Cryptocurrencies are used for a variety of purposes by people. Some people buy cryptocurrencies with the assumption that their value will rise.
Whatever your financial strategy, there is a good chance that cryptocurrencies will affect you and the way you do business in the future. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the use of bitcoin in business. Elon Musk, Tesla’s self-proclaimed “TechnoKing,” has recently received a lot of media attention. Recently, In a letter to its shareholders, Tesla Inc. disclosed that it has sold more than 75 per cent. He did point out that the selling shouldn’t be taken as a verdict on bitcoin, but it was just enough to cause a small decline in price.
In this week’s Let’s Talk, we asked our experts about their opinions on whether or not cryptocurrencies are reliable for SMEs.
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Robin Marchant, Director of Marketing APAC, Shopify
“When it comes to cryptocurrency, its potential uses are almost limitless. Beyond the investor debate, it’s fast gaining momentum as a payment option for businesses looking for faster transactions, lower processing fees, no chargebacks and support for local and international purchases.
“Today, enabling cryptocurrency in your business is simpler than you think. In fact, Shopify merchants have been able to accept crypto for payment since 2018 through platforms like Coinbase and Bitpay, with the confidence of knowing that Shopify provides the right systems and resources to support merchants.
“However, cryptocurrency is more volatile than traditional currencies and there are operational considerations to take into account, such as tracking trades, payments, receipts, and how to store the currency securely. For any business considering entering the market, it’s important to get a solid understanding of the space, and work with a trusted adviser who has the knowledge to help your business handle crypto payments.”
Sharon Williams, Founder and CEO, Taurus
“Crypto is fascinating for me as I work in the technology industry, so I am used to reviewing, investigating and testing running all things new and groundbreaking. Digital currency is no different, and yes, because we offer comms strategies to crypto entrepreneurs, we see it actively being used for business already. Is it trustworthy is hard to answer because it is like asking for money is trustworthy. It’s what you do with the money or the cryptocurrency that is more the question. Who knows where the future will go, but it has created a new way of thinking.
“We may be on the edge of global change, or we may be at the start of something that – even if it has a series of false starts – will create so much change – it paves a new future. Either way, I am enjoying the investigation, usefulness, application and the various technologies and rules that make up digital currencies. For me, personally, my team are bonused in cryptocurrencies when they work on Crypto clients to enable them to get in, test and see for themselves what the market is all about.”
Shannon Karaka, Head of Expansion ANZ, Deel
“According to Deel’s State Global Hiring 2022 Report, remuneration payments in the form of crypto have held steady the last six months, with ~5 per cent of all payments withdrawn from the Deel platform having been taken in crypto since January 2022. Crypto can be an attractive option for people who want to hedge against currency volatility, get paid faster or simply want to add crypto to their investment portfolio. They may also choose to take their pay in multiple crypto and non-crypto currencies to diversify further. And with more and more companies feeling the brunt of the skills shortage, any perk that affords workers greater flexibility should be welcomed.
“For businesses looking to transact with customers and suppliers in crypto, partnering with a reputable third party with the proper checks and compliance measures is crucial. This also applies to those looking to pay contractors in crypto, though an additional consideration should be to consider offering a choice of currency. For example, people may want to be paid in a stablecoin like USDC, which has historically been less volatile and thus provides greater income security.”
Pete Murray, Managing Director ANZ, Veritas Technologies
“The prospect of innovation can be tempting for business leaders looking to incorporate new technologies into their operations. Unfortunately, big opportunities usually come with equally big risks, with a lack of understanding leaving early adopters exposed from a security perspective.
“This can be said for cryptocurrencies, with the ACCC reporting that Aussies lost more than $205 million to scams in the first four months of 2022 – the majority resulting from ‘crypto-investment scams’, which saw an increase of over 300 per cent.
“Businesses should be wary of anyone making money transfer requests using cryptocurrency, as well as scammers taking advantage of employees unfamiliar with the complexities of crypto. Such demands should raise red flags as cryptocurrency is neither a legal tender nor regulated in Australia.
“Cryptocurrencies can also be used as a tool to aid ransomware attacks, with threat actors evolving their tactics and stealing precious company data in exchange for crypto payments.
“Tips for businesses to avoid getting caught include:
- Ensure employees are educated to identify and report suspicious online threats
- Have strict policies in place for processing business payments
- Regularly backup and encrypt company data, alongside an effective recovery strategy”
Kevin He, CEO, Cloudtech Blockchain Australia
“The advantages of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for businesses largely outweigh the disadvantages.
“Research by Marella et al (2020), which is insightful in establishing what creates trust in cryptocurrencies for business owners. suggests that ‘coin transfers, immutability, openness, and decentralization are the functional attributes of Bitcoin, responsible for creating trust among the users’.”
