Category Archives: Fintech

Bitcoin Daily: Teen Crypto Expert Says Bitcoin Is Dead; Congressman Thinks Crypto Can Pay For Trump’s Wall

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Teenage bitcoin millionaire Erik Finman is now saying that the cryptocurrency is “dead.”

“Bitcoin is dead, it’s too fragmented, there’s tons of infighting, I just don’t think it will last,” Finman told MarketWatch. “It may have a bull market or two left in it, but long-term, it’s dead.”

Finman famously took a $1,000 gift from his grandmother to buy bitcoin, going on to make more than $4 million during the crypto’s $20,000 run.

In addition, Finman said Litecoin is also on its way out. “Litecoin has been dead for a while,” he said. “It’s like when the sun is going down and there’s that eight minute period just before it goes dark. Litecoin is in its seventh minute.” He added that project-based cryptocurrencies have the best chance of success, with Ether and ZCash on the top of his list.

Finman’s comments come as The New York Post reports that “mining” bitcoin has now become unprofitable due to the crypto’s falling price; it is now getting under $3,200, an 84 percent decrease from the highs seen just one year ago.

But Nick Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, doesn’t believe this is the end.  “I’ve had a lot more questions about Bitcoin in the last 30 days and I tell people I don’t think we’re at the bottom yet,” he said. “We’re in what I call a ‘technological winter.’ It’s like what happened in the Nasdaq bubble. There was a recovery but it took many years.”

“A lot of miners definitely are losing money but there’s still miners that can make money,” he added.

Of course, there has also been a growing concern over the use of cyrpto to launder money, and a new Bloomberg report revealed that bitcoin ATMs (BTMs) might be used to engage in the criminal activity.

Currently, there are more than 4,000 of these machines worldwide and 2,389 in the U.S., with new ones installed at a rate of about five a day, according to Coin ATM Radar. And anyone can purchase a machine for a few thousand dollars, and go on to obtain a federal money transmission license on the U.S. Department of the Treasury website in about 15 minutes. By one expert’s analysis, more than half the machines in the U.S. aren’t verifying identifications or placing limits on transactions, which could result in more than $500 million in illegal cash being laundered annually.

“There are people clearly trying to launder money through our BTMs in small amounts,” says Arnold Spencer, general counsel at Dallas-based Coinsource, the largest BTM operator in the world. “We’re catching most of them, if not all of them.”

In other news, Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson believes crowdfunding with a cryptocurrency may be the best way to fund Donald Trump’s controversial wall on the Mexican border.

During an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, Davidson suggested that he has proposed a private funding program where“the American people, or whomever should choose to donate,” (including residents of Mexico) would be able to fund the wall’s construction.

“You could do it with sort of like a crowdfunding site or you could do a blockchain and you could have WallCoins, but you could raise the money and frankly if we get it right at the Treasury you could even pay with Mexican pesos.”

Coinbase has announced that its U.S. customers can now make withdrawals into their PayPal accounts.

“Before today, you needed an ACH or Federal Wire account to withdraw funds. These traditional finance networks can add up to two business days to a withdrawal,” wrote Coinbase’s Allen Osgood. “We’re always looking for ways to not only meet the bar set by traditional finance, but raise it. That’s why we rebuilt our integration to ensure that the speed and reliability of PayPal withdrawals does just that.”

And the European Parliament wants to create measures to boost blockchain adoption in trade and business across the region.

The resolution, called “Blockchain: a forward-looking trade policy,” aims to explore how blockchain could improve EU trade policies.

“The EU has an opportunity to become a leading actor in the field of blockchain and international trade, and it should be an influential actor in shaping its development globally, together with international partners,” according to the resolution.

As Coindesk pointed out, this is the latest step in the region’s acceptance of blockchain. Earlier this month, seven European countries — France, Italy, Spain, Malta, Cyprus, Portugal and Spain — signed a joint declaration to promote the use of the technology to transform their economies.

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Man who rigged up voice changer to Barclays 2FA unit convicted for fraud

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A man who built a jerry-rigged device that he used to con people into thinking they were talking to their bank has been sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Tony Muldowney-Colston was charged with nine counts of possession of an article for use in fraud and two counts of making or supplying an article for use in fraud.

