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The conceivable thoughts, and the Incomprehensible feelings.

This is the post excerpt.

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Light bulbs are pretty spectacular things: from Ebenezer Kinnersley to the current spheres or coils of incandescence that shed light on places and situations.

A pair of these shining metaphors got me here: One being the light of my days and nights, my beloved Nikole: who drags me out of the darkest realms at the worst and fills every visible space with a jovial warmth I’ve come to associate her with.

The other was an old colleague, who told me that it is one thing to contribute as a torch shone into dark realms, but it is another to stand as a solitary street lamp, for others to find visibility as well as myself, as a platform for thought and focused opinion.

With these, it brought me here. A great man once said that the path out of darkness is clear, you need only look for the light. And through this blog, I intend to do just that; To act as a personal platform on subjects that stand as points of contention, and a place for my demons to be burnt as sticks to kindling.

How your coffee brand can be more effective with loyalty?

The world we live in at the moment is becoming digital by the second, with businesses capitalising on it every step of the way. No other branch of services has recognised this shift in such a way as coffee companies; they’re the lifeblood of countless people. While digitalisation is being embraced, consumers feel like that’s not the case; According to Capgemini, while 75% of businesses see themselves as customer centred, less than 30% of customers agree.

What’s more, for every 100 customers served, only 29 would return. So that raises two questions: How do you bring in the remaining 71? And in as fast-moving a business as coffee retail is. How are firms to recapture this disengaged audience? For many, the answer already exists, and that’s through Loyalty cards.

Loyalty Cards – The password and passport to customer loyalty

As brands, businesses and individuals enter the digital age, so are loyalty programmes. No matter what the size of the company, they keep a critical level of importance, and here’s why.

For companies starting up: it makes your presence known

Loyalty applications such as Loyalzoo are able to do what simple cards can’t: make your presence known. And for a start-up: your values, identity and logo are critical! Having an app on your customer’s phone showing your brand allows you to be a constant presence. Why else do we remember certain celebrities? We always see them in some medium.

Gives you a low-cost, seamless way of ensuring customer in-flow

Statistically, it costs five times more to draw in new customers than take care of the ones you have. And whether you use a barcode card or ‘Costa-coin’, rewarding your existing customers will not only keep them coming back: but they’ll most likely bring their friends too!

For example, Rakuten put forward its own cryptocurrency a while ago, giving its users money for using it. To this day, its user base has increased from 1 billion to 1.5 billion.

For big companies, loyalty programmes transcend just one store

no matter what medium, loyalty goes beyond the door of one cafe, spanning many. Making loyalty programs essential, even more so as your business expands. These programs give your consumers every incentive to search you out wherever they are, not the other way round!

The system, instead of falling by the wayside, becomes a passport, allowing your company to safely expand while ensuring customers always come back. While they’re rewarded for their continuing loyalty.

Rachel Botsman once said that we are entering a greater economy of trust. And loyalty cards are one of the greatest ways your business can show its faith and care for the customers that make it all possible!

 

One in Five ICOs are fraudulent but remain high-reward gamble investors won’t ignore

  • A study by the Wall Street Journal showed that over 271 ICOs were suspected of fraud to some degree
  • Despite the risks, ICOs offer a staggering 13.2x ROI (Return Of Investment) for buyers

Initial Coin Offerings have been the centre of attention for a great deal of time. They represent some of the most exciting companies and ideas investors have seen for a while. Nothing demonstrates this more than the amount of capital raised by these ICOs in recent memory. According to Business Insider from January 2018, Coin Offerings have brought in over $5.6 billion over 2017.

This incredible number is in spite of the fact that 48% proved successful for their investors. In spite of this, investors are no strangers to risk, seeing it as a worthwhile gamble. And with some of the largest/successful becoming giants, such as Telegram representing strong counter-arguments. The decentralised, instant messaging service is one of the largest ICOs on record for 2017 and 2018.

Odds are against ICOs, but Investors will take the gamble

While they are a gamble that offers high rewards, statistics show the risks are glaringly apparent. According to a study by the Wall Street Journal of more than 1,450 Initial Coin Offerings, an uncomfortable number bore red flags. Out of the number evaluated, over 271 of them demonstrated fraudulent behaviours such as plagiarism or identity theft.

These illegal activities have already cost investors a total of $273 million in losses due to theft and fraud. The SEC has already had an active approach in cracking down on illegal activity from Coin Offerings. In March, the Securities and Exchange Commission levied subpoenas agaisnt major offerings in a bid to prevent fraud.

These have included coin offerings such as Centra Tech, which has since seen its founders indicted for fraud. While the risks are demonstrable, according to research by Mangrove Capital Partners, the profits are too tempting for some. Those investing in an ultimately successful ICO would see returns of up to 13.2 times the initial investment.

Bitcoin for your loyalty? Airlines in race to put a Crypto into Loyalty Programmes

Loyalty programmes have come a long way since ticked or stamped cards, even going beyond barcodes. Going cardless, even cashless has become the new norm for loyalty programs. Cryptocurrencies have since entered this realm, from startup companies and now within major airlines.

