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Last week Reuters reported that several of the world’s biggest banks have invested $50 million to “create a digital cash system to settle financial transactions”. It’s an on-going project, according to the report, involving the likes UBS, Credit Suisse, Barclays, and Deutsche Bank.

Banks are being tight-lipped on the project, and it should be noted that Reuters’ report involved an unnamed source, but there was a confirmation from a Barclays’ spokeswoman that the bank is involved in the USC (utility settlement coin) project and that the research and development stage had come to an end.

Any mainstream interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain is always significant, of course. But should it determine whether we buy Bitcoin or other digital currencies? That is to say, should backers of crypto be worried that banks creating their own digital currency be worried that the likes of Bitcoin, Ripple, etc. will be shunted aside?

In truth, investors in cryptocurrencies shouldn’t worry too much, certainly in the short term. Financial institutions have been notoriously slow in not only embracing the possibilities of blockchain technology but in addressing the problems that they are trying to solve.

The new entity banks are reported to be creating to run the project, Fnality, is aimed at making clearing and settlement in financial markets more efficient. This is not a new issue, but something that has made financial transactions cumbersome for decades.

The point is, one could argue, that while financial institutions are addressing issues that have been around since the 1970s, those developing cryptocurrencies could be stealing a march on financial solutions for the 2023s. Banks will be looking for solutions to long-standing problems, whereas developers will be looking for solutions to problems that have not yet been pinpointed.

Yes, some investors will welcome mainstream embracing of crypto – in any form – as a positive sign, but it is the sense of ‘rule-breaking’ at the development level that has always made cryptocurrency an existing investment.

Facebook also interested in crypto

Banks, of course, are not alone in making a foray into the world of cryptocurrency. Facebook has also been upping its plans to create a digital currency. The so-called ‘Facecoin’ or, as has been reported, Project Libra, is creating quite the stir, albeit it is still shrouded in secrecy. Most observers believe it will be used to facilitate payments, and that it will be a stablecoin.

The speculation around Facebook’s digital coin has ramped up in recent weeks. And, as so often the case with anything to do with Mark Zuckerberg, a bit of hyperbole has infused the reporting. It’s been suggested that Facebook “has lit a fire’ under Bitcoin and crypto”, and that “it’s a catalyst for mainstream Bitcoin and cryptocurrency adoption” around the world.

Take all of this with a pinch of salt. At the same time as being told Facebook is creating a “rival to Bitcoin”, we are also told it’s a catalyst for Bitcoin adoption. The truth is that we do not know exactly what banks or Facebook or planning, nor what that impact will be further down the line.

Yet, through all of this increased speculation in the first half of 2023 of mainstream financial and tech giants exploring crypto, that has coincided with Bitcoin going on a tear throughout the year so far. For most investors, that’s the important thing, not the speculation on other projects.

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Business Plans Battle For Big Bucks

Business Plans Battle for Big Bucks Winning team in ITEC contest will be awarded $50,000

Seth Joseph (GSM’07) and Adam DiNicola (GSM’00) of ClimbWell took first place in the 2007 ITEC $30K Business Plan Competition.

This new interactive twist to the annual Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC) competition will give audience members the chance to vote in real time, says Beth Goldstein, ITEC associate director of communications. ITEC, centered at the School of Management, is an educational resource for the entire University as well as the local, national, and international communities, providing a full range of education, training, mentoring, and networking programs and opportunities that support new entrepreneurs

While the decision of the judges — a panel of venture capitalists and business leaders — will not be based solely on the number of votes, Goldstein says votes in favor of a particular team can only help. “The judges will definitely take the votes into consideration,” she says. “They will be looking at the actual plan proposed, how the finalists articulated their goals, plus the audience votes.”

The final projects are AutoNAIS, which proposes a new product that helps biologists save time and effort with sample preparation; RemesaTel, which hopes to provide inexpensive access to credit and trading opportunities through mobile text messaging in Mexico; Nakama Media, which will sell its online multimedia language learning tool MediaLesson in Japan and Korea, and Essense Medical, which develops disposable medical tools, initially focused on colorectal cancer, to diagnose and treat cancer in real time.

