Thoughts on the future of fintech

Posted by on 02:51 in Editorial | Comments Off on Thoughts on the future of fintech

Royal Society, London, January 13th 2016. I was recently invited to attend the West Minster Business Forum, for its Future of Fintech conference. Having had a background in covering the cryptocurrency scene as a journalist, and more recently as a member of the Hullcoin team, I was interested to see what business minds were thinking when it came to FinTech (which is the latest buzz term for Financial Technology), my perspective on things is much more from a tech angle, so I saw this as an opportunity to learn more about the business aspect of this space. As full disclosure,This day was made possible by Dell UK, but all thoughts are my own. It was clear from this event that there is, at least, a lot of effort and good intention surrounding the development of FinTech in the UK. Katherine Braddick (Director of financial services, HM Treasury), actually said that there is a target for the UK to be the go to country for FinTech startups. This would be interesting as there is already a thriving UK startup scene, in both the north and south of the country. The north of the UK, which I’m most familiar with, has organisations like KeyFund, the dotForge accelerator, and the Northern Stars startup network. The most curious thing about the event, to me, was the strange way that blockchain technology was addressed – it was a white elephant in the room. Only one panelist in the event was an expert in the field – Eddy Travia of Coinsillium. In his talk, he highlighted the bad press that bitcoin has received, which has resulted in a movement away from Bitcoin itself, and to more general applications of blockchain technology. He’s right on both counts, and this is the way I saw Bitcoin going over three years ago. I found it frustrating listening to Travia because there was so much more he could have said, but because Blockchains are still so poorly understood, he had to tailor his message to the audience and avoid going into technical detail. For me, as someone who does understand blockchains, it was frustrating to hear the only blockchain expert have to speak in terms that, while technically correct, didn’t really help anyone. There were multiple times when he answered questions, and I knew what he was alluding to (such as questions about the mining process), but I also knew that the asker in the audience wouldn’t go away with any further understanding on the subject. This wasn’t his fault per se – it’s a difficult subject and understandably the type of people at this event are too busy and consumed in their current duties to take the time to understand why blockchains are so important. It was also interesting to observe the dichotomy between the level of interest and understanding in technology by the business people attending the event came thanks to Emma Cheshire, CEO of the dotForge tech startup accelerator. As a panelist, she took the unconventional step of asking the audience a question. “How many of you are actively engaging with technical innovation?”, she asked. When I looked around and saw hardly anyone raising their hand. In a room of nearly 200 people, I recall seeing less than five hands raised. Confusingly, other panelists at the...

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The Best Accessories For Busy People On The Move

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The Best Accessories For Busy People On The Move

Nowadays, we all lead increasingly busy lives. Whether you’re heading to work or doing the school run, there are certain things you can’t leave the house without: Wallet/purse, keys and of course, your mobile phone. You find yourself with an ever-growing to do list, longer working hours, and a packed schedule. A great way to keep on top of all of this chaos is to utilise all that time spent on the move.   Everybody has a mobile phone these days and whilst they can be one of the most distracting things you own -with 58% of smart phone users saying they cannot bear to be away from their phone for more than an hour– they can also be a fantastic tool to help you organise yourself and your life. But a phone by itself is not always enough to keep you organised throughout a typical day. There is a bewildering array of accessories out there to help you. Here are a few ideas to help streamline your day and allow you to organise yourself while on the move.   Hands Free Headset For those who are looking to take and make calls whilst multi-tasking, a Bluetooth headset is essential. They automatically connect wirelessly with your phone and fit comfortably over your ear. Most have batteries that will last for hours of talk time and can even give you voice notifications about battery life and connection status. Also, because they sit over one ear, you can still stay tuned to everything else going on around you. Hands-free headsets are now more affordable and easy to get hold of, supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury’s have even started selling them.   Headphones If you prefer to listen to music during your commute, or during a break between busy work periods, a pair of phone-specific headphones is essential. They typically have noise blocking in-ear buds which sit just inside your ears. Great for noisy environments like buses or trains, they also include a microphone and volume control halfway up the cord. This means you can take and make calls, as well as listening to music, allowing you to shut off for a while.   In Car Charger   Without a doubt one of the biggest problems with the modern mobile phone is the short battery life. Once upon a time, your old Nokia brick lasted a week without losing more than a bar. Now though, if you’re going to be using your phone to help you stay on track throughout the day, it’s likely to struggle to make it through on one full charge. If you spend any amount of time driving during a typical day, than an in-car charger makes the most of that time by keeping your phone topped up. Utilising your time on the move.       Bluetooth Speakerphone We all know the dangers of driving whilst using a mobile phone, but this device from Jabra removes that risk and allow you to answer calls without being distracted. Also great for mobile conference calls, the speakerphone allows you to remotely answer calls and have conversations hands free. Often the speakerphone capabilities of our own mobile is simply not enough, it can be tinny and the microphone can be insufficient, but this device is specifically designed to enhance a...

