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1 in 3 Millennials View Bitcoin as Currency of Choice for Freelancers

1 in 3 Millennials View Bitcoin as Currency of Choice for Freelancers

The results of a recent survey into the preferences of American freelancers by P2P platform Humans.net has revealed that 29% of professionals in the US would be happy to receive either a full or part salary payment in cryptocurrency.

Among the 1,100 US respondents in the survey were self-employed professionals such as self-employed writers, tutors, designers, and developers, of which 4% were already in receipt of some form of salary, in either Bitcoin or Ethereum.

Some 18% of the respondents, who were chosen randomly and not pre-screened prior to selection, said that they would prefer to be paid in Bitcoin or another digital currency over a fiat salary. An additional 11% said that we would not be averse to some kind of partial payment comprising both cryptocurrency and fiat. This resulted in a 29% thumbs-up among survey respondents for some kind of crypto salary.

The age group of freelance professionals in this field is generally millennials based, such is the nature of innovation and design in fintech, attracting many college leavers. A new Clovr survey of investment potential, conducted in October, positioned high-earning millennials at the center stage when it comes to owning cryptocurrency.

These latest figures confirm the results of other surveys conducted this year, showing that it is millennials with money who appear to be taking on cryptocurrency in ever-increasing numbers. This is partly due to the lack of investment options in tradition areas. The Clovr study shows that it is those with annual incomes of between USD 75,000 and USD 99,999 that have become serious investors.

The number of those self-employed professionals looking toward a Bitcoin-based salary was illustrated by another recent survey conducted by British tech company, Sage, that highlighted the fact that across the Atlantic UK freelancers were also keen to receive some kind of crypto-fiat salary payment. The UK survey of 1,000 suggested that similar to the US survey, 31% of Brits would also go for a Bitcoin salary payment should it be offered. Darren Francis, who commissioned the survey commented:

“It’s interesting that more people were leaning towards the “all-in” option; having their sole or dominant income paid to them in cryptocurrency.”

The one emerging fact from the two surveys is that the dip in the value of Bitcoin over past weeks has done little to dampen millennials’ enthusiasm for acquiring the digital currency during this period of market instability, whether it be as part of their salary or a simple purchase. Bitcoin at time of writing is priced at USD 3,884.41 on CoinMarketCap.

 

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GM Extends Blockchain Use Case Beyond Fintech into Driverless Cars

GM Extends Blockchain Use Case Beyond Fintech into Driverless Cars

General Motors (GM) may be among the few legacy industries who are expanding the use case of blockchain technology beyond the financial sector. This interest became clear in a patent application submitted on Thursday submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent application published on 29 November by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), details how blockchain will be applied to manage interoperable data systems for automobiles. Focused on how self-driving cars would store and share data on a distributed ledger, the company wants to extend blockchain applications beyond the current fintech usage. The document reads:

“Blockchain technology while associated with use in the financial sector has applicability to the non-financial sector and in this case, for use with autonomous and non-autonomous vehicle technologies.”

The document further explains how data stored can be shared easily among the blockchain users. More so, the blockchain-based data has an intrinsic role to play in navigation, explaining:

“It is desirable to provide locations information and densities of vehicles in regions in an online blockchain ledger for interoperable information sharing between vehicles of participants for use in navigating routes.”

In the document, there’s also a proposed use to exchange data between municipalities, local authorities, and public facilities such as the airports. The essence here is to operate a seamless, verification system among the various entities. It states explicitly that they’ll “implement a common blockchain exchange… [for] validity of permits and licenses to operate as hacks, taxis, or other for-hire services”.

More so, the taxi ticketing industry can profit from it as it can use the blockchain’s perks in storing and sharing data on the immutable ledger.

GM has been making efforts to advance blockchain in the automobile industry. It’s part of a consortium called Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) set up to create a wholesome environment for the transition of the automobile industry into the blockchain space.

 

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China Warns Fintech Revolution Potentially At Risk Without Rules

China Warns Fintech Revolution Potentially At Risk Without Rules

The president of a major financial investment platform has suggested that the sheer numbers of fintech companies setting up in China represents a risk to the country’s development as a major hub because of lack of controls.

Vince Zhang, President of Phoenix Finance, was speaking on Day 3 of CNBC’s East Tech West on 29 November 2018 in Guangzhou. He suggested that many of the country’s fintech firms could be unsound due to lack of strict operating checks and balances, making them unsuitable in the long term for consumers. It is estimated that there are now tens of thousands of such companies operating in mainland China.