Roberto Reif (ENG’08), who will present Essense Medical’s plan, hopes to be over his prepresentation jitters by the time the competition starts. He says the tools made by his proposed business incorporate a patented optical biopsy sensor, which can identify cancerous tissues noninvasively by using light, thereby allowing doctors to pinpoint the area for treatment.

“Our next step is to get enough funding to make it functional,” says Reif. “Hospitals and insurance companies can save time and money and screen more patients with our product. There are about 23 million people who need to get colonoscopy procedures, but only about 8 million get screened — because there are not enough gastroenterologists. With our device, they might be able to see them all.”

Scott Caffrey (GSM’09), who will present the proposal for Nakama Media, says his presentation will include as online content music, news clips, and movies. “One big difference over there is that we’ll have the site accessible over mobile phones,” he says. “That is the predominant use of online services in Japan and Korea.”

The annual competition is supported by a variety of business partners, including Brown Rudnick, a Platinum Sponsor, and Seyfarth Shaw, a Gold Sponsor. Other sponsors are Cummings Properties, GrandBanks Capital, Kodiak Venture Partners, Paul Horn & Associates, TeleEMG (the 2005 competition winner), SV Life Sciences, and World Wide Entrepreneurship Holdings Corporation.

The ITEC $50K Business Plan Competition takes place Wednesday, April 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the School of Management, fourth floor. Registration is at 5:30 p.m.

Kim Cornuelle can be reached at [email protected].

Explore Related Topics:

How Can Smbs Connect Their Ecommerce And ‘Bricks And Mortar’ Business?

They say when opposites attract, they create intense chemistry. Remember when Romeo met Juliet, when Harry met Sally, Beauty fell for a Beast, and how Tom and Jerry always went after each other? They are good apart but when they are together, they create magic.

When online stores and services began revolutionizing the way people do business, it is but expected from traditional businesses to sound the alarm. Come to think of it, why would anyone bother to brave traffic just to get a new pair of pants when it can be ordered online and delivered in the comfort of their homes? But as it turned out, tradition and technology should not be on different sides of the spectrum. They are opposites that when meshed together will create new trends and opportunities.

It seems more and more traditional business owners and marketers are seeing the need to join the digital marketing bandwagon. After all, their customers are probably all active on the web and any business strategy would tell you that you should be where your customers are.

A survey by Webs, a subsidiary of Vistaprint, revealed that 63% of small and traditional businesses are now going digital to market their products, while the rest plan to do the same. Most of them have launched their own websites with 80% of business owners turning themselves into webmasters and crafting a D-I-Y digital strategy.

However, there is still much work to be done. According to a study by Adobe, 40% of traditional marketers want to go digital but only 14% know how to do it. Indeed, how does one go around integrating offline with online marketing initiatives? How do you convert digital marketing efforts to actual in-store traffic and sales? Read on and prepare for a revolution (of benefits, that is).

Traditional vs. Digital: A Case of Push vs. Pull

Traditional marketing is good for brand recognition or increasing demographics. However, it mainly stops there. There is no brand engagement because the platform doesn’t allow it.

Making the upgrade: How to get started

Technology is no longer just playing a supporting role in business growth and marketing. It is the lead innovator. Gartner, Inc. forecasts that a lack of digital business competence will cause 25% of businesses to lose competitive ranking by 2023 so it is time to ride the waves of integrated digital marketing.

For starters, do not think of ‘digital’ or ‘technology’ as a tool but a source of innovation and opportunities. This understanding must be shared with marketers and strategists. When building a team, do not think about titles in a traditional mindset. Think about roles, not ranks. This team should assess a business’ strengths, weaknesses, and potential digital opportunities through a digital marketing healthcheck.

Now, you are ready to map your digital strategy and create your own business model. This includes information on brands and products, choosing the online platform, going mobile, and creating content. Assess your target market and find out where they are: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. There is no need to be present in all platforms because it is impractical and poses a greater risk of mismanagement. Understand your customers’ preference (persona building) when choosing a channel and understand their needs and wants when publishing content. Multi-channel attribution is not about the number of platforms you are in but how you use each channel.

In every channel, make sure to publish great content and the Content Marketing Matrix is a good framework. In content marketing, you don’t go after promotion but engagement. It is possible to create content without mentioning the brand once but only what it stands for. Dynamic storytelling is key because it’s only through stories people love that they are able to relate and engage. Let the story evolve by allowing your followers to share theirs.

