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Change the way we do business

download-1Banks think it could be the future of financial transactions, while diamond miners hope it will help end the trade in conflict diamonds.

And this week the UK’s chief scientific adviser encouraged the British government to adopt the technology.

But what exactly is it and why is it causing such a stir? Technology of Business (tries) to explain.

Does it have anything to do with bicycles?

No. Blockchain is a method of recording data – a digital ledger of transactions, agreements, contracts – anything that needs to be independently recorded and verified as having happened.

The big difference is that this ledger isn’t stored in one place, it’s distributed across several, hundreds or even thousands of computers around the world.

But how does it work exactly?

Digital records are lumped together into “blocks” then bound together cryptographically and chronologically into a “chain” using complex mathematical algorithms.

This encryption process, known as “hashing” is carried out by lots of different computers. If they all agree on the answer, each block receives a unique digital signature.

“You don’t store details of the transaction, just the fact that it happened and the hash of the transaction,” explains Adrian Nish, head of threat intelligence at BAE Systems.

Once updated, the ledger cannot be altered or tampered with, only added to, and it is updated for everyone in the network at the same time.

What’s so clever about that?

Well, the distributed nature of a blockchain database means that it’s harder for hackers to attack it – they would have to get access to every copy of the database simultaneously to be successful.

It also keeps data secure and private because the hash cannot be converted back into the original data – it’s a one-way process.

So if the original document or transaction were subsequently altered, it would produce a different digital signature, alerting the network to the mismatch.

In theory then, the blockchain method makes fraud and error less likely and easier to spot.

Is this a new thing?

The idea has been around for a couple of decades, but came to prominence in 2008 with the invention of Bitcoin, the digital currency.

Bitcoins are created by computers solving complex mathematical puzzles and this requires lots of computing power and electricity. Blockchain is the technology underpinning it.

But there isn’t just one program – lots of companies, from Ethereum to Microsoft, are developing their own blockchain services. Some are open to all (“unpermissioned”, in the jargon), others restrict access to a select group (“permissioned”).

Why are the banks so excited?

“Banks do very similar things to each other, even though they compete,” says Simon Taylor, vice-president of blockchain research and development at Barclays.

“They basically keep our money safe and a big computer keeps track of who has what. But getting these computers to talk to each other is remarkably complex and expensive – the tech is getting a little old,” he says.

If banks started sharing data using a tailor-made version of blockchain it could remove the need for middlemen, a lot of manual processing, and speed up transactions, says Mr Taylor, thereby reducing costs.

Banks Technology

downloadThat was the key message emerging last week from FinTech City London, a series of events for financial services technology professionals organised by the CEO Agenda and Icon Corporate Finance.

Fintech, as financial services technology is modishly called, is enabling nimbler, hi-tech companies to re-engineer most financial activities, from payments processing to personal loan applications, and cut out the middleman.

It’s what Clayton Christensen, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, calls “disruptive innovation“.

While the things we do with money – save, borrow, invest, spend – have not changed much over the centuries, the way we interact with financial institutions is “drastically changing”, said Alex Scandurra, director of innovation strategy and business development at Barclays.

‘The micro multinational’

And that’s largely to do with mobile, open-source databases and cloud computing. About three-quarters of the UK population owns a smartphone, and there are more than five billion mobile phones globally.

“As a result of the proliferation of technology, digital, and now mobile with it, the barriers to entry have significantly decreased,” said Mr Scandurra. “Now we’re seeing that teams of 10 to 15 people can actually take on the large incumbents all around the world.”

Whereas big financial institutions have to cater for a mass market and try to please everybody, small fintech companies can focus on niche markets, globally spread. They can form what futurist and writer Alvin Toffler called “the micro multinational”.

One such company is Funding Circle, the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending service launched in 2010, which aims to provide businesses with access to loan funding while providing investors with a decent return on their money. Its 65,000-plus investors have lent over £208m to UK businesses so far.

In March 2013, the UK government began lending £20m to British businesses through Funding Circle as part of its Business Finance Partnership scheme.

Co-founder and chief executive Samir Desai said that while his company had certainly benefited from the 2008-13 banking crisis and the consequent collapse of trust in High Street banks, it is new open-source technologies and databases that have enabled P2P lending companies to grow.