“Immutability refers to the fact that crypto transactions cannot be manipulated, reversed or changed by anyone.
“Decentralisation means there are no third parties involved in the transaction process – therefore, any activity on the blockchain is transparent and can be seen by anyone, which enables trust to be built among users.
“Other benefits for business owners include complete control of assets for consumers; an extra layer of protection for traders; and any fraudulent transactions can be traced back to the blockchain.
“On the downside, there is still a lack of regulation in the crypto market. This makes the market more unpredictable and has resulted in most currencies not being backed or insured, unlike fiat currencies.
“However, these disadvantages are overcome by the significant benefits, including trustworthiness, cryptocurrencies have to offer for businesses.”
Carly Eva Benci, Founder, Crypto Carly
“Cryptocurrencies provide an immediate, indisputable means to receive and make payments to suppliers or clients, improving cash flow and saving time chasing up unpaid invoices.
“From the landscaper receiving immediate payment on job completion to an importer sending funds to his overseas supplier, the fees and time are the same – low and fast!
“As a working Mum of four beautiful children, I’ve spent the past five years investing in and studying cryptocurrencies. I’ve learnt so much about this exciting industry, and as a result, I am founding a business that educates others on how to navigate the digital and crypto worlds so they, too can create investment or business opportunities for themselves.
“It’s an exciting time for humanity as digital currencies, digital assets, and digital worlds become everyday aspects of our lives, just as the internet did in the 90s and social media in the 2000s – this is the next digital revolution changing our world!”
Lachlan Feeney, Founder and Executive Director, Labrys
“Many businesses will have been looking at the carnage in the cryptocurrency markets over recent months and asking themselves, ‘is this something that we can trust?’ However, that really isn’t the right question. It’s like asking whether the internet is trustworthy enough for businesses to use in their business operations. The right question to ask is which platform or sites on the internet are trustworthy and in the case of blockchain, which cryptocurrencies are trustworthy for business and which ones are not. Whilst the industry remains immature, this can be a difficult question to answer, particularly for those new to the blockchain industry. However, as the technology matures and regulatory clarity is provided, in hindsight, it will seem crazy that businesses, even as late as 2022, were still debating whether or not cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology would become core to day-to-day business operations. The answer is, they will.”
Nathan Reichstein, Chairman of Business Advisory Committee, Moore Australia
“It’s not an easy question to answer because it involves two issues: security and stability. In relation to security, cryptocurrencies are inherently secure in nature given its underpinned by blockchain technology. The blockchain is a ledger that keeps track of the ownership of cryptocurrency and its more difficult for hackers to access your funds.
“Whether or not you should use it in your business comes down to a whole range of issues. As we have seen over the last few months, cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile in nature. If you sold products in exchange for 10 ether in December 2021, it would have been worth approximately AU$50,000. If you left it alone and did not touch it, it would be worth around AU$16,400 in June 22. For a layperson who does know enough around how the entire ecosystem works, it is probably not worth taking such risks within your business operations.”
Rick McElroy, Principal Cybersecurity Strategist, VMware
“The short answer is it depends. Some businesses are built around cryptocurrencies, so for them, the answer is yes. For other businesses, there are many applications of cryptocurrencies that could make sense. Perhaps they are a gaming company looking to offer currency in the Metaverse. Perhaps they see creating their own coin for use in their own ecosystem as a strategic business advantage.
“Cryptocurrencies do, however, present risks. Numerous exchange hacks have brought the entire system into question, and crypto hijacks and theft occurs almost daily. An organisation suddenly being responsible for its own currency’s security may find itself ill-prepared unless there is a very carefully planned strategy to account for the threats against it. Finally, it’s worth noting that the market is extremely volatile for businesses using standard cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.”
Wassim Dabboussi, CMO and Head of Community Engagement, Breakout Solutions
“Cryptocurrencies, by design, are the most secure method for two parties to transact without needing a third-party intermediary. Having said that, with the current lack of regulation in many countries, cryptocurrencies can present many risks for the business sector.
“These risks have not hindered the growing adoption of cryptocurrencies by businesses of many sizes and from several industries. There are many examples of this.
“It’s becoming more widely accepted that cryptocurrencies are the way of the future and will disrupt nearly every business sector in some way. It is imperative for businesses to be educated about the crypto space and understand how to adopt cryptocurrencies whilst minimizing risk.
“Businesses that adopt cryptocurrencies now will be ahead of the curve and will set themselves up for longevity and prosperity. However, before embarking on a journey into this ever-evolving space, it is important for business owners to have the skills and knowledge required to safely and securely incorporate digital assets onto their balance sheets and into their payment solutions.
