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Manual Credit Card Imprinters Becoming Obsolete

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Since the introduction of credit cards in the 1960’s, the cards have carried the card number, expiration date and cardholder name in embossed or raised letters on the plastic card surface.  Mechanical devices were developed and used to imprint credit card charge slips from those raised alphanumerics.  Those slips were then, for many years, deposited into the merchant’s bank account like checks to prove the transaction took place. More recently, the cards were affixed with a magnetic stripe and were swiped through electronic devices that read and transmit the card information to processing centers for verification and sale authorization. 

Electronic processing has now become so standardized that last year Visa announced they were going to phase out the embossing of card information on the card surface and future cards will be “flat”, the card information printed but only accessible magnetically with the stripe on the back.   Other card associations – MasterCard and the rest-will follow suit shortly.

Few merchants still manually take imprints of cards anymore, with the exception of merchants accepting card payments for delivery of goods or services ordered by telephone – such as a pizza restaurant, for example.  They do so to verify that the physical card has been presented to the merchant during the transaction, in order to prevent fraudulent charge backs.

In my own wallet I have an ePassporte Visa Electron card and the numbers are flat.  No imprint can be taken.

And no imprint any longer needs to be taken.  The new standard is to always swipe the card through a terminal, whether that terminal be in the store, next to or part of the cash register or point of sale system, or via use of a wireless terminal a driver carries with themselves to the customer for payment at time of delivery.

If your business takes orders by telephone or mail and you are manually keying credit card numbers into your terminal, you are costing yourself a lot of money in additional card processing fees.  Manually keyed-in transactions are processed as “non-qualified” transactions at a rate more than double your basic rate, due to risk of fraud by the card not being physically present.

The fact is, card imprints are no longer a safeguard against fraud, because any criminal can create phony credit cards and use an Addressograph machine to emboss stolen credit card numbers onto them.  Encoding a magnetic stripe on the back, however, is almost impossible to counterfeit.  The stripe contains not only the card number but other coding which, when swiped through a terminal, verifies to the bank that the actual card is present and being swiped, not manually keyed in.

What can a merchant do?

Short of purchasing some sort of portable photocopier to copy the customer’s card and perhaps I.D., the only thing to do is to catch up with 21st century technology and equip your drivers or delivery personnel with wireless credit card terminals.  The terminals may be purchased or leased from your credit card processor and they pay for themselves quickly, because now all transactions they process will be under a lower  rate, as card-present transactions.

These terminals include a printer so you can get a signed receipt from the customer after the transaction is put through and authorized, and you print a second receipt copy for the customer.  Just as if the customer had been physically in your store.

I have equipped many mobile merchants with these devices: food delivery, locksmiths, massage therapists, computer technicians, handymen, plumbers and other repair personnel – the list is growing every day as more businesses go mobile and deliver their goods and services to customers.  The terminals are also great for fairs, shows, conventions and other locales with no landline telephone access available.

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Economist Peter Schiff Calls Bitcoin An ‘Imaginary Friend’ In Response To Jack Dorsey’s Hyperinflation Tweet

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Peter schiff Bitcoin

Peter Schiff is an economist, gold advocate, and one of Bitcoin’s biggest critics. He has never liked the digital currency.

He believes that real value is derived from an asset’s ability to create commercial demand in markets; and always refers to gold as a perfect example of this. In contrast, he says that Bitcoin is nothing but an asymmetric store of value with no other use except attracting an endless supply of buyers for the limited supply of assets. In short, it is a Ponzi scheme. However, he has been proven wrong over and over again.

In his most recent critique of Bitcoin, Schiff said it is not a real asset. This was in response to a tweet by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey about the possible arrival of hyperinflation in the U.S. soon.

Schiff Responds To Dorsey

On Saturday, October 23, Jack Dorsey shared his opinion on the current economic situation in the U.S on Twitter. He tweeted about the imminent hyperinflation as a result of the constant money printing in the U.S., and how the rest of the world would suffer from it.

Related Reading | Is Hyperinflation Inevitable? Jack Dorsey Says It’ll “Change Everything”

In response, Schiff tweeted that people should not look to Bitcoin to save them because it is not a real asset. Instead, they should own real assets like gold.

Another Twitter user commented that Bitcoin is, in fact, real. And that it has just surpassed the Swiss Franc in Market cap. At this point, Schiff replied, calling the cryptocurrency a “make-believe asset” and that it is the adult version of an imaginary friend.

