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Baidu: Launches Stock Photo Service on Blockchain

Samantha Mitchell

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Baidu

The Chinese version of Google, Baidu, has just launched its own online stock photo library named Totem.

Who is Baidu?

Baidu is an Internet and artificial intelligence specialist and a Chinese multinational organization based in Beijing. It is also the eighth largest company in the world in terms of revenue, with an annual revenue over 1 billion USD. It is currently listed as number 6 in the top search engines around the world with over a billion searches taking place every single month. Baidu is currently sitting at number 4 in the Alexa ratings.

Totem Facts

The background behind the release of this product is, in essence, to protect the rights of images and intellectual products in China.

Totem was released on Wednesday 11 April 2018 and uses Blockchain for the very fundamental dating and timing of each loaded photograph.

The fact that Baidu is a solid artificial intelligence organization with the ability to data scrap on the Internet ensures that there is a strong intellectual property company behind the photo service. This definitely adds extra creditability to Totem.

Baidu has stated that by using the data that is already stored on the Internet through Blockchain software allows images to be compared easily. Breaches of intellectual property rights can therefore be ascertained very quickly and action taken where necessary. This has been extremely difficult to do in the past.

Large stock photo libraries are already beginning to make their move over to Totem including Visual China Group – who are associated with the larger than life Getty Images in China. More are expected to follow suit very soon.

What Does This Mean For Blockchain?

Baidu has been pushing for an increase in Blockchain software in China and this is another step forward towards that dream. At the moment, there is no confirmation as to whether Totem is on a private or public Blockchain but no matter what this is big news for Blockchain and could really open up the Chinese market for this software product.

Blockchain is quickly becoming a tried and tested piece of software to help technology companies deal with intellectual property concerns. Kodak has recently announced that it is to build KodakOne using a Blockchain to manage its digital media assets. The limited information released suggests that photographs will be watermarked securely and cryptographic hashes will stored on the Blockchain.

This is the start of things to come for Blockchain. Professional photographers have struggled to secure their images successfully over the years, but Blockchain is the perfect solution to fill this shortfall. It’s design features match the needs of photographers and stock libraries and these initial steps really could be the start of things to come.

With China now pushing for more Blockchain technology to be used, the software product is on the edge of a really large increase in demand. This would inevitably be life changing for Blockchain and the industry as a whole. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the coming months and years.

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Cryptocurrencies: cheapair.com To Change Bitcoin Payment Processors

Samantha Mitchell

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Cryptocurrencies: cheapair.com To Change Bitcoin Payment Processors

The Background

Cheapair.com was the first in the travel industry to make the move to taking Bitcoin payments in 2013. Both flight and hotel bookings have been able to be made with the Bitcoin Cryptocurrency. However, the online travel agency has recently announced to its customers – on the 20th April 2018 – through the company blog that it will be changing the backend of its payment processing. Jeff Klee, CEO, told customers that their current provider – Coinbase – will stop supporting the way that cheapair.com processes it’s payments. The worrying fact is that this is happening in a matter of weeks rather than months! Jeff Klee is currently looking for a solution and a new supplier.

The Possible Solution

One of the main concerns that CheapAir.com has with merging with the Bitpay technology is the simple fact that Bitpay does not support wallets that are not compliant with BIP-70. Customers who currently have a non-compliant wallet will, therefore, have to move swiftly now and secure another wallet to ensure a smooth transition.

However, the above is not all bad news as cheapair.com is now using this as an excuse to upgrade so that the agency can now accept payments from Bitcoin Cash, Dash, and Litecoin. This is already in the testing stage.

The CEO is also looking at setting up a more dedicated and specialized Cryptocurrency customer service team. Customers can call or email the team to request support from advisors that are trained and experienced with Cryptocurrencies. The CEO has admitted that there have been frustrations in the past with the lack of technical knowledge in his customer service team and has taken full responsibility for this promising to rectify the issue now.

Furthermore, there will be upgrades to the online travel agency’s financial procedures. At the moment, some of the processes are not as streamlined as they could be. The aim is to automate refunds as a starting point.

Jeff Klee has been extremely candid with the details provided and has admitted that their current supplier Coinbase is no longer providing the service that they need and has left them with no alternative but to find someone else to process their payments at the last minute. He has also been very honest to state that their plan is to integrate with Bitpay. However, this move will mean that it may be disappointing for some customers who will need to secure another compatible wallet for Bitpay as an intermediary stage.

The company is putting a positive spin on the whole episode which is the only way to move forward and it is refreshing to see a company make the most of a situation that they have been forced into. The CEO has really driven the company to look at ways to improve their service for their customers. He has – probably more importantly – reached out to customers to ask their opinion on whether they would feel comfortable to purchase another wallet that is compatible with Bitpay. He has actually provided his own business email address so that customers can contact him directly. A bold move and one that will be interesting to follow.

