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Quebec Pushes Hydropower Utility to Halt New Bitcoin Mines

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

Quebec is temporarily suspending new cryptomining operations from setting up facilities in its low-cost power region.

Airlines are increasingly using vouchers over cash — here are the secrets for how to use them (AAL, UAL, DAL, LUV)

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

United Airlines

  • A United Airlines passenger received a $10,000 voucher as compensation for being bumped from a flight.
  • Airlines use vouchers as compensation in place of cash.
  • Here are things you should look out for when using vouchers to buy a ticket.

On Thursday, a United Airlines passenger received $10,000 after being bumped from a flight. Contrary to some reports, this was in the form of a voucher and not cash.

Vouchers are nothing new. We hear about them all the time, especially if a flight is oversold or when something goes wrong.

And they're usually used as compensation in place of cold, hard cash.

In fact, airlines make it clear these vouchers have no cash value.

"Airlines give you these vouchers to achieve two things: Solve their problem, such as an overbooked flight, and have you go away," travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt told Business Insider. 

However, the terms and conditions that govern what you can do with these vouchers vary greatly based on the type of certificate you were given and the airline you are flying.

So it's important you not only negotiate for the highest amount possible but also get clear answers on the terms of use before accepting them.

Here are a couple of things to pay attention to.

Which airlines you can fly

First, there are restrictions on which airlines you can fly. 

These days, major airlines such as American, Delta, and United, are all members of global airline alliances. As a result, these airlines can sell tickets on flights operated by their alliance partners.

For instance, United, as a member of Star Alliance, routinely sells tickets on its website for flights operated by alliance partner Lufthansa. Unfortunately, these tickets are not eligible for voucher holders. 

"Electronic travel certificates (vouchers) can be used for travel on United and United Express-operated flights," a United spokesman told Business Insider in an email. "Certificates are not valid for travel on Star Alliance flights or United-marketed flights operated by other airlines."

Conversely, American Airlines will allow you to use vouchers for flights operated by its Oneworld alliance and AA codeshare partners. 

Airlines can also restrict where you can redeem the vouchers. Some vouchers stipulate that they cannot be redeemed at third-party travel agents and websites.

Where it will allow you to go

In addition, the voucher might not be able to take you everywhere you want to go. That's because airlines may place restrictions on destinations or point of origin.

For example, the terms of American Airlines eVouchers clearly state that it's valid for "flights operated by American Airlines and the American Eagle carriers for itineraries sold and originating in the U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands." 

Even more interesting is the fact that "flights sold or originating outside the U.S., Puerto Rico or U.S. Virgin Islands or operated by other carriers are not eligible."

So if you happen to be in Spain and want to use your voucher to pay for a flight back to the US, you're out of luck.

What it will pay for

The extent to which a voucher will cover the cost of a ticket varies. 

For example, Southwest Airlines' LUV Vouchers can only be used as a form of payment towards the cost of airfare. The passenger is on the hook for any additional government-imposed taxes or fees, which, in some cases, can cost as much as the airfare itself. 

On the other hand, Delta Air Lines' transportation credit vouchers and American eVouchers can be used to cover both the cost of the airfare and any associated fees or taxes. 

Can I give it to someone else?

Sometimes you can even use the value of the voucher on someone else. According to Southwest, its LUV Vouchers are fully transferable. 

Delta Air Lines vouchers are transferable, but with some caveats.

For certificates issued before December 15, 2011, Delta will allow you to transfer the voucher to another passenger by simply giving that person the 13-digit voucher number and the name to whom the voucher was issued. 

For certificates issued on or after December 15, 2011, the value on the voucher can be applied to a different passenger as long as the person to whom the voucher was issued is traveling on the same reservation.

Unfortunately, American Airlines eVouchers are non-transferable. 

However, even fully transferable vouchers can't be sold. In fact, selling or bartering away your voucher will almost certainly cause them to become void. 

Can I combine more than one voucher?

Instead of a $1,000 voucher, sometimes an airline may choose to give you two $500 vouchers. Don't worry — many airlines will allow you to combine multiple vouchers. 

American, for example, will allow you to combine up to eight vouchers to pay for a single ticket. 

Last but not least, look at the expiration date

Most airline vouchers are valid for one year after its issuance. However, this can vary, so pay attention to its expiration date. 

SEE ALSO: The best airports in the world have movie theaters, spas, and mini golf — see the full list

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

“Real Users:” Bitcoin Donations Helped These Earthquake Survivors Recover

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

Real people: Earthquake Norcia

This is the second in a series by Aaron van Wirdum focusing on real users of cryptocurrencies. Read about his earlier experiences in Italy here: "Real Users": In This Mountain Town, Everyone Knows About Bitcoin.

The straight stone road from the partially crumbled city wall to the scaffolded church in the center of the central Italian town of Norcia is empty. It glimmers a bit from the rain; the weather is unusually wet for this region today. Tourists and day-trippers that would usually be strolling around the historic town center on Saturday afternoons like these are nowhere to be seen.

Bad luck for Ilaria and Lorenzo. The couple — both in their thirties, both wearing thick coats, scarves and beanies to keep themselves warm — set up a small mobile bar near the end of the street, under a white marquee; the inside is decorated with pictures of flowers. It’s all part of a local street market festival.

There, they sell saffron and beer produced with saffron, produced from the thin reddish stalks plucked from the crocus. It’s a delicacy, Lorenzo explains, as he hands out taster-sized plastic cups with beer. “Pound-for-pound among the most expensive products in the world,” he says.

It’s been almost 18 months since the Norcia area was struck with a seismic shock of 6.2 on the Richter scale: an earthquake that many of the old brick homes typical of the Mediterranean countryside could not withstand. Whole street blocks had collapsed, claiming hundreds of casualties.

earthquake peopleIlario and Lorenzo in their market stand bar

Ilaria and Lorenzo got out safely, but their home was destroyed and their town, San Pellegrino di Norcia, is abandoned. They now live in a small, prefabricated house on the edge of Norcia.

Yet, Ilaria and Lorenzo have been able to keep their saffron business running, even after disaster struck their lives. They rebuilt parts of their organic plantation with financial help from Legambiente, a charity-based NGO dedicated to the earthquake recovery efforts.

This financial help did not come in euros. Legambiente had no euros left, Ilaria and Lorenzo were told when they applied for a reimbursement about a year ago; only bitcoin. The two had heard of the digital currency a couple of years ago when they were researching local money systems. But they had never owned any themselves.

