Digital Money – Unix Pimps http://unixpimps.org/ Thu, 31 Mar 2022 11:34:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://unixpimps.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/icon-1-150x150.png Digital Money – Unix Pimps http://unixpimps.org/ 32 32 How Digital Currency Like Bitcoin Is Threatening Traditional Banking—and the Environment https://unixpimps.org/how-digital-currency-like-bitcoin-is-threatening-traditional-banking-and-the-environment/ https://unixpimps.org/how-digital-currency-like-bitcoin-is-threatening-traditional-banking-and-the-environment/#respond Tue, 29 Jun 2021 08:03:46 +0000 https://unixpimps.org/?p=594 If you were worried about your savings at a time of financial uncertainty—say, the looming threat of inflation—would you hand your money over to Elon Musk? True, the Tesla founder is a brilliant investor and worth a mint, but he is also volatility itself, prone to strange, sudden shifts of opinion. And the fact is […]]]>

If you were worried about your savings at a time of financial uncertainty—say, the looming threat of inflation—would you hand your money over to Elon Musk?

True, the Tesla founder is a brilliant investor and worth a mint, but he is also volatility itself, prone to strange, sudden shifts of opinion. And the fact is if, in recent weeks, you put your money into Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, you were effectively putting your money into Musk, whose many whimsical tweets and off-handed remarks about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin—in which he is a major investor—have helped send them seesawing in value. With his tweets, Musk is “literally making and destroying small fortunes 280 characters at a time,” New York University marketing expert Scott Galloway told CNBC this week. 

That, in turn, is proof of what some financial authorities have long been saying: When it comes to being a stable hedge against inflation, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are about as safe a bet as going to your local convenience store and buying a lottery ticket. That became doubly clear in recent weeks when China abruptly announced it was banning its banks from bitcoin transactions, again sending the price plummeting.

“If the value of a cryptocurrency can rise or fall by 30 percent because of a change in the stance of Chinese financial regulators or a Tesla announcement, then ‘reliable’ and ‘inflation hedge’ shouldn’t appear in the same sentence,” said Barry Eichengreen, an economist and monetary historian at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Sure, cryptocurrencies tend to be deflationary since they’re not tied to central banks that print money—and there is a lot of it being printed now to keep major economies afloat after COVID-19. Global stocks and futures have fallen as rising inflation concerns suggest the Federal Reserve and other central banks may have to raise interest rates. U.S. consumer prices climbed in April, the greatest jump since 2009.

That, on the face of it, might make cryptocurrencies seem attractive as a hedge. But there are so many other problems that make them hot potatoes as market bets—as evidenced by the shift away from cryptocurrencies and into gold in recent days, resulting in a nearly $1 trillion drop in cryptocurrency valuations by mid-week. Just the name “cryptocurrency” is an indication of how dicey Bitcoin’s value is: Divorced from real money and part of a decentralized trading system largely controlled by a few large and mysterious investors, it has no monetary value other than what the market places on it day by day, and that, in turn, is based on a complex system known as blockchain, a type of “distributed ledger.” (More on that later.) 

But cryptocurrencies aren’t going away either—on the contrary, they are helping revolutionize finance altogether by threatening to eliminate traditional “middlemen” in transactions, whether that be private banks, lawyers, or even central banks.

As a result, banks are trying to keep up, seeking to outpace cryptocurrencies with a new competitive concept, “stablecoins.” These are digital currencies that are like crypto coinage in some ways, but instead of being decentralized like Bitcoin—which is not overseen or regulated by governments—they are fully backed with safe and liquid assets in a domestic currency. Currently, some 80 percent of countries surveyed by the Bank for International Settlements are studying versions of stablecoins and what have become known as “central bank digital currency” (CBDCs), led by China and Switzerland. 

In a speech last August, Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard noted how the emergence of Bitcoin in 2008 led to the idea of stablecoins—and that, in turn, “has intensified calls for CBDCs to maintain the sovereign currency as the anchor of the nation’s payment systems.”

Yet to a degree few authorities seem to understand, central banks are in a desperate race with crypto-innovators, one they may even eventually lose. This new challenge has risen in a matter of months: Since 2013, the value of all cryptocurrencies in circulation has soared from $1.6 billion to more than $1.6 trillion, according to CoinMarketCap, a market tracking company.

And about $1.4 trillion of that value was added only in the past year. 

“They’re reinventing what finance is, and it’s sort of going under the radar of the establishment,” said Carol Alexander, a cryptocurrency expert at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. “They’re not using standard products. They’re not using standard trading protocols. … It’s a revolution led by young people, computer science geeks, and they talk a million miles an hour.” 

This is creating something close to panic in Washington and other capitals. Governments are concerned as cryptocurrency trading expands, many traders are evading taxes. And as cryptocurrency traders increase, they are moving to cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance, the number one exchange in the world, which was started in China but then fled to the crypto-accommodating Cayman Islands. On Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced it is adopting new policies to crack down on cryptocurrency markets and transactions, saying it will require any cryptocurrency transfers of $10,000 or more to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service. And new Securities and Exchange Commission chairperson Gary Gensler, an expert who taught a course on cryptocurrency at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has indicated he’s considering a whole new regulatory framework. Bitcoin shares were hit yet again on Friday when Chinese authorities called for a crackdown on mining and trading of the cryptocurrency.

The success of cryptocurrencies has also spurred an eagerness worldwide to shift to digital currency. The trend has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has driven home the increasingly antiquated nature of cash money. The problem became clear over the past year as governments failed to transfer relief money to poorer segments of the population that lacked credit cards or bank accounts. “The COVID-19 crisis is a dramatic reminder of the importance of a resilient and trusted payments infrastructure that is accessible to all Americans,” Brainard said last August, announcing her support for a joint study of CBDCs by the Boston Federal Reserve and MIT. All these distribution problems could be solved, Eichengreen noted, with “a Federal Reserve-issued electronic wallet into which digital dollars could be deposited.”

The problem is worldwide. “There are some countries where commercial banks put a sign on the door: ‘Cash not accepted here,’” said Tommaso Mancini-Griffoli, a division chief in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) monetary and capital markets department. “So that’s a sign of the incredible pace at which cash use is declining in some countries.” 

Money, of course, can be based on any agreed-on source of value—as what happened with gold. As a rare, attractive metal that doesn’t corrode, gold willy-nilly assumed the role of money over many centuries because societies agreed to assign common value to it. Many investors are placing value on Bitcoin because, like gold, it is also rare—there are 18.7 million bitcoin in circulation, and only a total of 21 million are available to be traded—and because it hasn’t been hacked thanks to its secure blockchain technology, which requires “miners” of Bitcoin to use enormous amounts of computing power to verify transactions. This is known as “proof of work.”

How does “proof of work” work? Blockchains consist of “blocks” of data that are “chained” together as a computerized ledger of transactions. This cannot be altered by hackers or criminals since each block has a time stamp that creates an irreversible chronology of the inputted data. All users collectively retain control, and only those with the necessary computing power can take part. Any tampering would be easily observable: Every computer involved, called “nodes,” contains the entire history of all Bitcoin transactions, so if one user tries to falsify a transaction, all the other nodes would be able to cross-reference one another and discover the false information. Thus, blockchain constitutes a new form of shared value or money that is valuable because it cannot be breached or questioned. It is, in a way, digital gold.

But in the case of Bitcoin, that also means huge amounts of electricity are used to “mine” it on the internet. By the IMF’s estimate, the millions of calculations needed to mine Bitcoin amounts to more than the annual energy use of Chile. As a result, even Musk has raised concerns about climate damage from the fossil fuel usage necessary to run and cool down these giant computer systems. (This is one reason Musk has taken the market on a wild ride in the last few weeks: First, he announced Tesla would accept bitcoin as payment for cars—a huge breakthrough for cryptocurrency. Then, he did an about-face and said Tesla has halted purchases with bitcoin due to concerns over the “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining.”)

Yet Bitcoin is already an aging technology—in some ways the dinosaur of cryptocurrency, even though it remains the largest cryptocurrency with a recent valuation of more than $1 trillion. Newer types of blockchain cryptocurrencies, like that employed by Ethereum, plan to slash electricity use by being based on “proof of stake”—how much money invested—rather than “proof of work.” Unlike Bitcoin, which is merely seen as digital gold to hold onto, Ethereum is also a blockchain-based platform for developers to build and operate apps that offer “smart contracts” for traditional financial products, like insurance or loans, without the need for intermediaries like brokerages or banks. Ethereum and other so-called public blockchains also offer “nonfungible tokens” (NFTs), which have allowed artists, musicians, and even baseball card collectors to sell directly to the public without intermediaries like banks, record labels, publishers, or lawyers. 

“This is where the real threat to banks is coming from—and to lawyers and insurance companies, all the main establishment greedy fat cows,” Alexander said. “There’s no stopping it now.”

Alexander and other experts say all this innovation is plainly where the future of global finance lies. “It feels like crypto is close to ready for the mainstream in a way that it wasn’t even four years ago,” Ethereum’s creator, Vitalik Buterin, told CNN earlier this week. “Crypto isn’t just a toy anymore.”

In the past year, Ethereum has gained about 1,600 percent in market value compared with Bitcoin’s 300 percent, according to the Motley Fool, a market analysis firm. In April, the European Investment Bank, the lending arm of the European Union, used Ethereum technology for the first time to issue $121 million in digital bonds.

