Tag Archives: Digital
FILE PHOTO – French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire leaves following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
PARIS (Reuters) – A European Union-wide tax on the world’s top digital companies could be reached by the end of March, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in an interview published on Sunday.
“We made a compromise offer to Germany in December and I am convinced that a deal is within arm’s reach between now and the end of March. With the European elections just a few months away, our citizens would find it incomprehensible if we gave up on this,” Le Maire told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
In December, European Union finance ministers failed to agree a tax on digital revenues, despite a last minute Franco-German plan to salvage the proposal by narrowing its focus to companies such as Google (GOOGL.O) and Facebook (FB.O).
Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Daniel Wallis
FILE PHOTO: German Finance Minister and vice-chancellor Olaf Scholz attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin, Germany August 1, 2018. REUTERS/Joachim Herrmann//File Photo
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Germany’s Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday the European Commission should revise its plan for a EU-wide tax on large digital companies and stressed the new levy should be applied only if there is no global deal by the summer of 2020.
Speaking to EU finance ministers at a streamed meeting in Brussels, Scholz also said that a revised proposal should reduce the scope of the tax and exclude the sale of data and the internet of things – sectors that if included could result in the taxation of German carmakers.
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb said 35 billion won ($ 31.5 million) worth of virtual coins were stolen by hackers, the second local exchange targeted in just over a week as cyber thieves exposed the high risks of trading the digital asset.
Bithumb said in a notice on its website on Wednesday that it had stopped all trading after ascertaining “some cryptocurrencies worth about 35 billion won were seized between late yesterday and early morning today.”
The exchange, the sixth busiest in the world according to Coinmarketcap.com, said it had stored “all clients’ assets in safe cold wallets,” which operate on platforms not directly connected to the internet.
It added that the company would fully compensate customers.
The Bithumb theft highlights the security risks and the weak regulation of global cryptocurrency markets. Global policymakers have warned investors to be cautious in trading the digital currency given the lack of broad regulatory oversight.
In Ho, a professor at Korea University’s Blockchain Research Institute, said the stolen coins were most likely to be from the more insecure ‘hot wallets.’
“Since coins in the cold wallets are not at all wired to the internet, it would have been impossible for hackers to steal those in cold wallets unless they physically broke in,” said In, a blockchain expert at the research center.
Bithumb did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comments, and its statement did not say whether the stolen coins were stored in its ‘hot wallets’.
Mun Chong-hyun, chief analyst at ESTsecurity, said digital coins would continue to be juicy targets for hackers around the world.
“No security measures or regulations can 100 percent guarantee safety of virtual coins. It is held anonymously and in lightly-secured systems, which makes them an irresistible target,” Mun said.
On the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp, bitcoin BTC=BTSP was down 1.8 percent at $ 6,612.92 by 0351 GMT, extending losses as a series of intrusions on cryptocurrency exchanges in recent weeks sparked concerns over security.
It has fallen roughly 70 percent from its all-time peak hit around mid-December 2017.
On June 11, another South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinrail said it was hacked. The cyber attacks come after a high-profile theft of over half a billion dollars worth of digital currency at Japan’s exchange Coincheck earlier this year.
In January, South Korea banned the use of anonymous bank accounts for virtual coin trading to stop cryptocurrencies being used in money laundering and other crimes. But the government said it does not intend to go as far as shutting down domestic exchanges.
Bithumb trades more than 37 different virtual coins, according to Coinmarketcap.com
Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Jacqueline Wong
Last week I attended WWD’s Retail 20/20 event in New York City. Karla Gallardo, co-founder and CEO of Cuyana said something that really resonated with me, “Retail isn’t dying; our imagination is.” This struck a chord with me because it perfectly tees up the challenge many retailers and brands are facing today. While the imagination of these organizations may be dying, the imagination of the consumer is not. Retailers and brands need to find a way to catch-up, and emerging technologies are a big piece of the equation.
However, when you think of AI, predictive analytics and Big Data, most of the time you’re not thinking about small retailers and brands. But as many of the big retailers struggle to digitally transform their businesses, small and midsize (SMB) retailers are finding their moxie, particularly because they live in a world where avoiding even one misstep can have significant upside for their business.