Peter Schiff’s Grudge with Bitcoin

According to this Wikipedia profile, Peter Schiff is an American stockbroker, financial commentator, and radio personality. He is also CEO and chief global strategist of Euro Pacific Capital Inc., a broker-dealer based in Westport, Connecticut. Additionally, he is involved in various roles in other financial services companies, including Euro Pacific Asset Management, an independent investment advisor, Schiff Gold (formerly Euro Pacific Precious Metals), a precious metals dealer, and Euro Pacific Bank, a full-reserve bank.

In addition to all these, Schiff is known for something else – his grudge with Bitcoin. He has always claimed its value will one day drop to nothing.

Earlier this year, Mark Cuban told gold bug Peter Schiff to “move on” because “gold is dead.” In Response Schiff said, “Mark, a lot of your athletes wear gold jewelry. Ask them why. Gold has many uses outside of jewelry that contributes to its value as a metal. It’s not hyped at all. Gold is money. Bitcoin is 100% hype. It’s nothing.”

Related Reading | Mark Cuban Slams Peter Schiff: Gold is Dead, Bitcoin and Ethereum Are Today

Cuban himself used to be a bitcoin skeptic, preferring bananas to bitcoin because he claimed he could at least eat a banana.

In an interview on Good Evening San Diego a few days ago, Schiff referred to Bitcoin as a fool’s gold and a digital pyramid scheme. He also said that the SEC should not be encouraging people to participate.

BTC trading at over $62K | Source: BTCUSD on TradingView.com

When asked about the SEC’s recent approval of Bitcoin ETFs, he responded that “we should get rid of the SEC”.
He continued by saying, “I have no problem with the ETF itself, but if the SEC is pretending that it is some kind of watchdog and trying to make sure that investors don’t get hurt, then it makes no sense that they would approve this ETF because ultimately, the ETF is going to collapse to zero and the people who are left holding the bag are going to get wiped out.”

Schiff is also not impressed with futures ETFs. He says, “instead of owning nothing, you own a futures contract to gamble on nothing.”

Featured image by Bloomberg, Chart from TradingView.com

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Stratis Completes Token Swap, Guns for Enterprise Blockchain Crown

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Stratis

Blockchain technology company Stratis has concluded its latest major update, with STRAX tokens replacing their STRAT predecessors. The swap follows a vote that saw over 97.5% of token-holders green-light the proposal, setting the stage for a revised tokenomic structure, new incentive mechanisms and improved block times.

In total, over 93 million STRAT tokens have been converted 1:1 to STRAX, representing 93% of the circulating supply. The remainder were burned, effectively removing over 6.6 million tokens from existence.

With the deployment of a brand-new blockchain and native token – not to mention the imminent launch of an NFT marketplace, games and the Unity Engine SDK – Stratis is, like fellow sleeping giants Cardano, Tezos and Polkadot, starting to wake up and make good on its promises.

Why Token Swap?

Stratis users who failed to exchange STRAT for STRAX can hardly complain: the platform announced the changeover last October, with token-holders given a whole year to install a STRAX wallet and exchange their old outgoing assets.

The high number of tokens swapped underscored the simplicity of the process, which saw users trade STRAT independently via a trustless on-chain mechanism, transfer their tokens to an exchange that supported the swap (Binance, Bittrex, Bithumb, etc), or manually swap them into STRAX using a tool provided by the platform.

The token swap was part of a raft of changes made to the platform, with block times reduced, block rewards increased, SegWit activated, and the introduction of both cold staking and dynamic membership. The latter enables any user to join the Cirrus sidechain as an acting Masternode – providing, that is, they meet the collateral requirement of 100,000 STRAX.

The management and monitoring of masternodes have also been simplified thanks to a newly-released operator dashboard.

Stratis Enters Shipping Season

Designed to help Microsoft developers develop blockchain solutions in a language they understand and love, Stratis launched in 2016 as an enterprise-focused Blockchain-as-a-Service company. In the years since, the platform has poured an immense amount of resources into enhancing its features and tooling, while onboarding companies from around the world.

2021, though, has been something of a breakout year. Not only is Ethereum interoperability imminent thanks to its InterFlux solution, but Stratis recently launched a Unity Development Kit, enabling the integration of NFTs and decentralized identities into the gaming ecosystem. A number of gaming projects (Dawn of Ships, Trivia Legend) are now busy building on Stratis’ proof-of-stake blockchain, both due to its low-fee environment and 3D SDK.

DeFi is another area of exploration for Stratis, as highlighted by the emergence of decentralized exchange protocols Opdex. Financed by Stratis’ Decentralized Accelerator program, Opdex enables trustless token swaps, liquidity provision, mining, and staking in a non-custodial and gas-efficient manner. Recently released on the Cirrus testnet, the DEX protocols aim to bring much-needed diversity to the booming DeFi sector, which has largely centered on Ethereum.