“Every loan that goes through Funding Circle is funded on average by 700 different people,” he said “Those loans can then be bought and sold by other investors through a secondary market. So we have as many mini-loans going through our system as any bank, and thousands of secondary market transactions going through each day.

“We couldn’t have done that without these new open-source technologies.”

New credit scoring system?

Open-source databases that anyone can access and adapt, such as Hadoop and Cassandra, can process and structure vast amounts of data from a wide and growing range of sources, including social media, helping P2P lenders and other financial companies assess creditworthiness to much higher degrees of accuracy than before.

“Banks haven’t started to embrace these new types of technology,” said Mr Desai. “So we can lend to businesses they wouldn’t even consider.”

So now even your Twitter comments could affect whether or not you’re granted a loan, and companies like Facebook could end up displacing old-fashioned credit reference agencies.

Giles Andrews, chief executive and co-founder of Zopa, a more established P2P lender founded in 2005 that has lent more than £455m to individuals and sole traders, agrees that customer data – its efficient collection and analysis – is key to success these days.

“The business is not a bank and I’m not a banker,” he added. “We’re more of a data company.”

This is why Zopa has just hired its first ever chief data scientist, he said, who comes not from a bank, but from Amazon, the online retailer.

Legacy issue

Newer fintech companies are not encumbered by old technology, the so-called legacy systems that traditional banks struggle to integrate with newer software and hardware.

The Lloyds Banking Group IT glitch, which affected debit card and cash machine transactions at the weekend, is the latest in a long line of big bank technology problems.

“It’s an opportunity for the new challengers who don’t have that legacy issue,” said Sue Langley, chief executive of UK Trade & Investment’s Financial Services Organisation, “because it’s much easier with a blank sheet of paper to…. come up with something new.”

“The banks have an increasing need for technology,” said Mark Boleat, chair of the City of London’s policy and resources committee. “Some of that comes from their huge IT departments, but an awful lot of it is coming from new and start-up businesses.”

Alex McCracken, director of ventures groups at Silicon Valley Bank’s UK arm, believes we will see a polarisation in financial services, with global all-you-can-eat banks serving multinationals at one end, and small, technology-driven niche players serving local needs at the other.

“Corporates and small businesses are going to be able to pick and choose their niche service providers,” he said.

The mouse that roared

Mobile payment companies like Square, simpler direct debit providers like GoCardless, and foreign currency specialists like The Currency Cloud, all are offering financial services at lower cost and greater convenience through clever use of the latest technologies.

Are the big banks running scared?

Last week, US banking giant Wells Fargo banned some of its staff from investing in for-profit P2P lending companies, such as Lending Club and Prosper, admitting that they were competitors.

That is the wrong approach, argues Barclays’ Alex Scandurra. His bank is collaborating more with tech entrepreneurs and start-ups, as well as offering non-banking products such as Cloud It, an online data storage service.

He calls the approach “amplification through collaboration”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband may want to increase competition by forcing big UK banks to offload High Street branches, but to many observers, this is a red herring.

A hunting ground for cybercriminals

download-2The interconnectivity of social media means it is a perfect hunting ground for illegal activity, and increasingly people are realising that their “friend” many not actually be their friend.

Cybercrime on social networks can be broken down into three categories:

  • the traditional broad-sweep scams, trying to lure you to click on something or visit pages that will push malware on to your computer
  • searching for careless public exposure of personal data
  • using social media as a platform to connect, exchange ideas and trade stolen information

Malware, scams and ransomware

The first category is the most widespread.

“The problem with social media is that people have an inherent trust,” explains Mark James, security specialist with IT security firm ESET. “And that is what is being tapped into by those cybercriminals.”

“People still believe that you have to click on something and download a file to be infected,” he says.

“This really isn’t the case anymore. There are things like drive-by-downloads, infected adverts and things like that. It’s very easy to be compromised on your machines.”

In many cases the initial malware is just a gateway into the system. It doesn’t do any real harm, yet. But once a back door is established to the infected computer, that access may then be put up for sale.

A package of data offering, of access to thousands of infected computers, will be snapped up by another criminal for use in a variety of ways.