According to a recently study by Oxford Economics, SMB retailers and brands are investing heavily in mobile and Big Data and adopting emerging technologies—such as machine learning, AI, augmented reality, blockchain and more. Sixty-two percent of SMB retailers surveyed said digital transformation is important or critically important to the company’s survival, particularly as they work to meet consumer demands for personalized experiences, predict consumer preferences and streamline the supply chain.
While all retailers can benefit from new data-driven technologies, SMB retailers and brands have a distinct size advantage that makes them more agile and able to adapt faster. Since their executives are closer to the product, they are more directly connected to the value of technology investments. Further, SMBs encounter less bureaucracy at the management level which means that change can happen quickly and more easily.
UNTUCKit is one example, as the company recently announced its plans to collect data on merchandise that is being tried on in-store to optimize its merchandising mix based on what people try on versus what they buy. This will enable the company to adjust inventory levels in real time based on shopper behavior, reducing inventory cost and allowing the retailer to redirect its investments toward more popular SKUs and new offerings.
Similarly, Everlane is taking actions to capture customer data and gain insight into browsing behavior and buying patterns. Even ThredUp, which has a much different model of selling one-of-a-kind second-hand clothing, is implementing data-driven solutions that point buyers to similar items to those that may not be available.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Amy Kenly, Vice President in Kalypso’s Digital Innovation Practice. Kalypso is a global consulting firm that guides some of the world’s largest brands on their path to Digital Transformation. While their experience spans high technology, life sciences and industrial manufacturing, a large portion of their clients are in retail as the industry shows increasing interest in new technologies.
While the retail industry outlook doesn’t seem as dire as it once was, it’s more important than ever for retailers and brands to execute to really thrive. In my recent articles, I’ve written about the investments retailers and brands should consider for the funds from their corporate tax savings. My conversation with Amy uncovers some additional perspectives for retailers to consider.
GP: We’re seeing a lot of conflicting reports on the current state of the retail industry, with some claiming it’s a Retail Renaissance, and others saying we’re still in survival mode. What’s your view?
AK: Everything seems to be moving in a positive direction for the retail industry. The NRF has predicted 3.8 to 4.4 percent growth, which is strong. What continues to be challenging and volatile for traditional retailers is capturing their share of the growing revenue.
Innovative startups like Stitch Fix and Trunk Club, for example, are capturing a growing percentage of retail sales, as are new direct-to-consumer business models that put suppliers in direct competition with retailers. With the closing of Toys R Us for example, Mattel – who used to distribute through Toys R Us – is now going direct to consumers.
This is making it very difficult for big, traditional retailers who are trying to find ways to differentiate themselves. While Walmart and Target are focused on figuring out e-commerce, which is good, it’s not a differentiator anymore.
Further, while larger retailers have a renewed commitment to private brands and new differentiated products in line with consumer demand, it can be harder for them to pivot toward new, digitally-enabled business models. We’re seeing them starting to acquire startups instead. Walmart ’s recent acquisition of Bonobos as well as Target ’s acquisition of Shipt are good examples.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Large companies with significant digital revenues in the European Union could face a 3 percent tax on their turnover under a draft proposal from the European Commission seen by Reuters.
The proposal, expected to be adopted next week and still subject to changes, has been modified from an earlier draft which put the planned corporate rate between 1 and 5 percent.
The tax, if backed by EU states and lawmakers, would only apply to large firms with annual worldwide revenues above 750 million euros ($ 924 million) and annual “taxable” revenues above 50 million euros in the EU.
The tax is presented in the draft as a temporary measure that would only be implemented if no deal is found on a more comprehensive solution which would tax the digital profits of companies in the countries where they are made, rather than where the firms are headquartered as is the case now.
($ 1 = 0.8117 euros)
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Foo Yun Chee
[unable to retrieve full-text content]LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co said on Wednesday it had created a new unit for its streaming video and international businesses as the company retools its traditional media operation for a world rapidly embracing online video.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – After researching digital currencies for work last year, personal finance writer J.R. Duren hopped on his own crypto-rollercoaster.