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Weekly publications digest – May 23, 2014

Posted by on 17:34 in Publications | Comments Off on Weekly publications digest – May 23, 2014

Here are my latest publications from around the web. Brock Pierce defends Bitcoin Foundation election Newly elected Bitcoin Foundation board director Brock Pierce has written to the Bitcoin Foundation stating that he will not step down. In a letter obtained by the Wall Street Journal, he made clear his anger over the protest resignations of other members. 717 words Bitcoin blockchain used to prove creative ownership Proof of existence is a new online service that aims to provide a novel use for the Bitcoin blockchain. Rather than being a way to transfer funds, the service provides a way to prove when a file came into existence. Could this be a way to reduce to copyright system down into an algorithm in the same way that Bitcoin has done with finance? 521...

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Weekly publications digest – May 16, 2014

Posted by on 17:31 in Publications | Comments Off on Weekly publications digest – May 16, 2014

Here are my latest publications from around the web. eBay CEO confirms bitcoin is 'on the radar' eBay recently held its annual shareholder meeting in San Jose. Afterwards, CEO Jon Donahoe held a Q and A session in which he was put on the spot about competitors, policies, and more importantly … Bitcoin. 326 words Coinbase supports MIT initiative with bitcoin giveaway We recently reported on the social experiment being done at MIT, whereby a whole Bitcoin ecosystem would be created for undergraduate students to take part in. As a follow-up to this, Coinbase has has offered 0 worth of bitcoin to students who sign up to the service. 285 words Circle launches bitcoin banking services Circle, a Boston-based bitcoin startup, has just revealed plans for a no-free bitcoin banking service. These plans were announced on the company’s blog and showcased at the Bitcoin 2014 conference which is currently being held in Amsterdam. 534 words Prypto resurrects the idea of physical bitcoin transfer Irish startup Prypto is developing cryptocurrency scratch cards, which could be purchased from brick-and-mortar retailers. The idea behind this is to turn the intangible cryptocurrencies into a tangible physical product, which has been attempted before. In fact, BitBill even tried to patent the idea. Can Prypto succeed where others have failed? The idea of using scratch cards to physically transfer intangible assets is not new. They were once in widespread use for Pay as you Go mobile phone plans, and can still be purchased to this day. 441 words CeX replaces the Pound with Bitcoin in Glasgow CeX, who started paying out in Bitcoin last month, has been sounding the call for Scottish independence today. CeX, is a bring-and-buy retail chain in the UK, and has an international website where customers can buy and sell their games and gadgets, respectively from and to the company. The company tied the official launch of its Bitcoin payments to the debate on Scottish independence today, hoping that it would create a Bitcoin high-street experiment with its branch in Sauchiehall in Glasgow. 406 words Facebook shows maturing attitude to users and developers » Techly Facebook’s recent F8 developer conference brought with it a slew of landmark changes from the social media giant. From anonymous login for third party apps to stability guarantees for third party developers, it seems as if Facebook is finally growing up. 703 words Apple vs Samsung demonstrates patent overdosing » Techly If the idea of being in the jury for the protracted legal battle between Apple and Samsung makes you want to cry, you are in good company. The titanic battle to determine whose ideas were whose has cost millions in legal fees and fried the brains of judges and juries along the way. Ultimately, it’s been for around 120 million dollars in Apple’s favour, and to these tech giants, that’s fair small change. 516 words BitPay raises 30 million in Series A funding Bitcoin payment processor has just received a massive 30 million dollars in series-A startup funding. The investment has been made against the company’s 160 million dollar valuation and comes from a collection of investors including Virgin’s Richard Branson and Yahoo’s co-founder Jimmy Yang. 393 words Does Windows Phone 8.1 file manager suggest an Android-like future? » Techly Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore recently held...