Mancini-Griffoli and other experts say cryptocurrency and its underlying technology are helping to change the way governments and central banks think about the nature of money. Their solution: stablecoins. “Stablecoins have many of the advantages of crypto assets in the sense that you can transfer them easily digitally peer to peer, but they also have some advantages of fiat currency, i.e., stability,” Mancini-Griffoli said. “The promise is for these to be more stable than crypto assets.”

The argument central banks make is, as currently constituted, private distributed ledger technology cannot be fully relied on without assurances that in a crisis, the holder of cryptocurrency assets will be recompensed if the issuer goes bankrupt. Central banks can offer such insurance as well as the liquidity necessary to make good on the assets. In addition, privately run cryptocurrency is inefficient as a payment system because many different computer servers are involved. If, instead, central banks run the technology with just a few servers owned and controlled by central banks, payments can be made far more swiftly. Such a new kind of network would also allow users to “program” money in a way that is not possible now. Currently, payment systems run by central banks require an intermediary, say a bank, between buyer and seller. But digital ledgers could put both payment and delivery for purchase of a stock on a blockchain, where the transaction happens instantaneously with no need for an intermediary. 

It’s not just banks that could be cut out of the financial system. In an April 14 article, Martin Enlund of Denmark’s Nordea Bank wrote the United States’ “monetary capacity could be eroded by growing competition from, cryptocurrencies.” But the greater threat, he said, is from China’s forthcoming digital currency. “As China’s GDP and role in world trade continue to grow, it seems natural to expect that countries, especially its neighbouring countries, will to a larger and larger extent start to use China’s currency as both invoicing and financing currency,” he wrote.

China is trying to find a way around the U.S. currency’s global reserve status by trying out a digital yuan and will likely have it up and running by next year. Some fear if the United States doesn’t keep up, the ease of using China’s digital currency in cross-border transactions will erode the dollar’s position as the dominant international currency. (Currently, China’s currency accounts for a mere 2 percent of global cross-border payments, a tiny share compared to the U.S. dollar’s 38 percent.) 

Most experts believe Beijing is merely trying to curb rampant money laundering, which is rife on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency platforms. Yet U.S. and international financial officials are so worried about the threat from cryptocurrencies, especially with China aggressively pursuing its own digital currency, they have set in motion a slew of studies on the phenomenon. 

In late February, Federal Reserve chairperson Jerome Powell and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the United States was studying the issue hard, with Powell telling Congress that a digital currency developed by the Federal Reserve is a “high priority project for us.”

Although the United States is still just studying the issue, other central banks are moving ahead. Along with China’s central bank’s pilot programs, Thai and Hong Kong central banks are currently engaged in a joint project to conduct common transactions—say, dollars for euros—using distributed ledgers like blockchains. The Swiss National Bank also has an active program underway. Other central banks like those in less developed countries in the Caribbean and elsewhere—where much of the population doesn’t have traditional bank accounts—are also forging ahead with these technologies.

Meanwhile, there are new private ventures trying to go beyond Bitcoin and ally themselves with traditional currency. Among the new stablecoins with potential global reach was Facebook’s Libra, which has morphed from a digital store of value tied to multiple actual currencies to a new concept called Diem. Facebook plans to relaunch Diem later this year as a U.S. dollar-based stablecoin with 26 commercial companies and nonprofit organizations.

There are pitfalls to going digital. Although digital dollars could address the exorbitant cost of cross-border money transfers, Eichengreen recently wrote for Project Syndicate that “foreign governments might be reluctant to permit their nationals to install the Fed’s digital wallet, because that would leave them and their central banks unable to enforce their capital controls.” And if people shift their savings from banks to digital wallets, he added, banks’ ability to lend will be hamstrung. Some banks will close, and small businesses that rely on banks for credit will have to look elsewhere. Brand new forms of lending will have to be created—perhaps digitally.

But that may be what happens after a revolution.

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Maker of Snapchat Announces Augmented Reality Glasses https://unixpimps.org/maker-of-snapchat-announces-augmented-reality-glasses/ https://unixpimps.org/maker-of-snapchat-announces-augmented-reality-glasses/#respond Wed, 23 Jun 2021 01:20:46 +0000 https://unixpimps.org/?p=531 Here’s what you need to know: Snap is so far not selling its new augmented reality glasses, but it has given them to content creators to try out.Credit…Snap Snap said on Thursday that it had built a new version of Spectacles, its glasses that interact with the Snapchat app, to allow users to view artificial […]]]>
Credit…Snap

Snap said on Thursday that it had built a new version of Spectacles, its glasses that interact with the Snapchat app, to allow users to view artificial reality overlaid on the real world.

It is the first time the glasses include augmented reality features. The earlier versions of Spectacles could record videos and photos and import them to the Snapchat app. A year after the initial version was introduced in 2016, Snap wrote off $40 million worth of Spectacles in a quarter because it “misjudged strong early demand.”

The new glasses piggyback on work the company has already done to rapidly build augmented reality into its main messaging app. The Snapchat app allows people to add filters to photos and videos to transform their faces and surroundings. Recently, retailers have taken notice and begun allowing Snapchat users to try on shoes and makeup in augmented reality.

The new Spectacles, which Snap said it had given to content creators but would not yet sell, are part of a set of developments in augmented reality that Snap unveiled during its annual Partner Summit, an event for developers and advertisers.

The company also said it would expand the ability to try on clothes in Snapchat, add augmented reality filters for use during virtual dates in partnership with the dating app Bumble, and offer $3.5 million to fund augmented reality projects by creators.

“Together with the A.R. creator community, our journey building Spectacles over the years has been one of exploration and learning. We’ve made a lot of progress, but our work here is far from over,” Snap’s chief executive, Evan Spiegel, said during the event. “And in many ways, it’s just beginning.”

A Uniqlo store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The Port of Los Angeles had initially blocked a shipment of cotton garments from Uniqlo in January.
Credit…Gabby Jones for The New York Times

United States customs officials blocked a shipment of men’s cotton shirts from the fast-fashion giant Uniqlo earlier this year because of concerns that the clothes had been produced in part by forced labor in the Xinjiang area of China.

The issue attracted new attention this week when a ruling on Tuesday was posted on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. Reuters reported on the ruling earlier.

The Port of Los Angeles had initially blocked a shipment of cotton garments from Uniqlo in January, citing an order that prohibits the import of cotton and cotton items produced by the Xinjiang area of China. The ban was put in place because of the widespread use of forced labor in the region.

Six of the seven shirt styles that were blocked were not made from cotton and therefore admissible, but U.S. customs officials took issue with the seventh style. “Uniqlo has not provided substantial evidence to establish that the entities within the XPCC that processed that cotton into the subject goods did so without the use of forced labor,” the customs agency said in its statement, referring to the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

Customs officials said that documentation provided by Uniqlo after the garments were blocked contained “numerous deficiencies,” like illegible purchase contracts, an outdated code of conduct letter and “unsigned, undated, and generally illegible China customs declarations.”

Representatives for Uniqlo, which is owned by Japan’s Fast Retailing Company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ruling comes as major apparel companies grapple with accusations that they are profiting from the forced labor of Uyghur people in Xinjiang.

The Treasury Department’s report lays out the administration’s new “tax compliance agenda.”
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

The Biden administration on Thursday provided more details on its plans to raise $700 billion in revenue through beefed-up Internal Revenue Service enforcement, saying additional funds would enable the agency to more easily crack down on tax cheats.

The Treasury Department released a 22-page report laying out the administration’s new “tax compliance agenda,” which is a centerpiece of its plans to pay for a $1.8 trillion infrastructure and jobs proposal. The Biden administration wants to give the I.R.S. $80 billion over the next decade so that it can overhaul its outdated technology and ramp up audits of wealthy taxpayers and corporations to ensure they are not avoiding — or evading — U.S. taxes.

Previous administrations have long talked about trying to crack down on tax evasion. The head of the I.R.S., Charles Rettig, told a Senate committee earlier this year that the agency lacked the resources to catch tax cheats, including those who hide income from cryptocurrencies, and that the government was losing out on as much as $1 trillion a year.

The Treasury Department estimated on Thursday that in 2019 the so-called tax gap was $584 billion and is on pace to total $7 trillion over the next 10 years.

The Biden administration’s estimates of the return on investment that it could generate from boosting the I.R.S. budget far surpassed projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. And John Koskinen, a former I.R.S. commissioner under President Barack Obama and President Donald J. Trump, has suggested that it would be hard for the agency to efficiently spend that much money.

The Treasury Department said it believes its revenue projections are conservative. Much of the revenue from more rigid enforcement would become evident in the later part of the decade, the report said, but Treasury officials believe that with more enforcement staff and better technology the I.R.S. can chip away at the tax gap.

“This revenue is backloaded in the 10-year budget window as several of these new investments — such as hiring revenue agents capable of complex global high net-worth examinations and building the technological infrastructure to support a new information reporting regime — take years to reach their full potential,” the report said.

In the second decade, Treasury thinks the I.R.S. could bring in an additional $1.6 trillion.

The Biden administration’s proposal would include the hiring of 5,000 new I.R.S. enforcement agents, including those with the kind of sophisticated training needed to understand complex tax evasion schemes.

The Treasury report said that much of the revenue it estimates would come through its “information reporting” rules for financial institutions. This would give the I.R.S. more visibility into corporate accounts to determine how much money they are actually taking in and what should be taxed. The department said it expects that such reporting would be helpful for audits and would serve as a deterrent against corporate tax evasion.

The new information reporting rules would also include an effort by the Biden administration to bring cryptocurrencies into the tax regime and to crack down on those using cryptocurrencies to avoid paying taxes. The report said that cryptocurrency exchange accounts and payment accounts that accept them would fall under the reporting rules. Businesses that receive crypto assets with a fair market value of more than $10,000 would be subject to information reporting.

