline has injured passengers, sold their seats, and misplaced their pets.

And last week, the airline created its biggest scandal since last April when a passenger's 10-month-old puppy died after the passenger was forced to place it in the overhead bin during a United flight from Houston to New York.  

United placed ninth in Consumer Reports' 2018 survey of airline passengers — who were asked to rate their experiences on America's 11 major commercial airlines — which indicates that its issues are more than anecdotal.

United's problems start at the top

Airline expert George Hobica says the airline's failures start at the top, with CEO Oscar Munoz.

"It's just a lack of integrity in their leadership," Hobica told Business Insider.  

Munoz, who previously ran the freight rail company CSX, became the airline's CEO in September 2015, after his predecessor, Jeff Smisek, resigned in the midst of a bribery scandal. The airline was a mess when Munoz began his tenure, as years of cost-cutting measures and tense negotiations with labor unions had damaged employee morale.

Munoz made it a priority to earn the trust of his employees, embarking on a listening tour to let them vent and resolving some of the company's years-long conflicts with labor unions in a matter of months.

Beginning with his first year, the company's operational metrics improved as it decreased delays and lost a smaller amount of baggage while increasing its number of flights. In its fourth-quarter earnings report in January, the company said it "achieved a record-setting year for operational reliability, including best on-time departure performance, fewest cancellations, and best baggage handling performance" in 2017.

Executives and low-level employees have a strained relationship

But the company's operational and financial performance has still lagged behind some of its rivals, and efficiency doesn't always result in great customer service. While Munoz has taken steps to improve United's culture, it may not be enough, according to Charles Leocha, president of the airline passenger advocacy group Travelers United.

Leocha has talked to United employees over the years, and he's heard that the historically strained relationship between the airline's management and low-level employees remains, despite recent improvements.

"I've heard that it's far better than it used to be, but there's still a lot of animosity," he told Business Insider.

That animosity became clear earlier this month, when the company briefly replaced quarterly, performance-based bonuses with a lottery that would hand out a smaller number of larger bonuses — and tried to frame it as a positive development. After a weekend of employee outrage and negative press, the company halted the change to "consider the right way to move ahead."

The company's response to its employees showed that it may be more sensitive to their concerns under Munoz, but the fact that it changed its bonus system in the first place, while trying to persuade its employees the changes were good for them, reveals that there's more work to be done.

Munoz has taken some positive steps, but he still has work to do

In March, the airline introduced "core4," a new training program for employees who interact with customers. The program was designed to improve their efficiency and prevent customer service issues from escalating into scandals. But a recent report from Inc. indicates that additional training may only solve part of the problem.

"Morale isn't good," a United employee told Inc. "There's so much bad blood after the lottery bonus scandal. Everyone is wondering how they could even suggest something like that. And we still don't know whether they're going to take our bonuses away anyway."

When a company's employees feel mistreated, they're more likely to mistreat their customers, according to Hobica.

"An underpaid and overworked staff will be unhappy, and they'll take it out on customers," he said.

Munoz, then, is in a difficult position. His 93% employee-approval rating on Glassdoor is higher than those of the CEOs for American, Delta, and Southwest Airlines. The Inc. report noted that many employees blame United president Scott Kirby for their troubles, rather than Munoz.

But Munoz is the CEO, and whether he deserves a majority of the blame or not, he'll be held to account for the airline's combination of financial underperformance and public-relations missteps.

Under Munoz, United began a process of introspection that has yielded positive results. But, so far, it hasn't been enough. United's challenge is to continue looking inward and eventually find answers, Hamlin Transportation Consulting President George Hamlin told Business Insider.

"It needs to be fixed, or it will get worse," he said.

SEE ALSO: United Airlines has a long history of infuriating customers — here are its worst customer service incidents

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This jarring photo reveals the death of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet in America (DAL, BA)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Boeing 747 scrap yard Marana

  • The Boeing 747's run as a passenger carrier for major US airlines has come to an end.
  • Both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines retired their fleets of jumbo jets in 2017.
  • Retired planes are usually sent for storage before being sold, brought back into service, or scrapped for parts.
  • A picture posted on Twitter shows one Delta's 747-400s being scrapped. 

