dow jones media group

Ad-blocking web browser startup Brave has inked a deal with Dow Jones Media Group to provide Brave users with access to premium content from the financial news publisher.

The partnership, which was announced on Wednesday, will see the two companies experiment with Brave’s blockchain-based digital advertising and services platform, which blocks ads by default but allows users to reward publishers with cryptocurrencies for creating quality content.

In the future, Brave plans to sell native, non-tracking ads, and revenue will be shared with both publishers and users.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Dow Jones Media Group to provide Brave users with premium content via Brave and the Basic Attention Token,” said Brendan Eich, CEO and co-founder of Brave. “Our new model reconnects users and publishers without compromising privacy. We look forward to our users enjoying Barron’s and MarketWatch premium newsletters.”

That Dow Jones Media Group will experiment with Brave’s platform at all is significant, particularly given the fact that just two years ago the Wall Street Journal — a Dow Jones-owned publication — joined a group of other mainstream newspaper in publishing a letter that claimed Brave’s plan to block ads by default and potentially replace them with native ads was “illegal.”

“Our partnership with Brave is an exciting and innovative step for Dow Jones Media Group,” said Daniel Bernard, SVP, Barron’s. “As global digital publishers, we believe it is important to continually explore new and emerging technologies that can be used to build quality customer experiences.”

Two of Dow Jones Media Group’s brands, MarketWatch and Barron’s, will become verified publishers on Brave, allowing them to receive payments in the form of the platform’s native Basic Attention Token (BAT), which was originally distributed through an initial coin offering (ICO) last year. BAT payments are automatically converted to publishers’ local currency through cryptocurrency transfer service Uphold.

Additionally, a limited number of Brave users will be eligible for free subscriptions to several Dow Jones Media publications, including Barrons.com and MarketWatch’s premium newsletter. These subscriptions will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to users who download the Brave browser.

Kraken, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in operation, has just announced that it will be ceasing its operations in Japan for the time being.

The move is as a result of increased regulations and sky-high operational costs in the Japanese cryptocurrency market.

In a report Bloomberg published, Kraken stated:

“Suspending our services for Japan residents will allow us to better focus on our resources to improve in other geographical areas.” They reassured their numerous customers by adding: “This is a localised suspension of service that only affects residents of Japan and does not impact services for Japanese citizens or businesses domiciled outside of Japan”.

For a while now, Japan has been cited as the hub for crypto activity by the cryptocurrency community. A large number of Japanese organizations have been hopping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon. Internet companies have shown growing interest in dipping into the rising market. As an example, Yahoo Japan recently announced the acquisition of a cryptocurrency exchange.

Along with companies, it seems the general public has warmed up to the sector as well. R25 conducted a survey where it was reported that approximately 14% of Japanese males within the age bracket of 25 to 30 own cryptocurrency.

https://twitter.com/business/status/986088052589252608/photo/1

Even while the Japanese public’s acceptance of cryptocurrency is on the rise, increasing government regulations have cropped up after the $560 Million hack of Coincheck. Several calls have been made by investors and members of the public for increased scrutiny of the exchanges to prevent a future occurrence.

The Japanese Financial Services Agency made a move towards protecting the industry by requiring licenses for exchanges and a higher level of security. This led to a lot of closures as some exchanges couldn’t meet these demands.

Kraken, on the other hand, obtained the necessary authority to operate in Japan without a license but the American-based company was never a crowd’s favorite.

Over the course of its 3-year existence in Japan, Kraken was never able to reach the volume it required to justify its existence in Japan. As of April 17th, the BTC/JPY pair accounted for a measly 0.9% of the exchange’s total volume, minuscule when compared to the BTC/USD pair’s total volume.

philippines

A Philippine lawmaker is pressuring her colleagues to expedite a vote on legislation that would increase the severity of penalties for crimes that involve cryptocurrencies.

Leila M. de Lima, a senator from the Phillippines’ opposition party, on Monday urged her colleagues to make Senate Bill 1694 a top priority during the present legislative session.

SB 1694, first introduced by Lima in March, aims to up the penalty by a full degree for crimes that are perpetrated using cryptocurrencies, which she says increase the difficulty of investigating crimes and bringing maleficent individuals to justice.

In her remarks, she cited a recent Bitcoin fraud case which saw two scam artists swindle more than 900 million pesos (~$50 million) from more than 50 Philippine investors.

“I hope that this occurrence will push my esteemed colleagues in the Senate to take my proposed bill seriously and help pass it into law soon. Knowing that virtual currency resembles money, and that the possibilities in using it are endless, higher penalty for its use on illegal activities is necessary,” she said in a statement. “No matter how small or big a group, same punishment must be given. It should never be easy to escape after stealing the hard earned money of other people,” she said.

