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What do Pokémon Go and Bitcoin have in Common?

Pokemon GoSeptember 13, 2016 - It is amazing to see how far humans have come from simple bartering and trading systems, to where we are currently, where money is more of an agreed upon virtual concept than something tangible which can be taken out of your wallet.

Bitcoin, the leading digital asset and payment system, is a fantastic example of this. It works like this: you purchase credits (aka Bitcoins) with real money, then use these credits to buy products. With bitcoins you can buy flowers for the special someone in your life from 1-800flowers.com, and even a plane ticket to California from Expedia.com. This user-friendly, peer-to-peer payment system is known as cryptocurrency.

As a newbie to the virtual currency world, it can be hard to wrap your brain around the idea of money that is not really money, at least in the traditional sense. To put it in perspective, bitcoins is to the online economy, as Poké Coins are to the highly popular Pokémon Go app.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Pokémon Go is basically an exercise app that juxtapositions your real location via GPS with virtual monsters (Pokémon). Many Pokémon Go users, not wanting to miss out on a rare Pokémon (particularly the elusive Pikachu), spend real cash to purchase digital money, which is non-redeemable outside the game. This digital money, fondly called Poke Coins, can be used to buy in game items. Bitcoins work much the same way: you trade dollars for cyber money.

Many startup companies have emerged to capitalize on the valuable opportunities digital currency presents. Digital currency, also known as cryptocurrency, is still a fairly new concept. As a result, there are conflicting views on how this payment system should be regulated.

In the United States digital currency is regulated on a state level. This creates a complex situation. BitcoinAccording to Bitcoin Magazine, the choice to regulate on a state-by-state level can create an unclear regulatory framework for digital currencies. If you are in states like California or New Jersey, as a digital currency startup, you are in the clear. However, if you are operating out of Connecticut or New York in order to legally operate, you will need to secure a license, which can be a costly and time-consuming process.

One major concern consumers have is the high risk nature of digital currency and the lack of regulation. As a consumer, you stand to gain a lot of monetary value from this venture, but as an investor there are no guarantees. Some players within the virtual financial world are seeking to add security to their investments by purchasing gold via bitcoins. Bitcoin technology makes it easier and more affordable to purchase gold, and gold adds a certain level of stability Bitcoin tends to lack.

Outside the United States, many countries favor a more regulated approach. In May 2016, Japan’s national legislature approved a bill to regulate domestic digital currency exchanges. Moving forward virtual currency exchange operators will be required to register with the Financial Services Agency. This will implement on-site inspections and administrative orders.

Japan, The United Kingdom, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, and Switzerland are all on the same page, and working in tandem to protect the integrity of this new wave of the financial technology revolution. These countries have created a friendly network for fintech startups to discuss growing technology and market trends.

Whether you are personally invested cryptocurrencies on a business level or a gaming level, it will be interesting to see how regulations grow to match the strives technology makes in the financial sphere. Will the United States be inspired by the models its international counterparts use, or continue to forge its solutions on a state-by-state basis?

 by: Madelyn Fagan

Sources

Jiji. “Diet oks bill to regulate virtual currency exchanges.” The Japan Times. 25 May 2016. Web. 23 August 2016.

Pepijn, Daan. “Gold rush 2.0: is gold the missing Link in Bitcoin’s economy.” Business.com . 4 December 2016. Web. 23 August 2016.

Young, Joseph. “Without unified, federal regulations for digital currencies, the U.S. risks falling behind.” Bitcoin Magazine. 1 August 2016. Web. 23 August 2016.

Is Your Company Doing Marketing Right?

 

 

 

                August 4, 2016 - The dissemination of knowledge during the 16th century was largely controlled by the authorities of the printing market. The accessible information during World War II was censored by FDR’s absolute discretion. The threat of being accused of subversion during the Second Red Scare drove seditious content out of the public’s eyes. And even today, pioneers of the digital advertising market, such as Facebook and Google, are influencing election results through search engine optimization and suppression of relevant news. But when it comes to the marketing industry, consumers set the agenda.

