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10 cryptocurrency news stories that tickle our fancy

(FINANCE) Everything you wanted to know about recent cryptocurrency stories in a nice little list so you don’t have to lift a finger. You’re welcome.

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cryptocurrency

Cyrptocurrency is the buzz here at AG, and we’ve collected some of our favorite crypto stories all in one place for your reading pleasure. Full disclosure, I wrote like, half of these. But I swear I didn’t pick the list — it was curated by the higher ups. Get all caught up on the latest in digital currency and have fun rabbit-holing down whatever catches your attention:

How to keep the IRS off of your ass when you invest
So you bought some Bitcoin because all your friends were doing it, but now tax time is coming up and you’re like wait what do I do with this? Does the IRS need to know about my awesome digital currency investment? Yes, they do. Good news though, you can stay out of tax jail using Token Tax, a tool that helps report your cryptocurrency investments. Think of it as the Turbo Tax of crypto, and your personal tax savior this year.

AI can spot crypto investment opportunities
Take most of the thought out of investing your crypto with TokenAI, a decentralized investment platform powered by artificial intelligence. Advanced algorithms anticipate market trends, and users have access to Wall Street-level tools to execute democratic investment opportunities.

TokenAI converts money into Total Market Tokens, which can be bought in bulk and converted into any form of crypto. Its creators note, “AI does not feel fear, does not get greedy, does not have an ego,” so the emotional nature of trading is removed making for better investment opportunities.

Crypto beats historic market cap
Cryptocurrency’s total market capitalization spiked over $600 billion on December 18, 2017 according to data tracking site CoinMarketCap. At the time, this broke a historic market cap record. Since then, the total market cap has roller coastered, reaching peaks of over $830 billion in mid-January and lows around $425 billion just a few weeks later.

Blockchain has a competitor that could already obsolete the tech
Blockchain better watch its back, there’s a new kid on the block…chain. Data structure and consensus algorithm Hashgraph offers an alternative to blockchain, with a decentralized platform that uses Asynchronous Byzantine fault tolerance, faster transactions, and could maybe even use your smartphone as a node. Since Hasgraph uses every container in a chain, transactions could be up to 50,000 times faster than blockchain.

Millennials prefer bitcoin to stocks
Last November venture capital firm Blockchain Capital conducted a survey that found participants in the 18-34 age range preferred Bitcoin to stock. Respondents said they would rather own $1000 of Bitcoin than government bonds or stocks. As cryptocurrency becomes easier to buy, trade, and sell, its popularity rises.

Plus, the decentralized yet transparent nature of transactions gives crypto a leg up on banks, since many millennials are wary of traditional banking methods (hi, Wells Fargo).

Debit card that lets you spend crypto lke cash
In November, London Block Exchange (LBX) announced plans for a cryptocurrency debit card dubbed “Dragoncard” because why not. Dragoncard will be powered by Visa, allowing users to spend crypto like cash by converting digital currency to sterling with the LBX app. Currently, the app will support Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, and Monero.

LBX will handle conversions when using Dragoncard at retailers to (hopefully) speed up transactions. Due to release sometime this month, pre-registration for the digital wallet app is still open to the public if you’re lucky enough to be in the UK.

Space crypto
It’s a bird, it’s a place, it’s…space crypto? Nexus cryptocurrency aims to team up with the aerospace industry to broadcast its network from space instead of Earth. By throwing up a ton of satellites into the atmosphere, crypto infrastructure would theoretically be free from government and telecommunication regulation.

Nexus cryptocurrency founder Colin Cantrell’s father Jim Cantrell is a space entrepreneur, because that’s a thing we can be now. With their powers combined, we may have cryptocurrency in space.

The crypto that keeps Buddhists honest
Surprise, everyone can be terrible, even monks. In light of recent a corruption scandal in Thailand where several Buddhist temples were suspected of embezzling, American Buddhists are turning to cryptocurrency to build trust. Lotus Network, a “digital temple” where students and teachers can connect, uses blockchain to track online transactions.

Students can pay for classes and even make donations to specific teachers or temples with “Karma Tokens,” an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency. Since everything is tracked with blockchain, funds and spending are totally transparent, which will hopefully curb corruption.