The Boeing 747 is disappearing from the skies over the US. With the retirement of Delta's fleet of jumbo jets in December, there are no 747s left in passenger service with any of America's major airlines.

And there's no better reminder of this than a photo posted on Twitter by Royal S King showing the skeletal remains of a Delta Air Lines 747 as it is being scrapped at an airplane junkyard in Marana, Arizona.

It's a jarring visual that shows the fate that befalls most of these majestic beasts.

In 2017, both Delta and United Airlines hosted farewell tours for their venerable jumbo jets with United's fleet entering retirement a few weeks before Delta's.

Delta Boeing 747 scrapShortly thereafter, the planes are sent to salvage yards for storage. The warm arid climate of these desert facilities minimize corrosion and keep the planes in acceptable condition should the airline find a buyer or need the aircraft to re-enter service. However, few people these days are in the market for 20-year jumbo jets, so Delta and United's planes will likely be scrapped. 

Its expensive engines, electronics, and other salvageable components will be sold off for parts. The remaining aluminum airframe will be cut up and sold as scrap metal. 

The demise of the Boeing 747 as a mainstay of international air travel has been a long time coming. Over the last decade, Boeing has sold an average of just eight 747s per year with the vast majority of those being freighters.

United Airlines Boeing 747Over the past 25 years, regulations limiting the use of twin-engined jets on international long-haul flights have become significantly less strict. As a result, airlines have replaced the larger, less efficient three or four-engined jets that dominated air travel during the 1970s and 80s with smaller twinjets. Aircraft like the Boeing 777 and the 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A330 and A350 have taken the jumbo jet's place as the workhorse for international airlines. 

As a result, it's the end of the road for a plane we call the Queen of the Skies. 

SEE ALSO: America is saying goodbye to the Boeing 747 jumbo jet — here's a look at its glorious history

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Bitcoin is sliding amid fears of a crackdown on a Japanese exchange

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Capture.PNG

  • Bitcoin was trading in the red during Thursday's trade following reports that Japanese regulators were preparing to crackdown on exchange operating in the country.
  • Bitcoin was trading down 2.49% at $8,712 a coin, according to Markets Insider data.
  • Follow bitcoin in real time here.

Bitcoin was trading lower Thursday amid fears that regulators in Japan might tell one cryptocurrency exchange to cease its operations in the country.

The digital currency fell approximately $200 early Thursday morning around the time Bloomberg News and other publications reported that Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA) has been preparing to tell Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, to stop operating in the country without the necessary regulatory green light.

"Binance has several staff in Japan and has been expanding without receiving permission," a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

At last check, the price of bitcoin, which frequently sees big price swings, was down 2.49% at $8,712 a coin. It hit an all-time high near $20,000 in December.

Japan, which has been a haven for cryptocurrency trading, rolled out a system for licensing cryptocurrency exchanges soon after it deemed bitcoin legal tender within the country in April 2017. CoinDesk reported in February that the country's regulators were looking into about 15 exchanges operating in the country without a license.

Soon after Nikkei, a Japanese publication, reported regulators were examining Binance, the company's chief executive officer, Changpeng Zhao, lashed out in a tweet. "Nikkei showed irresponsible journalism," he said

"We are in constructive dialogues with Japan FSA, and have not received any mandates," he added. "It dos not make sense for JFSA to tell a newspaper before telling us, while we have an active dialogue going on with them."

Bianance is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, according to data from CoinMarketCap. It sees $1.8 billion worth of crypto trade hands on its platform every day.

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Lloyds is 'the largest digital bank in the UK,' CEO says, and it wants to work with fintech startups

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Antonio Horta-Osorio, Group Chief Executive at Lloyds Bank, participates in a panel discussion at the 2015 Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, California November 3, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

  • Lloyds CEO António Horta Osório says it's the biggest digital bank in the UK with 30 million digital customers.
  • "Partnerships between banks and fintech companies will become even more important as they work in a symbiotic relationship," he told the International Fintech conference in London.

LONDON — The CEO of Lloyds Bank told a conference in London on Thursday that his company is the biggest digital bank in the UK, eclipsing the wave of digital startups that have sprung up in the last few years.

António Horta Osório told the UK Treasury's International Finance conference that Lloyds is "the largest digital bank in the UK, with a 22% share of new business."