Zhang went on to say that this factor means that China’s fintech revolution is potentially at “a very big risk” due to this lack of competent management. He stated:

“A lot of companies are not [there] in terms of their business plan, in terms of their risk management process, in terms of their overall management… A lot of these corporate control mechanisms are not in place.”

Zang maintains that China’s so named “fintech revolution” has caused the numbers of fintech firms to swell over the past two years in a surge to attract unbanked consumers. He said that although other sectors may survive, he sees the financial sector in danger of coming under increased pressure: “For anything related to financial services, [it] is pretty dangerous.”

Phoenix Finance’s president suggests that better regulation is key to solving this potential problem and feels that the issue will get the attention from government regulators next year as the risks to China’s fintech developmental plans for the future become more evident. He argued that regulation will reduce the number of companies currently operating financial services:

“Without proper risk control mechanism personnel, without proper ways of communicating with regulation, it’s potentially becoming a very big risk going forward… I would predict in 2019 it’s becoming more regulated… There will be less and less players in this field.”

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the central government’s internet censor, is drafting a policy framework which, once formulated will be used for regulating blockchain projects in the country.

The new regulation, when established, will apply specifically to both individual and institutional providers of blockchain services, whether by laptop or mobile, referring to providers as “entities or nodes”.

 

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Russia, India Seek Common Ground in Blockchain, AI Development

India and Russia have issued a joint statement indicating that both countries are to cooperate in areas such as fintech, tourism, and AI.

Further dialogues are due to take place between Russia’s minister of economic development Maxim Oreshkin and National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) vice chairman Rajiv Kumar.

The published statement after the first India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue held in St Petersburg last week stated: “Both sides agreed to explore joint working arrangements and pilot projects in healthcare, proposed setting up of a single-window clearance.”

India has been proactive in its support of new technologies in the financial sector, despite taking a punitive stance on cryptocurrency trading largely headed by the country’s central bank. Only recently, SWIFT India and MonetaGo teamed up to form a pilot shared DLT network in order to upgrade Indian bank services, facilitating fraud prevention and security.

NITI Aayog is a policy think tank of the government of India, established with the aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and to enhance cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of state governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach.

The country’s prime minister Narendra Modi has made his views abundantly clear that new technologies should be implemented to improve the lives of all Indians. Last month he stated:

“New emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, blockchain, big data will help India move forward, provide employment to people and improve every Indian’s life. Industry is a process and technology is a tool. However, the ultimate goal is to change the life of the last person waiting in the queue.”

Modi also sees farming as a main beneficiary of new technology, recently commenting, “The responsibility of helping our farmers rests on the shoulders of the new generation… There is one important technology in agriculture-artificial intelligence. In the coming days, blockchain technology will also play a huge role.”

Both countries are increasingly looking towards utilizing blockchain’s potential within fintech and other sectors. Recently, Russian state-owned bank Sberbank revealed details of a partnership with major state-run power company Rosseti, which includes the promotion of emerging technologies such as blockchain.

Together, the pair plan to collaborate on a number of projects with the joint aims of advancing blockchain in Russia, and developing its own internal expertise. A press release detailing the partnerships reads that they will work on educational projects and research trials with one another.

 

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Financial Companies Need IT Infrastructural Overhaul to Match Blockchain Tech

With the rising tide of cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications in FinTech industry, financial firms may have to replace their IT infrastructural systems to keep up with the technology. This was a shared sentiment by experts at the ScotChain18 event in Edinburgh, Scotland, reports Scotsman.

The event hosted by MBN Solutions and blockchain specialist Spiritus, rallied experts from finance and blockchain sectors to discuss the impact of the rise of blockchain on commerce. Subjects touched included regulatory challenges the blockchain poses to governments globally, cryptocurrency and blockchain standards, and new business strategy outlook for organizations exploring cryptocurrency’s underlying technology.

A prominent misconception that was addressed, was the notion that current IT infrastructures could handle the data structures of the blockchain. Jeremy Drane of crypto-systems firm Libra debunked this assumption saying:

“The data is just so different that their systems can’t work with it”. While further sharing his experience when educating his customers who are rather complacent with their old systems, he emphasized that there are “minute differences between data structures” which would not allow the system to work. His recommendation often was to “buy new than repurpose” old software.

During the conference, Casey Kuhlman, CEO of smart contract provider Monax, emphasized the need for standards within the industry. His concern was about the “immature” nature of the blockchain and the fact that each cryptocurrency employed “different tech” made it hard for a clear value proposition. However, he was a strong proponent of the blockchain project happening in Cambridge stating that:

“Projects like the one happening in Cambridge will give much-needed clarity and let us talk about cryptocurrency in a more distinguished way”.