Founder Tyler Peña believes the fact that Opdex coded in #C means the ecosystem could “drastically increase the adoption rates by developers while also decreasing the frustration of learning new languages, frameworks and tooling.”

Shaping Blockchain Policy

Although DeFi, NFTs and blockchain-based gaming are now very much part of the Stratis universe, the platform remains, at heart, enterprise-focused. As such, it remains committed to pioneering use-cases, onboarding businesses and organizations, and working with governments.

Last month Stratis joined the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Blockchain (APPG Blockchain), which aims to “provide evidence, guidance and recommendations to policy makers on blockchain-related issues.”

By acquiring a seat at the table, Stratis – described by APPG Blockchain secretariat Birgitte Andersen as “one of the UK’s most established and innovative blockchain platforms” – will be in a position to influence and inform the UK government’s decision-making when it comes to blockchain initiatives.

The spoils, of course, are considerable: business investment in blockchain technology is expected to reach almost $16 billion by 2023, up 40% from 2019. And with the wider crypto market currently in rude health, Stratis seems well-positioned to capitalize on the feel-good factor.

 

Image source: Depositphotos.com
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Is China Considering Lifting The Bitcoin Mining Ban? The NDRC Runs Public Survey

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Bitcoin mining ban, a hand and a survey

The National Development and Reform Commission is asking the Chinese public for their opinion on the Bitcoin mining ban. Is China’s government playing 4D chess or are they confused and considering backtracking their decision? Can they unring this particular bell or is this a too little too late scenario? Do they really care about what the general public thinks or is this survey just for the optics?

As it usually happens with the Chinese government’s actions, they leave more questions than answers. Nevertheless, let’s unpack the information available and see what Twitter thinks about the situation.

First of all, the official announcement says:

“In accordance with the relevant work arrangements for the rectification of virtual currency “mining” activities, the National Development and Reform Commission and relevant departments have revised the “Industrial Structure Adjustment Guidance Catalog (2019 Edition)”, and now solicit opinions from the public.”

So, they’re considering “rectification of virtual currency “mining” activities,” by which they mean the Bitcoin mining ban. And by “the public,” they mean “Relevant units and people from all walks of life can provide feedback.

BTC price chart for 10/25/2021 on FTX | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com

Is China Actually Considering Lifting The Bitcoin Mining Ban?

Opinions differ. However, according to Three Arrows Capital’s Su Zhu, that’s exactly what’s happening.

People in the replies are not convinced. They theorize that the Chinese government is just trying to create a database of people in favor of Bitcoin mining, or that they are just thinking about lifting the Bitcoin mining ban so they can ban it again on the next cycle. Others doubt the miners will return or that new mining operations will pop up. A few, though, think that the Chinese government realized they made a trillion-dollar mistake.

Chinese journalist Colin Wu, however, sees the news from another angle. “It is not un-banning. On the contrary, its content is to write crypto mining into an industry that must be eliminated.”

And he links to a .pdf that says the same thing as the original document, but in a different tone altogether:

“In the “Industrial Structure Adjustment Guidance Catalogue (2019 Edition)”, the elimination category “I. Item 7 is added to “Outdated production technology and equipment” and “(18) Others”, and the content is “virtual quasi-currency’mining’ activity.”

The phrases “Outdated production technology” and “Virtual quasi-currency’mining‘” hit different and tell another story about the Bitcoin mining ban. Wu finishes by saying that “in terms of the current Chinese government’s strong opposition to Bitcoin mining, these comments are likely to be meaningless.

Conclusions And Speculation

Tick-tock next block. China’s Bitcoin mining ban was a blip on the radar. The network kept running as usual and, a few months later, Bitcoin’s hashrate recovered. We at NewsBTC have been trying to figure out the logic behind the Chinese government’s moves regarding Bitcoin. Unsuccessfully. We looked into the new “China Model” and the small hydropower stations question, wondered about the waning of their hashrate dominance, and looked closely into the now-defunct industry.

Even though it seems like a logical theory, we don’t know if the Chinese government is just clearing out the competition for their future CBDC. We are not sure if this whole operation is part of a bigger one that is trying to control all of the Chinese billionaires. Or if they’re just asserting their dominance and showing everyone who’s the boss. We just know that the Bitcoin mining ban might be the biggest mistake of the century. And we’re not even talking about the trillions in fiat currency that the country is losing. 

The Chinese are banning themselves from participation in the winning open network, from interaction with the biggest idea of the century, from owning a piece of the pristine asset that will change the world for the best.

Did they realize all of this and are gearing up for a change of mind?

Featured Image by Andreas Breitling from Pixabay - Charts by TradingView

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