Marrying tradition and technology: How to get customers to walk into your store

The common (unfounded) fear: If I make my products and services available online, wouldn’t that be suicide for my actual store?

Well, no – we all know the power of the internet and reach it can give us. Let’s take Instagram marketing for example. Since customers are visual, this photo-sharing platform is a good place to start. Starbucks was able to connect offline and online marketing by “regramming” posts with Starbucks hashtags. To engage the customers more, especially at the return of their famous red cups, Starbucks encouraged coffee-lovers to post a photo of their red cup and tag it with #redcupcontest. In short, they announced the promo online and invited customers to buy coffee at their store, post it, and win.

McDonald’s did the same with integrating offline with online experience. They launched Foursquare Day: asked customers to check in their stores, post it on Foursquare, and the first 100 gets a gift card. The in-store foot traffic was increased by 33%. The only cost for both McDonald’s and Starbucks are the gift cards, which of course are still related to their brand. This is an example of how to successfully connect your marketing efforts online and your offline store.

A small pizza parlor or a two-decade old coffee shop should not be contented with running a small operation and banking on length of time of doing business. Major brands haven’t stopped being major, so why should you? Running a digital strategy is content-driven and anchored on online tools, making it cost-effective and dynamic. Going digital is not something to be scared of. It is a wonderful opportunity to reach a wider demographics with nothing but information and creativity.

Vechain & Litecoin: When Is Their ‘Next Big Move?’

Barring a handful of massive downslides, altcoins have had a pretty decent run so far in 2023. A few coins like MATIC and ADA were quick to recover, while the rest including VET and LTC have elongated their consolidation phases and continue to witness highs and lows, without showing signs of settlement. Nevertheless, here’s what you can expect from these two alts in the next few weeks. 

Litecoin [LTC]

From the beginning of this year, Litecoin has been trading within its ascending channel. Since the latest price decline, its corrective rally has continued to consolidate, as evidenced by the attached chart. Nonetheless, a breakout at this point seems to be highly unlikely. 

“The Litecoin chart is days away from breaking out.”

For the breakout to actually take place, Litecoin’s trading volume needs to drastically rise. Only when that happens, it would become evident that the traders are interested in the breakout level. However, Litecoin has no hopes for the same. For instance, on 8 June, LTC’s 4-hour transaction volume went as high as 21.6 million, while the same dropped to merely 1.43 million in just 4 hours on 16 June.

Additionally, at this point, it should be noted that most of LTC’s on-chain metrics aren’t quite impressive either. 

Nonetheless, if not now, the breakout is set to happen in the foreseeable future. Whenever it happens, it would be interesting to see which way it does because it could potentially serve as an indicator for the rest of the market. Again, this doesn’t mean that Litecoin would lead the market rally. It would merely help in determining the general market sentiment. 

Keeping the height of the symmetrical triangle in mind, a potential move of $100 can be expected in whichever direction it breaks out. The analyst further added, 

“A break lower would target $65, while a break higher would open up $275. Keep a close eye on Litecoin.”

What’s more, the number of whale transactions has also seen a dramatic drop. From registering 1424 whale transactions in just 4 hours on 7 May, the number dropped to merely 126 on 16 June. Additionally, as another recent analysis pointed out, Litecoin’s bearishness has been rising in the long term.

Even as it continues to consolidate and vertically accumulate, LTC might continue trading in the $156-$183 bracket. Nevertheless, at press time, the 12th largest coin was trading at the $171.35-level. 

VeChain [VET]

At press time, VET’s chart did not look very impressive. In fact, according to Bennett, buyers still have a lot of work to do.

The VET market was continuing to hover above its $0.1020 support on weak volume. A close below that area would expose the coin to $0.085. Since the beginning of June, VET’s price has consistently been dropping, however, the same movement remains well within the uptrend range when viewed with the long-term lens. Again, as CMC’s data points out, the alt’s volume has also trailed off during this consolidation.

Pointing out the key levels to keep a note of, Bennett added,  

“If we do see the market surge higher from here, keep an eye on $0.155. That’s the next key resistance level for VET, followed by $0.175.”

The 21st largest crypto was trading at $0.109 at press time, having registered a 0.45% uptick in the last 24 hours. The analyst concluded by stating, 

“The next big move isn’t far away.”