The bizarre device, which seems to be made up out of bits of old DJ kit, was used to alter the perpetrator’s voice to fit different ages and genders. It is estimated Muldowney-Colston pildered in excess of £500,000 from the accounts he accessed.

A police raid on his home in June found a hard drive containing details of passports and identity cards, 32 credit cards, and a spreadsheet containing names, addresses, e-mail addresses and phone numbers pertaining to a private members’ club in central London.

Whilst searching the property officers also discovered the voice-changing apparatus, wired up to a Barclays 2FA unit, which was used to defraud customer accounts.

Muldowney-Colston has previous form, having being convicted in 2014 of stealing £1.3 million from Barclays Bank.

Detective Inspector Philip McInerney, from the Met’s Cyber Crime Unit (MPCCU), said: “The scam carried out by Muldowney-Colston affected hundreds of people across the UK, and had the potential to affect many more. He is an audacious criminal who only recently was released from prison for carrying out very similar offences.

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Doom and Gloom: Is Bitcoin Headed to Zero in 2019?

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There are plenty of people who argue that the bear market that has plagued Bitcoin throughout this year is nothing more than a temporary problem–John McAfee blamed Bitcoin’s downfall on “artificial” pressures; others claim that this decline is nothing more than a maturation, a normal part of the lifecycle of any asset.

However, perhaps it’s not a coincidence that most of the people who see the light at the end of Bitcoin’s tunnel are widely known to be hodlers themselves–and of course, it’s foolish to buy medicine from a sick man.

For as many analysts and other figures in the financial community that claim that Bitcoin is going back up, there are just as many who see Bitcoin heading down with no sign of substantial recovery. Could there be any validity to what these Bitcoin bears are claiming?

The Mining Calamity

Perhaps one of the biggest threats to Bitcoin is the failure of the industry that runs the network. New Bitcoins are created through a process called “mining”, wherein expensive computers solve incredibly complex mathematical equations in order to confirm transactions and add them to the blockchain (a public ledger.) In exchange for their work as miners, these computers (and their owners) get rewarded with Bitcoins.

By design, the process of mining Bitcoins becomes more difficult as more Bitcoins are mined. Therefore, the amount of electricity and quality of the equipment necessary to mine Bitcoins also increases. In other words, Bitcoin becomes more and more expensive to mine.

This is all well and good as long as the price of Bitcoin increases in tandem with the mining difficulty. However, this is currently not the case. In fact, when the Bitcoin Cash hard fork sent the price of Bitcoin into a free fall several weeks ago, reports emerged from China saying that some mining operations were selling their equipment by the kilo.

If mining Bitcoin continues to become less profitable, we can expect that there will be fewer and fewer miners. As miners continue to leave the game, the network will be less and less capable of processing transactions. The fewer transactions the network can process, the fewer people will use the network. The less that the network is used, the less that Bitcoin will be worth.

And so on.

It’s true that higher hash rates (rates of computer power used to power the Bitcoin network) have been indicative of imminent price increases in the past. However, as hash rates have continued to rise throughout this year, valuation has continued to fall. The situation could improve if the cost of mining is decreased; however, some theorists argue that Bitcoin has already entered into a “death spiral” based on the elimination of mining profitability.

Bitcoin’s First-Mover Advantage Could Be At Risk If It Doesn’t Clean Up Its Act

In an article for MarketWatch, professor of finance at Santa Clara University Atulya Sarin said that one of the reasons that Bitcoin has been so successful in dominating the market is because of its formidable first-mover advantage. In other words, one of the reasons that Bitcoin may be so successful is simply because it was the first of its kind.

However, Sarin argues that a “me-too” piece of technology could eventually dominate Bitcoin, saying that this is a common phenomenon in emerging markets. The first-mover enjoys short-lived success, and is then overtaken by a better piece of technology that has improved upon its faults. Case in point: ever heard of AltaVista? Perhaps not. It was the first major internet search engine. But I’ll bet that you’ve heard of Google.

Atulya does have a valid point. There are plenty of problems with the Bitcoin network that are far from solved.

Perhaps most famously, Bitcoin has an extremely limited ability to scale–the network is capable of processing three or four transactions on average. By comparison, the Ethereum network can process around 15 transactions per second; the Visa payment network can process thousands of transactions each second. Despite a growing number of efforts to make Bitcoin more scalable, the Bitcoin community has been unable to agree on any single solution. Thus, nothing has changed.