 

This is the consumer's world. We’re all just living in it.

 

                Consumers, not companies, have the almighty dollars and are, consequently, the absolute controllers of the free market. So how can companies give the consumers what they want? When given engaging and relevant information, consumers don’t just invest in a product – they invest in an idea.

                Consider the content-driven marketing strategy that transformed Jell-O from an obscure gelatin product to “America’s Most Famous Dessert.” Back in the early 1900s, before the Internet age, most recipes that people used were either a passed-down family tradition or a self-discovered concoction. Since new recipes were in high demand, the manufacturers of Jell-O went door-to-door distributing free recipe books that included ways to incorporate Jell-O into meals. Unsurprisingly, the company’s sales increased by $1 million in just two years.

                Today, content-driven marketing takes a much different form. Many companies utilize blogs and social media to spread awareness. However, you will rarely see companies (or at least companies that know what they’re doing) posting articles about the 20 best reasons to invest in their products. Instead, they post tangentially-related articles that make consumers stop and think, “Thanks, Company X, for providing this insightful information that I would not have known if I hadn’t liked/subscribed to your page/blog!” (Ok, maybe not in that exact tone, but you get the point.) For example, Dove creates campaigns to promote positive self-images – these videos seldom mention Dove and rather focus on the target audience.

    Content-driven marketing can be as big as Red Bull sponsoring a BMX event or as small as your summer camp posting a blog about how to stay in touch with your summer friends during the school year; regardless, it incontrovertibly boosts sales and influences buyer behaviors. As Simon Sinek astutely observed in his TEDTalk about inspirational leadership, “people don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” This process of taking a step back and incorporating the “Why” into marketing techniques has changed the marketing game, and it seems as though the leading players are the content-driven marketers.

By: Brittany Levy

Glass-Steagall, Dodd-Frank, Trump-Clinton: What Donald Trump and the Democratic Party Have in Common

July 28, 2016 - The Republican National Convention is over. The Democratic National Convention is over. The results: Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, will be running against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, in the 2016 election. All of this adds up to, what may be, one of America’s most historic and heated presidential races to date. It’s already been a long road and hopefuls have come and gone. Of those that remain, Donald Trump seemed the least likely to make it this far. Originally, Trump’s candidacy seemed more like publicity for Trump, with news media covering every word he said from every angle imaginable, instead of a serious bid for the presidency. Now, it’s obvious that Trump is to be taken seriously and that he has real ideas about policy that could have real affects.

                Recently, Trump’s policy views regarding the financial industry have been making headlines. Trump, apparently, wants to break up big banks, an idea often presented by U.S. Senator and 2016 Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders and out of line with the historical lean of the Republican Party. Specifically, Trump wants to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act and repeal the Dodd-Frank Act, both of which were born out of financial crises, and both of which regulate financial institutions.

                The Glass-Steagall Act, which usually refers to four provisions of the Banking Act of 1933, forced the separation of investment banking and commercial banking. It was signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (famously a Democrat, unlike his older cousin: President Theodore Roosevelt) days after Roosevelt took office in 1933. Reeling from the Great Depression, the U.S. government recognized the need for banking reform and, subsequently, made the Glass-Steagall Act law. In 1999, The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, signed by President Bill Clinton, repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act.

                After the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was signed, the recent financial crisis, known as the Great Recession, brought banking regulation to the forefront of American politics once again. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law. The Dodd-Frank act regulates the financial industry in several ways, including the establishment of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), which monitors risks that could affect the entire financial industry. The Act, among other things, also requires banks to have plans in place for a shutdown in the event of insolvency.

                Despite the apparent confusion of wanting to increase regulation and repeal it, Trump’s views are still incredibly important, even if it is highly unlikely that the Glass-Steagall act will be reenacted, or the Dodd-Frank Act repealed. This importance lies in the fact that the reinstatement of the Act is included in both the Republican and Democratic Party platforms. It seems strange, but it’s true; Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party all want the same thing. The only person who isn’t on board is Hillary Clinton, who believes the Act does not have the reach needed to regulate Wall Street, which now consists of more than just banks.