With access to the computers received, criminals may then install software which, say, hijacks the victim’s online banking, or reads usernames and passwords.

One of the most profitable scams is installing ransomware, malicious software that encrypts the data on a victim’s computer and then asks for payment before restoring the system to its original state.

Reconnaissance

Social media is also an ideal hunting ground for anyone who has a clear target to attack, be it an individual or a company.

If you want to see who works in which company and in which position, or who they are friends with professionally and privately, this information can often be easily picked up on social media.

Any attack on a specific individual will be much easier if the target has made a lot of private information publicly available on their profiles.

If the target is a corporation, it is easy to single out an individual or a group of employees, and then target their machines in a focused attack. And once one machine in a network is affected, getting access to the entire structure is not difficult.

“There’s such a big crossover between your personal social media accounts and the impact you can cause within a corporate environment,” warns Michael Sentonas, vice president of technology strategy at cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike.

“Most organisations allow their users to connect to Facebook, to Instagram, to Twitter and other platforms and that’s where an attack – even if it was targeted at a home user – can have a significant impact on the workplace.”

Putting up defences

“Our only effective protection is a multilayered approach,” Mr James of ESET explains. “There’s no single protection anymore, there’s no magic bullet or single piece of software that’s going to protect us.”

While security software is important, it’s only a first step. It is a cat and mouse game where the bad guys produce the malware and the good guys try to produce the means to stop it.

Every Single Investor Needs To Have The Appropriate App To Aid Them With Stock Trading

Stock trading indicates monitoring the stocks just as much as is possible to make sure the individual will not overlook a chance to sell or buy stocks. Nonetheless, this might not be simple to achieve because somebody might have a full-time occupation and a family to be able to care for. However, it won’t have to be unattainable for the individual to try and do. With better technology, it is easier than ever for someone to successfully keep close track of the stocks and also make sure they are able to make more cash from the stocks.

An individual who is actually serious about making as much as is feasible from the stocks might wish to look for an app they’re able to use on their own mobile phone to make sure they are able to keep on top of the stocks all of the time. These kinds of apps offer help to watch specific stocks and also to be able to recognize the moment nearly anything changes. A person may want to proceed to Read What He Said to be able to find out much more about exactly why it’s very crucial to have apps that may help a person keep an eye on the stock market anytime they may be trying to get going or whenever they’ll know already just what they’re doing.

Anybody who will be serious about making use of apps to be able to assist them with stock trading might desire to have a peek at this web-site. They are able to discover a lot more information on the apps that happen to be available today and make sure they’re able to locate the correct one for their own needs. Most of these apps will help them stay on top of the stocks by telling them anytime a stock they may be paying attention to changes or helping them connect to the most up-to-date details at any time they want. This might be very helpful for newcomers and individuals who are a lot more acquainted with the stocks as it allows them to see the info they need to have wherever they are or what they may be doing.

If you would like to start trading stocks or perhaps you currently have some experience and also desire to bring in more cash, ensure you have a peek here. You are able to Check This Out in order to find out a lot more concerning the apps that are available right now and determine precisely how they’re going to assist you to make far more funds with the stocks starting off now.

Strategies For Prospective Individuals Of Payday Cash Loans

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Are you in eager need of a few bucks until finally the next income? Should you addressed indeed, then the cash advance can be for you personally. Nonetheless, well before committing to a cash advance, it is essential that you understand what one is all about. This article is going to offer you the data you have to know before you sign on for a cash advance.

Just before getting in, realize that online payday loans are certainly not a great usage of your cash. When you have every other (legal) selection as opposed to a payday advance, take into account that path instead. Payday cash loans involve extremely substantial service fees, and rates of interest that could do more problems for your current private funds than very good. Just use online payday loans as choice of last resort.

If you are intending on getting a payday advance, make sure that the organization you make use of is reliable. There are lots of organizations out there which can be rip-off performers. You should avoid them at all costs. Unless you discover beneficial critiques about the company on the web, usually do not make use of them.

When you are accomplishing the application for pay day loans, you might be giving your individual details over the internet to a not known vacation spot. Being aware of this might help you guard your data, much like your societal safety quantity. Do your research about the loan company you are interested in well before, you send out nearly anything over the Internet.