The bank has 9 million active smartphone customers, Horta Osório said, despite having no app customers as recently as 2011. Across all platforms, Lloyds has 30 million digital customers, the CEO said.

Digital-only challenger banks such as Monzo, Starling, and Atom have sprung up in the UK over the last few years, attracting customers in the hundreds of thousands. Horta Osório did not mention any of these new entrants but his remarks seemed to be clearly informed by the context.

Horta Osório added that Lloyds has committed to spending the equivalent of £1 billion annually on its digital strategy over the next three years, which is only £300 million shy of the total invested across all UK fintech last year.

The Lloyds CEO extended an olive branch to challenger banks and other fintech startups, urging cooperation rather than competition.

"I believe partnerships between banks and fintech companies will become even more important as they work in a symbiotic relationship," Horta Osório said.

New Open Banking rules that came into force in the UK at the start of the year "the potential to herald one of the most significant changes to modern banking in the years ahead," Horta Osório said.

Open Banking rules require banks to share customer data with third parties if customers agree. Some analysts believe these changes could hit bank's profits as they are disintermediated but Horta Osório said he was optimistic that big banks would still play an important role in giving consumers "security and trust" in this new landscape.

"I believe there is still huge untapped potential," he said. "It is here, in unleashing this potential, that fintechs can have a big role."

SEE ALSO: Britain is getting a cryptocurrency task force

DON'T MISS: An invisible banking reform that 'could fundamentally change how we manage our money' is days away

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Bitcoin Provides Freedom, Says New PBoC Chief as China Opens Doors to $27 Trillion Payments Market

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

For the first time in history, the Chinese government and its central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), has opened its $27 trillion payment market to the world. Foreign firms are now allowed to apply for licenses to operate within China, competing against local service providers. Freedom For Foreign Firms In China, homegrown companies … Continued

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Bank of England leaves rates unchanged at 0.5%, but signals a hike in May

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Mark Carney

  • Bank of England left monetary policy unchanged in March, as expected.
  • That means a base interest rate of 0.5%.
  • The central bank, however, made clear it is ready to raise interest rates at its next meeting in May.


LONDON — The Bank of England left monetary policy unchanged on Thursday, but made clear it is ready to raise interest rates at its next meeting in May.

The Monetary Policy Committee voted to leave rates on hold, but the minutes of its meeting made clear that a second hike in six months is likely on its way. Seven members of the committee voted to leave rates unchanged, while Ian McCafferty and Michael Saunders, widely known as the bank's most hawkish policymakers, backed a hike.

The bank increased its base interest rate from 0.25% to 0.5% in November last year, having previously failed to raise rates in more than a decade as a response to the financial crisis.

The bank's announcement was largely in line with market forecasts, although most BoE watchers expected a unanimous decision from the MPC to leave policy alone.

"As in February, the best collective judgement of the MPC remains that, given the prospect of excess demand over the forecast period, an ongoing tightening of monetary policy over the forecast period will be appropriate to return inflation sustainably to its target at a more conventional horizon," the Bank of England said in a statement.

After hiking rates for the first time since the financial crisis last November, the bank spent much of the rest of the year signalling that it will likely raise rates further in 2018. The market previously expected those hikes to come towards the end of the year, but after a more hawkish than expected meeting in February, expectations are now that the next hike will come at the bank's next meeting in May.

"The May forecast round would enable the Committee to undertake a fuller assessment of the underlying momentum in the economy, the degree of slack remaining and the extent of domestic inflationary pressures," it added in the minutes of the MPC meeting.

The basic reason behind the bank's move towards rate hikes is that the UK's economy has performed better than expected in recent months. Data this week revealed falling inflation, rising retail sales, and near record low unemployment in Britain. The strength of the global economy is also a key factor in the bank's more hawkish attitude towards policy.

The pound briefly spiked higher against the dollar after the announcement, but has calmed down around five minutes afterwards, trading up by around 0.3%, as the chart below shows:

Screen Shot 2018 03 22 at 12.04.08

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Where Could Bitcoin Succeed as a Currency? In a Failed State

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UBS Chairman Axel Weber tells us the main difference between his careers in academia and banking

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

weber3



ZURICH, Switzerland — Axel Weber, chairman of Swiss bank UBS, has seen it all.