“We would have preferred euros if it was available,” Ilaria admits, sitting down on one of the wooden benches they installed in the marquee. There are no potential customers stopping by, so she has time to talk about her experience. “But bitcoin was, of course, better than nothing, so we gladly accepted.”

Helperbit

GuidoGuido Baroncini Turricchia, founder of Helperbit

The reason Ilaria and Lorenzo received bitcoin is Guido Baroncini Turricchia. The 39-year old Italian environmental engineer is the founder of Helperbit, a Rome-based startup that leverages bitcoin for fundraising campaigns.

Bitcoin is particularly well-suited to these types of causes, Baroncini Turricchia thinks, because of the transparency it provides. Through Bitcoin’s public blockchain, donors can trace the funds they donate and be sure that they really end up at the Bitcoin addresses of the intended recipients of the money — and nowhere else.

“Helperbit was only four months old when disaster struck Norcia,” Baroncini Turricchia recalls, as we are driving in his car from Rome to the disaster-struck town.

“For any natural disaster it takes a couple of days before media attention catches onto the scope of the event and for donation infrastructure to be set up. As the fundraising campaign starts, the amount of incoming donations reaches a peak within one or two weeks. It then fizzles out over the next couple of months or years,” he explains, as he uses his finger to draw a long-tailed, skewed bell-curve through the fogged interior of the windshield in front of him.

The number of incoming donations for Norcia was already past its peak when Baroncini Turricchia was still looking for an NGO that would take bitcoin donations through Helperbit. Most of them were skeptical, even though he offered to set up integration for free. After several rejections, Legambiente was the first and only NGO that took Baroncini Turricchia up on the offer.

“They were initially skeptical too,” Baroncini Turricchia said. “News coverage about Bitcoin had been negative overall. But they ultimately agreed to give it a try.”

Even though Helperbit was late — it was November before it was all set up — the project was still able to collect more than 10 bitcoins over about a year’s time. The coins became part of Legambiente's budget, set up to reimburse local entrepreneurs on some of the costs they had to make to keep their businesses running.

“There are still bitcoins in the fund,” Baroncini Turricchia said. With bitcoin’s price increase over the past year, the euro value of this fund is up quite a bit as well. “But I’m not sure many people in Norcia know about it. For now, Legambiente still controls what’s left.”

An Unexpected Windfall

Ilaria and Lorenzo are two of five earthquake victims who have taken bitcoin reimbursements, so far. A third, Ilaria and Lorenzo’s friend Alessia, is also at the festival.

Wearing a green baseball cap representing the local farmer cooperative, Alessia has set up her booth to the left of the saffron bar. She sells cheese produced at her local sheep farm, as well as different types of nuts, all displayed on top of bales of hay.

earthquake marketAlessia at her cheese and nut stall with Ilaria and Lorenzo’s bar in the background

Alessia took a big hit when the earthquake struck: She lost both her home and the stable for her farm. She says that she too would have accepted euros from Legambiente, if that had been an option: “I didn’t think bitcoin was real.”

Yet, having been introduced to the cryptocurrency by Baroncini Turricchia, who also personally helped her set up a Helperbit wallet, she decided to keep it.

“Guido told me it could go up in price,” she explains. “Maybe to 6,000 euros, if all went well.” She had received about 5,000 euros worth in June of 2018.

She didn’t think about her bitcoin much over the following months — not until her mother saw an item on the news this January: the price had crashed almost 40 percent within days. Concerned by the message from her mom, Alessia contacted Baroncini Turricchia to ask how much of her 5,000 euros worth of bitcoin was left.

It’s only then that Alessia learned to which level the price had actually “crashed”: “My 5,000 euros worth of bitcoin had not decreased in value at all. It had increased to around 20,000 euros.”

Guido grins while he helps Alessia translate her story from Italian into English. He’d known back in June that the price could go up far more than 20 percent. He just hadn’t wanted to raise her expectations too high.

Alessia continues her story. Delighted with the news, she decided she wanted to sell most of her coins. She needed a new cheese machine. She signed up for The Rock Trading, a Malta-based exchange operated by Italians. Here, she encountered her first problem.

“They required a copy of a utility bill to prove my home address,” she explains, with a sarcastic smile. “I don’t have an address anymore.” She still lives in emergency housing, best described as a sea container with a door and windows, next to a gas station just outside of Norcia.

Helped by the town mayor who provided her with a signed letter for the verification process, Alessia managed to get verified in the end. “But I still didn’t sell all of my bitcoin, I’m holding onto what I’ve got left,” she says. “At least until bitcoin reaches 100,000 euro.”

The Case for Bitcoin

Baroncini Turricchia is himself a Bitcoin enthusiast; he spent much of the drive to Norcia philosophizing on the consequences of hyperbitcoinization and speculating on Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity. But like Ilaria, Lorenzo and Alessia, his decision to use bitcoin is also practical.

The transparency provided by Bitcoin is unique compared to existing payment systems. Even funds donated in fiat currency — which is also possible via Helperbit — are converted into the cryptocurrency, which allows donors to track their own funds.

But that’s not all. If they want to, donors can also show to the world that they contributed; HelperBit even includes a provably fair ranking for donors.

Further, Baroncini Turricchia plans to extend that traceability to merchants who serve NGOs in disaster-struck areas, selling tents, sheets, food and more. Donors would know not only which victims received the funds but also where and how the funds were spent. Deals with such merchants could ultimately offer a profit opportunity for Helperbit, which is itself a for-profit company.

Transparency is not the only Bitcoin feature leveraged by Helperbit. Perhaps most obviously, the cryptocurrency is well suited for fast and cheap international payments, allowing donors to support causes anywhere in the world. To prevent anyone meddling with data, Helperbit also timestamps invoices on Bitcoin’s blockchain, like the invoices provided by Ilaria, Lorenzo and Alessia to claim their reimbursement. In the longer term, Baroncini Turricchia wants to establish a reputation system to let donors send bitcoin to victims directly, peer-to-peer.

At the same time, Bitcoin has presented its challenges. “The biggest problem is key management,” Baroncini Turricchia said. “It doesn’t matter how strongly we emphasize that private keys are crucial: It’s hard for people to understand that, without them, the money is literally gone, in a way that not even Helperbit can recover it.”