The Biden administration has faced questions from Republican lawmakers, such as Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho, to justify its claims that giving the I.R.S. so much money will yield such robust returns. Conservative political groups have criticized the Biden administration’s plan hire an army of I.R.S. agents, saying it’s a way to hike taxes.

The Treasury report attempted to rebut such claims, noting that increased audits would be focused on the rich.

“It is important to note that the president’s compliance proposals are designed to ameliorate existing inequities by focusing on high-end evasion,” the report said. “Audit rates will not rise relative to recent years for those with less than $400,000 in actual income.”

President Xi Jinping of China, upper left, and European leaders discussing the investment deal in December. Since then, opposition to the deal in the European Parliament has hardened.
Credit…Johanna Geron/Reuters

The European Parliament halted progress Thursday on a landmark commercial agreement with China, citing the “totalitarian threat” from Beijing because of its record on human rights and its sanctions against Europeans who have been critical of the Chinese government.

By an overwhelming majority, members of Parliament passed a resolution refusing to ratify the so-called Comprehensive Agreement on Investment until China lifts sanctions on prominent European critics of Beijing. The members of Parliament also warned that they could refuse to endorse the agreement because of China’s treatment of Muslim minorities and its suppression of democracy in Hong Kong.

“The human rights situation in China is at its worst since the Tiananmen Square massacre,” the resolution said, accusing China of detaining more than one million people, mostly Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, a charge the Chinese government has denied.

The sanctions against members of the European Parliament who have been critical of Beijing, as well as several scholars and research organizations, “constitute an attack against the European Union and its Parliament as a whole, the heart of European democracy and values, as well as an attack against freedom of research,” the resolution said.

The vote was the latest setback to relations between the European Union and China only a few months after they signed a pact intended to make it easier for their companies to do business on each other’s territory. The agreement requires approval by Parliament.

The investment agreement was a high priority for Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany because of China’s importance to German automakers and other firms. Among other things, the agreement would allow European companies to own majority stakes in their Chinese subsidiaries, rather than forcing them to operate through joint ventures with Chinese partners and share trade secrets.

But relations have gone downhill since March when the European Commission issued sanctions against four Communist Party officials after accusing them of being responsible for human rights violations.

China retaliated with sanctions against members of the European Parliament, including Reinhard Bütikofer, a member of the Greens faction from Germany and prominent critic of Beijing. They are not allowed to travel to China or do business with people in China.

The investment agreement was already in trouble. Valdis Dombrovskis, the European commissioner for trade, said earlier in May that work to finalize the pact was delayed because of repressive Chinese policies. The European Commission, the European Union’s administrative arm, also took steps this month to clamp down on Chinese companies that receive subsidies from the government, giving them an unfair competitive edge.

The resolution passed Thursday by a vote of 599 in favor and 30 against, with 58 abstentions. The no votes came from a handful of far-right or far-left members of Parliament.

Oatly shares opened at $22.12 on the Nasdaq.
Credit…Marta Lavandier/Associated Press

Shares of Oatly soared 30 percent on Thursday as investors jumped at the chance to take part in rapid changes in the food industry driven by consumer tastes shifting to plant-based products.

The company, which makes an alternative to dairy milk based on oats, priced its initial public offering Wednesday night on the high end of its range, giving the company a value of about $10 billion. Shares were priced at $17 and began trading at $22.12 on the Nasdaq under the ticker “OTLY.”

The offering comes as money is flooding into the food tech space, with investors eager to catch a ride on the next Beyond Meat — the vegan food company valued at about $6.6 billion by public investors. And investors have put a heightened focus on companies like Oatly that say they meet environmental, social and governance standards.

“Long term, it’s an opportunity for us to create a fantastic shareholder base,” Oatly’s chief executive, Toni Petersson, said of the offering. “So E.S.G. was definitely a huge, huge part of it — so we’re excited, we’re really excited, about the outcome here.”

Oatly, based in Malmo, Sweden, was founded in 1994 by Rickard Oste, a professor of food chemistry and nutrition in Sweden, and his brother Bjorn Oste. They developed a way of processing a slurry of oats and water with enzymes to produce natural sweetness and a milk-like taste and consistency. Fans of oatmilk say it tastes better than dairy-free predecessors like soy milk and is better for the environment than almond milk.

The company has drawn the attention of big money and flashy names. The majority shareholder is a partnership between an entity owned by the Chinese government and Verlinvest, a Belgian firm that invests some of the wealth of the families that control the Anheuser-Busch InBev beer empire. Blackstone is an investor, as are Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and Howard Schultz.

Oatly’s sales soared last year to $420 million from $204 million in 2019, though the company reported a loss of $60 million as it invested in new factories, marketing and new products. It’s goal going forward remains growth, not profitability, Mr. Petersson said.

“This is about gaining market share,” he said. “This is about leading a movement forward.”

In 2019, Campbell, which sells oat milk through its Pacific Foods brand, complained about Oatly’s marketing around its use of sugar. But Oatly has no plans to address its sugar content.

“We’re just replicating what nature does before it enters your stomach,” Mr. Petersson said in describing the process of making oatmilk.

Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. The company’s process for verifying accounts has been opaque.
Credit…Laura Morton for The New York Times

Twitter said Thursday that it would begin allowing users to apply for verification, giving new hope to those who have spent years coveting the blue check mark that denotes some level of social media clout.

Representatives from governments, companies and news organizations are already eligible to be verified, along with athletes, entertainers and activists. Twitter will slowly offer the application form to other users over the coming weeks so it is not deluged with requests. To be eligible, users in those categories must confirm their email addresses or phone numbers and should not have recently violated Twitter rules, a spokeswoman said.

Twitter users have clamored to be verified since the company granted its first verification in 2009 to an account belonging to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The blue check mark, which is displayed on a user’s profile, is viewed as an indicator of legitimacy and influence.

But Twitter’s process for verifying accounts has been opaque. Without a clear path to verification, users have resorted to begging Twitter employees and other prominent tech figures to help them get verified.

“I usually get a verification request every couple of days,” said Jane Manchun Wong, a software engineer who researches Twitter and other social media apps. (Ms. Wong does not work for Twitter and cannot verify accounts.) “I usually try to ignore them, but sometimes they begin to start spamming,” she said.

In 2017, Twitter faced criticism after verifying the account of Jason Kessler, a white supremacist who has used Twitter to organize rallies like Unite the Right’s in Charlottesville, Va., where torch-wielding protesters marched through the streets chanting racist rallying cries. Twitter said it would stop verifying accounts until it could develop a coherent process for doing so. That didn’t happen. Instead, the company continued quietly verifying accounts, although it did not allow users to proactively apply for verification.

The confusion over verification became a running joke at Twitter. In 2020, Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, joked in an interview with Wired that users could be verified if they sent direct messages to the company’s head of product, Kayvon Beykpour.

Mr. Beykpour was not, in fact, responsible for verifying users.

Last year, Twitter finally took steps to fix the process. It published a draft verification policy and invited users to comment, before eventually opening up the application process on Thursday. Twitter said other account labels would be introduced soon, like an option for users to add their pronouns to their profiles, and that it hoped to begin verifying scientists and religious leaders later this year.

“I’m hoping it will finally get people to stop DMing me, asking me to verify them,” B Byrne, Twitter’s product lead for profiles and identity, said of the new verification process.

Josh Harris may keep busy with basketball after leaving Apollo.
Credit…Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times

Joshua Harris, one of Apollo Global Management’s top executives, said on Thursday that he planned to give up day-to-day duties at the private equity giant, after clashing with his fellow founders over the departure of Leon Black as the firm’s chief executive.

The departure of Mr. Harris, 56, comes months after he argued that Mr. Black should step down immediately following Apollo’s investigation into his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the late financier and registered sex offender. Mr. Harris was overruled by the other two members of Apollo’s executive committee, the firm’s other founders, Mr. Black and Marc Rowan.

Mr. Harris served as one of Apollo’s most visible and hands-on managers, but instead of succeeding Mr. Black as chief executive, he lost out to Mr. Rowan, who had announced last year that he was taking a “semi-sabbatical” from the firm.

In March, however, Mr. Black — who had agreed to step down as chief executive in July, while remaining chairman — unexpectedly gave up all his duties. Mr. Black, at the time, cited health reasons and continuing media coverage of his dealings with Mr. Epstein.

But by then, Mr. Harris was seen as having less of a leadership role at the firm. It was Mr. Rowan who engineered Apollo’s takeover of Athene, a big insurance and lending affiliate that is expected to bolster the firm’s investing power.

Mr. Harris was not on Apollo’s quarterly earnings call with analysts earlier this month, an absence noted by a participant on the call, which fueled speculation that his role at Apollo had diminished since Mr. Rowan’s ascension.

Mr. Harris had wanted Mr. Black to make a complete break with Apollo after a law firm hired by Apollo’s board had found Mr. Black paid $158 million in fees to Mr. Epstein and lent him another $30 million in recent years. Mr. Harris was concerned that institutional investors in Apollo funds might be troubled by the law firm’s findings, even though the report concluded Mr. Black had paid Mr. Epstein for legitimate tax planning advice and had done nothing improper.

Apollo’s stock, which had lagged its competitors while the law firm investigated the matter, has risen about 20 percent since Mr. Black said he was resigning as chairman.