The Bitcoin network is also much less anonymous than most people believed that it was. Once any connection between an individual’s public wallet address and their identity has been established, it’s possible to see every transaction that person has ever made associated with that address.

Despite the fact that the cryptocurrency markets have slowed somewhat, there are more and more cryptocurrencies being born all the time–cryptocurrencies that are far more scalable, more anonymous, and much easier to use than Bitcoin. None of them has managed to truly threaten Bitcoin’s royal status, but some come closer and closer.

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Yale Economists Say That Probability of a Total Crash is Only 0.4%–But It’s All Relative

Despite the threats to the Bitcoin network, Bitcoin may not be in danger of total disaster anytime soon. A report by two Yale economists, professor Aleh Tsyvinski and Ph.D. candidate Yukun Liu, published in August of this year said that the probability of Bitcoin heading to absolute zero is just a 0.4 percent chance. This was slightly lower than XRP’s 0.6 percent chance and Ethereum’s 0.4 percent chance.

By comparison, however, the chances that these three cryptocurrencies would be sent to zero were much higher than the chances of the Euro (0.009 percent), the Canadian dollar (0.005 percent), and the Austrailian dollar (0.003 percent).

The odds were calculated based on price data from all three currencies collected between the years 2011 and 2018.

“On one hand it sounds small, on the other hand, it is still orders of magnitude larger than the probability that [a traditional currency] is going to become worthless,” Tsyvinski told CNBC. “So you can take the glass half full or the glass half empty.”

Bitcoin Just Isn’t a Currency

VanGuard Economist Joe Davis said all the way back in May that there’s “decent” chance that the price of Bitcoin is headed to zero. His argument was that Bitcoin simply doesn’t meet the criteria required for it to be an actual currency; he said it was nothing more than a dubious instrument of exchange and that is high levels of volatility do not make it into a reliable store of value.

Davis said that as such, he does not believe that Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies represent any serious threat to banks or traditional financial systems. However, Davis does believe that banks will eventually adopt the usage of their own digital currencies.

Market Manipulation Could Lead to Destruction

Chairman of Roubini Macro Associates Nouriel Roubini, also known as “Dr. Doom” for his bearish economic outlooks, tweeted his beliefs that Bitcoin is headed into oblivion all the way back in February of this year.

Roubini cited market manipulation as one of the factors that will ultimately lead to Bitcoin’s demise, asking if the CFTC and SEC would be looking into the wash trading that he alleged was happening in the Bitcoin markets.

There has been widespread belief that the Bitcoin markets are subject to widespread market manipulation from the very beginning–”whales”, or individuals that hold a lot of BTC, have been accused of throwing their weight around in order to profit off of panic. While there is no definite proof that this has ever taken place, there is still reason to believe that it might have happened.

The Future is Unclear

There’s no telling what the reality of Bitcoin will be in 2019. These perspectives seem grim, but Finance Magnates reported just yesterday on individuals who believe that Bitcoin’s best days are yet to come.

If you’re not a professional analyst, though, the old adage might provide a source of wisdom here: hope for the best, but expect the worst.

What are your thoughts on where Bitcoin is headed next year? Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

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7 CRYPTO PREDICTIONS FOR 2019

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ROMAL ALMAZO’S CRYPTO PREDICTIONS FOR 2019

This time last year, Bitcoin was nearing its zenith of becoming the biggest asset bubble in history. Driven by irrational investor exuberance and a fear of missing out (commonly known as ‘FOMO’), it was common to see 10x price increases across many cryptocurrencies. Stories abound the internet of people turning tiny investments, sometimes as little as a few hundred dollars, into millions. Within social media circles these people were referred to as ‘lambos’. And the common catchphrase became “When lambo?”, meaning when is your coin going to make you enough money to buy a Lamborghini? Even websites selling supercars were cropping up accepting only Bitcoin or Ethereum as payment.

And let’s not forget Ripple which saw gains 36,000% in 2017…!