“This is what we do at Breakout Solutions – we provide comprehensive educational opportunities that businesses can use to safely and securely adopt cryptocurrencies.”
Todd Lenfield, Country Manager ANZ, Chainalysis
“When comparing legitimate and criminal usage, illicit activity’s share of crypto volume has never been lower and is shrinking as an overall proportion of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Transactions involving illicit addresses represented just 0.15 per cent of cryptocurrency transaction volume in 2021, nearly ten times lower than in 2017.
“The fact that ANZ and CBA, which have mountains of legislation to comply with, are confident launching various crypto services only goes to show that with the right tools and processes in place, businesses can feel safe offering and accepting crypto.
“Most businesses looking to accept crypto as payment for goods or services will do so through a third-party platform or exchange, so the main thing to do is to look for a reputable provider that is compliant with local regulation and has strong customer protections in place.
“Cryptocurrency has become much safer as adoption has grown. The space has become increasingly more well understood by regulators, who are working to provide better protections for businesses and consumers. It is predicted that this will become more heavily enforced within 6-12 months.”
Lisa Wade, CEO, DigitalX
“We’re witnessing the start of increasingly rapid mainstream adoption of crypto and digital asset investments as institutions become meaningfully involved. The rise of tokenised assets will unlock innovative new business models within the economy, leading consumers, corporates and investors to demand services that enable effortless access to web3. Crypto has the opportunity to allow Australian corporates to transact cheaper, smarter and faster.”
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Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case
LONDON (AP) — Amazon won’t have to pay about 250 million euros ($273 million) in back taxes after European Union judges ruled in favor of the U.S. e-commerce giant Thursday, dealing a defeat to the 27-nation bloc in its efforts to tackle corporate tax avoidance.
The ruling by the EU’s top court is final, ending the long-running legal battle over tax arrangements between Amazon and Luxembourg’s government and marking a further setback for a crackdown by antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager.
The Court of Justice backed a 2021 decision by judges in a lower court who sided with Amazon, saying the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, had not proved its case that Amazon received illegal state support.
“The Court of Justice confirms that the Commission has not established that the tax ruling given to Amazon by Luxembourg was a State aid that was incompatible with the internal market” of the EU, the court said in a press release.
Amazon welcomed the ruling, saying it confirms that the company “followed all applicable laws and received no special treatment.”
“We look forward to continuing to focus on delivering for our customers across Europe,” the company said in a statement.
The commission said it “will carefully study the judgment and assess its implications.”
The case dates back to 2017, when Vestager charged Amazon with unfairly profiting from special low tax conditions since 2003 in tiny Luxembourg, where its European headquarters are based. As a result, almost three-quarters of Amazon’s profits in the EU were not taxed, she said.
The EU has taken aim at deals between individual countries and companies used to lure foreign multinationals in search of a place to establish their EU headquarters. The practice led to EU states competing with each other and multinationals playing them off one another.
Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed
DETROIT (AP) — Tesla is recalling nearly all vehicles sold in the U.S., more than 2 million, to update software and fix a defective system that’s supposed to ensure drivers are paying attention when using Autopilot.
Documents posted Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators say the update will increase warnings and alerts to drivers and even limit the areas where basic versions of Autopilot can operate.
The recall comes after a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into a series of crashes that happened while the Autopilot partially automated driving system was in use. Some were deadly.
The agency says its investigation found Autopilot’s method of making sure that drivers are paying attention can be inadequate and can lead to “foreseeable misuse of the system.”
The added controls and alerts will “further encourage the driver to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility,” the documents said.
But safety experts said that, while the recall is a good step, it still makes the driver responsible and doesn’t fix the underlying problem that Tesla’s automated systems have with spotting and stopping for obstacles in their path.
The recall covers models Y, S, 3 and X produced between Oct. 5, 2012, and Dec. 7 of this year. The update was to be sent to certain affected vehicles on Tuesday, with the rest getting it later.
Shares of Tesla slid more than 3% in earlier trading Wednesday but recovered amid a broad stock market rally to end the day up 1%.
The attempt to address the flaws in Autopilot seemed like a case of too little, too late to Dillon Angulo, who was seriously injured in 2019 crash involving a Tesla that was using the technology along a rural stretch of Florida highway where the software isn’t supposed to be deployed.
“This technology is not safe, we have to get it off the road,” said Angulo, who is suing Tesla as he recovers from injuries that included brain trauma and broken bones. “The government has to do something about it. We can’t be experimenting like this.”
Autopilot includes features called Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control, with Autosteer intended for use on limited access freeways when it’s not operating with a more sophisticated feature called Autosteer on City Streets.