The board of Apollo hired the outside law firm to conduct review following a report in October in The New York Times of Mr. Black’s business and social dealings with Mr. Epstein, who died in federal custody in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Mr. Harris will officially step down after Apollo completes the Athene deal, which is expected to be completed early next year. He will remain a member of the firm’s board and its executive committee. Mr. Harris, like Mr. Black, is one of Apollo’s largest shareholders.

He is expected to focus on an array of other business interests, including his co-ownership of several professional sports franchises — including the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team and the New Jersey Devils hockey team — and his family office. He is also expected to focus more on philanthropy.

“I have become increasingly involved in these areas and knew that one day they would become my primary pursuit,” Mr. Harris wrote in an internal memorandum reviewed by The Times.

Mr. Harris, whose net worth is estimated at just of $5 billion, recently bought a $32 million mansion in Miami.

Stocks on Wall Street jumped on Thursday, rebounding from three consecutive days of selling.

The S&P 500 rose 1 percent. The index had dropped 1.4 percent through the close on Wednesday, after falling by the same amount the week before. Technology shares led the recovery on Thursday, with the Nasdaq composite climbing 1.5 percent.

Concerns about rapid economic growth fueling inflation, as well as rising coronavirus cases in some parts of the world, have undermined recent optimism about the global economic recovery from the pandemic.

On Wednesday, minutes of the latest Federal Reserve policy meeting showed several officials thought that “at some point in upcoming meetings” they could begin to discuss tapering the bank’s bond-buying program. Investors have speculated the central bank would have to do so as price increases accelerated.

On Thursday, the U.S. government said new claims for state jobless benefits fell again last week, continuing a fairly steady decline since the start of the year. The benefit filings, something of a proxy for layoffs, have receded as business return to fuller operations, particularly in hard-hit industries like leisure and hospitality.

European stock indexes were also higher on Thursday. The Stoxx Europe 600 and FTSE 100 in Britain both rose more than 1 percent.

  • Bitcoin was volatile again on Thursday, after a turbulent day on Wednesday. The cryptocurrency was just above $39,000 in afternoon trading, after having climbed above $41,000 earlier. On Wednesday, the price plunged to below $32,000 before rebounding.

  • The retreat from high levels on Thursday came after the Treasury Department said it would bring cryptocurrencies into the tax regime and crack down on those using cryptocurrencies to avoid paying taxes. Businesses that receive cryptoassets with a fair market value of more than $10,000 would be subject to information reporting.

Initial claims for state jobless benefits fell again last week, continuing a fairly steady decline since the start of the year, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The weekly figure was slightly under 455,000, a decline of 37,000 from the previous week and the lowest weekly total since before the pandemic. New claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded program for jobless freelancers, gig workers and others who do not ordinarily qualify for state benefits, totaled 95,000. The figures are not seasonally adjusted.

New state claims remain high by historical levels but are less than half the level recorded as recently as early January. The benefit filings, something of a proxy for layoffs, have receded as business return to fuller operations, particularly in hard-hit industries like leisure and hospitality.

More than 20 Republican-led states have said they will abandon federally funded emergency benefit programs in June or early July, saying the income is deterring recipients from seeking work as some employers complain of trouble filling jobs. Those programs include not only Pandemic Unemployment Assistance but also extended benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Credit…Daniel Zender

Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide talks to Sheera Frenkel about how the latest violence between Israelis and Palestinians encapsulates the best and worst of digital life.

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G.M. will restart several plants idled by the global chip shortage. https://unixpimps.org/g-m-will-restart-several-plants-idled-by-the-global-chip-shortage/ https://unixpimps.org/g-m-will-restart-several-plants-idled-by-the-global-chip-shortage/#respond Fri, 18 Jun 2021 20:27:30 +0000 https://unixpimps.org/?p=471 Daily Business Briefing May 27, 2021Updated  June 15, 2021, 8:47 a.m. ET June 15, 2021, 8:47 a.m. ET The General Motors plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, which makes the Equinox and the Chevy Blazer, will be restarted on Monday.Credit…Daniel Becerril/Reuters General Motors said on Thursday that it would restart four North American plants that had […]]]>

Daily Business Briefing

June 15, 2021, 8:47 a.m. ET

June 15, 2021, 8:47 a.m. ET

Credit…Daniel Becerril/Reuters

General Motors said on Thursday that it would restart four North American plants that had been idled for much of the last four months because of the global shortage of computer chips.

The announcement comes after the company and other automakers have spent much of the last few months announcing they were idling factories and slowing production because they could not get enough of the tiny parts, which are essential to not just cars but also electronics, appliances and many other goods. Shares of G.M. jumped on the news and were trading up more than 2 percent at 1 p.m.

The automaker said it planned to restart production of the Chevrolet Camaro at its Lansing Grand River factory in Michigan on June 21, sooner than previously expected. The plant has been idle since Feb. 5. Production of two other vehicles, the Cadillac CT4 and CT5 sedans, will restart a week later.

A Canadian plant that makes the Chevrolet Equinox sport-utility vehicle will resume operations June 14 and run through July 2, when it will begin a normal two-week summer shutdown. The plant, know as CAMI Assembly, has been closed since Feb. 8.

Two S.U.V. plants in Mexico will restart on Monday. These include a factory in San Luis Potosi that makes the Equinox and GMC Terrain, and another in Ramos Arizpe that makes the Equinox and the Chevy Blazer.

Two G.M.’s plants in South Korea are also scheduled to resume full production by the end of May. The Bupyeong 1 plant has been operating at 50 percent capacity since late April, while the Changwon assembly plant will also add a second shift.

G.M. has said the semiconductor shortage will lower pretax profit this year by $1.5 billion to $2 billion. It earned $3 billion in net income in the first quarter but expects to make only $500 million in the second.

The company appears to be weathering the shortage with fewer problems than Ford Motor, which has said the lack of chips could reduce its production to just half as many vehicles in the second quarter as it had previously planned.

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Credit…Micah Walter/Reuters

Three months after the death of the right-wing talk radio star Rush Limbaugh, Premiere Networks announced that Clay Travis and Buck Sexton would take over his time slot.

The duo will host a weekday program from noon to 3 p.m. Eastern time that will be syndicated by Premiere Networks, a division of iHeartMedia, to hundreds of radio stations across the United States, the network said Thursday.

The broadcaster has been running old episodes of “The Rush Limbaugh Show” in the time slot since Mr. Limbaugh’s death in February. “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” will start on June 21. The hirings were reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Limbaugh died on Feb. 17 at age 70 from complications of lung cancer. He had dominated the conservative media landscape for more than three decades with his provocative commentary and propensity to push conspiracy theories. At the time of his death, he had a following of roughly 15 million listeners.

Premiere Networks is hoping to retain that audience with its new picks, but the pair face competition from Mr. Limbaugh’s counterparts on other networks. Cumulus Media’s Westwood One arm announced in April that the right-wing commentator Dan Bongino would take over the noon-to-3 slot on its radio stations with a new show. Radio America recently re-signed a multiyear deal with Dana Loesch, the former National Rifle Association spokeswoman, who also has a program in the same time slot.

Mr. Travis, 42, is the founder of the sports and politics website Outkick.com, which was recently bought by Fox Corporation. He hosts a nationally syndicated show on Fox Sports Radio and co-hosts a daily sports betting TV show on Fox Sports 1. Mr. Sexton, 39, a former C.I.A. officer, has his own three-hour weekday talk radio program on Premiere Networks and is a frequent Fox News guest.

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Top Finance Executives Testify on Economic Recovery and Oversight

Executives at major financial institutions testified for a second day to Congress about how they were helping aid economic recovery.

“We are living through unprecedented times, which history will judge the leaders of government and industry by actions we take to address the health and economic crises, and longstanding structural inequities. At JPMorgan Chase, we entered this crisis from a position of strength and leveraged our size and scale to contribute to the stability in our country and ongoing support for the real economy — our customers, employees and communities impacted by the global crisis. In 2020, we extended credit and raised capital totaling $2.3 trillion for customers and businesses of all sizes, helping them meet payroll, avoid layoffs and support operations. We waived fees and delayed payments on about three million accounts for customers who said they were affected by Covid with no questions asked.” “At Citi, we recognize this has been an incredibly challenging time for Americans, millions of whom we’re very proud to call our customers. The origins of this global crisis are very unlike the last one. This is a public health crisis with severe economic consequences for many. Through the pandemic, Citi has shown we are a very different bank than the one that entered the financial crisis more than a decade ago. We’re smaller, but we’re safer, we’re stronger and we’re far less complex. We have had the financial resources to support our clients and communities through Covid, and we’re laser-focused on driving a sustainable and an equitable recovery. I’ll always be proud that we were the first bank to provide relief programs for retail and small business customers in the U.S.” “In our institutional business, we’re a financial adviser to companies. We help them raise debt and equity capital, from taking companies public to helping them issue bonds so they can grow and create jobs. We help public-sector entities raise municipal financing. We help pension funds, mutual funds and other financial institutions trade and manage assets.”

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Executives at major financial institutions testified for a second day to Congress about how they were helping aid economic recovery.

A day after testifying to the Senate Committee on Banking, the chief executives of the six largest banks faced a second round of questioning from lawmakers on Thursday in an hourslong hearing before the House Committee on Financial Services.

Some of the lawmakers’ questions on topics like overdraft fees echoed Wednesday’s Senate hearing.

Others questioned executives for their views on financial regulation.

David Solomon, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said he believed more disclosure was needed on special purpose acquisition companies, the blank-check firms known as SPACs that have become a Wall Street favorite for bypassing the traditional public offering process.

“I think there’s an opportunity for more plain language disclosure, so that investors really understand the sponsorship economics in plain clear language, and they also understand the process,” Mr. Solomon said.