Fast forward to December 2018 and the landscape couldn’t be more polarised. Bitcoin is down 85% from its December peak, symptomatic of a wider cryptocurrency malaise, where prices are down anywhere between 70-100%. For the experienced investor, who chose to sit out the ‘hyperbole’ it has proven to be another case of “I told you so”. The party is well and truly over. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, I cast a furtive eye on the future of cryptocurrencies with 7 predictions for 2019 and beyond…

1. ONCE THE PRICE OF BITCOIN BOTTOMS, EXPECT A SLOW RECOVERY OR STAGNATION, COUPLED WITH CONSOLIDATION

Bitcoin has been the biggest asset bubble in history; and history tells us that after a collapse in an asset bubble recovery is slow, if not anaemic. Expect a collapse and consolidation throughout the market – miners, tokens and coins.

2. CRYPTO ETFs WILL NOT BE APPROVED IN 2019, DUE TO UNRESOLVED MARKET PROBLEMS

Many see regulatory approval of Crypto ETFs as a potential game changer given it will provide institutions access to a regulated product. But with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) still having major concerns around crypto exchange manipulation, fraud and digital custody risks, don’t expect this to happen anytime soon!

3. SECURITY TOKEN EXCHANGES WILL EMERGE AND EVENTUALLY SUPERSEDE TRADITIONAL CRYPTO EXCHANGES

Arguably, no security token exchange is yet institutional grade or liquid enough, to support scale, but expect this market to mature in 2019. Security Token Offerings (STO) will eventually become the go to fundraising option for blockchain projects which means Security Token exchanges should supersede traditional utility token exchanges. Read more about the token market here.

4. ICOs WILL DIE A SLOW DEATH

Earlier this year, I published a paper on why many initial coin offerings are a waste of time. Indeed, reportedly more than half of ICOs from 2017 have already failed. I now expect this market to come close to near-death as demand shifts to regulated Security Token offerings (STO). ICO demand will be limited to a smaller section of the retail market.

5. TIER 1 INSTITUTIONS WILL BEGIN TO EXPLORE THE TOKENISATION OF ASSETS

Expect more institutions to get involved in pilots trying to tokenise everything from bonds, equities, and investment funds. Expect to see the entry of big name financial institutions beyond Fidelity, NASDAQ and the Swiss Stock Exchange.

6. INSURANCE OF DIGITAL ASSETS WILL INCREASE IN SCOPE AND SCALE

There will be increasing insurance coverage of crypto exchanges and digital custodians for cold storage. Lloyds of London announced their intent to do this back in August, and I expect more mainstream players to follow suit in 2019.

7. CRYPTO CFDs IN THE RETAIL MARKET WILL BE BANNED

The UK taskforce on Crypto Assets (FCA, BoE and HM Treasury) have already given a strong indication that they will ban these products in 2019 or severely restrict their use to protect investors. 

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Crypto Licence in Netherlands, Kraken’s Private Listing: Best of the Week

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Kraken prepares private listing at $4B Valuation

Kraken, a US-based cryptocurrency exchange, revealed this week that it is considering a private offering through an email sent to its most prominent clients informing them on the investment.

In the email, customers are encouraged to fill out a survey in order to get additional information. However, the company did say that the valuation at which Kraken is listing its shares for sale is $4 billion and the minimum investment size is $100,000.

Kraken highlighted in the email that it doesn’t need financing, but given the current bear market and its “significant reserves” Kraken sees an opportunity for acquisitions. Email recipients have until December 16 to respond to the survey.

The Netherlands to Introduce Crypto Licence

According to a bulletin published in De Telegraaf, the Netherlands is planning to introduce a cryptocurrency licence which will be monitored by its central bank. Whilst the report doesn’t reveal too much, it does say that De Nederlandsche Bank would issue licences to cryptocurrency firms that identify their customers and report suspicious transactions.

At present, the bill is in public consultation allowing people to submit their opinions to the bank. This move is in an effort to fight money laundering – an issue which has been making headlines in recent months involving well-known banks and terrorism financing.

Retail Broker’s Declining Shares

In the wake of changing regulation in the forex industry, this year has been quite a rocky one for shareholders of publicly listed retail brokers. As Finance Magnates reported, throughout 2018 retail brokers have been largely underperforming the broad stock market.

In fact, the only brokers which haven’t seen a large drop in shares are those which are buying back their own stock. So which brokers, in particular, have taken the hit? Read more here to find out.