In part to mitigate this risk, Helperbit sets up a multi-signature solution. Legambiente, in this case, holds three keys assigned to three different people. Helperbit keeps one. Of this total of four keys, three keys are required to unlock the funds on Bitcoin’s blockchain.

“If Legambiente loses one key,” says Baroncini Turricchia, “they should contact us immediately to help send the funds to a new address. This has already happened once.”

Ilaria and Lorenzo, of course, did not choose Bitcoin for such practical reasons at first: It was simply the only option available. But now, as they learn more about the cryptocurrency, the couple is starting to see some benefits as well.

“It is the most transparent currency in the world,” Lorenzo says, when asked what he knows about Bitcoin by now. “And politicians don’t like it,” he jokes. “That’s a good sign.”

The two are now considering opening a webshop to sell saffron for bitcoin, most likely through OpenBazaar. Baroncini Turricchia recommended it because the peer-to-peer marketplace includes a built-in, dispute resolution solution. OpenBazaar will allow them to sell their saffron internationally, opening them up to a new market of bitcoin users, they hope.

Online, at least, the rain shouldn’t affect their sales.

Some of the quotes from this article were loosely translated from Italian.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Binance Seeks New Home in Malta’s Fintech-Friendly Environment

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

Binance in Malta

After facing crackdowns in China and being issued a warning by regulators in Japan, cryptocurrency exchange Binance is now seeking a home on the crypto-friendly island nation of Malta, the company’s CEO Zhao Changpeng told Bloomberg.  

Malta is known for extending open arms to fintech and blockchain technology. Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat underscored that policy when he shared the Bloomberg piece on Twitter, stating, “We aim to be the global trailblazers in the regulation of blockchain-based businesses and the jurisdiction of quality and choice for world class fintech companies.”

Since it was founded in Hong Kong in 2017, Binance has grown rapidly to become the largest exchange in the world by trading volume. Establishing itself in Malta could open doors to even larger growth. Currently, the exchange is negotiating with banks in Malta to set up a formal banking partnership, Zhao told Bloomberg.

If it succeeds, that means Binance, which now offers only crypto-to-crypto trading pairs, will be able to offer crypto-to-fiat trading pairs. In that sense, Binance would operate similar to U.S.-based exchange Coinbase, where users have direct links to their bank accounts and can withdraw and deposit fiat.

Banking relationships are essential to the livelihood of exchanges. Without the ability to allow customers to move in and out of the fiat world, exchanges turn to stable tokens, like tether (USDT) or trueUSD (TUSD), as a fiat alternative and to protect against market volatility. But stablecoins present their own class of problems. For instance, it is not necessarily clear if they are backed by real dollars.

Despite that, Malta may be the quiet home Binance is looking for. In April 2017, Malta rolled out an ambitious strategy for blockchain technology in a push for the small Mediterranean country to become a “Silicon Valley” of Europe. Currently, Malta is in the process of setting up a Malta Digital Innovation Authority to certify blockchain companies and establish a legal framework for initial coin offerings (ICOs).  

Malta is among several small European countries, including Lithuania and Belarus, that are creating fintech-friendly regulatory environments to capture a larger role for themselves in the growing blockchain and financial technology space.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

TMX to Launch World’s First Stock Exchange Cryptocurrency Brokerage Service

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

TMX to Launch World’s First Stock Exchange Cryptocurrency Brokerage Service

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s pioneering TMX division is partnering with Paycase Financial to launch a special brokerage service that will provide data and investment advice for investors about cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin and ether.

TMX Group’s new, wholly-owned subsidiary, Shorcan Digital Currency Network has entered into an agreement with Paycase Financial to provide information and build data benchmarks to show the ongoing status and price of different cryptocurrencies.

Paycase will be helping to build out the technology needed to create these ongoing data benchmarks and indices, which will be based on consolidated data from global cryptocurrency exchanges, as well as from international, over-the-counter trading volume.

The long-term goal is to market these indices with associated technology around the world.

John Lee, managing director, Enterprise Innovation & Product Development of TMX Group, said in a news release:

"Shorcan DCN represents a significant step forward in the execution of TMX Group's digital strategy. As new technologies continue to reshape the global financial industry, we continue to explore new ways to evolve our business to address client needs in both traditional and non-traditional markets.”

Paycase, a Toronto-based cryptocurrencies startup, is best known for its mobile-first remittance platform and service.

Joseph Weinberg, Paycase Financial CEO and OECD think tank special advisor, told Bitcoin Magazine:

“We are thrilled about this partnership between Paycase Financial and the TMX. As the first ever public crypto brokerage desk by an exchange, this deal represents the true institutionalization of cryptocurrencies as an asset class.”

The TMX Group has embraced new innovation in the past and has gone ahead of other exchanges, listing new startups in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sectors as well as new medical marijuana companies.

“With this partnership, we have built the first major bridge between the crypto world and the traditional financial markets. This is just a taste of more things to come from the collaborative and tight-knit Canadian community as we build out more products for the world,” added Weinberg.

Kyle Kemper, executive director of the Blockchain Association of Canada, told Bitcoin Magazine:

“This partnership signifies a collaborative convergence of regulators, financial incumbents and innovators that could open the floodgates for digital currency adoption across new markets.”

He says that this announcement is “just the tip of the iceberg” for the Canadian blockchain industry, where he expects to see more innovators partnering and collaborating with sector leaders “to realize the benefits of this new paradigm shift.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Air travel has become worse than ever — and the iPhone is to blame

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

frustrated airport

  • Smartphones and social media make it easier for stories of disruptive airline passengers to spread.
  • While it might seem like air travelers have become more volatile, much of that perception may result from how easy it is to film and share videos of extreme incidents on social media.
  • But by increasing the number of seats in their aircraft and making them smaller, airlines aren't helping to make flights less stressful.


It seems a day can't pass without a story about a disruptive airline passenger going viral. 

Often, the stories are accompanied by videos filmed by other passengers. Together, they create the impression that air travel has become a circus. If your flight isn't interrupted by a passenger climbing onto a plane's wing or trying to open a cabin door in mid-air, you're lucky, it seems.

But it's difficult to tell if air travelers are acting out more, of if social media makes the most extreme examples of misbehavior easier to share. The answer probably involves both.

Social media makes it easier to record disruptive behavior

"I don't think the problem is increasing. I think that awareness of the problem is increasing," Airways senior business analyst Vinay Bhaskara told Business Insider.