Mr. Solomon also said there were “opportunities to think carefully” about disclosure and liabilities in a typical I.P.O. process.

Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, called for more regulation of cryptocurrencies, noting that the bank will offer some forms of digital currency as clients demand them. “My own personal advice to people is stay away from it — that does not mean the clients don’t want it,” he said.

Lawmakers also questioned Mr. Dimon and Jane Fraser, Citigroup’s chief executive, about the banks’ resistance to conducting racial equity audits, as urged by some investors. Nearly 40 percent of JPMorgan shareholders said they were in favor of a racial equity and audit report at a recent shareholders’ meeting, but Mr. Dimon said he did not believe one was necessary.

Mr. Dimon highlighted the investments the firm has made and committed toward racial equity, a mission to which he said the firm is “devoted.”

“That is completely different than the bureaucracy and B.S. of having outside orders come in to certify something,” Mr. Dimon said. “If there are best practices that we can learn from, we’ll learn from them, but this kind of thing is not going to make it much better over time — it just adds a whole layer of unnecessary cost.”

Citi shareholders recently voted down a proposal that would have required the company’s board to oversee a racial equity audit. “We didn’t think it was needed to have a separate audit,” Ms. Fraser said of that proposal, which was pushed by CtW, an adviser to union pensions. “But it is something that we’re looking at again given it was brought up by our shareholders.”

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Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Thursday that while economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic has shown significant progress thanks to the American Rescue Plan, more economic assistance is still needed.CreditCredit…Erin Scott for The New York Times

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen warned on Thursday that her agency lacked sufficient resources to oversee an economic recovery that still has “a long road ahead” and called on Congress to provide her with more funds to oversee a sprawling set of relief programs.

In testimony before a House appropriations subcommittee, Ms. Yellen expressed confidence that the end of the pandemic recession was in sight, but said that the Treasury Department is facing an overwhelming task in disbursing hundreds of billions of dollars of relief money with the same budget that it had a decade ago. The Treasury Department has been central to the federal government’s response to the health crisis, funneling stimulus payments and aid to millions of Americans, states, cities and businesses.

“Our team has done valiant work implementing these programs with the resources at our disposal,” Ms. Yellen said in prepared remarks. “But we cannot continue to be good stewards of this recovery — and tackle the new bodies of work that Congress assigns to us in the years beyond — with a budget that was designed for 2010.”

The call for more funding comes as the Biden administration will formally propose a $6 trillion budget on Friday.

Ms. Yellen said that Treasury’s Domestic Finance, Economic Policy, and Tax Policy offices have all seen their budgets cut by about 20 percent since 2016, during the Trump administration. She noted that the Internal Revenue Service, which has seen its budget gutted in the last decade, has been responsible for making approximately $800 billion in stimulus payments in the last year and is now getting ready to start making monthly payments of the expanded child tax credit.

The White House’s preliminary budget, released in April, asked for $14.9 billion for the Treasury Department, including $13.2 billion for the I.R.S.

Making the case for beefing up the I.R.S., Ms. Yellen said that $7 trillion of government tax revenue is likely to fall through the cracks in the next decade because the agency lacks the staff to crack down on tax cheats.

Ms. Yellen is expected to face questions from lawmakers on the trajectory of the recovery, the threat of inflation and her remarks earlier this month that interest rates might need to rise as the economy recovers.

The Academy Awards will be held on March 27 next year.
Credit…Matt Sayles/Invision, via Associated Press

In another advantage for streaming, films can skip a theatrical release entirely — for the second year in a row — and still be eligible for the Academy Awards, which will next be held on March 27, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Thursday.

In making its decision, the organization cited a marketplace “still impacted by the pandemic.” Movie theaters in the United States reopened months ago with limited capacity. Cinemas in some areas of South America, Europe and Asia are closed or have only reopened recently.

Only films that had a previously planned theatrical release are eligible for Oscar consideration under the streaming rule, the academy said. (In other words, no traditional TV movies can enter the fray.)

The academy had previously required at least a perfunctory theatrical release of at least a week in Los Angeles. Netflix, Amazon Studios and other streaming services reluctantly acceded to that rule, which was dropped in April 2020 as the pandemic surged. At the time, the academy said it would restore its theatrical release requirement after cinemas returned to normal operation. On Thursday, the academy indicated that its position was unchanged.

The streaming wars have vastly reshaped the movie industry. Amazon announced on Wednesday its acquisition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, a deal that will bolster its film library for its Prime Video service. And last week, AT&T announced a deal to spin off its WarnerMedia group and combine it with Discovery Inc., a move meant to strengthen WarnerMedia’s struggling HBO Max streaming service and a nascent streaming platform owned by Discovery.

Movies seen primarily on streaming services dominated the most recent Oscars.

Nominations for the 94th Academy Awards will be announced on Feb. 8. The timing of the ceremony was influenced by a number of factors, including a desire to steer clear of other live-television events such as the Winter Olympic Games, which are scheduled to take place in China in February. It has been hard enough for the academy to get people to watch the Oscars telecast without competition: About 10 million people watched the 93rd Academy Awards last month, fewer than half the number a year earlier.

There is growing concern among some large investors in Exxon that the oil giant could suffer in the future if the demand for oil falls rapidly.
Credit…Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Exxon Mobil was dealt a stunning loss at its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday from an unlikely opponent: a small new activist investor focused on climate change, Engine No. 1. The hedge fund won at least two seats on the oil giant’s 12-member board. It may yet claim a third nominee when the counting is over.

For corporate America, the DealBook newsletter reports, the upset victory for Engine No. 1 and its allies is a clear sign that company boards and leaders need to pay attention to environmental, social and governance issues (known as E.S.G.) — or suffer rebukes.

Exxon was the first activist campaign for Engine No. 1, which was founded last year by an energy and tech investor, Chris James. Its head of active engagement is Charlie Penner, a veteran hedge fund executive who helped lead campaigns against companies like Apple while at Jana Partners.

Engine No. 1 began agitating against the oil giant in December, calling on the company to diversify away from fossil fuels and reduce its carbon emissions. But it began work on the campaign last March, courting large investors like public pension funds that held far larger stakes in Exxon, and thus had more sway. That’s how it parlayed a stake of just 0.02 percent into getting its preferred nominees on the company’s board.

The fund’s campaign was a bet on a confluence of events, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, including longstanding investor dissatisfaction with Exxon’s corporate governance and a growing appreciation on Wall Street for E.S.G.

That position appeared to be supported after the Exxon meeting. In a note explaining why it backed some of Engine No. 1’s board candidates, BlackRock — which owns nearly 7 percent of Exxon — said the company’s directors “need to further assess the company’s strategy and board expertise against the possibility that demand for fossil fuels may decline rapidly in the coming decades.”

Exxon had largely played down Engine No. 1’s concerns, and pressured the firm to drop its challenge after a much bigger hedge fund, D.E. Shaw, called off a campaign. But Engine No. 1 persisted, and also benefited from timing: It began its campaign while oil prices were still depressed by the pandemic. Had oil not rebounded in recent months, Engine No. 1 executives believed, all four of its proposed directors might have been elected, the people with knowledge of the matter said.

The agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration comes as Boeing seeks to resolve other production issues with the Max and the larger 787 Dreamliner.
Credit…Lindsey Wasson for The New York Times

Boeing agreed to pay at least $17 million in a settlement with the Federal Aviation Administration over production oversights involving hundreds of planes.

The penalty stems from two production lapses, the F.A.A. said on Thursday. In one case, Boeing had installed equipment with unapproved sensors on 759 narrow-body 737 Max and 737 NG planes, the agency said. In the other, the manufacturer submitted 178 Max jets for certification when the aircraft potentially had parts that were not approved by regulators.

“Keeping the flying public safe is our primary responsibility,” the F.A.A. administrator, Steve Dickson, said in a statement.

The agreement comes as Boeing seeks to resolve other production issues with the Max and the larger 787 Dreamliner. Boeing resumed deliveries of the Dreamliner in March after addressing quality concerns with the plane.

The Max, which was grounded worldwide for 20 months after a pair of fatal crashes, was approved to fly again in November. Boeing asked airlines last month to stop flying some of the planes over electrical concerns, but it recently received approval for a fix that would resolve the issue.

The F.A.A. said that Boeing would pay the $17 million penalty within 30 days. The aerospace manufacturer also agreed to make certain changes to its procedures.

The changes include more closely overseeing suppliers and improving procedures to prevent installation of parts that do not conform with approved designs. Boeing could face up to $10.1 million in additional penalties if it fails to make the changes quickly enough.

“We take our responsibility to meet all regulatory requirements very seriously,” Boeing said in a statement. “These penalties stem from issues that were raised in 2019 and which we fully resolved in our production system and supply chain.”

A surfer rides a wave as a super blood moon rises above the horizon at Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia on Wednesday.
Credit…Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Australia’s travel ban may have no end in sight, with borders mostly closed until the middle of next year.

But about 180 lucky people got to take a Qantas Airways flight on Wednesday — to 43,000 feet above Sydney and back — to get what were possibly the best views of the “super blood moon.” (Tickets sold out in three minutes.)

The rare astronomical event of a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse happening at once meant that moon appeared bigger than usual while turning a blood red color against the night’s sky because of its position in the Earth’s shadow.

Airlines, hit hard by the slump in travel during the pandemic, have offered flights to nowhere over the past year, giving passengers a chance to get out to town without defying any travel restrictions.