Apparently, the greater impact will be felt in business operations, as organizations will have to adjust their strategies to accommodate the changes brought about by the distributed ledger technology. The CEO of MBN Solutions, Michael Young viewed the blockchain as a “new order” and that organizations may have to “adapt to new business strategies” which will impact traditional IT infrastructures to be able to support this new order.

On a general note, blockchain data array systems are tailored to different financial services being provided. And for any traditional IT infrastructure to evolve, they may have to adapt their systems to accommodate these variables.

 

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Inclusion of Pro-Blockchain Gibraltar Minister in DC Panel Positive Sign for US Regulation

The Gibraltar Minister for Commerce, Albert Isola, has urged the DC Fintech Week panel to ”collectively strive towards fintech excellence” while sharing his views on regulatory competition in the blockchain industry. The inclusion of a well-known pro-blockchain speaker on the mainstream panel discussion is a promising indicator for the future of the technology in the US, as Isola shared ideas of regulation surrounding the nascent industry.

Visiting upon invitation, Isola discussed his experiences and ideas regarding regulatory competition, including that relevant to his expertise in blockchain. The minister participated in a panel discussion at the second annual DC Fintech Week entitled ‘Making or Taking Innovation?, Regulatory Competition and the Race for Fintech Dominance’, with an audience comprising of academics, lawmakers, policymakers and regulators.

Isola said that his participation gave Gibraltar a chance to prove its ambitions on the global stage as a leader in shaping blockchain regulation, adding, ”As ever, Gibraltar continues to punch above its weight, and is fast becoming an assertive voice in an increasingly noisy space.”

The panel was joined by a number of experts from the fintech and cybersecurity sectors, including Peter Kerstens, Co-Chair of European Commission Fintech Taskforce, and Sharon Yang, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Financial Markets at the US Treasury.

The Gibraltan minister frequently acts as a spokesman for the country’s progressive blockchain and cryptocurrency policies, participating in conferences globally to share the concepts that have fostered the industries internally. Gibraltar remains in competition with its fellow European nation of Malta to gain status as the most crypto-friendly country in the region.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has been a critic of the cryptocurrency industry, with the US generally failing to be recognized as a hospitable nation for blockchain start-ups.

 

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Hong Kong Stock Exchange Looks to Blockchain and Fintech Acquisitions

Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) has announced that it is considering investments in blockchain and other fintech companies through acquisitions next year.

If this materializes, it will represent a change in direction for the exchange which has close relationships with China. Hong Kong, being an autonomous territory of China, has a political system independent from the rest of the country, affecting both the economy and its commercial system. Many Chinese businesses have moved their operations to Hong Kong after China’s crackdown on ICOs and cryptocurrency in general. These included the world’s largest exchange, Binance, which moved from Beijing to Hong Kong and other locations around the globe to escape punitive legislation.

The territory is now laying claim to becoming a major hub for cryptocurrency and blockchain in the region, even creating a recent “talent list” to employ more industry professionals to support its DLT focus in the years to come through a new employment program. A fintech lead at InvestHK reflected on Hong Kong’s push towards blockchain:

“Blockchain is a very high priority for us. There is hype, and there is the fast grab of money with ICOs in some cases. But what we are looking at building here in Hong Kong is an infrastructure for new businesses and existing businesses, to make sure the technology and innovations remain a key enabler for financial sector growth.”

Unconfirmed sources suggest that Charles Li, CEO of HKEX, is now looking at blockchain and has had meetings with both potential start-ups and established companies. Concern remains about the current poor relationship between China and the US, and how this might affect businesses in Hong Kong. This is a possible reason why the exchange is considering adopting its own venture capital model similar to that of Nasdaq.

Earlier this month, HKEX senior managers had discussed possible acquisitions and more, the results of which will be revealed next year. Banny Lam, head of research at CEB International Investment, told Bloomberg, “The strategy is in the right direction but it is not easy to achieve the targets. HKEX needs to maintain a momentum of growth by exploring new businesses.”

In March, Financial Times reported that HKEX was collaborating with the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) to implement blockchain. Perhaps, this is an indication of the direction the exchange is willing to take when it reveals its plans next year. Blockchain company acquisitions may be on the table.

 

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Abu Dhabi Regulator Wants Internationally Standardized Crypto Regulation

Abu Dhabi’s head financial regulator has called for internationally standardized regulations for cryptocurrencies in order to prevent both criminal activities and their negative impacts on the image of virtual currencies.

Richard Teng, head of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) spoke at the country’s fintech event this week where he detailed the necessity for increased regulation of the space.