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Weekly publications digest – May 9, 2014

Posted by on 17:31 in Publications | Comments Off on Weekly publications digest – May 9, 2014

Here are my latest publications from around the web. Chinese exchanges pull out of Bitcoin sumit The Global Bitcoin Summit, which will be held May 10th to 11th at the China National Convention Center, has lost five important attendees – all of whom are CEOs of Chinese crypto exchanges. The Chinese entrepreneurs pulled out of the conference after they were made to close their accounts by various Chinese banks. 638 words 24K donated to flooded Sean's Outpost Satoshi’s Forest, the Pensacola homeless sanctuary also known as Sean’s Outpost, as suffered severe damage after widespread flooding affected the local area. In response, the charity has opened requests for donations of Bitcoin and Litecoin to help with the rebuilding efforts. 483 words Printing circuits at home? It's now possible, and not just for engineers » Techly An Australian Kickstarter project that promises 3D printing of electric circuits has reached a massive 37K, 458% of its funding goal. Could we now build electronic devices at home, and what does this promise us? 706 words First Time Ultrabook. David Gilson’s Experience « Ultrabook News and the Ultrabook Database While Microsoft is going all-in with its “Modern UI”, the dual nature of Windows 8 is still trying the patience of many. This is partly due to the fact that most consumer laptops lack a touchscreen. Fortunately, Chippy was kind enough to loan me his 2013 Harris Beach developer Ultrabook after seeing me bemoan the “dual nature” of Windows 8. Here’s how a touchscreen device has changed my feelings about Redmond’s tiled interface. 1684...

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Weekly publications digest – May 2, 2014

Posted by on 17:31 in Publications | Comments Off on Weekly publications digest – May 2, 2014

Here are my latest publications from around the web. Bitcoin Foundation to run second round of elections The Bitcoin Foundation’s election to find two directors for its industry seats has closed, but failed to find any outright winning candidates, under the terms of the foundation’s bylaws. 473 words Bloomberg adds Bitcoin price tracking Bloomberg has announced that it will now provide Bitcoin price tracking on its financial data terminals. The data will be available via its professional services which has over 320,000 subscribers. 648 words MIT to give undergrads $100 in Bitcoin It was announced today that two students from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) have raised half a million US dollars to be converted to bitcoins and distributed among undergraduate students in the next autumn term. 425 words Paym brings mobile payments to UK The banking industry of the UK today announced a new payment system called Paym. This system will enable UK residents to send and receive bank transfers by just using a mobile phone number, rather than the somewhat more involved process of entering an account number and sort code. 480 words Bitnodes.io indicates 60 day decline in Bitcoin nodes Data gathered by Bitnodes.io shows that the number of Bitcoin nodes is declining. Bitnodes is a data-driven website funded by the Bitcoin Foundation, and services to display a map of Bitcoin network nodes across the world. 554 words Bitcoin Retail Point of Sale systems One issue holding bitcoin back from wider-spread adoption is the lack of businesses that accept the digital currency as payment. This is a chicken-and-egg problem. If more businesses had the ability to accept bitcoin, it might encourage consumers to start obtaining and spending it, and vice versa. 1121 words Seedcoin incubator announces second round of startup funding The Bitcoin based venture capitol seeding fund, “Seedcoin”, has announced its latest round of funding. The startups included in this round include several financial services plus a few surprise entrants. 691...