After staying at home for months on end and having to cancel trips to Thailand three times because of the pandemic, Maruschka Loupis, a communications officer from Sydney, said that getting on a B787 Dreamliner flown by Qantas was a thrill. She and her husband decided to splurge on two business class tickets, costing 1,499 Australian dollars each, or about $1,200, for the chance to see the supermoon up close. Or, well, eight miles closer than from the ground.

The moon was so vivid that it reminded her of the kind of solar system modules that students brought to science class, said Ms. Loupis, 66. The Milky Way looked like spilled oatmeal strewn across the sky. “It was not something you see from the Earth like a normal person,” she said.

The Qantas pilots worked with an astronomer from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia’s national science and research agency, to design a path that would offer passengers optimal views. As the flight climbed above clouds and atmosphere pollution, flight attendants served cosmic cocktails and Milky Way chocolate bars.

An unexpected treat was catching a glimpse of a shooting star, Ms. Loupis said. After getting through the pandemic, it was easy to know what to wish for: Good health for many years to come.

Signs offering Covid-19 vaccinations this month outside a CVS pharmacy in Washington, D.C.
Credit…Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Facing a national decline in Covid-19 vaccination rates and an underwhelming response to vaccines in its own stores, the U.S. pharmacy chain CVS will offer a chance at money, vacations and a Super Bowl trip to persuade the unvaccinated to start going in for their shots.

CVS said in April that it could administer 25 million shots each month, but as of this week it had only administered about 17 million doses in total as mass vaccination sites ended up playing a bigger role in the nation’s early vaccination campaign.

The CVS incentives could not only help get more people vaccinated, but provide a boost to the company: The Medicare payment to administer each dose is $40.

Nationally, the average number of doses administered daily has slowed to 1.7 million, down from a peak of more than 3.3 million in April.

CVS said in a statement that in an effort to “provide a positive reminder of the activities that are possible once vaccinated,” it had joined with other companies to offer prizes to people who get a shot at one of its pharmacies.

Among the incentives: Weeklong Norwegian Cruises, $100 dates sponsored by the dating app Hinge and a trip to Super Bowl LVI next year.

CVS will give 125 people $500 and five people $5,000 to host family reunions.

People 18 and older who “received a vaccination or certify that they’ve registered to receive a vaccination from CVS Health” are eligible for the sweepstakes, which runs from June 1 to July 10, the statement said.

CVS isn’t the first to offer inducements to the unvaccinated. Ohio, Colorado and Oregon are offering residents a chance at $1 million for getting vaccinated, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York on Wednesday said that residents ages 12 to 17 who get vaccinated would be entered to win a full-ride scholarship to a public university in the state. (Other incentives include free beer in New Jersey and $50 gift cards in Detroit for driving someone to a vaccination site.)

More than 165 million Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, only 40 percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, leaving a significant portion of the country vulnerable to infection.

With the Memorial Day holiday looming, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the C.D.C. director, warned unvaccinated Americans on Tuesday that they “remain at risk of infection” and should still take precautions like distancing and wearing a mask.

Stocks on Wall Street rose on Thursday as investors weighed fresh data on the economic recovery in the United States.

Claims for state unemployment benefits fell again last week, to a new pandemic low of 420,000. the Labor Department said. The Commerce Department also reported that orders for new equipment, a measure of business spending, rose in April.

The S&P 500 climbed about 0.2 percent, ending the day less than 1 percent short of the high it hit on May 7.

Stock trading has grown turbulent since then as investors worry about inflation and the risk that the Federal Reserve might cut back on its support for the economy.

The Fed has a dual mandate to keep inflation stable and reach full unemployment, and recent data has shown a sharp rise in prices. Policymakers say the increase is likely to be temporary, but they have been “talking about talking” about when the central bank will be ready to slow down its bond-buying program. The monetary stimulus has helped keep stock prices high.

That said, the strength of the labor market is being vigorously debated. In April, job gains slowed sharply and some employers have complained about struggling to fill vacancies even as millions of people remain unemployed.

A job fair organized by High Road Restaurants in New York. New claims for state jobless benefits fell to their lowest weekly level since before the pandemic.
Credit…Justin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Initial claims for state jobless benefits fell last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

  • The weekly figure was 420,000, a decline of 34,000 from the previous week and the lowest weekly total since before the pandemic. New claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded program for jobless freelancers, gig workers and others who do not ordinarily qualify for state benefits, totaled 93,500, a slight decline from the prior week. The figures are not seasonally adjusted.

  • New state claims remain high by historical levels but are less than half the level recorded as recently as early January. The benefit filings, something of a proxy for layoffs, have receded as business return to fuller operations, particularly in hard-hit industries like leisure and hospitality.

  • More than 20 Republican-led states have said they will abandon federally funded emergency benefit programs in June or early July, saying the income is deterring recipients from seeking work as some employers complain of trouble filling jobs. Those programs include not only Pandemic Unemployment Assistance but also extended benefits for the long-term unemployed.

  • In a separate report, the government on Thursday issued its second reading for U.S. growth in the first three months of the year. It said that the economy expanded by 6.4 percent in the first quarter, the same rate as reported last month.

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CreditCredit…Kiel Mutschelknaus

Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide writes that she fears that the major technologies of the future will be more closed and controlled by tech giants than the personal computers, web browsers and smartphones that dominate our digital lives today.

An Exxon Mobile oil refinery in Channahon, Ill. Shareholders say the oil giant should invest more heavily in renewables like wind and solar energy.
Credit…Tannen Maury/EPA, via Shutterstock

Big Oil was dealt a stunning defeat on Wednesday when shareholders of Exxon Mobil elected at least two board candidates nominated by activist investors who pledged to steer the company toward cleaner energy and away from oil and gas.

The success of the campaign, led by a tiny hedge fund against the nation’s largest oil company, could force the energy industry to confront climate change and embolden Wall Street investment firms that are prioritizing the issue, The New York Times’s Clifford Krauss and Peter Eavis report.

Engine No. 1, the hedge fund leading the campaign, was seeking to defeat four of the company’s 12 director candidates. Its victory is a sharp rebuke to Darren W. Woods, Exxon’s chairman and chief executive, and is the culmination of years of efforts by activists to force the oil giant to change its environmental policies and approach. Engine No. 1 and its allies had argued that Exxon’s stance on climate change and the oil and gas business was not just bad for the planet but that it would hurt the company’s profits in the future as governments required businesses to reduce and eventually eliminate emissions of greenhouse gases.

Gregory Goff, former chief executive of Andeavor, a refiner, and Kaisa Hietala, an environmental scientist and former executive at Neste, a Finnish energy company that produces biofuels, were the two nominees declared winners. The company said the final results would not be publicly available Wednesday, and an independent inspector will determine the timing of an announcement.

“This isn’t really about ideology, it’s about economics,” Chris James, founder of Engine No. 1, said. “And economics is what has driven the adoption of some of the alternative fuel sources versus fossil fuels. We want there to be an acceptance of change.”

“We welcome the new directors,” said Mr. Woods, the Exxon head. “While there is still more to do, we are proud of the progress we have made to reduce emissions and clear plans for further reductions.”

“This signals a new era for the role of corporations in climate change and a new era for corporate governance,” said Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business professor.

The vote reveals the growing power of giant Wall Street firms that manage the 401(k)s and other investments of individuals and businesses to press chief executives to pursue environmental and social goals. Some of these firms are run by executives who say they see climate change as a major threat to the economy and the planet. The loss of at least two seats on its board will almost surely energize activists to pressure Exxon, other oil companies and businesses in various industries that they believe are not doing enough to address climate change.

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Facebook-backed company Diem plans to launch a digital currency pilot in 2021 https://unixpimps.org/facebook-backed-company-diem-plans-to-launch-a-digital-currency-pilot-in-2021/ Thu, 17 Jun 2021 22:22:14 +0000 https://unixpimps.org/facebook-backed-company-diem-plans-to-launch-a-digital-currency-pilot-in-2021/ Facebook wanted to revolutionize finance with a global digital currency – then the regulators came along. The token, first proposed in June 2019 under the name Libra, was originally intended to be a universal currency pegged to a basket of sovereign currencies such as the US dollar and euro. But after the organization overseeing the […]]]>

Facebook wanted to revolutionize finance with a global digital currency – then the regulators came along.

The token, first proposed in June 2019 under the name Libra, was originally intended to be a universal currency pegged to a basket of sovereign currencies such as the US dollar and euro.

But after the organization overseeing the project faced strong opposition from regulators around the world, it lost key supporters, including Visa and Mastercard. The group eventually watered down their plans, opting for multiple “stablecoins” backed one-for-one by various government-backed currencies, as well as a multi-currency coin.

The Facebook-backed digital coin now known as Diem is expected to launch later this year, albeit in a much more limited form. When it finally arrives, diem won’t come with the same fanfare and controversy of the original idea that the social media giant envisioned nearly two years ago.

stablecoin pilot

The Diem Association, the Switzerland-based nonprofit overseeing Diem’s ​​development, intends to pilot a single stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar in 2021, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The person, who preferred to remain anonymous because the details have not yet been released, said this pilot will be small in scope and mostly focus on transactions between individual consumers. There may also be an option for users to purchase goods and purchases, the person added. However, there is no confirmed launch date and the schedule could therefore change.

“It’s really gone off the radar in a pretty conspicuous way,” Michael Casey, chief content officer of cryptocurrency publication CoinDesk and a former financial journalist, told CNBC.

Diem was tested intensively when it was introduced. Given Facebook’s wide reach — it had 2.8 billion monthly active users in the fourth quarter of 2020 — central bankers and politicians feared the currency could threaten currency stability and potentially allow money laundering. Facebook’s involvement also raised concerns about user privacy.