Russia made cryptocurrencies illegal, and then made their own that IS legal. Pretty neat, comrades.
Back in October 2017, Russia decided it wasn’t really into all that cryptocurrency stuff. At least, the government wasn’t a fan of crypto that it didn’t create for itself. So after blocking citizens from accessing cryptocurrency on the basis of it being a “pyramid scheme,” the Kremlin released its own digital currency, the CyrptoRuble.

In complete defiance of the whole decentralized thing that makes crypto so appealing to users, CryptoRuble will likely be heavily monitored by the Russian government.

What happens to crypto if net neutrality dies for really real, tho?
Hey, remember that time the FCC decided to burn net neutrality at the stake and we were all worried about Netflix and stuff? Well net neutrality’s death may also impact cryptocurrency. If the execution goes as planned, Internet Service Providers could throttle the speed of crypto exchange sites, prioritize their own interests, or even cut off access entirely. Maybe go write or call your Congress representatives.

Lindsay is an editor for The American Genius with a Communication Studies degree and English minor from Southwestern University. Lindsay is interested in social interactions across and through various media, particularly television, and will gladly hyper-analyze cartoons and comics with anyone, cats included.

Business Finance

Clyde helps smaller brands to offer product protection programs

(BUSINESS FINANCE) For small brands that sell not-so-little items, Clyde is a big deal! Now you can offer product protection normally reserved for the big brands.

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For small businesses seeking to adapt to their new or growing online presence, Clyde, a platform allowing small business consumers to receive extended warranties and protection on purchases may be the answer.

Due to the current pandemic, online retailers have reported on average, a 200% increase in digital sales. Online commerce is only expected to continue its growth with 52% of consumers suggesting they will not return to in-store shopping, post COVID-19. With online shopping in demand, stolen packages, damaged products, and lost goods are also surging.

If you’re ordering from a superstore like Amazon, Target, or Walmart, chances are your items are protected and will be quickly replaced upon a discovery of any of the above issues. However, for smaller companies, protection on consumer goods is usually not offered, not because smaller companies don’t want to give their customers this option, but because finding insurance for small businesses is hard.

Clyde, a company working to provide product protection programs to small retailers through the navigation and connection to insurance companies, intends to change that. Clyde gives small businesses or as their CEO, Brandon Gell, would say, “everybody that’s not Amazon and Walmart,” the opportunity to provide their customers with individual product protection or an extended warranty contract that can be purchased at checkout.

Clyde also provides the retailer with a portion of the insurance profit, serving as an incentive for smaller companies who usually get left out of this profitable market. Product protection is responsible for a whopping $50 billion market, so getting in on the game is key. The company also provides sellers with critical data analytics, product performance statistics, that otherwise would not be obtainable to smaller companies.

Not only is Clyde protecting consumer purchases, but its mantra acts in the best interest of smaller companies normally left out of big commerce perks. The company’s dedication to provide smaller businesses with access to revenue and its consumers with product protection at a time where the demand is higher than ever may allow this company to flourish.

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Business Finance

Will cash still be king after COVID-19?

(EDITORIAL) Physical cash has been a preferred mode of payment for many, but will COVID-19 push us to a cashless future at an even faster rate?

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No more Cash

Say goodbye to the almighty dollar, at least the paper version. Cashless is where it’s at, and COVID-19 is at least partially to thank–or blame, depending on your perspective.

Let’s face it, we were already headed that direction. Apps like Venmo, PayPal, and Apple Pay have made cashless transactions painless enough that even stubborn luddites were beginning to migrate to these convenient payment methods. Then COVID-19 hit the world and suddenly, handling cash is a potential danger.

In 2020, the era of COVID-19, the thought of all the possible contaminants traveling around on an old dollar bill makes most of us cringe. Keep your nasty sock money, boob money, and even your pocket money to yourself, sir or madam, because I’ll have none of it! Nobody knows or wants to know where your money has been. We like the idea of taking your money, sure, but not the idea of actually touching it…ewww, David. Just ewww.

There is no hard evidence that cash can transmit COVID-19 from one person to the other, but perception is a powerful agent for changing our behavior. It seems plausible, considering the alarming rate this awful disease is moving through the world. Nobody has proven it can’t move with money.

There was a time when cash was king. Everyone took cash; everyone preferred it. Of course, credit cards have been around forever, but they’ve always been just as problematic as they are convenient. Like GrubHub and similar third party food delivery apps, banks end up charging both the business and the consumer with credit cards. It’s a trap. Cash cut out the (greedy) middle man.