Duren bought $ 5 worth of litecoin in November, and eventually purchased $ 400 more, mostly with his credit card. In just a few months, he experienced a rally, a crash and a recovery, with the adrenaline highs and lows that come along.
“At first, I was freaking out,” Duren said about watching his portfolio plunge 40 percent at one point. “The precipitous drop came as a shock.”
The 39-year-old Floridian is part of the new class of crypto-investors who do not necessarily think bitcoin will replace the U.S. dollar, or that blockchain will revolutionize modern finance or that dentists should have their own currency.
Dubbed by longtime crypto-investors as “the noobs”– online lingo for “newbies” – they are ordinary investors hopping onto the latest trend, often with little understanding of how cryptocurrencies work or why they exist.
“There has been a big shift in the type of investors we have seen in crypto over the past year,” said Angela Walch, a fellow at the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies. “It’s shifted from a small group of techies to average Joes. I overhear conversations about cryptocurrencies everywhere, in coffee shops and airports.”
Walch and other experts cited parallels to the late-1990s, when retail investors jumped into stocks like Pets.com, a short-lived online seller of pet supplies, only to watch their wealth evaporate when the dot-com bubble burst.
Bitcoin is the best-known virtual currency but there are now more than 1,500 to choose from, according to market data website CoinMarketCap, ranging from popular coins like ether and ripple to obscure coins like dentacoin, the one intended for dentists.
Exactly how many “noobs” bought into the craze last year is unclear because each transaction is pseudonymous, meaning it is linked to a unique digital address, and few exchanges collect or share detailed information about their users.
A variety of consumer-friendly websites have made investing much easier, and online forums are now filled with posts from ordinary retail investors who were rarely spotted on the cryptocurrency pages of social news hub Reddit before.
Reuters interviewed eight people who recently made their first foray into digital currency investing. Many were motivated by a fear of missing out on profits during what seemed like a never-ending rally last year.
One bitcoin was worth almost $ 20,000 in December, up around 1,900 percent from the start of 2017. As of Friday afternoon it was worth about $ 10,000 after having fallen as much as 70 percent from its peak. Other coins made even bigger gains and experienced equally dizzying drops over that time frame.
“There was that two-month period last year where all the virtual currencies kept going and up and I had a couple of friends that had invested and they had made five-figure returns,” said Michael Brown, a research analyst in New Jersey, who said he bought around $ 1,000 worth of ether in December.
“I got swept by the media frenzy,” he said. “You never hear stories of people losing money.”
In the weeks after Brown invested, his holdings soared as much as 75 percent and tumbled as much as 59 percent.
BUY AND “HODL”
Investors who got into bitcoin before its 2013 crash like to refer to themselves as “OGs,” short for “original gangsters.” They tend to shrug off the recent downturn, arguing that cryptocurrencies will be worth much more in the future.
“As crashes go, this is one of the biggest,” said Xavier Levenfiche, who first invested in cryptocurrencies in 2011. “But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a hiccup on the road to greatness.”
Spooked by the sudden fall but not willing to book a loss, many investors are embracing a mantra known as “HODL.” The term stems from a misspelled post on an online forum during the cryptocurrency crash in 2013, when a user wrote he was “hodling” his bitcoin, instead of “holding.”
Mike Gnitecki, for instance, bought one bitcoin at around $ 18,000 in December and was sitting on a 43 percent decline as of Friday, waiting for a recovery.
“I view it as having been a fun side investment similar to a gamble,” said Gnitecki, a paramedic from Texas. “Clearly I lost some money on this particular gamble.”
Duren, the personal finance writer, is also holding onto his litecoin for now, though he regrets having spent $ 33 on credit card and exchange fees for a $ 405 investment.
Some retail investors who went big into cryptocurrencies for the first time during the rally last year remain positive.
Didi Taihuttu announced in October that he and his family had sold everything they owned — including their business, home, cars and toys — to move to a “digital nomad” camp in Thailand.