Will Altcoins Rise in 2019?

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’ve probably heard about bitcoin’s woes in 2018. The legend that is Bitcoin has taken a large hit in the past 12 months and as such, this has dominated the news.

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As a result, the success and failures of altcoins have taken a back seat. However, altcoins are far from dead. In a report, Finance Magnates addresses the question – will altcoins rise again in 2019?

PoS Cryptocurrency Systems On the Rise

As cryptocurrencies become more and more mainstream within the financial sector, the number of retailers that accept virtual currencies are on the rise. As this demand grows, so does the need for cryptocurrency point of sale (PoS) systems.

A recent report from Finance Magnates takes a closer look into the rise of these systems and the increasing acceptance of cryptocurrencies by retailers – despite Bitcoin’s plummeting value this year, which you can read here.

Top FX Mergers and Acquisitions in 2018

2018 was a big year for mergers and acquisitions – CME Group overtook NEX plc, OANDA was acquired and Paypal bought iZettle to name a few. Billions of dollars exchanged hands during the past 12 months – so what were some of the biggest acquisitions and mergers in 2018?

You can read this report by Finance Magnates which takes a look at the biggest deals made in the institutional trading space, retail trading world, payments industry and the cryptocurrency space.

Top 5 Executive Moves in the Forex Industry for 2018

2018 was also a big year for executive moves. With a changing regulatory space CEO’s have been under more pressure than ever to keep their company afloat. However, the ESMA regulations caused some casualties, bringing top executives down with them, such as the former CEO of IG Group, Peter Hetherington.

But which were the biggest moves in the forex industry during the year? Finance Magnaes saved you the time of having to scroll through the world wide web and conveniently placed the top 5 executive moves in this article for you to find out.

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State Sponsored Attacks: Is the US taking the gloves off?

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It looks serious this time: the Trump administration says it’s ready to hit China with direct sanctions for what the US says is a sustained digital industrial espionage campaign. It’s quite unprecedented – at least as far as US policy is concerned – and is intended to apply real-world pressure on China so it stops what the Western world agrees it has been doing for a decade: the practice of gaining intellectual property, trade secrets and R&D information via military grade hacking, aka Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs).

Economic sanctions are a hard lined departure from the prior administration’s policy of treading lightly when it comes to China. Faced with a tsunami of APTs in 2009-2012, made famous by the 2011 attack on security giant RSA and targeting pretty much any vertical and any major US corporation, the official US reaction was extremely careful. Obama’s retaliatory measures were few and far between, erring to the side of caution.

The only high-profile attempt at forcing China’s hand was the 2014 public indictment of 5 military hackers belonging to Unit 61398, which threat intelligence companies say is the elite cyber espionage shop of the Chinese military. Many raised an eyebrow, suggesting this slap on the wrist looks a relatively minor reaction when taking into account the massive, five-year-long state sponsored campaign that stripped the US of ridiculous amounts of intellectual property.

Later on Obama’s administration used diplomacy to try to settle with China, and in 2015 the two powers agreed to put a stop to industrial espionage where state sponsored actors penetrate private sector networks. A 2016 report showed attack level on US dropped, but digital industrial espionage did not disappear; the attacks got more focused and high-yield.

As Trump went into office, he called a far more aggressive action on cyber attacks against the US. This is easier said than done: to make such a strategy effective, the US had to invest in more than offensive capabilities. In order to use offensive measures and create deterrence, it’s critical to have very good cyber intelligence, quick detection of attacks, and the ability to build a precise profile of hacker tools, methods and behaviors, making attribution extremely accurate. The other and equally important requirement would be strong defensive measures to avoid a backlash.

Are economic sanctions effective against state sponsored attacks? Actually, there’s historic precedence to the effectiveness of such tools: in 2012 Australia sent a very clear message to Beijing, preventing Chinese IT companies from taking part in gigantic broadband infrastructure projects designed to connect the inland of the continent to fast Internet. The result: attacks against Australian companies dropped to a mere trickle.

How will China respond to the new measures? Like in any high-stakes diplomacy issues, all bets are off and only time will tell. In any event, we should expect Interesting Times…

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Thinking Outside The Holiday Gift Box

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The Christmas countdown is upon us. And with just single-digit shopping days left, the countdown is on to find that perfect gift for those hard-to-buy-for people on your list. So, too, is the pressure to buy for those whose tastes may run to the peculiar, or who already have everything and offer no clues about what might tickle their fancy.