Only obtain the total amount that you can pay for to repay. In the event you just possessed some awful luck that contributed to the necessity for a pay day loan, will not presume you will be expected some good good luck that will take care of the loan. Any unwanted harmony you will need to extend around into yet another salary cycle will just take in another of your respective paychecks.

Unless you have adequate cash on your check out to repay the borrowed funds, a payday advance organization will promote anyone to roll the exact amount above. This only will work for the payday loan business. You can expect to end up capturing oneself and do not being able to repay the loan.

If you are self-employed and seeking a cash advance, worry not since they are nonetheless open to you. Because you possibly won’t use a spend stub to demonstrate evidence of work. The best option is usually to provide a copy of your taxes as evidence. Most loan providers will nonetheless supply you with a bank loan.

Payday cash loans must only be found in severe emergency situations. They are not ment to help using the daily living expenses. Should you are in need of extra money to have by, it is advisable to attempt to have a personal loan from a banking institution or other lender to avoid the need to roll over the pay day loan several times.

Although the point of a pay day loan is to obtain cash very quickly, don’t hurry on your own using the forms. Review the terms and conditions in the personal loan carefully. The charges for low-transaction of this kind of financial loan might be extremely serious. It’s crucial that you recognize your financial obligations and sense comfortable that you could accomplish them prior to making a dedication.

Should you be usually resorting to pay day loans to acquire by, go on a shut evaluate your spending routines. Payday cash loans are as near to lawful bank loan sharking as, what the law states enables. They ought to just be found in emergencies. Even then there are normally much better choices. If you discover oneself at the payday advance building on a monthly basis, you may need to establish yourself track of a spending budget. Then adhere to it.

Always look at the small print for the pay day loan. Some businesses demand fees or possibly a fees in the event you spend the money for personal loan back again very early. Other people impose a fee if you have to roll the financing onto your following pay out time. These represent the most popular, nonetheless they may cost other invisible charges as well as boost the interest rate if you do not pay out punctually.

If you are trying to budget for repaying your pay day loan making publish-emergency programs, do not ignore the fees. It is also an easy task to believe that you could stay one salary out which every thing will likely be okay. Typically, pay day consumers find yourself paying back roughly increase whatever they lent well before they may be by themselves yet again. Take advantage of this truth to figure out your financial budget out.

Payday cash loans are simple-term loans and should just be utilized for unpredicted costs. These personal loans ought not to be used to pay household expenses or regular living expenses. If you use a payday loan for any of these expenditures, you manage the potential risk of defaulting in your payday loan or another monthly bills.

As It was mentioned at the start of this short article, a payday advance can be what you need if you are at present short on resources. Even so, make sure that you are knowledgeable about online payday loans really are about. This information is intended to assist you when making smart cash advance options.

Understand A Lot More Regarding The Numerous Benefits Associated With Additional Instruction For Workers

Company owners are going to desire to take some time to be able to consider extra training for all of their staff members. Those who own a business utilizing injection molding will desire to ensure their own workers have the correct injection molding training. This can supply a great deal of advantages for the organization, such as a reduced turn-over rate as well as a lot more productiveness for the organization. Just about any company owner may take full advantage of this by looking at the coaching that’s available now.

Companies usually can’t afford to have a high turn over rate, but quite a few do. Typically, this is as a result of the environment of the job in addition to what is expected of the employee in comparison to exactly what they may achieve. Whenever a company takes advantage of additional instruction for their particular staff members, they are able to boost the environment of the job by simply making it easier for every person to recognize exactly what to achieve in order to work collectively on a project. Furthermore, they will understand the employee has the proper capabilities after the scientific molding training, so they won’t encourage them to achieve more in comparison to what they may be capable of, which may help make sure the workers are not being expected to do far too much for their own job.

Together with decreasing the turn-over rates, these kinds of seminars can help the company owner raise the productiveness for the company. Anytime the staff members have carried out scientific molding seminars, they are going to know more about how to achieve their particular job, precisely how to work along with other folks, exactly how to lessen outages, and also precisely how to make sure the final product will be created speedily and also appropriately. This can cause lots of added benefits, including decreased waste content, in addition to improving the work productivity and thus allowing the company to achieve much more in the equivalent time.