                Regardless of whether or not Glass-Steagall, or any derivative of it, actually becomes law again, the fact that both the Republican and Democratic Parties have made this part of their platform, potentially has heavy implications for the financial industry. It seems that financial reform will be an important issue addressed in the coming election and the ensuing presidency, whichever party wins.

By: Ed Carr

 

 

Sources:

Kelly, Jack J., and Alyssa D'Agosto. "The Presidential Race Is Getting Crazier... Is Donald Trump Taking a Page Out of Bernie Sanders' Regulatory Playbook? - Compliancex." Compliancex. N.p., 19 July 2016. Web. 26 July 2016.

 

Koba, Mark. "Dodd-Frank Act: CNBC Explains." CNBC. N.p., 11 May 2012. Web. 26 July 2016.

 

Long, Heather. "Trump's GOP Supports Bringing Back Glass-Steagall Act." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 19 July 2016. Web. 26 July 2016.

 

Marino, Jon. "Glass-Steagall: Wall Street Is Not Happy with Donald Trump." CNBC. N.p., 19 July 2016. Web. 26 July 2016.

 

Maues, Julia. "Banking Act of 1933, Commonly Called Glass-Steagall - A Detailed Essay on an Important Event in the History of the Federal Reserve." Federal Reserve History. N.p., 22 Nov. 2013. Web. 26 July 2016.

 

Sommer, Jeff. "G.O.P. Joins Democrats Urging Glass-Steagall’s Revival. (Don’t Hold Your Breath.)." The New York Times. The New York Times, 19 July 2016. Web. 26 July 2016

 

 

Month of the Military Consumer

 

July 27, 2016 - Just about anyone can recognize that our nation’s military is one of the paramount factors that has led our country into its stable, sovereign current state. In fact, the word “military” itself has become paralleled with patriotism, loyalty, sacrifice, and honor. Despite the devout actions of soldiers who put their lives on the line to keep our nation safe, many fraudsters see servicemembers’ frequent relocation and deployment as opportunities for scams. Thankfully, the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and other agencies across the federal government work in collaboration to fight the unjust fraud aimed at servicemembers and veterans. However, ordinary people are also getting involved in the initiative to protect military consumers – which is why July is the Month of the Military Consumer.

The goal for the Month of the Military Consumer is, you guessed it, to raise awareness about identity theft crimes impacting soldiers. Throughout the month, communities have offered fairs, question-and-answer sessions with financial counselors, free credit reports to military families, and other resources to promote better-informed financial decisions for both military families and the general public. After July, people can remain involved and versed by visiting Military.Consumer.gov and following the FTC’s military consumer education team on Twitter (@milconsumer). #’Murica.

By: Brittany Levy

Ban on Payday Lending

   July 20, 2016 - Technology company, and internet search powerhouse Google is so Iconic that the name has been converted into a transitive verb meaning “look it up.” To fund such an expansive operation Google relies on advertising for around 90 percent of its total revenue.  This is why the company’s May 11th announcement to ban advertisements from payday lenders came as something of a surprise.

    The term “Payday Lenders” refers to companies that offer short-term, high-interest loans. Google has previously standing restrictions on where such ads can be placed, but beginning July 13th, this new prohibition will completely ban ads with terms of 60 days or less, and in the US, ads for any loans charging an Annual percentage rate (APR) of 36 percent or more. The ban does not limit the appearance of such loans in the results of a targeted google search. In a statement released on the company blog, there was a brief statement about the purpose of the new rules; “Research has shown that these loans can result in unaffordable payments and high default rates for user.”

    Supporters have commended Google’s decision, but there are of course those directly affected by the changes who criticize the policy as being biased and inequitable. 

By:Christine Belusko

Source: https://publicpolicy.googleblog.com/2016/05/an-update-to-our-adwords-policy-on.html                                            

 

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