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Weekly publications digest – April 25, 2014

Posted by on 17:30 in Publications | Comments Off on Weekly publications digest – April 25, 2014

Here are my latest publications from around the web. Bitcoin Foundation election nears to a close The Bitcoin Foundation is currently holding an election to fill the two board seats that were left vacant from the resignations of its industry board members, Charlie Shrem and Mark Karpeles. Voting opened on April 21st and will close shortly. 411 words Feathercoin undergoes a hard fork Feathercoin, the UK based Scrypt currency, has undergone a hard fork on block 204,639 of its block chain. This change addresses drastic swings in the difficulty level caused by mining pools who switch between multiple currencies, and it also implements a fix to the OpenSSL Heartbleed vulernability. The fork involves a mandatory update to version 0.8.6.2 of the Feathercoin desktop wallet, which follows a fix to the Android wallet app. 593 words Localbitcoins resolves investigation into stolen bitcoin – CoinBuzz During the Easter Weekend, the Localbitcoins team updated its blog with the results of its investigation into the reported losses from the Bitcoin exchange, as we reported earlier. All but one of the incidents of theft were apparently from accounts which were not using 2-Factor Authentication, followed by an explanation of vulnerability for the one 2-Factor authenticated account that did suffer from theft. 508 words Vault of Satoshi launches public audit system – CoinBuzz Canadian exchange, “Vault of Satoshi”, has just launched its public auditing service and demonstrated its proof of solvency. In March, the Canadian company received a full Money Services Business licence to operate in all provinces of Canada and international customers in certain countries. 663 words How to calculate mining profitability Are you serious about mining cryptocurrencies? If so, you need to know how to make the best use of your money and equipment. In this guide, we’ll show you how to mine your digital treasure in the most profitable way. 1515 words How to Make a Paper Wallet for Bitcoin One of the most popular options for keeping your bitcoins safe is something called a paper wallet. Here we explain how to transfer all those digital coins into a physical paper form using just a printer. 1177...

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Weekly publications digest – April 18, 2014

Posted by on 17:30 in Publications | Comments Off on Weekly publications digest – April 18, 2014

Here are my latest publications from around the web. Localbitcoins investigating bitcoin thefts and malware – CoinBuzz Localbitcoins is currently investigating claims of account vulnerability in response to a user who went to Reddit and the Localbitcoin forums to report the theft of bitcoins from their Localbitcoins account. 467 words Second hand store CeX to payout in bitcoin – CoinBuzz CeX, a UK based bring and buy website and retail chain as begun offering bitcoin in exchange for goods on its website. The news was reported by a user on the Bitcoin section of Reddit (vernacular: “subreddit”), with a screenshot of the website offering bitcoin as one of several reimbursement methods for selling used products to the company. 527 words UK exchange Coinfloor to invite public audits – CoinBuzz Coinfloor, London’s only Bitcoin exchange which was established in 2013, has today announced a raft of new features, including its “proof of solvency”, making it the world’s first publicly auditable Bitcoin exchange. Additionally, the exchange announced 0% fees for the first 60 days of trading and an “over the counter” (OTC) trading system for large bitcoin trades. 474 words French chain Monoprix to accept bitcoin – CoinBuzz Monoprix, a major French retail chain based in Clichy, France, has announced support for Bitcoin. The company’s director, Patrick Qualid, formally announced the decision, and how it was influenced by the simplicity offered by digital currencies. 226 words Feathercoin wallet fix now available – CoinBuzz Feathercoin, the Scrypt enabled altcurrency based in Oxford UK, has issued an updated wallet on the Google Play Store. Over the past few weeks, the original client had become unable to synchronise with the Feathercoin network, denying users access to their funds. 363 words Corkett takes on eBay and Craigslist with Bitcoin – CoinBuzz A Bitcoin based classifieds site, Corkett, aimed at tackling the shortcomings of eBay and Craigslist, will soon be launched. Cokrett.com is a New York based start-up, which is aiming to create a highly localised buy and sell market for its users. 430 words Take Awesome Astronomy Photos with a Smartphone and a Telescope If you’re eager to start photographing the night sky, but you want to do so on a budget, it can be done – even with just a smartphone and a telescope. 200...