Plus, paying with a credit card could be a pain. Try paying a taxi driver with a credit card prior to, oh, about 2014 when Uber hit the scene big time. Most drivers refused to take cash, because credit cards take a percentage off the top. Enter rideshare companies like Uber. Then in walks Square. Next PayPal, Venmo, and Apple Pay enter the scene. Suddenly, cabbies would like you to know they now take alternate forms of payment, and with a smile.

It’s good in a way, but it may end up hurting small businesses even more in the long run. The harsh reality of this current moment is that you shouldn’t be handling cash. No less an authority than the CDC recommends contactless forms of payment whenever possible. However, those cabbies weren’t wrong.

The banking industry has been pushing for a reduced reliance on cash since the 1950s, when they came up with the idea of credit cards. It was a stroke of evil genius to come up with more ways to expedite our lifelong journey into crushing debt.

The financial titans are very, very good at what they do, at the expense of all the rest of us. The New York Times reported on the trend, noting:

“In Britain alone, retailers paid 1.3 billion pounds (about $1.7 billion) in third-party fees in 2018, up £70 million from the year before, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Payment and processing companies such as PayPal (whose stock is up about 55 percent this year) and Adyen, based in the Netherlands (up 72 percent), also stand to gain.”

All kinds of banking-related industries stand to benefit as well. Maybe we’ll go back to spending physical cash one day, but I don’t think there’s any hurry. Fewer old grandpas are hiding their cash in their proverbial mattresses, and the younger, most tech-savvy generation seems perfectly content to use their smart phones for everything.

We get it. Convenience plus cleanliness is a sweet combo. If only cashless payments weren’t such a racket.

If this trend towards a cashless future continues, future travelers may not experience what it’s like to fumble with foreign currency, to smile and shrug and hand over a handful of bills because they have no idea how many baht, pesos, or rand those snacks are. They may not experience the realization that other countries’ bills come in different shapes and sizes, and may not come home with the most affordable souvenirs (coins and bills).

We shall see what the future holds. Odds are, it may not be cash money, at least in the U.S. I hope the cashless movement makes room for everyone to participate without being penalized. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, people. We need to find more ways to ease the path for people, not callously profit off of them.

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Business Finance

How NASA helps small businesses reach for the stars

(BUSINESS FINANCE) NASA has been providing $51 million in grants to small businesses and innovators.

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NASA grants

With the political and social climate that we are all trying to survive this summer, there only seems to be a few things that bring us a light of hope. For some it’s the little gestures that keeps the smiles on our faces; little helping hands that keep us going from day to day. But thanks to some forethought in our government system, there are some rather large helping hands coming down from the top as well. The organization that sends people to the moon is also making some dreams come true here on Earth.

NASA has just announced their latest batch of small business grants. Grants that amount to a total of approximately $51 million. This money is being sent out at the most crucial early-stage of small business funding. Over 300 businesses are receiving up to $125,000 to develop and bring new technologies to the world.

This grant system has been in place nearly as long as NASA itself. The Small Business Innovation Research/Technology transfer program is designed to bring in entrepreneurs and inventors’ ideas, and combine them with NASA’s assets to bring their dreams to fruition, bringing something from the lab to the marketplace.

It is set up into a three-phase system. According to The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), the first phase, Idea Generation, provides grantees with up to $125,000 for a 6 – 12 month period to “establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed R/R&D efforts and to determine the quality of performance of the small business awardee organization prior to providing further Federal support in Phase II”. If they succeed, they may be eligible to move onto Phase II, where they will be awarded a new grant of $750,000 for 2 years to continue the R&D efforts and start on a Prototype Development. Phase III is called the Infusion/Commercialization stage and it is the culmination of years of work and grant access for these businesses. This also includes a few extra requirements like matching funding for things like marketing.

Over the years, the selection has covered numerous disciplines with an extraordinary range of industries. Some of the highlights this year are high-power solar arrays, a smart air traffic control system for urban use, a water purification system for use on the moon, and improved lithium-ion batteries. These are just a few of the many innovative projects. The list covers a huge assortment, but a few people have noted the number of neuromorphic computing efforts as well.

This list is updated periodically throughout the year as each deadline is met from previous grant holders. It’s a constantly updating assortment of tomorrow’s toys, and a great way to look toward the future.

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