“This space needs to be properly regulated, otherwise there is the risk of financial crime… Every time a coin gets stolen or lost, it affects the confidence in this asset class,” Teng shared with the audience.

He continued, saying that he has full confidence in the country’s own ”comprehensive regime.” By sharing Abu Dhabi’s experience with global regulators including the US Securities and Exchange Commission, he hopes to bring a stronger trust in cryptocurrency to investors and governments alike.

International AML Laws Coming

Teng’s sentiment is popular among international regulatory leaders. On Wednesday, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) announced that they are a step closer to establishing global anti-money laundering (AML) policies for cryptocurrencies, with a FATF plenary scheduled in October.

During this discussion period, the task force consisting of 35 member jurisdictions and 2 regional organizations hope to agree upon what existing standards need to be adjusted in relation to cryptocurrencies, and what action the states need to take to uphold this.

The agency’s president Marshall Billingslea echoed Teng’s opinions in saying that the standards need to be applied in an internationally standardized way. Billingslea described the current AML policies as ”very much a patchwork quilt or spotty process” which leaves major vulnerabilities in financial systems on an international and state scale.

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New Australian PM Wants to Use Blockchain to Take On Big Banks

The Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison plans to utilize blockchain technology to bring ‘much tougher competition’ to the country’s big banks and dominant industries.

Cryptocurrency is increasingly becoming an important topic for politicians to formulate their stance on. Several weeks after Morrison’s election, he was questioned by reporters on his views, to which he shared some exciting ideas for blockchain use cases in Australia.

In a recently surfaced video, a reporter asked the new Prime Minister: “Would you accept the innovation of cryptocurrencies to ease some of the inefficiencies in the banking sector?”

He replied saying that he had spent a lot of time looking at cryptocurrencies during his time in the treasury, but no, he didn’t think the answer is as simple as that. Forwarding his elaboration with “let me be nerdy for a sec,” he swung into an appraisal of cryptocurrencies core technology, blockchain.

Morrison noted that the contributions of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain in the financial sector have, and will, open more ”massive opportunities.” He further shared with the reporters that the Australian banking system will be able to utilize these technologies to transform areas of consumer data rights, open banking reforms, and new legislation.

The primary benefit of blockchain as he sees it, however, is its ability to deliver a new level of tough competition with the big banks, forcing them into a more client-friendly practice. He said ”Business as usual’ for the big banks won’t be continuing… Smaller banks and new technologies can be used to give greater power to customers.”

With many people in the crypto community sharing similar sentiments and appreciating the personal banking empowerment cryptocurrency gives them, Morrison is sure to become a popular figure among them.

The politician would seem to be true to his word as he has recently spent a part of his career pushing for more favorable domestic policies regarding cryptocurrency. During his time as treasurer in 2016, he helped create legislation that would remove the unfair double taxation that the government collected on cryptocurrencies.

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Rise of the Blockchain Research Lab: The Latest Trend in Crypto

Blockchain labs are becoming increasingly more prevalent in the industry for research as a backbone to a sound strategy of strong blockchain development.

In the current climate, companies are searching for solid foundations on which to build projects. Research and development projects created in the labs are beginning to offer startups this security. Labs can highlight the opportunities available and long-term potential of a given project prior to companies diving into the deep end untested.

The lab trend is growing. Cardano, for example, is one platform which has been established with a research-based approach. Blockchain development firm IOHK, led by Charles Hoskinson, launched Cardano last year using its peer-reviewed academic research driven base to consider the needs of both users and regulators. Funding will be utilized to finance research staff, PhD studentships and a virtualized blockchain environment moving into the future.

As reported last month by Bitcoin News, even the Russian military has announced its own blockchain lab, this time targeting cybercrime in the country’s military infrastructure information systems. The ministry has initiated a program to enhance cybersecurity by setting up a special unit using a unique research laboratory at the Anapa-based ERA technopark, in order to track the origins of cyber assaults. The unit will now use blockchain technology to improve the systems database security.

In June, the National Mathematics and Interdisciplinary Science Centre at the Chinese Academy of Sciences created the Big Data and Blockchain Lab, in a partnership with Beijing Tai Yun Technology Company. This new laboratory aims to explore blockchain technology with mathematics in order to make critical improvements.

Again in China, the Digital Currency Research Lab of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has announced that it is to expand its blockchain research efforts, by launching a new fintech center in Nanjing, in Jiangsu Province, with other cities yet to be announced, also located outside of the capital Beijing.

The goal of these labs is to develop programs to trial in banks and academic institutions such as PBoC’s Jiangsu branch, the Bank of Jiangsu and the University of Nanjing.

 

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