Aug 192017
Op-Ed: Don’t forget the woman worker this August ANNIE DEVENISH SOUTH AFRICA 17 AUG 2017 11:45 (SOUTH AFRICA) This August the media will focus on women as consumers, as beneficiaries of state services, and as victims, in a much needed effort to bring attention to gender-based violence, but it is important that we don’t forget women as workers, because it’s precisely the invisibility and undervaluing of women’s labour that plays a key role in reinforcing gender inequality. By ANNIE DEVENISH Xolisile Mhlongo is already setting up stall by the time Durban’s mynah birds begin chirping on a weekday summer morning. She arrives at Warwick Junction, a busy transport hub near Durban inner city, at 4.30am every day to prepare the meat and dumplings she sells to passing customers. Across South Africa, in urban and rural centres, at taxi ranks and pedestrian thoroughfares, traders like Mhlongo are setting up shop for the day ahead. They are part of the more than 530,000 street traders recorded by the South African Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), 70% of whom are women. Mhlongo works six days a week, commuting from her family home in KwaMashu, a township about 20kms from the city centre. Working long hours, often without adequate toilets and storage facilities, and sometimes in hostile environments facing theft or police harassment, these women generate vital income to support their families and their children’s education. This August the media will focus on women as consumers, as beneficiaries of state services, and as victims, in a much needed effort to bring attention to gender-based violence, but it is important that we don’t forget women as workers, because it’s precisely the invisibility and undervaluing of women’s labour that plays a key role in reinforcing gender inequality. According to Stats SA there are 9,438,000 economically active women in the labour force as of 2015, which means that they constitute almost 50% of the nearly 21 million economically active South Africans. The term economically active includes both people who are working, and those who want to work, but are unemployed. Like Mhlongo, more than a third – 39 % in fact – of employed women work in the informal sector, compared to 29% of employed men. Statistics South Africa’s definition of informal employment includes all workers in the informal sector. Employers, own-account workers and unpaid family workers are defined as being in the informal sector if the (more…)
Aug 112017
The silly season continues. Speculators are piling into the cryptocurrency space in the hopes of–sometimes very literally–making money fast. As I write this Ethereum’s value has halved since June but is still 20x since January. Litecoin is up 12x since then. Even Bitcoin has tripled, again. It seems like everyone now has an opinion on, and a position in, cryptocurrencies. View image on Twitter    Follow Adam Ludwin @adamludwin  is now more popular than      And hey, if you want to speculate, and casinos seem too sedate and controlled to you, then more power to you, jump right in. But for those of us who are interested in the technology, not the money — who think that blockchains are primarily interesting because, unlike most modern technology, they decentralize power — so far this has actually been a mostly disheartening year. This has been the year of the ICO, in which an astonishing amount of money has been raised by the issuance of new cryptocurrencies in exchange for existing ones, the value of which is then inevitably measured in… US dollars, which says something. Tezos, which is basically “a more flexible Ethereum” (just as Ethereum was, to vastly oversimplify, “a more flexible Bitcoin”) raised ~$230 million. Bancor, which “enables anyone to create a new type of cryptocurrency,” raised ~$150 million. Status, “an open source messaging platform and mobile browser to interact with decentralized applications that run on the Ethereum Network,” raised $95 million. TenX, “Making Cryptocurrencies Spendable Anytime Anywhere,” raised ~$80 million. Do you notice anything that these massive fundraises have in common? That’s right; they’re projects which benefit cryptocurrencies which manipulate and/or hope to supersede other cryptocurrencies. Much, if not most, of the big-money high-profile ICOs this year have been self-referential Crypto Inception. They’re built on the (often unquestioned) assumption that decentralized blockchain apps will be widespread and enormously valuable, and therefore, blockchain tooling and infrastructure will be as well. That implicit assumption sounds nice; it even sounds plausible, if you squint the right way and accept a few uncomfortable assumptions; but — uh — tooling and infrastructure for what, exactly? Bitcoin has fought its way into a valuable and important niche as a widely recognized, fairly widely used, decentralized currency and alternative to gold, which is remarkable… although as pointed out by Adam Back, CEO of Blockstream, crypto OG, and generally extremely perspicacious guy, the rise of other cryptocurrencies is arguably a threat to the whole notion of blockchains-as-currency. When (more…)
Jul 262017