"I think the key difference in today's world is that information if something goes wrong spreads in a way that it didn't previously," he said.

Before, a disruptive passenger "was going to be, at most, local news," Bhaskara said. Today, that passenger becomes national news if the outburst has enough shock value.

Airlines have limited control over their customers' behavior, but, by increasing the number of seats on their aircraft and shrinking their size, they aren't helping matters, according to SmarterTravel senior editor Sarah Schlichter.

"There is more stress with the travel experience these days," she told Business Insider.

"You have less personal space. Everybody's kind of in each other's face. And so I wouldn't be surprised if that sort of environment is leading a little bit more to people acting out."

Stories of extreme incidents might make travelers more stressed

Schlichter thinks that the frequency with which disruptive behavior is documented and shared might change air travelers' expectations before they get to the airport. If a passenger's impression of air travel is formed by depictions of extreme behavior, that passenger might expect the worst and be more likely to act out of character if something goes wrong. That may not result in the kind of incident that inspires other passengers to pull out their smartphones, but it could make the idea of being rude to airline employees seem more acceptable.

"I think people sometimes go in expecting the worst, and that might predispose you to more stress and more incidents," Schlichter said.

While the increased visibility of misbehavior may be out of airlines' control, they can take steps to decrease the odds of a passenger's frustration turning into front-page news. Bhaskara thinks airlines should focus on positive incentives rather than negative ones. That means giving passengers perks like gift cards or free drinks to resolve potential conflicts rather than punishing them for misbehavior. 

"You're going to catch more flies with honey than you are with a baseball bat," he said.

But he cautioned that airlines can't be too generous when they sense a passenger might become a liability. If they're too quick to pay off potentially troublesome passengers, they might create the impression that they reward misbehavior, which could lead to more of it. 

There's no clear solution for airlines

No matter how airlines approach customer service in the social media age, there's a drawback. If they do nothing, they're criticized for being callous or ignorant. But if they design new training programs for employees or update their customer service policies, it might not have any impact on their reputations.

"The good flights are never going to make headlines. So even if you improve service and more people are happy, does that help you in the court of public opinion? I don't know," Schlichter said. 

"I don't know what the answer is."

Neither do airlines, who live under the constant threat of having to start damage control on a moment's notice when a passenger or employee's misbehavior goes viral. For them, the question isn't if they'll be at the center of a scandal, but when.

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: Overstock CEO and bitcoin pioneer explains his long-standing crypto play and his philosophy on life

CRYPTO INSIDER: The CEO of $20 billion data company thinks blockchain 'has potential to be transformative'

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

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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.

The CEO of $20 billion data giant IHS Markit thinks blockchain technology, the tech behind cryptos like bitcoin, has the potential to be transformational in finance.

Lance Uggla told Business Insider's Oscar Williams-Grut: "Technology moves in leaps and bounds. Storage and computer power has been a step change from when I set up Markit. A 2 megabyte line into a barn was a big deal in 2002. We have 100 megabytes into our house now.

"I think the technology with blockchain, it has potential to be transformative, one of those leaps and bounds technological changes."

Read the BI Prime full story here>>

Here are the current crypto prices:

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was trading lower during Friday's trade after reports that Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, received a warning from Japanese regulators.  Most cryptos were in the red:

Screen Shot 2018 03 23 at 1.43.39 PM

What's happening:

Join Business Insider's Crypto Insider Facebook group to discuss cryptocurrencies and blockchain with readers from all over the world, as well as BI editorial staff. 

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

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NOW WATCH: The rise and fall of Hooters Air — the airline that lost the 'breastaurant' $40 million

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 signed the massive $1.3 trillion spending bill despite an earlier threat to veto it.

If Trump went through with the veto of the the bill, the federal government would have almost certainly shut down at the midnight deadline. Despite Trump's signature on the bill, Trump blasted the process that brought the bill to his desk calling it a "ridiculous situation that took place over the last week."

"There are a lot of things that I am unhappy about in this bill, there are a lot of things that shouldn't have been in this bill," Trump said. "But I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again. I'm not going to do it again."

Fears of a trade war between the United States and China, the world's two largest economies, are unnerving financial markets around the world. New US tariffs on Chinese imports and the immediate threat of retaliation raise the "distinct possibility of a tit-for-tat trade war which would be damaging for everybody," Dan North, the chief economist at Euler Hermes North America, told Business Insider.

In related news, President Donald Trump's fiscal stimulus may have set global financial markets on a "collision course for disaster," according to Scott Minerd, Guggenheim Partners' chief investment officer.

In other news, Dropbox surged by as much as 44% during its trading debut on Friday, marking a strong start to the most prominent tech initial public offering so far this year. Elsewhere in tech news:

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NOW WATCH: Overstock CEO and bitcoin pioneer explains his long-standing crypto play and his philosophy on life

A video from a Greyhound bus shows passengers taking matters into their own hands after their driver starts to fall asleep

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

greyhound bus

  • An argument broke out between passengers and the driver on a Greyhound bus after the driver reportedly showed signs of drowsiness, according to CBS-11.
  • One passenger filmed part of the exchange.
  • Greyhound eventually replaced the driver and got the passengers to their destination seven hours late.


Staying awake is the most basic requirement any driver needs to meet, and passengers on a Greyhound bus traveling from Phoenix to Dallas on Thursday became concerned when their driver showed signs of drowsiness, according to CBS-11.

"The bus was leaning little and that’s when people started to really worry," passenger Philip Hurd told CBS-11. "She was using techniques to try and stay awake and I think that was the initial concern … We would go over the white line and everybody would be like wake up and she had tweezers she was poking herself with tweezers to keep herself awake it was awful. It got to the point where we had to raise our voice pull over we have children on this bus pull over."

Once passengers confronted the driver, an argument broke out between them. One passenger filmed part of the exchange.

"I don't have to stop this bus!" the driver says.

"You should have stopped it when you were swerving!" a passenger replies.

After the driver accuses the passenger of "doing too much," the passenger turns around and asks, "Who doing too much?" to the other passengers.

"She is," they reply, referring to the driver.

 

The driver reportedly stood up during the argument while the bus was moving, before passengers had a Border Patrol agents escort the vehicle off the road. Greyhound then reportedly replaced the driver and got the passengers to their destination — seven hours late.