“It was such a stunning challenge to the international order that the backlash was just very strong,” Casey said.

A major concern, according to Casey, was that this posed a threat to US dollar dominance. Two months after Facebook unveiled Libra, former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney proposed a new digital currency based on a global basket that could lower the dollar’s status as a world reserve currency.

Diem’s ​​technology has “changed dramatically in the last year and a half from being a naive blockchain to a very sophisticated blockchain that you can see trying to answer some of the questions that regulators have had,” said Ran Goldi, CEO of First Digital Assets Group. which builds an infrastructure so that merchants can accept diem as a means of payment.

“I think it’s going to be beyond the gates this year,” said Michael Gronager, CEO of blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis. “It would be a missed opportunity if not.”

“At the same time,” Gronager added, “it is one of several initiatives taking place and is similar to Tesla’s $1.5 billion crypto purchase. This is just part of a larger movement, not a new movement.

Indeed, diem – or Libra – may have been the big crypto story of 2019. But bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have gained significant momentum over the past year, with bitcoin recently rising to a new all-time high above $60,000 and big companies like Tesla and Square making big bets on the digital coin. Meanwhile, crypto exchange Coinbase went public with a landmark direct listing on Nasdaq.

What’s next for you?

The Diem Association has lost numerous members and executives nearly two years after its initial disclosure.

Visa, Mastercard and Stripe were some of the first companies to pull out of the association. This was followed by an exodus of other members, including PayPal, eBay and Vodafone. Meanwhile, the project has also suffered a number of notable departures, from Kevin Weil, head of Facebook’s proposed digital wallet Novi, to Dante Disparte, Diem’s ​​head of public affairs.

At the same time, Diem underwent a complete transformation, rebranding from Libra earlier this year and bolstering its leadership team with major hires like CEO Stuart Levey, who was formerly chief legal officer at HSBC.

Diem is currently in talks with Swiss financial regulators to obtain a payments license, a crucial step that would further move the organization towards launching its digital currency project.

“A big step in our dialogue with regulators was a phased approach to adoption,” Christian Catalini, Diem’s ​​chief economist, told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche last month.

“We will gradually roll out different functionalities and use cases and applications in different areas,” he said, adding that both large and small members would have to undergo strict anti-money laundering controls.

“Once we get the green light, we’ll start experimenting with a small number of users and a small number of players,” Catalini said. The goal is to ensure the technology and back-up system is working as expected, he added.

And although it’s starting with a limited pilot, the group plans to eventually involve dealers and other partners. It remains to be seen which ones.

“network effect”

“What you get when an institution like Facebook endorses a stablecoin is much better distribution,” Gronager said. “You can put it in apps, add it to a lot of other places, and I think that’s going to be strong.”

“We’ll see when it hits the market, but already today much of the interest in crypto is also speculative,” he added. “It will basically allow more people to get into crypto easily.”

However, this also brings concerns about user data, an issue that has tarnished the project due to Facebook’s history with privacy scandals. For her part, Diem says she takes data protection “very seriously”.

“Diem himself will not have any private information about the customers,” Catalini said. “Some of our members have made commitments regarding data separation between social and financial data.”

Nonetheless, the global central bank race has started to come up with their own digital money strategy. The People’s Bank of China is leading the way, testing a digital version of the yuan in a number of cities, while the UK central bank is considering whether or not to issue its own digital currency. And some experts say we shouldn’t count them yet.

“The story of digital money in the 2020s will be the growth of tokenized money,” a team of Citi analysts led by Ronit Ghose, global head of banking research, wrote in a research note last week.

“Central banks … and big tech … are building new payment formats and rails alongside wider cryptocurrency adoption,” Citi analysts wrote. “Stablecoins like Diem could benefit from the huge network effects of their big tech sponsors.”

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The cost of a single bitcoin surpasses $50,000 for the first time https://unixpimps.org/the-cost-of-a-single-bitcoin-surpasses-50000-for-the-first-time/ Thu, 17 Jun 2021 22:22:14 +0000 https://unixpimps.org/the-cost-of-a-single-bitcoin-surpasses-50000-for-the-first-time/ SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) – Bitcoin’s seemingly unstoppable rise continued on Tuesday, with the cost of a single unit of the digital currency surpassing $50,000 for the first time. Bitcoin’s price is up almost 200% in the last three months and its volatility was evident on Tuesday. After surging above $50,600, it fell back to […]]]>

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) – Bitcoin’s seemingly unstoppable rise continued on Tuesday, with the cost of a single unit of the digital currency surpassing $50,000 for the first time.

Bitcoin’s price is up almost 200% in the last three months and its volatility was evident on Tuesday. After surging above $50,600, it fell back to $48,674 at 2:15 p.m. ET. At this price, bitcoin has a market value of nearly $907 billion, with approximately 18.6 million bitcoins in circulation.

Bitcoin is rallying as more companies signal that the digital currency may eventually find widespread acceptance as a means of payment. The vast majority of those who have acquired bitcoin have treated it like gold as a commodity, with few places accepting it in exchange for goods or services.

Businesses have been wary of Bitcoin’s volatility and its use by parties looking to avoid the traditional banking system for a myriad of reasons.

Last week, however, electric car maker Tesla sent a tremor through the digital currency markets, saying it would buy $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin as part of a new investment strategy and that it would soon accept bitcoin as payment for its cars.

BNY Mellon, the oldest bank in the US, followed suit a day later, saying it would include digital currencies in its services to customers. Mastercard said it will begin supporting “select cryptocurrencies” on its network. And Charlottesville, Virginia-based Blue Ridge Bank said it would allow cardholders to buy and redeem bitcoin at 19 of its ATMs.

As the price continues to climb, here’s a quick look at the Bitcoin frenzy:

HOW BITCOINS WORK

Bitcoin is a digital currency that is not tied to any bank or government and allows users to spend money anonymously. The coins are created by users who “mine” them, lending computing power to verify other users’ transactions. In return they receive bitcoins. The coins can also be bought and sold on exchanges using US dollars and other currencies. Some companies also accept bitcoin, but its popularity has faltered in recent years.

CAN I USE BITCOIN TO BUY STUFF?

According to Bitcoin wallet site blockchain.info, the digital currency has become so popular that more than 300,000 transactions typically take place on an average day. Still, its popularity is low compared to cash and credit cards.

Apart from Tesla, only a few companies have announced that they will accept Bitcoin as payment. Overstock.com appears to accept bitcoin for most offerings on its site, including cameras, vacuums, and clothing. PayPal allows its account holders to buy, sell, and hold four cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin — but you can’t use it to pay people, at least not yet. Payments company Square bought $50 million worth of bitcoin in October for about $10,600 each, allowing users of its cash app to buy bitcoin from their mobile devices.

Lee Reiners, who teaches fintech and cryptocurrency courses at Duke University School of Law, believes many companies will be reluctant to accept Bitcoin as payment for products and services due to its volatile price.

“If you were a retailer, why would you accept payment for an asset that could be worth 20% less a day after receiving it?” Reiners said in an email.

But Richard Lyons, a finance professor at the University of California, Berkeley, predicts that Bitcoin and other digital currencies will “increasingly become transaction currencies over the next five years. It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.

WILL MORE COMPANIES INVEST IN BITCOIN?

Assuming Tesla bought Bitcoin at the volume-weighted average price of $34,445 in January, the company is sitting on about a 38% gain on its investment. But in the regulatory announcement unveiling its Bitcoin purchase, Tesla warned that it could suffer the loss of some or all of its investment, “and our financial condition and operating results could be adversely affected.”

“Tesla has to be very careful and comprehensive in accounting for its Bitcoin investments on its books,” said Anthony Michael Sabino, a law professor at St. John’s University. “Like any financial asset other than cash, it can fluctuate.”

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, a competitor to Tesla, said GM has no immediate plans to invest in Bitcoin but will continue to “monitor and evaluate” the potential use of digital currencies.

IS BITCOIN A BUBBLE?

Reiners says Bitcoin could potentially be a bubble if you define one as people who buy an asset for no other reason than the expectation that it will go up so they can sell it for a profit. On the other hand, he said, there is consensus that Bitcoin has value as a hedge against inflation and the broader stock market.

“All in all, I think the bitcoin bubble has plenty of room to inflate. Institutional money is just beginning to flow into the space, and that will drive the price up. It is unclear when this bubble will burst and at what price Bitcoin will level off,” said Reiners.

HOW BITCOIN BEGAN

It’s a mystery. Bitcoin was created in 2009 by a person or group of people operating under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin was then adopted by a small group of enthusiasts. Nakamoto disappeared from the map just as Bitcoin began to garner widespread attention. But proponents say it doesn’t matter: the currency obeys its own internal logic.

In 2016, an Australian entrepreneur came forward and claimed to be the founder of Bitcoin, only to say days later that he didn’t “have the guts” to publish evidence that he was. No one has claimed credit for the currency since then.

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Bitcoin surpasses record high of $60,000 as rally accelerates https://unixpimps.org/bitcoin-surpasses-record-high-of-60000-as-rally-accelerates/ Thu, 17 Jun 2021 22:22:14 +0000 https://unixpimps.org/bitcoin-surpasses-record-high-of-60000-as-rally-accelerates/ A representation of the virtual currency Bitcoin is seen on a motherboard in this photo taken on April 24, 2020. Dado Ruvic | Reuters Bitcoin surpassed a record high of $60,000 on Saturday morning and continued its rally as major corporations and financial institutions adopted cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, was at $60,415.34 as […]]]>

A representation of the virtual currency Bitcoin is seen on a motherboard in this photo taken on April 24, 2020.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Bitcoin surpassed a record high of $60,000 on Saturday morning and continued its rally as major corporations and financial institutions adopted cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, was at $60,415.34 as of 7:25 a.m. ET, according to Coinbase, recovering from a late February plunge that followed a previous record high earlier this month.