Running Low On Cash, U.s. Physicists Recommend Shutting Off Nation’s Last Big Collider

A group of scientists is reluctantly recommending that the U.S. shut off its last giant atom smasher, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory, in the face of declining federal funds. With the Tevatron at Fermilab dismantled, RHIC represented a last bastion of high-energy particle colliding in this country. It must be sacrificed so that other particle acceleration projects might live.

Like its name implies, RHIC smashes heavy ions together at incredible speeds, which produces super-hot temperatures that melt the building blocks of atoms. As protons and neutrons break apart, their constituent parts, gluons and quarks, form a new state of matter called a quark-gluon plasma. This particle soup is so hot–250,000 times hotter than the center of the sun–that the unchained particles behave in very strange ways, which can give physicists clues about the way the universe coalesced after the Big Bang. RHIC achieved this scorching state of matter in 2010. But not long after that came the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, which usually smashes protons but is also capable of colliding heavy particles. The LHC is more powerful and has also produced a quark-gluon plasma.

Back in 2007, the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Science Advisory Committee wrote up a long-range plan for the future of high-energy physics in this country. (DOE manages nuclear research.) The plan called for upgrades to RHIC, upgrades to a project called the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia, and a new facility to be built in Michigan, called the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. But now there’s not enough money to pay for all of that.

It all boils down to money, and there’s just not enough to go around. And deep cuts in federal spending known as sequestration, which might happen if Congress does not get its act together, haven’t even happened yet. But RHIC supporters are not giving up yet, as Science Insider notes. The DOE still has to approve the recommendations.

PHENIX Detector

The PHENIX detector at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider records many different particles emerging from RHIC collisions, including photons, electrons, muons, and quark-containing particles called hadrons. The detector is shown here in a disassembled condition during maintenance. Note the physicist for scale.

Science Insider

Windows 11 For Business And Enterprise – New Features

Windows 11 for Enterprise – New Features

There New Features in Windows 11 for Enterprise:

Productivity and Collaboration features

New Security Features

Cloud-based management and Cloud Configuration (Cloud Config)

Universal Print

Application compatibility

Let’s discuss these in detail!

1] Productivity and Collaboration features

The Enterprise edition of Windows 11 has brought an enhanced set of productivity and collaboration features. Some of these features include:

Simple yet modern visuals: Windows 11 for Enterprises has familiar and modern visuals with a simple design. It primarily focuses on let the enterprises focus on what matters more.

Snap Assist: This feature can automatically arrange window layouts saved in perfect display across screens.

Personalized widgets: You can use personalized widgets to customize at-a-glance info like calendars, tasks, weather, and news, and more.

Intelligent video conferencing: During a video conference, you can quickly enable or disable the microphone right from the taskbar.

Share a window while presenting: You can directly share a window from the taskbar during a call and at the same time maintain taskbar access.

Meet now in Microsoft Teams: Conduct video or audio calls from the taskbar to connect with anyone quickly and easily.

2] New Security Features

A lot of new built-in security features are introduced in Windows 11 editions. Microsoft has really focussed on security factors this time and bringing up strong security features that are well required by enterprises. Some of the primary security features include:

TPM chips requirement,

Hardware-based integrity protection,

Going passwordless,

Secured core PCs,

Microsoft Azure Attestation,

Stronger Zero Trust security, etc.

3] Cloud-based management and Cloud Configuration (Cloud Config)

Microsoft provides cloud-based management solutions to deploy and update Windows 10 and Windows 11 in a parallel fashion. Both the Operating systems are designed to coexist and co-manage.

Windows Update for Business Group Policy or Configuration Service Provider (CSP) policies users can make use of Target Version capability in order to upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 10. Microsoft Endpoint Manager’s cloud-based management capabilities can be used to consolidate device management and endpoint security into a single platform and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) ecosystem. Some of its use cases are as follow:

With Windows Autopilot, you can deploy Windows 11 devices in a “business-ready” state with the desired set of applications, settings, and policies. Using it, you can also change Windows edition, like update from Pro to Enterprise.

Admins have full control over configurations and control settings for Windows 11/10 when enrolling devices in Microsoft Intune.