"We are currently looking into these allegations, as we take the issue of driver fatigue very seriously," a Greyhound spokesperson told Business Insider in an email. "The driver has been removed from service pending the outcome of our internal investigation."

SEE ALSO: Man Who Ate A Fellow Greyhound Passenger Says He Feared Aliens

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

Japan’s FSA Warns Binance to Comply with Licensing Requirements

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

Japan’s FSA Warns Binance to Comply with Licensing Requirements

Japan’s top securities regulator has issued a formal warning to cryptocurrency exchange Binance that in needs to comply with licensing requirements in order to continue operations.


The news, which the Financial Services Agency (FSA) published in a statement on Friday, March 23, 2018, confirms earlier rumors reported by news outlet Nikkei that an FSA warning was forthcoming, given the exchange was already operating in the country without a license.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao initially took to Twitter to deny those rumors, accusing Nikkei of “irresponsible journalism.” He stated Binance was in communication with the FSA. “It does not make sense for JFSA to tell a newspaper before telling us, while we have an active dialog going on with them.”

But after the FSA warning became public, he tweeted, “We received a simple letter from JFSA about an hour ago. Our lawyers called JFSA immediately, and will find a solution.” In an attempt to quell customer concerns, he later tweeted, “No need to worry. Some negative news often turn out to be positive in the long term.”

Binance, which is based in Hong Kong, had been expanding its operations into Japan, employing several staff in the country. At the same time, according to Nikkei, the exchange was failing to perform proper identity checks on Japanese investors when they opened their accounts on the exchange. It is likely many of those investors were lured to Binance from domestic exchanges by the lower fees offered on the exchange.

In 2017, Japan became one of the first countries to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges when it set up a licensing system. Now, only cryptocurrency exchanges that are licensed by the FSA or have licenses pending are allowed to operate in the country.

Following an incident earlier this year where $530 million worth of NEM tokens were stolen from Tokyo exchange Coincheck due to lax security measures, the FSA doubled down its oversight. Earlier this month, the FSA penalized seven exchanges due to their failure to provide proper internal control systems.

So far, Japan has 16 licensed cryptocurrency exchanges. Next month, those exchanges plan to form a self-regulating body that will work with the FSA to establish and enforce best practices within the industry, including setting up guidelines for ICOs.

Launched in summer 2017, Binance raised money for its operations by issuing its own initial coin offering (ICO). It has since grown to become one of the busiest exchanges with a 24-hour trading volume of $1.9 billion. Binance lists 287 coins but does not support fiat pairs. Instead, it supports tether (USDT), a stable coin pegged to the dollar.  

Recently, Binance announced plans to launch its own public blockchain to serve as the foundation for a decentralized exchange dubbed Binance Chain.

According to Bloomberg, Binance has plans to move its staff to Malta in order to avoid clashing with regulators.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

BEYOND BITCOIN: How financial institutions are applying distributed ledger technologies to new use cases for ground-up business transformation

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

DLT TAXONOMY NEW

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

Of the many technologies reshaping the world economy, distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) are among the most hyped. DLTs are most often associated with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but such coverage sidelines the broader use cases of DLTs, even though they stand to make a far bigger impact on the broader the financial services (FS) industry.

DLT's value lies in its ability to centralize record-keeping, while cutting out the need for authorization by an overseeing party, instead allowing a record to be confirmed by multiple parties with access to the database. This means DLTs have the potential to streamline financial institutions' (FIs) operations, boost data security, improve customer relationships, and drastically cut costs. But many FIs have struggled to implement DLTs and reap the rewards, because of organizational obstacles, but also because of issues rooted in the technology itself. There are a few players working to make the technology more usable for FIs, and progress is now being made.

In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence takes a look at what DLTs are and why they hold so much promise for FS, the sectors in which DLTs are gaining the most traction and why, and the efforts underway to remove the obstacles preventing wider DLT adoption in finance. It also examines the few FIs close to unleashing their DLT projects, and how DLTs might transform the nature of FS if adoption truly takes off. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • DLTs are proving attractive to FIs because of their ability to act as a single source of truth, distribute information securely, cut out middlemen, improve transaction times, and cut redundancy and costs.
  • DLTs like blockchain and smart contracts stand to save the FS industry up to $50 billion a year through improved operational efficiencies, reduced human error, and better regulatory compliance. 
  • The technology is being explored actively across FS, with trade finance, insurance, and capital markets proving especially active. Overall adoption is still low because of organizational and technical hurdles, but these are now being eliminated, promising to boost implementation.
  • A few FIs have pulled ahead of the curve and are very close to taking their DLT projects live, if they haven't already. These players can serve as useful case studies for other institutions in getting their DLT solutions live.

In full, the report:

  • Looks at what DLTs are, and why the FS industry is working hard to make use of them. 
  • Gives an overview of the financial segments which are seeing the most DLT activity, and what they stand to gain.
  • Outlines efforts being made to make DLT more approachable and usable for the FS industry.
  • Examines use cases in which FIs have managed to take their pilots live, and what they can teach their peers. 

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French Minister Bruno Le Marie Highlights Importance of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies

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

During this week’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, France’s minister of Finance Bruno Le Maire highlighted the importance bitcoin and cryptocurrencies may have in the world’s economy. Le Maire pointed out that France, along with Germany, called for cryptocurrencies to placed on G20’s agenda. The minister revealed that France will start working on cryptocurrency … Continued

The post French Minister Bruno Le Marie Highlights Importance of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies appeared first on CCN

United actually offered someone a $10,000 voucher for giving up her seat — and she live-tweeted the whole ordeal (UAL)

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

united airlines

  • A United Airlines passenger was offered a $10,000 voucher after she was bumped from an oversold flight.
  • She also allegedly received two $10 meal vouchers, but was unable to land access to the airline's lounge.
  • According to Preiss, United was eager to giver her a travel voucher instead of cash.


Nearly a year after United ignited controversy for dragging a passenger off an overbooked flight, a Twitter thread from one of the airline's passengers shows just how far the airline will go to avoid another incident.

According to tweets posted on Thursday, Allison Preiss was set to fly from Washington, D.C. to Austin for a friend's bachelorette party when the airline announced that her flight was oversold. According to Preiss, United offered a $1,000 travel credit to anyone who volunteered to wait for another flight. After no one took the offer, Preiss was allegedly bumped.