BY BYRON KING POSTED  JULY 26, 2017 The Dollar’s Slow Demise Continues in Plain Sight “The end of the world’s present monetary system is already taking place,” says one of Mexico’s leading, hard-money economists, Hugo Salinas Price. “The U.S. is losing influence in the world… The end of the dollar as the basis of the international monetary system means the end of the U.S. as we have known it.” You may or may not know of Salinas Price, but he’s a serious player at high monetary levels. He’s not nearly as famous as most television talking-heads on mainstream U.S. media. However, he’s been following monetary issues for many decades. He’s a Mexican business magnate and founder of the Mexican retail chain, Elektra. He also happens to be a historian of money. According to Salinas Price, “The present monetary system of the world, based on the dollar, is on its death-bed. A fiat currency — such as the dollar — cannot be replaced by another fiat currency,” he explains. “Therefore, the world will necessarily have to take up (precious metals) as the world’s money.” Salinas Price does not foresee the U.S., or other leading Western nations, taking the lead in resolving their own currency issues. Instead, he thinks, “it is likely that the Eurasian Bloc will initiate the monetary transformation of the world, in due course.” Specifically, he foresees China and Russia creating a gold- and/or silver-backed currency to conduct trade. Salinas Price himself has long urged Mexico to adopt a silver-based currency, to retain value inside that nation’s economy, using the peso. Globally, there’s an obvious flight to hard currency. Whatever may happen with the day-to-day price of “paper gold,” all of the physical metal, from every mine, mill and refinery in the world, has a buyer for every ounce. A Different Kind of Russian Collusion Just follow the data for proof… China, Russia and India are all accumulating massive amounts of gold. Other large amounts of gold are moving into the Middle East, and other Asian nations. For example, below is a recent graph, showing Russia’s steady accumulation of gold over the past decade. This kind of gold buildup in Russia is no accident. Russia has a clear, national policy to accumulate gold within its state treasury. That’s because Russian policy makers are concerned about U.S./Western actions, including economic sanctions, NATO expansion, near-constant and long-term bellicose rhetoric and more. Russian (more…)
Jul 252017
7 Cryptocurrency Predictions From the Experts Crypto currency is here to stay. The Bitcoin purpose is established but stagnate, its application for commercial transactions is limited right now. GreenFire is devloping on the blockchain for industrial and commercial uses. GreenFire uses the blockchain, I.E. and Ethereum, on the other hand, have absolutely fascinating infrastructure application capabilities. No one can say how many tokens and coins and blockchain protocols will eventually win out, but the experts seem to think there’s room for a multitude.  Many say there is yet an unknown coin to be implemented that will be universal on and to most blockchains. As you can see, blockchain development is very dynamic. With the blockchain evolving and maturing at the speed of light it is vulnerable to all of the whims of the power elite whose basic premise in life is control. For the next while anyone using crypto is vulnerable to the same whims. Here is a tip: In doing crypto transactions, it's best to follow he “know your customer” laws. They should be obeyed until the rules are agreed upon, it’s “best to be transparent” about what one is doing. Full Article; Share this:FacebookLinkedInTwitterGoogleTumblrPinterestReddit (more…)
Jul 122017
Steven Heap/123RF By Will Nicol — Posted on July 4, 2017 6:30 am If you follow tech or financial news, you’ve probably seen the name “Ethereum” popping up over the last couple years, often in connection with bitcoin. Ethereum is a rising star in the world of cryptocurrencies, entirely digital forms of currency that grew in popularity after the creation of bitcoin by a person or group calling themselves Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. Demand for Ethereum is so high that it may even be driving up the price of graphics cards, as miners try to generate as much currency as they can. What is Ethereum exactly, and what does it mean for the future of cryptocurrency (and maybe society)? Here’s the rundown. To start — what is a cryptocurrency? People often refer to Ethereum as a cryptocurrency, but that isn’t precisely true. It is a platform that allows individuals to conduct transactions and draw up contracts, using a currency called “ether.” To understand what distinguishes Ethereum from a cryptocurrency like bitcoin, it helps to understand what a cryptocurrency is, as well as the concept of a blockchain. A cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency created through encryption. A cryptocurrency has no physical form — like a banknote or coin — and it is not issued by a central bank or governmental authority. Units of cryptocurrency exist as data on the internet, and are created and managed through something called a blockchain. A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger, shared amongst any number of computers. When transactions occur, they are recorded in blocks; in order for these blocks to go into the ledger, they must be validated by a certain number of computers on the blockchain network. Crucially, the ledger exists, in the same form, for everyone on the network. Anyone can can look at to see a complete history of every transaction that has occurred, and any changes would be visible to everyone. The individuals who validate the transactions — which they do by having their computers solve complex computational problems — are called miners. Mining is a surprisingly intense activity, as our guide explains, that requires powerful hardware and a lot of planning. As a reward for their help in validating blocks, miners are given rewards. This is typically a specific cryptocurrency; Bitcoin miners receive bitcoin, while Ethereum miners receive ether. When you send someone an amount of cryptocurrency, a digital signature is (more…)
Jul 052017