If you might be a company owner, ensure you will take a look at the scientific molding classes that are offered today. The aforementioned is just a few of the added benefits your business can acquire when you’ll benefit from added instruction for your employees. Go on and look at the seminars that are available in order to see which kinds will benefit your workers the most.

Recognize Precisely How To Find And Cope With Any Unfavorable Reviews

Company owners have to be worried about their own standing and be certain to check online on a regular basis in order to discover precisely what their particular shoppers are saying about them. This may enable them to determine whether there is just about any way for them to actually improve and see virtually any issues that may be occurring. Nonetheless, this can be difficult to achieve as there are many review websites a customer can post on. The business proprietor will almost certainly need to consider utilizing a reputation management platform to refrain from needing to take a look at all of the web sites repeatedly on their own.

Whenever the business proprietor needs to achieve all this by themselves, they are going to have to have a look at review web sites frequently. This could occupy a substantial amount of time as well as will not be worthy of all of the time they invest searching for brand-new reviews. In addition, they might not observe the reviews fast enough to be able to respond and also make sure they’ll do anything they’ll have to in order to make the circumstance better for the shopper. Whenever they use a platform that helps with this, they will acquire notifications anytime there may be a new review submitted so they’ll see it immediately and also will not likely have to be worried about spending so much time in search of them on their own.

When a platform like Chatmeter finds reviews for them, the company owner should read them all to make certain they’re favorable and, if so, answer positively as well as say thanks to the customer for their own review. This shows the customers they are listening. If perhaps the review will be bad, the company owner may make an effort to connect with the buyer to be able to make an effort to resolve the problem. If perhaps there are many negative reviews in a small amount of time, the company owner may desire to check if there’s a reoccurring pattern of something they should resolve to help be sure the shoppers are happier with the product or service.

If perhaps you might be a business proprietor, make certain you take the time to be able to check into chatmeter now. This might finish up assisting you to save a substantial amount of time and can assist you to monitor precisely what your shoppers say so you’re able to reply swiftly to any conditions that might develop. Look at http://www.chatmeter.com in order to learn far more now.

Discover A Lot More With Regards To The Reason Why You Might Feel Sleepy Consistently

Anytime a person does not obtain ample slumber or even doesn’t consume a healthy diet, it’s ordinary for them to truly feel a bit more worn out than they ought to. Yet, if perhaps an individual gets lots of rest, eats a healthy diet plan, and also takes care of themselves adequately and they have an overwhelming feeling of being drained, it could be a health issue referred to as Adrenal Fatigue. It’s crucial for somebody to understand the signs as well as to realize when to look for assistance for this since this can permit them to acquire the aid they require in order to begin feeling far better.

Often, that is due to a person pushing themselves too much or perhaps by far too much stress, even if perhaps they’re doing just about everything right as well as trying to receive adequate slumber during the night. In case somebody gets a lot of slumber and is nonetheless drained, as well as in case this continues on for longer than a couple of days, conversing with a doctor just like Dr. Michael Lam or going to their webpage for more information may well be a good idea. They might be suffering from this, not just a deficiency of rest, and also could want to check into some of the treatments that are offered for them.

Symptoms of this could possibly be having problems going to sleep, despite the fact that they may be worn out, higher rate of sicknesses, having trouble getting up and going each day, diminished ability to take care of stress, and even unexplained hair thinning. Anyone who will be displaying a number of these or perhaps some other symptoms will wish to pay a visit to the web-site DrLam.com at this point to find out a lot more regarding just what this is and also just how they can improve. Usually, what this means is taking out the stressors in their daily life, attempting to get on an improved sleep schedule, as well as acquiring a lot of physical exercise. Eating healthier food items as well as taking dietary supplements in order to balance their particular diet might additionally help, but they will require being mindful to be able to ensure they pick the right nutritional supplements.

If you feel as though you’re drained all the time, even if perhaps you attempt to get plenty of slumber, it could be more than just being exhausted. If perhaps this is apparently on-going and nothing you have tried has really helped, take the time in order to check out https://www.drlam.com/ right now. You will be able to understand a lot more with regards to exactly why this is happening and also precisely what you can do to be able to correct it.