"They are kicking me off this flight," she tweeted

"@united IS THE WORST."

united $10,000 voucher

United then allegedly offered Preiss $2,000 in travel credit and tried to get her to sign a document asserting that she volunteered to give up her seat on the flight. According to Preiss, she asked for cash instead. Eventually, United offered Preiss a $10,000 travel credit, which she accepted.

"This is how badly United didn't want to give me cash," she wrote above what appears to be a photo of her $10,000 voucher.

"We issued this voucher per our policy," United told Business Insider in an email.

united $10,000 voucher

According to Preiss, she also received two $10 meal vouchers, but was unable to land access to the airline's lounge.

"On the upside, I wasn’t physically dragged off the plane and my dog wasn’t killed on board," she wrote.

In the past year, United has been unable to avoid customer service scandals. Last week, the airline had three dog-related incidents in which one died in the overhead bin of a United flight and two were sent to incorrect destinations. In response, the airline announced that it would temporarily stop transporting pets in the cargo holds of its aircraft while reviewing its PetSafe program and mark pets traveling in the cabin with brightly colored bag tags.

united $10,000 voucher

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

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NOW WATCH: Overstock CEO and bitcoin pioneer explains his long-standing crypto play and his philosophy on life

A $305 billion investment chief says markets are 'on a collision course for disaster'

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

crash test

  • Scott Minerd, chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners with $305 billion in assets under management, sees markets on a "collision course for disaster."
  • That's because he sees President Donald Trump's fiscal stimulus as ill-timed for the economy, and believes it will force the Federal Reserve to be more aggressive about raising interest rates.
  • Higher interest rates will cripple highly-indebted corporations in the next recession, which Minerd suggests could come as soon as 2020.

A poorly-timed fiscal stimulus from President Donald Trump's administration may have set global financial markets on a "collision course for disaster," according to Scott Minerd, Guggenheim Partners’ Chief Investment Officer.

Minerd, who manages $305 billion in assets, writes in a research note to be released later Friday that the Federal Reserve will be forced to be more aggressive in raising interest rates. He cites a combination of tax cuts and higher budget spending at a time when the economic recovery is already long in the tooth and unemployment is historically low.

This will spell trouble for a corporate sector that has loaded up on debt over the past few years.

Minerd sees strong economic growth this year and next followed by a potential downturn after 2019 — a painful one for which he believes neither the Federal Reserve nor the federal government will be well prepared.

"With the huge fiscal stimulus coming online, the Fed will feel obliged to play the role of creating economic headwinds," he wrote. "The collision will take place when the effects of fiscal stimulus begin to wear off and monetary policy keeps getting more and more restrictive."

Indeed, the Fed raised interest rates this week but also revised up its economic growth forecasts for this year and next, in large part because of the expected impact of fiscal policies. Fears of a more accelerated pace of interest rate increases have been weighing on markets, who are concerned the central bank could overshoot and cause a recession.

Minerd does not see a slump in the immediate future. But when it does come, it will be a deep, he says.

"We will enter the next recession with the highest debt load on record for corporate balance sheets,” writes Minerd, who has been recommending clients to dump their corporate bond holdings.

"In the last recession, consumption by households collapsed because their balance sheets were overburdened by debt, and it was the household sector that led us into the recession," he said.

"The next recession is going to emanate from the corporate sector. There is likely to be a sharp decline in employment and a sharp decline in profitability, followed by widening credit spreads as the market discounts the expectation of higher corporate defaults."

Look out below.

Corporate deb

SEE ALSO: 2 key risks are endangering the global economy, IMF says

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NOW WATCH: In 50 years we'll have 'robot angels' and will be able to merge our brains with AI, according to technology experts

$8K? Bitcoin Under Pressure After Rejection at Key Hurdle

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

Bitcoin's retreat from the 200-day moving average hurdle may yield a retest of the psychological support of $8,000.

A full-scale trade war with China would plunge the US into recession, an investment bank has warned

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

Trump Xi

  • US President Donald Trump's new tariffs and a robust verbal response from China have sparked fears of a global trade war.
  • Such a war could plunge the US into a recession and increase the number of unemployed citizens in the country by more than six million, according to investment bank Macquarie.
  • Even in a mild trade war, the USA could see its GDP growth shrink and become the slowest-growing major economy.


A global trade war would plunge the US into a recession and increase the number of unemployed citizens in the country by more than six million, according to a new analysis from investment bank Macquarie.

As President Donald Trump imposes another round of tariffs on Chinese imports into the USA, fears that a full-scale global trade war may be in the offing have intensified, but the impact of such a war remains uncertain.

Macquarie analysts Ric Deverell, Hayden Skilling, David Doyle, and Neil Shankar tried to shed some light on the issue, citing a paper released back in 2016 by the Peterson Institute for International Economics prior to Trump's victory in the presidential election.

In the scenario of a "full trade war" it is estimated that the US would enter a recession in 2019, while unemployment would more than double from current levels.

"In a full trade war scenario, in which China and Mexico impose identical tariffs on the US, inflationary pressure in the US increases alongside rising import prices, prompting the Fed to raise interest rates.

"Activity is further dampened by greater uncertainty, which pushes up spreads and the cost of capital, dragging on consumption and investment," Macquarie's note says.

"As a result, the US enters a recession in 2019, and the unemployment rate peaks at 8.6 percent in 2020."

Even if a so-called "full" trade war is avoided, there could still be big negative consequences. In a scenario the PIIE calls an "aborted trade war" — whereby the USA imposes tariffs for around a year before backing down — "the direction of the effects is similar, but the magnitude is much more benign."

"In this case, GDP growth troughs at 1.2 percent in 2018, while the unemployment rate peaks at 6.0 percent in 2019," the note warns.

A trade war is becoming more and more realistic a scenario, as rhetoric continues to escalate. China hit back at Trump's tariffs on Thursday, saying it will introduce its own trade barriers in response.

It is reportedly set to impose new a tariffs ranging from 15% to 25% on a slew of US goods, including pork, soybeans, steel pipe, recycled aluminium, and ethanol.

"China does not want a trade war with anyone," the Chinese embassy in Washington DC said in a statement Thursday.

"But China is not afraid of and will not recoil from a trade war. China is confident and capable of facing any challenge. If a trade war were initiated by the US, China would fight to the end to defend its own legitimate interests with all necessary measures."

While Trump's rhetoric has largely been directed at China, he has also placed tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium for the EU. The EU is currently trying to push Trump to suspend these tariffs, following similar exemptions for Canada and Mexico.