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eBay takes on Pinterest with “Collections”

Posted by on 16:03 in Reviews | Comments Off on eBay takes on Pinterest with “Collections”

eBay takes on Pinterest with “Collections”

If you use eBay a lot you may have noticed links for “collections” nearby the links for adding an item to your watch list. What’s this all about I hear you ask. Well, eBay are getting in on Pinterest’s action, that’s what. Collections are a new feature to arrive on the UK and European eBay websites. You may be used to using the watch list, and creating several lists to organise items you’re keeping an eye on. Collections is a very similar idea, except that collections are public and have a much more enticing visual design – much like Pinterest. It seems that eBay is hoping that the trend of people sharing the things they like, whether it be through Facebook likes or Pinterest pins, will help drive sales on the Internet’s de facto auction house. This has been coupled with the much more social design to eBay’s user profile pages – and here’s a link to my eBay profile. It is now possible to ‘follow’ other eBay users, and get updates on their activities. Additionally, individual collections can be followed to. Arguably, the latter is the more useful tool for someone trying to fine tune their “product stream” (my term) to a particular range of items. It’s an interesting move, and it could pay off, but it might not. I think it will depend on whether people’s urge to curate and share things is so great that they’ll do so wherever they can, including with eBay. The possible fly in the ointment is that eBay is now so old in ‘internet years’ that its users will probably have a set pattern of behaviour. At least the addition of collections isn’t jarring and intrusive. If you don’t want to use it, it doesn’t get in your way, but it’s there if you want to give it a whirl. Certainly, if you have found yourself going and buying items you’ve seen on Pinterest or Fancy, then having the same kind of curated content built into eBay will certainly streamline the process. Here’s a list of the collections I’ve curated so far: Raspberry Pi Kits Home Networking Google Nexus Accessories Novelty Smartphone Cases Windows 8 and RT Tablets Samsung Galaxy Accessories iPad Accessories Nokia Lumia Accessories iPhone Accessories Wireless Charging Bluetooth Audio Portable Chargers I like how eBay have designed the system, but my one annoyance is that items that are no longer available remain within collections. I can see a case for this being useful, but it can also mean that collections end up filled with ‘zombie’ products. So there should probably be an option to at least hide unavailable items. Disclaimer: I have been a paid member of the eBay Influencer network taking part in the pilot scheme with UK/Euro eBay...

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Weekly publications digest – April 11, 2014

Posted by on 17:30 in Publications | Comments Off on Weekly publications digest – April 11, 2014

Here are my latest publications from around the web. Bitcoin price falls amid China's banking blocks – CoinBuzz Bitcoin prices fell sharply yesterday as several Chinese exchanges announced that they could no longer process Yuan due to having their bank accounts cancelled or frozen. Interestingly, there is still no official guidance from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). 568 words Migrate Your Data from Evernote to OneNote with This Tool Windows only: For those of us who need an internet assisted brain, note taking apps are an invaluable tool -and now that OneNote has stepped up its game (and is free), you may be thinking about switching. Free app Evernote2Onenote will migrate your data for you. 205 words Add a Sternum Strap to Any Backpack for Better Support There are plenty of well designed backpacks out there, with excellent padding and wide shoulder straps, but many don’t have sternum straps. Luckily, you can add one cheaply and get better support from your bag. 308...

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