Starting in academia in German universities in the 1980s, he rose to become an economic advisor to the German government, then head of the country's central bank in 2004, and is now chairman of UBS — a post he's held since 2012.

"I always tried to combine these different aspects of my career," Weber said in an interview with Business Insider last month.

It's a unique career path through the higher echelons of the financial world, but no job is perfect. 

"If there’s anything I miss at this level in banking it is the more regular interaction you have with young people, like I had when I was a university professor," Weber said in an interview last month.

"I always find it extremely motivating to see 19-25 year olds that have their entire professional lives in front of them making choices on the jobs they want to do and how much time they want to invest in education over the next years. When you’re running a large financial institution, such contact with the young employees isn’t so commonplace, so you need to go out and make the time to meet with them," he said.

"I recently visited one of our branches here in Switzerland which I regularly do. This is where you meet the next generation of UBS employees. Or you meet them by seeing groups that are graduating, or by going to events for our young key talent programs," said Weber.

"It’s important to understand what's required of us to make us attractive to young people as an employer, here in Switzerland as well as globally," he added. 

"I could’ve chosen to stay an academic for another 20 years."

Weber said his desire to keep learning about the financial world has become the motivating factor spurring him from one post to the next. 

"When I was an academic for 20 years I could’ve chosen to stay an academic for another 20 years. It’s a fantastic job and I always liked it. But since I was always interested in learning new things I moved on from being an academic to being a policy advisor," he said.

"Then I was offered the opportunity to take political responsibility, as opposed to just advising politicians, so I took that. And when I left the public sector and came to UBS I was offered the opportunity to not just regulate the financial industry but to help one financial institution, in this case UBS, make the transition to the new regulatory reality and show that finance can make that change for the better," Weber said.

"That was a big motivation for me to take this role."

"For me the key has been to always make the best of the opportunities and challenges that came along," he said.

'Ultimately responsible'

Weber said that the growing role of technology in finance will give young people new avenues to explore in a banking career and force existing employees to learn new skills. 

"We've got the traditional areas of the bank, such as retail, but there are also new areas such as blockchain and other emerging technologies constantly opening up. So there’s a hugely interesting set of opportunities for young people in different parts of the firm," he said.

"We hire around 3,000 young people every year to join the bank. It's crucial to us that learning doesn't stop on leaving education," he said.

The image of banking as providing a reputable, sustainable career path suffered in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, one in which UBS had to be rescued by the Swiss government.

UBS used to regularly lead the list of places Swiss graduates wanted to work at after university, but dropped down the rankings following the crisis. As the bank's reputation recovers, it has since reclaimed the top spot.

The bank "has again become the top choice for university graduates here in Switzerland," said Weber. "This was different directly after the crisis. Clearly that negative perception is disappearing, but there is still more to do to attract the best young talents."

Meanwhile, his own role as chairman is far from a laid back one. In Switzerland, chairing a bank is a "full-time position," running the board and working with management, Weber said.

"In Switzerland the board is ultimately responsible for the strategy and financial success of the bank. So I'm also meeting a lot of clients, counterparties, regulators and policymakers – probably more than chairmen of other European banks. This is a part of my job I also really enjoy."

SEE ALSO: BI PRIME: UBS chairman Axel Weber talks to us about market risks, cryptocurrencies and the bank's whistleblowing hotline

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Cryptocurrency Market Remains Stable at $350 Billion, Bitcoin at $9,000

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Over the past 48 hours, after demonstrating a highly volatile week, the cryptocurrency market has remained stable in the $350 billion region, as major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have not recorded major gains or losses. Stability Throughout February and March, every cryptocurrency in the global market has experienced extreme upswings and price drops, going up

The post Cryptocurrency Market Remains Stable at $350 Billion, Bitcoin at $9,000 appeared first on CCN

The Ripple Effects of Trump's Steel and Aluminum Tariffs: Expect Widespread Change (for Good or Bad)

Inc, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

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Bank accounts could disappear within 15 years according to one of Deutsche Bank's most senior execs

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Marcus Schenck

  • One of Deutsche Bank's most senior executives said that bank accounts could be obsolete within 15 years.
  • Marcus Schenck, Deutsche's co-head of corporate and investment banking, said that a recent trip to China had opened his eyes to the fact that the retail banking sector is rife for disruption,
  • "There's a thesis that at some stage in 5, 10, 15, 20 years — who knows — accounts will disappear, and be replaced," he said.