Markets are clearly worried about the prospect of a trade war, with stocks in North America, Europe, and Asia all selling off heavily during the last two days of trading.

SEE ALSO: 'China is not afraid of and will not recoil from a trade war': China strikes back at Trump with new tariffs as trade fight escalates

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NOW WATCH: Overstock CEO and bitcoin pioneer explains his long-standing crypto play and his philosophy on life

Cryptocurrency Market Drops $25 Billion, Bitcoin Below $8,500

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

Bitcoin has fallen below the $8,500 mark, merely 24 hours after surpassing $9,000. The entire cryptocurrency market has dropped $25 billion, and analysts suspect that the abrupt market decline was fueled by FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) surrounding Binance. Market Slumps Earlier this week, Japanese mainstream media outlet Nikkei reported that Binance was warned by the

The post Cryptocurrency Market Drops $25 Billion, Bitcoin Below $8,500 appeared first on CCN

European stocks dive as Trump's trade war frightens investors

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

trader upset worried scared angry

  • European stocks dived on Friday as fears surrounding a global trade war intensify.
  • All major indices on the continent are more than 1% lower in morning trade.
  • The falls follow a bloodbath session in Asia, where some indices lost as much as 4% during the day.
  • Drops have been triggered by President Donald Trump's announcement that the US will impose new tariffs on imports from China.


LONDON — European stocks are diving on Friday as part of a global market sell-off triggered by President Donald Trump's announcement that the US will impose new tariffs on imports from China.

Here's the scoreboard of the European markets at 8.50 a.m. GMT (4.50 a.m. ET):

Trump's tariffs, which act as a tax on imports, will apply to goods worth about $50 billion annually and hit industries from aerospace to pharmaceuticals. Additionally, the crackdown will limit certain types of Chinese investment into the US.

The tariffs are the latest step in Trump's escalating trade war and have spooked investors, who see them as a potential threat to global economic growth.

On Thursday, the fears sparked a sell-off in Europe and North America before spreading into Asia overnight. Japan's Nikkei closed down over 4% — it’s worst one-day fall since the market meltdown on February 6.

The sell-off continued into a second day on Friday as European markets opened lower. All the continent's major stock indices are down around 1% or more at close to 8.30 a.m. GMT (4.30 a.m. ET).

Germany is the worst hit "as there are still no clear answers as to whether Germany will be exempt from the steel and aluminium tariffs," according to Jasper Lawler, an analyst at London Capital Group.

Trade war rhetoric continues to escalate, after China hit back at President Trump last on Thursday, saying it will introduce its own trade barriers in response.

China is reportedly set to impose new a tariffs ranging from 15% to 25% on a slew of US goodsincluding pork, soybeans, steel pipe, recycled aluminium, and ethanol.

"China does not want a trade war with anyone," the Chinese embassy in Washington DC said in a statement Thursday. "But China is not afraid of and will not recoil from a trade war. China is confident and capable of facing any challenge. If a trade war were initiated by the US, China would fight to the end to defend its own legitimate interests with all necessary measures."

SEE ALSO: Global markets are tanking

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Overstock CEO and bitcoin pioneer explains his long-standing crypto play and his philosophy on life

'It's not hype': Why the CEO of $20 billion data company thinks blockchain 'has potential to be transformative'

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

Lance Uggla, IHS Markit CEO

  • Blockchain, the technology that underpins digital currencies like bitcoin, is much hyped for its potential application in mainstream finance and beyond.
  • IHS Markit CEO Lance Uggla tells BI "there’s a good chance" that blockchain "will be adopted in many marketplaces for many asset classes in the future."


LONDON — The CEO of $20 billion data giant IHS Markit thinks blockchain technology has the potential to be transformational in finance.

Lance Uggla told Business Insider: "Technology moves in leaps and bounds. Storage and compute power has been a step change from when I set up Markit. A 2 megabyte line into a barn was a big deal in 2002. We have 100 megabytes into our house now.

"I think the technology with blockchain, it has potential to be transformative, one of those leaps and bounds technological changes."

Blockchain, also known as distributed ledger technology, is a protocol first popularised by bitcoin. It allows for a ledger to be shared across multiple locations and parties, to be edited by group consent, and to be uneditable once changes are agreed thanks to complex cryptography.

'It’s not hype, it's real'

"There are applications to use distributed ledger technology to assist that transference of ownership or identity and, therefore, we’re a company that’s actively involved in many proof of concepts to look at the application of the technology to our existing products," Uggla told BI at the Innovate Finance conference in London this week

IHS Markit is working on 5 blockchain proof of concepts around the processing of leveraged loans, foreign exchange, KYC processes, derivative processing, and the transfer of ownership of derivatives.

Uggla said: "It’s not hype, it’s actually real leveraging of new technologies to improve service that are offered to market participants today. Improve might be that you can transfer ownership faster, more securely, accurately, and if you can do that with distributed ledger technology, better than the existing technologies, then there’s an opportunity for it."

'Huge potential'

Uggla is not alone in touting the potential of blockchain technologies in finance. Many other senior financial figures have spoken about the technology's promise including Bank of England governor Mark Carney who said it could "transform" payments, clearing, and settlement.

Keith Skeoch, the CEO of asset management giant Standard Life Aberdeen, said in a speech at the International Fintech conference in London on Thursday that blockchain has "huge potential in our view and we’re working with a number of suppliers to explore various projects."

One idea is to use blockchain tech to allow Standard Life Aberdeen investors to have a say on how asset management should vote at company AGMs, Skeoch said.

'A good chance' of widespread adoption

Uggla told BI said mainstream adoption of the technology is "probably five to 10 years" away and said the transition to a blockchain-based financial system would not necessarily be a smooth one.

"What you have to understand though is there are already large scale networks that transfer ownership and those would need to be replaced," he said.

"We have to be thinking about what are the infrastructure implications of change? Are they affordable? And then, if they are affordable how long will it take to change? In the implementation, is anyone disintermediated that doesn’t want to be, so will they fight? And two, through that disruption, is there any chance for error that could create a different issue?"

But he added: "There’s a good chance that distributed ledger technologies will be adopted in many marketplaces for many asset classes in the future."

Uggla started Markit in 2003 from a barn in St Albans, near London. He led the business to a $4.3 billion listing on the NASDAQ stock exchange in 2014 and a merger with data provider IHS in 2016. The combined group is worth close to $20 billion.