It’s been reported that AirAsia has taken another step in its digitalisation process. To accelerate its loyalty program and provide revenue for its foray into fintech and remittance projects. The company’s founder, Tony Fernandes, has announced that its new cryptocurrency, called ‘BigCoin’ will be rolled out this year.

AirAsia goes big with BigCoin

 

The news comes rapidly after Fernandes’ announcement of an ICO. BigCoin has been announced as a method, not only of increasing the number of users for the airline. But also as another avenue for its continued foray into fintech innovations.

AirAsia has been known to use profits for improving user experience, as evidenced by its implementation of facial recognition passes in Johor. And while the ICO/Cryptocurrency scheme remains grey on its roll-out date, Fernandes states that the programme could be introduced over as short a time-frame as three to six months.

With the introduction of BigCoin, passengers will be able to accrue them through buying tickets, upgrades and services onboard an AirAsia flight. Already existing members of the company’s loyalty scheme will also be able to use BigCoins as an alternative currency for their next flights.

Singapore tugging on the Blockchain

Far from alone in its initiative, Singapore airlines are also looking to incorporate blockchain into its underperforming loyalty program. In February 2018, the airline announced that it seeks to use the technology, as well as a digital wallet service after successful trials.

It’s unknown to what extent the Blockchain would be incorporated; whether from an existing Ethereum setup, or wholly new. But partnerships with companies are already being formed within Singapore, especially between the airline and retail merchants.

 

 

Petro: What’s the Risk?

 

Venezuela’s economy has continued to deteriorate, to the point of collapse as many of its people have fled to neighbouring countries like Brazil. The situation for its people is growing increasingly dangerous, as 85% of necessary medical supplies, along with medical professionals have diminished and left.

Its currency has now undergone monumental hyperinflation, nearing 8,000% with few smart ideas coming from the administration as to how to fix it. In the words of Forbes magazine’s Simon Constable, they demonstrate a ‘Special kind of Stupid‘. From cutting zeroes off the native Bolivars, to the rollout of its cryptocurrency: the Petro.

While the former has holes in it as a remedy to hyperinflation. The Petro has had more poked through it since its ICO entered the market on the 20th March. As an ICO, it’s ratings alongside contemporaries are terrible; garnering a 4.5 rating compared to an average range of 8.0-9.7. But what is it that’s dragging the Petro down? And What’s the risk behind it?

Dry Cleaning Crypto?

The reputation and legitimacy of any government are placed on its conduct towards its economy. And, unfortunately for the Venezuelan Socialist government, it’s a reputation that has been profoundly damaged. According to Reuters, more than 50 of its nationals, including major political figures such as President Maduro and his second in command, Diosdado Cabello have been implicated in money laundering.

The irony lies in the fact that the now sitting socialist government has, for decades, vowed to combat corruption. Only to have its leading members and representatives not combatting, but participating in it.

So where does the Petro come into this? Political opponents and external powers have, for a while, railed against the administration for corruption. And with an ICO being announced, opponents see this as another avenue for the government to conduct illicit activities under the guise of Oil-Backed crypto.

Rafael Guzmán, acting president of the country’s finance committee, has slammed its sale as a non-solution:

“This deepens the crisis that we are living in. The PTR is another [example] of corruption, and we will come out of this crisis with measures that we have announced from this Parliament.”

Maduro

Coin Exchanges are already turning their backs on it

According to Live Bitcoin News, the popular coin exchange Bitfinex has refused to list the Petro as an ICO. This refusal is due to one of the controversies which do envelop the Petro. It’s the suspicion of Bitfinex that the Oil-Backed crypto will be used in order to work around International sanctions.

According to the company’s statement, the US’ ban on any citizens from paying into the ICO means the Bitfinex’s hands are tied. But this move could set a precedent for other exchanges to follow, especially due to the dent in the reputation of coin exchanges this first quarter.

Fraud from the offset

President of Venezuela, Nicholas Maduro, has acted to erode the already fragmenting credibility of the Petro after his comments on the ICO. CCN reports that the socialist president stated that the offering would see over $5 billion could be raised from amongst investors.

This statement has since been uncovered as false, as that amount goes beyond the value ($60) and the number of tokens available for sale (38,400,000). The figure and value would put the maximum amount possible to raise at $2.3 billion, less than half of Maduro’s inflated statement.

Concerns are still rife as to the use of the petro and money after it’s been successfully raised. While it’s already brought in $735 million, suspicion continues to blanket the crypto as it enters its second week on the market.

 

GiveCharity – Cryptocurrency provides Refugees with new-found opportunities

We spend so much of our time hearing negative news about cryptocurrencies. But for GiveDirectly, a charity supporting the worlds extreme poor has turned to crypto-coins to help provide grants and opportunities for those suffering from extreme conditions of poverty.