In an interview, Taihuttu said he has no regrets. The crypto-day-trader’s portfolio is in the black, and he predicts one bitcoin will be worth between $ 30,000 and $ 50,000 by year-end.
His backup plan is to write a book and perhaps make a movie about his family’s experience.
“We are not it in it to become bitcoin millionaires,” Taihuttu said.
Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Steve Orlofsky; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Estonia could become the first country in Europe to launch its own digital means of exchange — the “estcoin” — under plans outlined by the manager of its pioneering e-residency scheme, in place since 2014.
Kaspar Korjus said in a blog post that the estcoin would be aimed at the Baltic country’s 27,000 e-residents — foreigners who open a company there via the web — but would not be a parallel currency to rival the euro.
This year’s meteoric surge in the value of Bitcoin has focused fresh attention on digital or cryptocurrencies, which to date have all been launched by private companies but are now being considered by some governments and central banks.
Korjus said estcoins could serve one of three purposes: rewarding services to the e-resident community, verifying one’s identity online, or as a means of payment pegged to the euro.
“All three of these models of estcoin are viable and can be introduced (even without alarming the European Central Bank),” Korjus wrote in the blog post.
Estonia’s central bank governor Ardo Hansson later said the estcoin was not a government initiative and that the central bank had not been consulted.
First floated in the summer, the idea of an estcoin was rebuffed by ECB President Mario Draghi, who said in September the only currency of the euro zone was the euro. An ECB spokesman would not comment further on Tuesday.
Korjus stressed the estcoin would simply be a “token” and not compete with the single currency.
But the third of Korjus’s possible designs, which he labels “euro estcoin”, envisaged that it would work as a parallel means of payment that bypasses the banking sector.
“We would never provide an alternative currency to the euro, but it’s possible that we could combine some of the decentralized advantages of crypto with the stability and trust of fiat currency and then limit its use within the e-resident community,” he said.
And the first version, described as a “community estcoin”, would it see openly traded on traditional and cryptocurrency exchanges at a later stage.
That could put Estonia on a collision course with the ECB if estcoin adoption was wide enough to have an impact on the euro zone economy and so interfere with Frankfurt’s monetary policy.
The numbers are small so far, however. A Deloitte report cited by Korjus estimates that e-residents brought 14.4 million euros to Estonia in the scheme’s first three years and foresaw a rise to 1.8 billion euros by 2025.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced earlier this month the launch of the “petro”, a digital currency backed by oil reserves, to shore up his country’s collapsed economy and circumvent U.S.-led financial sanctions.
In Europe, Sweden’s central bank has said it may introduce an e-version of the crown currency as the use of cash declines while Bank of England is also pondering whether to introduce a digital currency for use by businesses and households. But Denmark’s central bank said “no” to its own e-crown last week.
The ECB has been lukewarm on the subject but Executive Board member Yves Mersch said recently it would experiment with “cash on different digital technologies”.
Additional reporting by David Mardiste in Tallinn; Editing by Catherine Evans
TOKYO (Reuters) – The chief executive of Japan’s largest bank expects new business opportunities to appear as digital currencies allow collection of data on how people use their money.
While Japan’s big banks have distanced themselves from bitcoin and other existing digital currencies, they are trying to create their own to provide cheaper and easier means of payments and money transfers.
“We would be able to capture kinds of financial behavior that cannot be collected as data in cash transactions,” said Nobuyuki Hirano, CEO of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), speaking as chairman of the Japanese Bankers Association at a news conference on Thursday.
“We can use the data to create new value.”
Hirano’s bank is developing its own “MUFG Coin” digital currency using the blockchain technology behind bitcoin.
The bank has been conducting experiments with MUFG Coin among its employees, including using the currency to split restaurant bills with each other over their smartphones.
Unlike bitcoin and other so-called cryptocurrencies, MUFG Coin is tied to Japanese yen, so users can exchange it for yen at the same rate as they bought the digital currency.
MUFG has said it plans to expand the experiment to involve all of its 30,000 domestic employees next year.
Japan’s third-largest lender Mizuho Financial Group is also developing its own digital currency, J Coin, targeting widespread use by 2020.
Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Editing by David Goodman