SEE ALSO: Mark Carney: Blockchain could 'transform' payments, clearing, and settlement

DON'T MISS: The CEO of a $20 billion financial data company tells us why he won't touch 'wild West' cryptocurrencies

NEXT UP: IHS Markit CEO on London: 'Regardless of Brexit, we’ll be here running our company'

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

City Minister: There could be 'a stable, flourishing cryptocurrency exchange in London' with the right regulation

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

John Glen MP.

  • The UK government announced a crypto task force on Thursday.
  • John Glen MP said: "We remain agnostic and are engaged in trying to find the right narrative and the right level of regulation if that’s appropriate."
  • He said there could be a "flourishing" crypto exchange in London if the government gets it right.
  • The current level of cryptocurrency trading doesn't pose a risk to the UK economy, City Minister said.


LONDON — Cryptocurrencies don't pose a risk to the UK economy and any regulation of the sector will be "proportionate," according to Britain's City minister John Glen.

British Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a new cryptocurrency "task force" on Thursday, featuring representatives from the Treasury, the Bank of England, and the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK's regulator. The task force's mandate is to "manage the risks around crypto assets, as well as harnessing the potential benefits," Hammond said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Treasury's International Fintech conference on Thursday, John Glen MP told journalists: "We are seeing great excitement, some wariness, and also I think some misunderstandings. We remain agnostic and are engaged in trying to find the right narrative and the right level of regulation if that’s appropriate."

Cryptocurrencies have exploded in popularity over the last year and the global market is now worth over $300 billion. Regulators and governments around the world have been scrambling to catch up, with many left flat-footed by its rapid growth.

"The issue is, how do we regulate or not, how do we enable or not, based on the blend of opportunities and risks that may exist in this new technology," Glen said.

Stressing the opportunities, he added: "Regulation could be an enabler of a stable, flourishing cryptocurrency exchange in the City of London."

Cryptocurrency exchanges have sprung up across the US and Asia but there are as yet no meaningful UK players in the market, although startups such as the London Block Exchange are trying to change that.

The largest exchanges turn over hundreds of millions of dollars a day and crypto startups have raised billions. Some jurisdictions such as Switzerland and Gibraltar have taken an accommodative approach to regulation in a bid to get a slice of the burgeoning industry. Others, such as the US and China, have sought to rein in the market, which has been plagued by scams and security breaches.

Glen said: "I think it’s right that we take appropriate — not really cautious, but proportionate — steps to evaluate it before we act as a government.”

The junior minister said he expected the task force to deliver early findings "in short order." "We don’t want this to be kicked into the grass," he said.

He said the government is "conscious that there’s a lot of interest and activity in this space" but added: "I’ve had initial guidance that at the moment the scale of the activity in the UK — cryptocurrency trading, blockchain technology — is not posing any significant risk to the UK economy."

SEE ALSO: Britain is getting a cryptocurrency task force

DON'T MISS: The crypto-friendly Gibraltar Stock Exchange is doing its own ICO

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

China's Baidu gets approval to test self-driving cars in Beijing, days after fatal Uber crash in the US

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

A fleet of vehicles equipped with Baidu’s autonomous driving technologies conduct road testing in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, China in an undated photo.   Courtesy of Baidu/Handout via REUTERS

  • Tech giant Baidu has received Beijing's first licenses to test self-driving vehicles on the capital city's roads.
  • The cars, which are permitted to travel on 33 roads spanning 105 kilometers (65 miles), took their first drive in Beijing on Thursday.
  • Earlier this month a self-driving Uber was involved in a fatal crash in Arizona, raising questions of the technology's safety.
  • While Uber and Toyota have temporarily halted self-driving testing, Baidu is pushing forward as China tries to position itself as a leader in autonomous vehicles.


China’s capital city has given the green light to tech giant Baidu Inc to test self-driving cars on city streets, just days after an autonomous Uber vehicle killed a woman in Arizona.

Beijing gave Baidu, best known as China’s version of search engine Google, a permit to test its autonomous vehicles on 33 roads spanning around 105 kilometers (65 miles) in the city’s less-populated suburbs, the firm said in a statement.

It is the first company to receive licenses to conduct open road tests in Beijing, and five cars ventured onto public roads in the Daxing district on Thursday.

"With supportive policies, we believe that Beijing will become a rising hub for the autonomous driving industry," Baidu Vice-President Zhao Cheng said in the statement. "We hope to work with more partners to pave the way for the full development of autonomous driving."

There is growing scrutiny on safety globally after a fatal accident involving an Uber self-driving car in Tempe, Arizona earlier this month. The autonomous Uber, which was driving at about 64 kph (40 mph) at the time, did not slow down for a pedestrian who was hit and later died.

It is thought to be the first time a pedestrian has been killed by an autonomous vehicle. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash but the local police chief said "Uber would likely not be at fault in this incident."

Despite this, the company has reportedly paused all self-driving operations in Tempe, San Francisco, and Toronto and a number of other companies, including Toyota, followed suit.

"Because Toyota Research Institute (TRI) feels the incident may have an emotional effect on its test drivers, TRI has decided to temporarily pause its own Chauffeur mode testing on public roads," Toyota told Business Insider.

There have also been calls for companies to be more transparent about the use of self-driving technology with the public.

But in China, Baidu is leading the push for driverless technology, with Beijing keen to keep up with global rivals such as Waymo, the self-driving arm of Google parent Alphabet and Tesla.

China issued licenses to auto makers allowing self-driving vehicles to be road tested in Shanghai earlier this month, which included Shanghai-based SAIC Motor Corp Ltd and electric vehicle start-up NIO.

Regulations in the sector are, however, still catching up with fast growth and increasing numbers of firms wanting to carry out tests on public roads.

Baidu Chief Executive Robin Li tested his firm’s driverless car on Beijing’s roads last July, stirring controversy as there were no rules for such a test at the time. The firm hopes to get self-driving cars onto the roads in China by 2019.

In September last year Baidu announced a $1.5 billion autonomous driving fund, with plans to invest in 100 autonomous driving projects over the next three years.

SEE ALSO: Beijing police are using facial-recognition glasses to identify car passengers and number plates

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

Coinbase In Talks to Buy Bitcoin Startup Earn.com

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

U.S. crypto exchange provider Coinbase is in talks to purchase Earn.com, formerly 21.

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