OmiseGo, a fintech startup company, has reportedly donated over $1 million to the charity. GiveCharity has since announced that this money will go towards their ongoing work within Uganda. Meaning that, thanks to cryptocurrencies, more than 12,000 refugee households will have their dreams realised through funding their businesses and education.

GiveCharity have also modernised its donation methods since then; allowing individuals to donate to the cause through the charities own Crypto-wallet. Collaboration with a new global economy is the name of the game for GiveCharity, according to its spokesperson, Catherine Diao.

“We’re really excited to be working with leaders in the crypto community to translate some of the recent boon to impact for some of the poorest people in the world.”

Fodder for Bannon’s Political Machine – Cambridge Analytica

AnalyticaIt’s Reported over the weekend that Cambridge Analytica is responsible for harvesting millions of social media profiles. The news came from a whistleblower from the company, Christopher Wylie, a 28-year-old employee of the firm. While innocuous, he and the firm played a pivotal role in the political upheaval that has occurred within the UK and USA.

The company is owned and funded by the hedge fund billionaire: Robert Mercer, to extract information. Far from a sudden phenomenon; Cambridge has been obtaining data from social media accounts since 2014. It’s only in the years 2016 onwards that it has reaped the benefits of data extractive seeds sown years prior.

Cambridge Analytica – 50 Million and counting

In an interview with the Observer, Wylie demonstrated what industrial scale extraction Analytica provided. Wherein social media account extraction fuel the campaigns and careers of Steven Bannon and Trump.

“We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons.”

At present, over 50 million social media profiles have been extracted for the use of political campaigning. These range from the EU referendum to the Trump election and beyond. Cambridge has also been heavily involved in the electoral campaigns of emerging nations. Wylie stating that advice and analytics were provided for countries such as Ghana, Kenya among others.

Weaponised Likes – How Cambridge Analytica Waged War

The company was initially involved in the data extraction and politicking of the EU Referendum in 2016. Carole Cadwalladr of The Guardian had reported of the companies deeper objectives back in May 2017. Demonstrating the broader intent of the company to spread disinformation while changing political tides towards the ‘Alt-Right.’

From its use of analytics, social media information on political trends within the population. The firm was able to provide the means to increase the prevalence of pro-right wing news and ideas to the social mass. Allowing for any of their liked media from pictures to videos and comments to show their political leanings.

These ranged from direct political views to liking ‘Hello Kitty’ as avenues into understanding political opinions. Commercial companies, governments, and firms can then use this information to identify attributes of the individual. From there, the user can be suggested other, politically suggestive pages or products which may change voting habits.

 

The Case of Craig Wright

Coinstaker

Craig Wright – From False claims to lawsuits

Where do you start with a story like Craig Wright’s? The Australian entrepreneur has had a great deal of time in the limelight, but that’s both a good and a bad thing as he’s discovered this year. From masquerading as the founder of Bitcoin back in 2016 to facing the barrel end of a lawsuit from his former business partner.

The career of Craig Wright is distinct, even more so with a possible crash down to earth depending on the verdict.

The man who would be Satoshi

Famed writer of the white paper for Bitcoin back in 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto has been veiled in mystery since his name was typed onto the plans that became the juggernaut we know and [sometimes] use. Since then, plenty of people have tried to claim it as their identity, and truth be told, who wouldn’t?

With the ongoing increases to Bitcoin’s value this year, Quartz reported in October 2017, that with the cost increasing past 6,000: that would make Nakamoto the 247th richest person in the world, with a wealth of 5.7 billion behind him.

A year before then, in 2016, a man named Craig Wright would enter the public eye as one of the people ‘outing’ themselves as the illustrious Satoshi Nakamoto. In an interview with the BBC in May 2016, Wright stated that he was, in fact, the man himself.

The challenge is whether or not the evidence he provided demonstrably proves that he is, in fact, Nakamoto. Problem is that there was only ever credible ‘private’ evidence given, with little more than an insipid [now deleted] blog post.

So where does this play into the lawsuit? Well, that’s the interesting question.

The $5-10 Billion question – Lawsuit

While not the best way to find out someone’s true identity, allegations levied against Wright would see this private evidence spill into the public domain in a messy, if highly expensive trial between the two parties.

Starting off as a lawsuit has now escalated to serious allegations of multiple levels of fraud that Craig Wright attempted against his former business partner: Dave Kleiman. Kleiman, who died in 2013, is represented by his brother, Ira and had originally filed the suit over who retains the rights to cryptocurrencies costing a staggering total of $5,118,266,427.50.

 

Allegations against Wright get increasingly interesting when the logic behind Wright’s claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto is placed in line with evidence against his claim to the billions of Cryptocurrency. According to CNBC, Wright had fraudulently put Kleiman’s name to contracts he created to retroactively lay claim to the money.

These claims have genuinely heated up the stakes between the two parties. And with the suit being filed only last month, only time will tell whether the man who would be Satoshi will be proven innocent or guilty.