Additionally, enterprise organizations can ship corporate-owned devices protected by organization policy for employees working remotely. This can be achieved through Cloud Configuration (Cloud Config). Cloud config enables an easier way to streamline devices with easy-to-manage endpoints. It just simplifies the entire management process, enhances employees’ productivity, and has security built into Microsoft 365 and Windows.

4] Universal Print

Universal Print is a cloud-based print solution for enterprises. It is simple, secure, and consumes less time and effort. It enables IT to manage printers via a centralized hub. You can print from anywhere if authenticated to Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), there is no need of installing printer drivers, you can locate the nearest printers and print directly, users can view, add, or print only to those printers they have access to, etc. Plus, printer communications are secured over HTTPS connections.

5] Application compatibility

You can continue to run Windows 10’s apps on Windows 11 as claimed by Microsoft. App Assure program data shows that Windows 10 has a high compatibility rate of 99.7% for enterprises that include LOB (line-of-business) apps. For feature as well as quality updates, Windows 11 will have the same set of app compatibility validation requirements that Windows 10 currently has.

Windows 11 has App Assure and Test Base for Microsoft 365 services that are already there in Windows 10. These can help you assist and resolve issues in case your organization’s applications run into compatibility issues at no additional cost.

Read: Windows 11 Product Lifecycle and Servicing Update.

Windows 11 for Business – New Features

Windows 11 Pro will be available on business-class PCs. For small size businesses and entrepreneurs, here are the key features to expect in Windows 11 for Business:

Hybrid Working and Instantly Productive

Most Secure Windows yet

Better Collaboration with Deeper Teams Integration

Consistent for IT and seamless transition to Windows 11

Tools for Developers

Now, let us talk about these features in elaboration.

1] Hybrid Working and Instantly Productive

As claimed by Microsoft that Windows 11 is the most productive and secure version of Windows, it promotes hybrid working and takes it to another level. Its simplified and streamlined UI with easy to organize Snap Layout and Snap Groups reduces employees’ cognitive load and lets them have a mental reset. With Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 services, businesses have a greater opportunity to combine client sales.

2] Most Secure Windows yet

We have already discussed how Microsoft has primarily focussed on productivity with built-in security features this time. Windows 11 is the most secure Windows as of yet. It has built-in security and has some really great security features that are the need of the hour for businesses. With Zero Trust-ready OS, hardware-based isolation, encryption, and malware protection, you can assure the topmost security for your business in Windows 11.

3] Better Collaboration with Deeper Teams Integration

Windows 11 has enhanced collaboration by providing quick and easy access to Teams straight from your taskbar. Conduct meetings, share screens, and mute/ unmute the microphone from the taskbar.

4] Consistent for IT and seamless transition to Windows 11

IT managers can automated Windows 11 deployment without involving or putting in too much effort. The familiar IT tools with application compatibility supported by App Assure make it easier to upgrade and adapt to the new version. Also, application compatibility features are the same as discussed in Windows 11 for enterprises. There are some prominent tools for businesses for a seamless transition to Windows 11.

TIP: Planning for Windows 11 Deployment? This guide will help you get started.

5] Tools for Developers

Windows 11 will have a new PWABuilder3 tool and Windows App SDK for creating Progressive Web Apps (PWA) compatible with Windows 10 as well. Businesses can bring out their apps to millions of users via redesigned Microsoft Store that will support a variety of apps including business-oriented apps, from productivity apps to games.

With all the above-discussed features, Windows 11 for Business and Enterprise thrive upon enhancing productivity and communication with built-in security features within organizations. You can also explore and choose a working device from a variety of business devices powered by Windows 11  including business computers, laptops, desktops, and workstations. Microsoft is pushing the boundary with Windows 11 to make it easier for remote working and communication within an organization.

Businesses will be able to bring eligible computers directly up to Windows 11 if they are running Windows 10 Enterprise version 1909 or later, or Windows 10 Pro version 20H1 or later.

Read: How to block Windows 11 from being installed on your computer.

Passwordless authentication and Zero-trust framework

Passwordless authentication does not mean that there is no password rather facial detection or biometric will be used instead of a code word to open a Microsoft account.  The security feature has been enhanced, but you have to be equally smart to use these innovations built-in new Windows.

There might be some changes to features when Windows 11 is finally released for all. Well, we will find out that soon.

Useful read: Windows 11 System Requirements.

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