Central Bank of China In Brief China's central bank has developed its own cryptocurrency, which is now being tested. Cryptocurrencies have the potential to not only benefit China, but the rest of the world, due to their basis in blockchain. Benefits of Digital Currency China’s central bank — the People’s Bank of China — has developed a prototype of a cryptocurrency that it could end up in circulation in the near future. It would be introduced alongside the China’s primary currency the renminbi (also called the yuan). China will be simulating possible scenarios and running mock transactions using the cryptocurrency with some commercial Chinese banks.  Click to View Full Infographic The potential benefits of developing a digital currency are significant, particularly in China. First, it would decrease the cost of transactions, and therefore make financial services more accessible, which would be a big help to the millions of people in the country who are unconnected to conventional banks. Second, as it would be supported by blockchain, it has the potential to decrease the rates of fraud and counterfeiting, which would be of service to the government’s attempts to reduce corruption — a key concern. Third, it would make the currency easier to obtain, which would increase the rate of international transactions, allowing for more trades and faster economic growth. The Rise of Cryptocurrencies Since Bitcoin’s humble beginnings back in 2009 (when it was only valued at around 0.0007 USD) the digital currency, and the very idea of cryptocurrencies in fact, has grown monumentally. The total market cap of cryptocurrencies on April 1st of this year was over $25 Billion. A single Bitcoin is now worth more than $2,500. Now many national economies, as China’s plan shows, are considering the idea of developing their own variant. Although China’s experimental approach to simulate a self-developed cryptocurrency’s usage is the first of its kind, other countries and institutions have made strides in that direction as well. The Deputy of Russia’s central bank has emphatically stated that “regulators of all countries agree that it’s time to develop national cryptocurrencies.” Over 260,000 stores in Japan will begin accepting Bitcoin as legal tender this summer, and big banks like Santander have announced plans to develop their own version. Cryptocurrencies have the potential of revolutionizing not only the business world, but many methods of transaction. There has already been talk of using cryptocurrencies to administer Universal Basic Incomes due to their traceability, as well as for the delivery of human aid; the potential for which was demonstrated by a (more…)
Jul 042017
Some Central Banks Are Exploring the Use of Cryptocurrencies By Alexandria Arnold June 28, 2017, 11:18 AM CST In a world were financial transactions are largely electronic, central banks are exploring the idea of using virtual currencies, even as cyberattacks and price swings dominate the headlines. "The central bank digital currency would be like a paper bill except digital," Dartmouth College economics professor Andrew Levin said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. For example, "it would be representing a U.S. dollar, but it would be basically free to use."     Dartmouth’s Levin tells Bloomberg TV why central banks are exploring the move to digital currencies. Source: Bloomberg Whereas credit cards charge transaction fees and interest, and paper currencies can be costly to process, digital currencies could be a "real benefit" to small businesses and consumers, Levin said. Central banks from across Europe and Asia are looking into virtual currencies. In March, Vietnam’s central bank said it was "seriously" studying the possibility of using bitcoin. The People’s Bank of China has run trials of its prototype cryptocurrency, and the Danish central bank is considering minting e-krone. But Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell said in March the U.S. central bank is not considering a digital currency. For a replay of the inaugural Bitcoin Facebook Live show launched yesterday. Skeptics have questioned whether one of the key features of cryptocurrencies — their decentralized nature — makes them a good fit for central banks. But in a recent proposal published by Levin and Rutgers University economics professor Michael Bordo, the pair said central banks could provide a secure store of value in their own digital currency. "In contrast to bitcoin, the value of the central bank’s digital currency would be fixed in nominal terms," Levin and Bordo wrote. "Moreover, the central bank’s digital currency could be implemented using an account-based system, thereby avoiding the resource-consuming ‘mining’ operations involved in generating virtual currencies like bitcoin." Source: Some Central Banks Are Exploring the Use of Cryptocurrencies – Bloomberg Share this:FacebookLinkedInTwitterGoogleTumblrPinterestReddit (more…)
Jul 012017
BIJAN SHAHROKHI JUNE 18, 2017 2:33 PM   With the recent surge in value of cryptocurrencies, ordinary people and traditional investment firms are paying more attention to the space. The market cap of cryptocurrencies has grown from less than $30 billion in March 2017 to over $110 billion in June 2017, and this is just the beginning. Cryptocurrencies are quickly becoming a new global market for assets, similar to stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and government backed-currencies.   But the immediate settlement of currency transfer on blockchains (such as Bitcoin and Etherium) is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s incredibly efficient at money movement; on the other, it allows bad players to transfer your cryotcurrency with the same speed. And if the wrong person gets unauthorized access to your cryptocurrency holdings and transfers the currencies to their own wallet, there will be no getting it back.   As a result, among new investors in the space, there is a concern about giving money to new, unproven, and non-regulated online-only cryptocurrency wallet providers. And that opens up an opportunity for traditional banks. You already trust them with your life savings, so you will likely trust them with your cryptocurrency holdings.   