For anyone on that list, we have a few ideas…

For The Pet Lover: A Robot Mouse

When most people hear about getting a robotic mouse for their beloved dog or cat, they are probably thinking about something like this: a little wind-up mouse that one’s dog, cat or preschooler can chase around the house.

It’s not a bad gift, but in the era of advanced engineering, mind-boggling sensor advances and the latest AI algorithms, the truly committed pet owner can do a lot better.

Meet Mousr, a little robot mouse that comes to the world care of three PhD students who met at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It comes equipped with time of flight sensors, and is configured with an autonomous mode where it will actively “try” to evade the pet that is chasing it, as well as a remote-control mode so its buyer and his or her pet can play with it together.

And while the product has been called a bit “gimmicky” by some, the little brand, prior to holiday 2018, had already fulfilled 200,000 pre-orders. And earlier this year, the little bionic mouse won best new product in the cat category at the Global Pet Expo.

The main downside to Mousr is its price point: At around $150, it costs more than 10 times as much as the simpler, wind-up version of the toy.

But if the reviews on Amazon are to be believed, purchasing Mousr will makes one’s cat (or dog – though marketed as a cat toy, dog owners confirm that their pets also like chasing the robot mouse) 10 times happier than the cheaper mouse toy.

For the Party Animal 

The holiday season is about celebrating – and sometimes between the mulled wine, spiked eggnog and flowing champagne, there may come the risk of overindulging.

Luckily, the French claim to have cured the unfortunate byproduct that is the hangover.

The offering, which is called Security Feel Better and is sold on the site Bring France Home, is a non-alcoholic digestive drink that, according to its product listing, “enables a better and faster assimilation of the drink you consume.”

The pear-flavored beverage is said to have miraculous abilities derived from the power of plants to “affect your digestion like nothing else.” Among the plants providing those miraculous effects are artichoke, angelica, Yunnan tea and lemon. The set – which comes with two bottles of the curative substance – is meant to be consumed in a split manner. For the best effects, it is recommended that users drink one bottle before they start drinking alcohol, and another at the end of the party.

And it’s cheap, costing just $7 for each package.

For the Security Buff 

A pet rock.

Okay, not really – but the Dojo by Bullguard looks exactly like a pet rock, albeit a glowy one. Also, the comparison is apt, because like any good pet, it protects one’s home from invaders – their digital home, anyway.

The Bullguard is actually a piece of security tech that protects one’s entire Wi-Fi network and everything on it – think laptops, tablets, smart lights, thermostats, baby monitors and more. The Dojo’s base station sits between a modem and Wi-Fi router, and essentially becomes the network’s manager and firewall. By tapping into the app, one can also check the security status of their network, approve new devices asking to join and adjust network settings.

The Dojo pebble (the pet rock) runs on AA batteries and keeps up a line of communication with the base station, using lighting signals to keep its owner updated on the security of their network. If the light is green, everything is good. Yellow means there is malware or a threat (which the system is taking care of) and red means something is happening that requires direct user intervention.

According to its maker, Dojo leverages machine learning and crowdsourced data gleaned from other (anonymized) Dojo users to spot – and stop – strange network behavior.

It is, however, more expensive than the average pet rock. While one can pick up a mineral for a pet for between $10 and $25 on the web, the Bullguard version costs just under $200.

For the Film Fanatic

Know anyone who misses the days of cameras that use film and often bemoans the fact that the art of photography is disappearing in the digital age, as people can snap and instantly see scores of pictures with their phone?

Good news: There’s a way to return to all the uncertainty that went into film photography without actually having to buy someone you love a camera that is 20 years out of date.

That solution is the Leica M10-D, a digital camera that has no built-in screen. If the photographer wants to see their pictures, they have to plug it into something with a screen, like a smartphone or laptop.

The design is meant to recreate the experience of shooting film, when one would not know what they had snapped until it was developed, while still providing an easy-to-use digital experience.

And while it might seem a bit like a step back, technologically speaking, the reviews indicate that among photo buffs and camera purists, there is something incredibly enjoyable about the experience.