The software update will limit where Autosteer can be used. “If the driver attempts to engage Autosteer when conditions are not met for engagement, the feature will alert the driver it is unavailable through visual and audible alerts, and Autosteer will not engage,” the recall documents said.
Depending on a Tesla’s hardware, the added controls include “increasing prominence” of visual alerts, simplifying how Autosteer is turned on and off, and additional checks on whether Autosteer is being used outside of controlled access roads and when approaching traffic control devices. A driver could be suspended from using Autosteer if they repeatedly fail “to demonstrate continuous and sustained driving responsibility,” the documents say.
According to recall documents, agency investigators met with Tesla starting in October to explain “tentative conclusions” about the fixing the monitoring system. Tesla did not concur with NHTSA’s analysis but agreed to the recall on Dec. 5 in an effort to resolve the investigation.
Auto safety advocates for years have been calling for stronger regulation of the driver monitoring system, which mainly detects whether a driver’s hands are on the steering wheel. They have called for cameras to make sure a driver is paying attention, which are used by other automakers with similar systems.
Philip Koopman, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University who studies autonomous vehicle safety, called the software update a compromise that doesn’t address a lack of night vision cameras to watch drivers’ eyes, as well as Teslas failing to spot and stop for obstacles.
“The compromise is disappointing because it does not fix the problem that the older cars do not have adequate hardware for driver monitoring,” Koopman said.
Koopman and Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, contend that crashing into emergency vehicles is a safety defect that isn’t addressed. “It’s not digging at the root of what the investigation is looking at,” Brooks said. “It’s not answering the question of why are Teslas on Autopilot not detecting and responding to emergency activity?”
Koopman said NHTSA apparently decided that the software change was the most it could get from the company, “and the benefits of doing this now outweigh the costs of spending another year wrangling with Tesla.”
In its statement Wednesday, NHTSA said the investigation remains open “as we monitor the efficacy of Tesla’s remedies and continue to work with the automaker to ensure the highest level of safety.”
Autopilot can steer, accelerate and brake automatically in its lane, but is a driver-assist system and cannot drive itself, despite its name. Independent tests have found that the monitoring system is easy to fool, so much that drivers have been caught while driving drunk or even sitting in the back seat.
In its defect report filed with the safety agency, Tesla said Autopilot’s controls “may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse.”
A message was left early Wednesday seeking further comment from the Austin, Texas, company.
Tesla says on its website that Autopilot and a more sophisticated Full Self Driving system are meant to help drivers who have to be ready to intervene at all times. Full Self Driving is being tested by Tesla owners on public roads.
In a statement posted Monday on X, formerly Twitter, Tesla said safety is stronger when Autopilot is engaged.
NHTSA has dispatched investigators to 35 Tesla crashes since 2016 in which the agency suspects the vehicles were running on an automated system. At least 17 people have been killed.
The investigations are part of a larger probe by the NHTSA into multiple instances of Teslas using Autopilot crashing into emergency vehicles. NHTSA has become more aggressive in pursuing safety problems with Teslas, including a recall of Full Self Driving software.
In May, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose department includes NHTSA, said Tesla shouldn’t be calling the system Autopilot because it can’t drive itself.
AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this story.
Why Was Sam Altman Fired? Possible Ties to China D2 (Double Dragon) Data from Hackers
Theories are going around the internet why Sam Altman was fired. On an insider tech forum (Blind) – one person claims to know by third-hand account and how this news will trickle into the media over the next couple of weeks.
It’s said OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models, which includes GPT-4. This data was obtained through a hidden business contract with a D2 shell company called Whitefly, which was based in Singapore. This D2 group has the largest and biggest crawling/indexing/scanning capacity in the world 10x more than Alphabet Inc (Google), hence the deal so Open AI could get their hands on vast quantities of data for training after exhausting their other options.
The Chinese government became aware of this arrangement and raised concerns with the Biden administration. As a result, the NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed that OpenAI had been using data from D2. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, which is a major investor in OpenAI, was informed of the findings and ordered Altman’s removal.
There was also suggestion that Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board. This lack of candor ultimately led to his dismissal and is what the board publicly alluded to when they said “not consistently candid in his communications with the board.”
To summarize what happened with Sam Altman’s firing:
1. Sam Altman was removed from OpenAI due to his ties to a Chinese cyber army group.
2.OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models.
3. The Chinese government raised concerns about this arrangement with the Biden administration.
4. The NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed OpenAI’s use of D2 data.
5. Satya Nadella ordered Altman’s removal after being informed of the findings.
6. Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board.
We’ll see in the next couple of weeks if this story holds up or not.