It would take an enormous investment for banks to move into this space. But here are some reasons they should consider it:   They can address a real pain point for their customers: Cryptocurrency investors are concerned about trusting recently established organizations to hold their assets. Banks are reliable alternatives because people trust them. Banks entering this space will solve a real financial problem for their customers and will deepen and reinforce their relationship.   They will stay relevant: Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might become more popular than government backed currencies one day. The only way for a bank to stay relevant in that future is to secure their relationship with the cryptocurrency holder today. As time goes on, new players will slowly earn a reputation for safety and security and will present a threat to existing financial institutions. Now is the time for banks to secure those relationships while they still have an advantage over existing and entering players.   They will start learning by doing: Cryptocurrencies are here to stay. Banks must start learning how these markets operate and discover the right business models for their organizations before fintech companies make them irrelevant. A great way to (more…)
Jun 302017
Monday's new study greatly increases the potential for catastrophic near-term sea level rise. Here, Miami Beach, among the most vulnerable cities to sea level rise in the world. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images In what may prove to be a turning point for political action on climate change, a breathtaking new study casts extreme doubt about the near-term stability of global sea levels. The study—written by James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist, and 16 co-authors, many of whom are considered among the top in their fields—concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years. The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, brings new importance to a feedback loop in the ocean near Antarctica that results in cooler freshwater from melting glaciers forcing warmer, saltier water underneath the ice sheets, speeding up the melting rate. Hansen, who is known for being alarmist and also right, acknowledges that his study implies change far beyond previous consensus estimates. In a conference call with reporters, he said he hoped the new findings would be “substantially more persuasive than anything previously published.” I certainly find them to be. To come to their findings, the authors used a mixture of paleoclimate records, computer models, and observations of current rates of sea level rise, but “the real world is moving somewhat faster than the model,” Hansen says. Hansen’s study does not attempt to predict the precise timing of the feedback loop, only that it is “likely” to occur this century. The implications are mindboggling: In the study’s likely scenario, New York City—and every other coastal city on the planet—may only have a few more decades of habitability left. That dire prediction, in Hansen’s view, requires “emergency cooperation among nations.” We conclude that continued high emissions will make multi-meter sea level rise practically unavoidable and likely to occur this century. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization. The science of ice melt rates is advancing so fast, scientists have generally been reluctant to put a number to what is essentially an unpredictable, nonlinear response of ice sheets to a steadily warming (more…)
Jun 232017
Why connecting all the Blockchains is the final step for mass adoption of Cryptocurrencies Dr. Julian Hosp, 16 Jun 2017 – Development, Opinion, Protocol Dr. Julian Hosp is the co-founder and CVO of TenX, a Singapore based FintechCompany that makes any Blockchain asset spendable instantly by offering a debit card payment system to its users on the frontend and by connecting any Blockchain at the backend. Since the start of Bitcoin in January 2009, we have seen the introduction of a multitude of blockchains across all kinds of areas and financial markets. Today we can count hundreds of public blockchains that amount to a total market cap of almost 100 Billion dollars, excluding many more private blockchain installations. Last year we saw the emergence of precious metal backed tokens, derivatives, entirely new asset classes representing entire ecosystems, and even ETF tokens to invest into other blockchain assets. One such example is Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) or token sales that are gaining in popularity. The World Economic Forum is even going as far as predicting that 10% of the global GDP will be stored on the blockchain in less than 10 years. In terms of today’s global GDP that would be $7.8 trillion. Here a challenge arises: If we as a community do not find a way to connect blockchains, these 7.8 trillion dollars will be dispersed in such a way, that its true value is a lot lower. So what is the solution? The solution is one that we have seen in a similar way being executed around 30 years ago already: Before the invention of the TCP/IP protocol the Internet was also dispersed in many local networks, so-called Intranets. These provided local efficiency over the more traditional point-to-point communication (such as letter, fax, telephone calls). The real breakthrough only came in 1973, when different Intranet networks realized that they could use a unifying Internetwork protocol to communicate among each other, thereby extending reach by compatibility even more. With the requirements for an Intranet to join the so called Internet dropping to the bare minimum, it became possible to add almost any Intranet, no matter how basic or sophisticated their characteristics were. The initial adoption by users was relatively slow, as the services offered at the beginning were limited. There was one major factor however, that eventually sped it up significantly. The same providers that were already offering mail, FAX (more…)