LONDON — Marcus Schenck, one of the most senior executives at Deutsche Bank, believes that bank accounts as we know them now could disappear in as little as five years.

Schenck, who is co-head of corporate and investment banking at the German lender, told Bloomberg's European Capital Markets Forum that a recent trip to China had opened his eyes to the fact that the retail banking sector is ripe for disruption from new technologies.

Asked by an audience member how he and fellow panel members — Barclays CEO Jes Staley and Societe General Chairman Lorenzo Bini Smaghi — were preparing for technological disruption, Schenck told an anecdote about visiting a company manufacturing computer chips.

"The week before last I was in China, and saw a company that is producing microchips that are used for bitcoin mining, or any type of blockchain technology," he said.

"There's a thesis that at some stage in 5, 10, 15, 20 years — who knows — accounts will disappear, and be replaced."

"That would be a game changer to what we're doing," Schenck said, adding that financial firms "have to monitor what's happening."

Schenck's argument concerns the creation of individual wallets for cryptocurrencies — whereby people are able to store their money digitally but without the need for a third party like a bank. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency wallets are already widespread, but many believe their usage could spread even more rapidly in the future as cryptocurrencies themselves are more widely used.

"Technology is impacting the different businesses we are operating in in different ways," Schenck said, noting that in retail banking "there is a completely new normal evolving."

"The vast majority of activities are going down the path of being a more electronic interaction with your client. We have that in our trading business, in FX. The vast majority today, there are no human beings involved when we do business," he added.

As well as changing the way banks themselves operate, technological advances in the financial sector are also changing the skills that people looking to work in the industry need to possess to get ahead.

"I don't think we're far away from saying that whoever wants to works in a bank, better speak English, and better be able to code," Schenck said.

"Being able to code, I think, will be as relevant as being able to speak English."

Later in the same event, Schenck's advice on what skills are needed in the modern world were directly contradicted by Bloomberg founder and CEO, Michael Bloomberg, who said that jobseekers are far better served learning Mandarin, enabling them to do business in China, than they are coding.

That's because the level of coding that most normal people will be able to learn will be automated in the near future, Bloomberg said, while speaking a language can never be truly digitised.

SEE ALSO: 5am starts, missing lunch and avoiding Twitter: Here’s how a $135 billion money manager spends his day

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Britain is getting a cryptocurrency task force

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, leaves 11 Downing Street, in central London, Britain March 21, 2018.

  • The UK Treasury is hosting its second International Fintech conference in London on Thursday.
  • The Chancellor is set to announce a new government task force to look at cryptocurrencies.


LONDON — UK Chancellor Philip Hammond will today announce a new task force looking at cryptocurrencies.

The Chancellor is delivering a major speech on fintech at the Treasury's second annual International Fintech Conference in London 0n Thursday.

Hammond will announce a new task force including representatives from the Treasury, the Bank of England, and Britain's financial watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority.

"A new task force will help the UK to manage the risks around Crypto assets, as well as harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology," Hammond will say.

The task force follows a similar inquiry set up by the Treasury Select Committee, a Parliamentary scrutiny group, in February.

The task force comes at a time of increased scrutiny of cryptocurrencies and calls to regulate the space. The G20 this week set a July deadline for recommended cryptocurrency regulation and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US has been cracking down crypto companies in the US.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney called for regulation of the space in a speech earlier this month and warned that the space has the "hallmarks" of a bubble. However, Carney has said that the blockchain tech underpinning cryptocurrencies could be transformational to mainstream finance.

As well as the crypto task force, Hammond is set to announce new measures including:

  • "Robo regulation", whereby new startups will be allowed to write software that compels them to follow the law rather than submit to in-depth supervision from day one.
  • A new UK-Australia "fintech bridge" to help UK firms expand internationally.

The UK fintech sector contributes £6.6 billion annually to the UK economy and employs over 60,000 people across 1,600 companies, according to the Treasury.

SEE ALSO: Bank of England Governor Mark Carney: Bitcoin is heading for a 'pretty brutal reckoning'

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