Lima also encouraged her colleagues to vote on SB 959, which would reduce the minimum number of people needed to be involved in a swindling operation before defendants could face life imprisonment or the death penalty. At present, a crime can only be classified as a “syndicated estafa” if at least five people are involved; SB 959 would reduce that number to two.

Meanwhile, the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also been ramping up its cryptocurrency enforcement efforts. Earlier this week, the agency issued a formal warning to 14 cryptocurrency investment schemes — which the agency claims are unregistered securities offerings — advising them that they could face penalties including fines or imprisonment if they continue to operate in the country.

Featured Image from Pixabay

IBM announced today that their Kenyan research lab is prepared to roll out a new blockchain-based microlending solution, prepared in partnership with Twiga Foods.   Twiga Foods is a Nairobi-based business-to-business coordination platform for kiosks and food stalls in Africa that had previously expressed interest in extending financial service offerings to its customers.

While Twiga Foods was interested in ways that they could offer access to working capital to their customers, many of the businesses did not have credit scores or another existing way to assess their creditworthiness.  Fortunately, IBM researchers had a solution and proposed using both machine learning applied to mobile phone data, including purchase and repayment patterns, in order to build a picture of a business’s financial health.    In the past, IBM has successfully used similar data in partnerships with an African bank and with a mobile service provider.  In those projects, over $3 million in loans were processed.

Grant Brooke, co-founder of Twiga Foods said, “Previously, we were focused on helping farmers distribute bananas, tomatoes, onions and potatoes to 2,600 kiosks across Kenya, but we soon realized that we could help them sell even more produce with access to working capital. It’s simple, if the food vendors can sell more, we can distribute more, growing both of our businesses.”Late last year, Twiga Foods and IBM tested the viability of their concept by running a pilot project with 220 Kenyan small food kiosks, referred to locally as “mom mbogas” in Swahili.  The eight-week pilot involved over 220 loans issued to participants, with the average loan amount around $30 USD (3,020 KES).   During the pilot project, participating retailers saw an increase in profits of approximately 6%, and orders increased by approximately 30%.   The microloans were issued as 6 to 8 day advances, and participants were charged between 1% and 2% interest.

 

Using blockchain allows a level of transparency within the lending process for all parties, including the lender, the borrower, and their banks.  Since no one party can unilaterally alter or add to the blockchain, it can be an effective way to reduce fraud and misrepresentation.  Blockchain technology can also be a very efficient way of processing financial transactions, as it can execute a series of “smart contracts” simultaneously.

“We analyzed purchase records from a mobile device and then apply machine learning algorithms to predict creditworthiness, in turn giving lenders the confidence they need to provide microloans to small businesses. Once the credit score is determined, we used a blockchain, based on the Hyperledger Fabric, to manage the entire lending process from application to receiving offers to accepting the terms to repayment,” said Isaac Markus, a researcher on the inclusive financial services group at IBM Research in Kenya.

 

IBM and Twiga Foods hope to expand the project to include other vendors and suppliers, both within Kenya and in other countries, by the end of 2018.

facebook

Infamous political consulting group Cambridge Analytica had planned to hold an initial coin offering (ICO) before it became tangled up in Facebook’s data sharing scandal.

According to Reuters, the British data analytics firm had quietly approached an ICO advisory service with preliminary questions about holding a token sale, through which it hoped to gain $30 million.

The report states that it is unclear whether the company plans to follow through with the ICO, but a spokesperson did confirm that Cambridge Analytica — in a humorous twist — is developing a blockchain-based platform to help individuals “reclaim their data from corporate entities.”

“Prior to the Facebook controversy, we were developing a suite of technologies to help individuals reclaim their personal data from corporate entities and to have full transparency and control over how their personal data are used,” a Cambridge Analytica spokesman told the publication. “We were exploring multiple options for people to manage and monetise their personal data, including blockchain technology.”

That’s more than a little ironic. The data analytics firm, which was hired by US President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, reportedly gained access to the personal data of as many as 87 million Facebook users as a result of improper data sharing practices on the part of the social media giant.

A New York Times report divers further into the nature of Cambridge Analytica’s foray into the cryptocurrency space, where it used its “psychographic profiles” of consumers to conduct targeted advertising campaigns for ICOs and other blockchain companies.

Investors who attended one Cambridge Analytica pitch deck said that the company also floated paying Mexican voters cryptocurrencies in exchange for filling out surveys, data from which would then be sold to Mexican political candidates and used to create ad campaigns.

Notably, Brittany Kaiser, who led Cambridge Analytica’s ICO-focused work, left the company in February and has been extremely critical of it in the two months since her exit.

Featured Image from Pixabay