Your Site Has To Be Prominent On The Web

Business website pages should not be made with the same templates as every other business site. To be able to really attract as much customers as possible and in order to ensure possible buyers may discover them, businesses need to invest in small business website design and also marketing for their own webpage.

There are lots of techniques for a business owner to develop their very own website, yet these types of free tools are employed repeatedly. The outcome will be the identical thing the potential client views on every other site and as a result will not motivate them to stay with the website long enough to be able to discover precisely why that company will be the correct one for their own needs. Alternatively, a company owner may desire to make sure their particular web-site is correctly designed by a professional. This not only causes it to be prominent far more, it also permits it to be optimized effortlessly and for online marketing to be carried out in order to increase the variety of prospective consumers that may uncover it.

If your business web page isn’t obtaining the views it should or you really don’t have a organization webpage yet, make certain you’ll contact a specialist for aid. They can cope with the design of your webpage in order to make certain it stands apart from the competition and also can supply internet marketing services to help you reach as much prospective clients as is possible.

Blockchain tech takes off

These are some of the scenarios being mooted by an increasingly excited blockchain community.

The technology that underpins the cryptocurrency Bitcoin is nothing new – it’s been around for decades. It’s just an encrypted database that’s distributed across a computer network.

But what makes it different is it can only be updated when everyone on that network agrees, and once entered the information can’t be overwritten, making it extremely secure and reliable.

And trust, as we know, underpins most business transactions.

“Blockchain, for perhaps the first time, presents a legitimate threat to the status quo,” says Terry Roche, head of financial technology research at financial advisory firm, Tabb Group.

The tech has spawned a new generation of start-ups looking to find new, related applications, from peer-to-peer lending to smart contracts.

No restrictions

For example, OpenBazaar is a way people can sell anything to anyone, anywhere in the world using bitcoins.

Unlike with eBay or Amazon, users don’t visit a website but download a programme that directly connects them with other potential buyers and sellers.

“Our goal is to unbundle the incumbent marketplaces around the world by offering a more private, secure and flexible option that isn’t controlled by any one corporate interest, but rather, by the users themselves,” developer Brian Hoffman tells the BBC.

According to OpenBazaar, cutting out the middleman means there are no fees, no restrictions, no accounts to create, and you only reveal the personal information you feel comfortable sharing.

The software is now in its testing phase and has been downloaded nearly 20,000 times in the last three weeks. Other decentralised marketplace concepts include Syscoin, which is also a digital currency.

Smart contracts

Another major development exciting the industry are smart contracts, programmes that can automatically verify that contract terms have been met, and, once that has been done, authorise payment – all in real time without any need for middlemen.

The results are then indelibly recorded in the blockchain database. Some believe – perhaps fancifully – that such contracts could remove the need for lawyers one day.

Companies like San Francisco-based SmartContract and Hedgy are already building businesses based on the concept, which could have applications in the financial, property and commerce markets.

By incorporating smart contracts with the “internet of things” (IoT) – smart devices hooked up to the internet – blockchain tech could have uses far beyond the financial sector, says Emmanuel Viale, a managing director of Accenture’s Technology Labs.

“You could have a wearable fitness tracker that would send the number of calories or steps taken to the blockchain. The data is encrypted and my identity is anonymised. The same with home medical devices,” he says.

“The Blockchain would create a link with health professionals – whether coaches, doctors or healthcare institutions – and the smart contract could trigger needed services – whether it’s a fitness regime or treatment for a chronic disease.”

In another example, start-up Hellosent thinks smart contracts and IoT devices could be used to monitor deliveries of fine wines.

Sensors would continuously measure the temperature and humidity of the wine in transit, then if either fell below agreed levels as recorded in the smart contract, the purchase would be automatically cancelled.

‘Crypto renaissance’

Some firms are even developing their own version of blockchain. Ethereum, for example, is a blockchain-based decentralised platform that developers can use to create their own applications, cryptocurrencies and virtual organisations.

Co-founder Mihai Alisie says giants such as IBM, Microsoft and Samsung have already started researching its possible uses.