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Cryptocurrencies: Tighter Regulations In Europe

Samantha Mitchell

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Cryptocurrencies: Tighter Regulations In Europe

The Background

As changes and upgrades in Cryptocurrencies continue to occur and the industry develops, so do the regulations surrounding this new concept.

The European Parliament unanimously this week voted – by a large majority – to support a December 2017 agreement around the use of Cryptocurrencies. The total regulation of Cryptocurrencies is moving closer and closer. This will be great for all concerned and sets a firm precedent in how things are moving forward in this industry.

The European Parliament members voted to agree with the European Council regulations on vital issues such as the prevention of the rise of Cryptocurrencies in money laundering as well as terrorism. The vote was a very clean and redefining moment with 574 for yes and only 13 for no, with 60 absentees.

This is a very strong message for the European community not only addressing anonymity of financial services but also implementing rules on exchanges and platform providers. Now it means that everyone has to be registered with the authorities and will have to apply for due diligence procedures – including customer verification – before receiving the OK from the government. Quite a big moment for the European community.

Moving Forward

The new regulations will not take long to put into force… in fact, they will be running in three days as stated in the Official Journal of the European Union. Once this is in place, the member states will have 18 months to bring all of these new country laws into their constitutions. However, it is not expected that it will take this long to implement these new laws, as countries are very keen to protect themselves against the evils of Cryptocurrency as soon as possible. There are many robberies, kidnapping, and the likes already being reported and industry is eager to protect itself as soon as possible to alleviate a huge crime wave before it actually hits. Changes are absolutely vital in the prevention of money laundering, tax evasion, and criminal activity. As experts highlight, criminals have not stopped, and there is still a lot of bad behavior going on, whether it is laundering or finance terrorism, it is still happening all the while there is money to be gained. This new legislation just solidifies things, helps to support those living in the country and makes them feel safer.

Governments are completely exposed at the moment with Cryptocurrency because it is such a new industry and so completely unknown. There are also so many ways to exploit the system. Until the industry settles down and becomes more stable, with government officials realizing where the loopholes are, this is going to be a tricky road ahead. These tougher measures will hopefully break open the duty of financial companies and help them to undertake due care and diligence. However, this is absolutely not a given. Money laundering and tax evasion is rife no matter where you are in the world and especially so in a new and developing industry.

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Crypto Mining: The South Koreans Are Tightening The Import Of Crypto Mining Chips

Samantha Mitchell

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Crypto Mining: The South Koreans Are Tightening The Import Of Crypto Mining Chips

Importing Mining Chips Is Getting Harder

Following the huge influx of mining chips over recent months, the Korean Customs Service has now implemented stricter rules on the import of these chips. This will make it harder for the Cryptocurrency miners in South Korea to get these internationally produced chips sent into the country.

The Korean Customs Service has now listed mining chips as an item, which needs to meet their regulations before they are released into the country. The chips will be scrutinized against current laws as well as safety and sanitization certifications before they are allowed into South Korea.

These new rules have been implemented following the upsurge in imports recently. It has been reported that in November and December 2017, approximately 1.3 billion Korean Won ($1.2 million) worth of mining chips were imported into the country. The Korean Customs Service stated that this amount was spread through 454 imports of mining chips.

Why The Changes And Concern?

As is well documented and known, the industry is still very much unknown, and suppliers / providers are being very cautious because of this simple fact. The South Koreans are just being careful at the moment and ensuring that nothing untoward happens to the mining machines once they have entered the country. There is a large amount of power consumption and heating required to run these machines, and the Korean Customs Service will be double checking everything to alleviate any possible fires from breaking out around the country as a direct result of mining. This is even more important when you consider that there is very little known about just how much power is required to run these machines.

Going forward, there will be strict examinations of mining machines whenever they enter the country. Safety will be the main area of concern and machines will be assessed based on the laws of the importation of electronic goods. The laws were implemented and are governed by the National Radio Research Agency.

There is widespread worry that illegal mining activities will raise electricity costs in the country and increase the risk of fire if not controlled well. Again this is very much an unknown. Both the public and private sectors have shared their worries and are now working hard to restrict illegality. This is certainly a hot topic for the South Korean Police who have already arrested 14 individuals from 13 companies for accessing cheap power to mine Cryptocurrencies. This was further to the banning of mining Cryptocurrencies inside of a building of a retail marketplace in Seoul earlier in the year. Nothing actually caught fire, but there was anxiety that something would and that the power/building would overheat.

Although South Korea is one of the first to implement such sanctions on importation, it will not be long before others follow suit. Something that must now be expected as this merging market expands. Countries and governments will continue to be attentive when it comes to mining until more about the industry and its effects are known.

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