According to Coinbase, the digital currency is up 963% over the past 12 months. Its value surpassed $1 trillion last week for the second time this year.

Bitcoin’s rally is being driven in part by increasing adoption by larger institutional investors and corporations and speculative demand. Tesla has bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin and plans to accept the digital coin as payment for its products, a decision that has sparked broader interest.

Mastercard also said it will open its network to some digital currencies. And PayPal and BNY Mellon have made some moves into the space.

Bitcoin believers argue that the current rally is fueled by institutional investor demand and differs from previous rallies, such as when Bitcoin skyrocketed to nearly $20,000 in late 2017 before losing about 80% of its value over the next year.

Others argue that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have no intrinsic value and fear that bitcoin could be one of the largest stimulus-driven market bubbles of all time.

Correction: Bitcoin was up 963% in the last 12 months when this story was published. A clue in an earlier version of this story misstated the percentage increase.

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Pros and cons of central bank digital currencies https://unixpimps.org/pros-and-cons-of-central-bank-digital-currencies/ Thu, 17 Jun 2021 22:22:14 +0000 https://unixpimps.org/pros-and-cons-of-central-bank-digital-currencies/ Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs for short) are, to put it simply, the digital version of the same fiat currencies that people use in their daily lives. They are becoming an increasingly popular topic, with many governments looking into developing their own CBDCs. Just recently, there was news of how a new digital dollar prototype […]]]>

Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs for short) are, to put it simply, the digital version of the same fiat currencies that people use in their daily lives. They are becoming an increasingly popular topic, with many governments looking into developing their own CBDCs.

Just recently, there was news of how a new digital dollar prototype could be launched in the US over the next few months. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons governments would have to contend with if and when they decide to adopt CBDC.

Unlike cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which operate in a decentralized manner via blockchain networks, a CBDC is by design a government-issued and controlled digital asset. It can offer many advantages – for example, faster, cheaper transactions and high security. CBDCs can also improve financial inclusion as consumers do not need to have a bank account to hold such currencies.

The downside here – at least for some – is the strong control that the state would retain over the blockchain network on which the digital currency would operate upon launch. Central banks would have more control over money issuance and better insight into how people spend their money, potentially depriving users of their privacy.

On the other hand, a CBDC could also significantly improve the development of monetary policy in a country. Understanding the actual macroeconomic situation takes a long time in most countries – at least several months. Which in turn means that it becomes all the more difficult for governments to plan their economies efficiently.

Better oversight and real-time monitoring of the situation, enabled by a central bank digital currency, could go a long way in promoting these processes. CBDCs could also allow a government to fight illegal activities such as payment fraud more efficiently and provide people with a greater sense of security regarding their funds.

Under all this, it is not difficult to understand why central bank digital currencies are treated as a matter of importance by so many countries. The benefits they could offer are certainly remarkable. Central banks would need to expend a lot of resources to create a truly efficient government-backed digital currency system, but there could be many benefits in the long run.

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Bitcoin (BTC) value surpasses $1 trillion for the second time https://unixpimps.org/bitcoin-btc-value-surpasses-1-trillion-for-the-second-time/ Thu, 17 Jun 2021 22:22:14 +0000 https://unixpimps.org/bitcoin-btc-value-surpasses-1-trillion-for-the-second-time/ In this photo illustration, a visual representation of the digital cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is on display in front of the Bitcoin price chart on February 9, 2021 in Paris, France. Chesnot | Getty Images Bitcoin’s value surpassed $1 trillion on Tuesday as the cryptocurrency’s price surged. The digital coin’s price surged on Tuesday, with its market […]]]>

In this photo illustration, a visual representation of the digital cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is on display in front of the Bitcoin price chart on February 9, 2021 in Paris, France.

Chesnot | Getty Images

Bitcoin’s value surpassed $1 trillion on Tuesday as the cryptocurrency’s price surged.

The digital coin’s price surged on Tuesday, with its market cap topping $1 trillion in Singapore as of mid-morning, according to CoinDesk.

Bitcoin extended those gains to hit a 24-hour high of $54,348.57 by early afternoon Singapore time, around 7% higher than the same time the day before. Bitcoin has since pared some of those gains.

It’s only the second time Bitcoin’s value has surpassed $1 trillion, after hitting that milestone for the first time on February 19. Bitcoin’s market cap topped $1 trillion for a few days before falling below that mark.

Although Bitcoin has strayed from its all-time high of $58,332.36, it has seen a huge rally. The digital currency is up over 80% this year and 570% in the last 12 months.

Bitcoin’s rally has been attributed to several factors, including participation by larger institutional investors and some notable corporate purchases. Tesla, Square and Microstrategy are among the companies that have bought Bitcoin.

On Sunday, a Chinese app maker named Meitu said it bought not only Bitcoin but also another cryptocurrency called Ether. Ether, a cryptocurrency running on the Ethereum network, was trading at $1,836.73 as of 10:41 a.m. Singapore time, according to CoinDesk, up nearly 7% from the previous day.

Companies are also making acquisitions in the cryptocurrency space. PayPal announced on Monday that it will buy cryptocurrency security firm Curv.

Bitcoin proponents often liken it to “digital gold,” a hedge against inflation and a potential “safe haven” where investors can park their money during times of political or economic turmoil.

Some argue that loose monetary policies, such as low interest rates and asset purchases by central banks around the world, are eroding the value of fiat currencies like the US dollar, making Bitcoin a better alternative for investing.

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Digital payments: why they will stay here https://unixpimps.org/digital-payments-why-they-will-stay-here/ Thu, 17 Jun 2021 22:22:14 +0000 https://unixpimps.org/digital-payments-why-they-will-stay-here/ The business world has changed a lot in the last few months. Businesses need to change the way they work to remain successful and relevant. Disposable companies have done this by finding new, more convenient and secure payment methods like digital payments. Businesses that accept digital payments not only secure the future of their business […]]]>

The business world has changed a lot in the last few months. Businesses need to change the way they work to remain successful and relevant. Disposable companies have done this by finding new, more convenient and secure payment methods like digital payments.

Businesses that accept digital payments not only secure the future of their business but can also help their business grow. This is even more true for companies that rely on cash flow to survive

All too often businesses have to wait over two days for payments to be processed using traditional methods. However, digital payment methods can give businesses near-instant access to funds. If you want to learn more about digital payments and why they stay here, then read on below:

What are digital payments?

A digital payment (also known as an electronic payment) is the transfer of money from one account to another using a digital device such as a computer, mobile phone, or POS system. This includes payments with mobile money, bank transfer and payment cards, including debit, credit and prepaid cards.

The benefits of digital payments

There are several benefits of going digital, including:

  • Quickly access actionable data – digital payment systems enable businesses to track and manage customer data more efficiently than ever before.
  • Improved cash flow – digital payments are almost instantaneous. This means businesses no longer have to wait days for payments to be processed. But to do that, you need to make sure you keep track of your billing and invoicing. After all, all business owners know that accurate and clear invoicing helps increase sales.
  • Convenient for the customer – payments are faster than ever before. This helps improve customer satisfaction and build trust.
  • Competitive Advantage – A company with digital payment options will be better able to compete with its competition.
  • Improve Customer Retention – Research has shown that companies that offer digital payment options to their customers are more likely to get repeat business and also have better conversion rates.
  • Security and transparency – digital payments improve accountability and traceability. As a result of this there is a reduction in theft and corruption.
  • Cost savings – through increased speed and efficiency.
  • Financial inclusion – improves access to a range of financial services, including credit, insurance products and savings accounts.
  • Inclusive growth – digital payments have been shown to reduce poverty. This is because they help open up economic opportunities for people who would normally be financially excluded.

Why digital payments are here to stay

Evidence shows that almost 50% of consumers used a digital wallet in 2017. That number has now increased significantly, with more than 64% of people now admitting to using digital payments. Additionally, 23% of respondents said they would prefer a digital wallet that manages all their finances.

As you can see from the evidence above, digital payments are becoming increasingly popular. Businesses need to be aware that a growing number of their consumers prefer this payment method, although they may not prefer using a mobile wallet. Unless businesses don’t want to risk losing customers, it’s a good idea to incorporate this popular trend into their payment strategy.

For companies in the fintech sector, the rise of digital payments is exciting, but the basic principles of corporate governance apply even in a growth industry. This wealth manager software is an essential tool for investment firms, financial advisors and other fintech players.

There is no question that the future of payments is here. Digital payments such as contactless payments and QR code supported payments are just two options that are gaining popularity around the world. Digital payment options will drive the future of commerce worldwide.

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Dogecoin price surges above 30 cents in the big week for cryptocurrencies https://unixpimps.org/dogecoin-price-surges-above-30-cents-in-the-big-week-for-cryptocurrencies/ Thu, 17 Jun 2021 22:22:14 +0000 https://unixpimps.org/dogecoin-price-surges-above-30-cents-in-the-big-week-for-cryptocurrencies/ Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency created as a spoof, is proving to be increasingly valuable — for now. Dogecoin’s price jumped over 30 cents to a record high on Friday, according to digital currency exchange Coinbase. That’s more than double what it was on Wednesday, when Dogecoin (pronounced “doh-j”) hit 13 cents. It was trading at around […]]]>

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