“It’s an interesting gimmick, and one you could admittedly replicate with other digital cameras by resisting the temptation to peek at what you’ve shot. But using the M10-D feels like shooting a film Leica, and there’s something intangibly special about that,” wrote the reviewer for Time.

However, as is often the case, “intangibly special” translates to incredibly expensive; in the case of this camera, the price tag is $8,000.

One might consider, as a savings technique, opting for a less ephemeral experience in favor of just switching off the viewing screen on their less fancy digital camera.

But whatever one chooses to purchase – be it a robot mouse, a rock security technician, a French hangover cure or an intangibly special camera – at the end of the day, it is of course the thought that counts.

And, if the ticking clock gets past you and you miss the regular shipping deadlines, remember Amazon is offering delivery through Christmas Eve. It’s almost never too late to get it right.

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LATEST INSIGHTS:

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. Check out the latest PYMNTS report on driving gas pump payments to the C-Store

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New Instagram Feature Will Tell Brands About Bookmarked Products

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Instagram is working on a shopping feature that would tell brands which products users are bookmarking, according to a report by CNBC.

The Facebook-owned company has been giving users shopping-specific features for about a year now, including the ability to bookmark things in photos and videos they might want to purchase. Brands can tag items and users can get more details about them, with the goal of eventually being sent to websites to complete purchases. Instagram said about 90 million users regularly interact with tagged items every month.

Layla Amjadi, Instagram product manager, said the analytical tool should be released in the first half of next year. “It’s a difficult thing to maintain all of the products that have piqued your interests across these multiple sites,” Amjadi told CNBC. “That’s a problem that businesses told us they personally have and are excited for us to help them solve within Instagram.”

With the tool, users who bookmark items might eventually end up seeing ads for those specific products. However, that technology doesn’t exist yet. “We do not currently have ads retargeting based on saved posts [on] our roadmap,” an Instagram spokesperson said.

Amjadi noted that a user bookmarking something but not buying it is a “reconsideration problem,” where there could be a number of factors at play in the decision, like not having enough money or an item not being in style. “We can help with the reconsideration at the right time and the right place,” she added.

Instagram wants to make sure it’s “nailing the consumer experience” of its shopping component on the app. “We’re trying to build for people a personalized mall within Instagram,” Amjadi said, noting that she wants someone to feel like they’re window shopping from one store to the next with friends. This type of experience, she said, is something people crave.

“This is just an additional path right now to give people and businesses an opportunity to come closer together in a way that people want,” Amjadi added.

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LATEST INSIGHTS:

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. Check out the latest PYMNTS report on driving gas pump payments to the C-Store

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Romania Detains CEO of Coinflux Crypto Exchange On US Warrant

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The Romanian police detained Vlad Nistor, CEO of Coinflux, a top crypto exchange operating in the country, on an American warrant that accuses him of running a fraud scheme, organized crime and money laundering.

According to local media, Nistor was moved to a temporary stay in the Cluj Court of Appeal and will be handed over to the US authorities in the near future.‎ Four agents from the US Secret Service attended the invesigations and are pressing to hand over Nistor, and Romania initially appeared willing to comply.

The Bucharest Court of Appeal is reportedly considering the US extradition request for Vlad Nistor, following two requests by the U.S. Justice Department. The court is scheduled to issue a final ruling tomorrow.

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Vlad Nistor is the founder and CEO of CoinFlux, which was established in 2015 and has recently re-invented its brand and changed its user interface and overall design.

He is a 29 years old entrepreneur with experience in the financial field, where he managed assets for companies like Aegon, Banca Transilvania or BCR, a member of Erste Group.

CoinFlux facilitates the users to trade cryptocurrencies with one another and also with fiat currencies. The exchange has suspended its trading services but seems optimistic to restart operations soon.

“Our expectation is that we will gain control back, within the next days. We are aware that this is a worrisome situation for the people who have placed their trust in our service, and we assure each and every one of them that we will do everything that’s up to us to fix this unfair situation,” the company explains on its website.

Nistor’s arrest is the latest in a series of US operations against crypto criminals in Europe, including Alexander Vinnik, an alleged Russian hacker accused of laundering $4 billion of criminal proceeds through BTC-e.

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