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Let’s Talk: Should I trust cryptocurrency with my business?

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Let’s Talk: Should I trust cryptocurrency with my business?

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

Robin Marchant
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.”

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Sharon Williams, Founder and CEO, Taurus

Sharon Williams
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

Shannon Karaka
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

Pete-Murray
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

Kevin He
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.

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“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

Carly Eva Benci
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

Lachlan Feeney
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

Nathan Reichstein
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

Rick McElroy
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

Wassim Dabboussi
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.

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“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

Todd Lenfield
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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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

BALTIMORE (AP) — Teams of engineers worked Saturday on the intricate process of cutting and lifting the first section of twisted steel from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, which crumpled into the Patapsco River this week after a massive cargo ship crashed into one of its supports.

Sparks could be seen flying from a section of bent and crumpled steel in the afternoon, and video released by officials in the evening showed demolition crews using a cutting torch to slice through the thick beams. The joint incident command said in a statement that the work was being done on the top of the north side of the collapsed structure.

Crews were carefully measuring and cutting the steel from the broken bridge before attaching straps so it can be lifted onto a barge and floated away, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said.

Seven floating cranes — including a massive one capable of lifting 1,000 tons — 10 tugboats, nine barges, eight salvage vessels and five Coast Guard boats were on site in the water southeast of Baltimore.

Each movement affects what happens next and ultimately how long it will take to remove all the debris and reopen the ship channel and the blocked Port of Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

“I cannot stress enough how important today and the first movement of this bridge and of the wreckage is. This is going to be a remarkably complicated process,” Moore said.

Undeterred by the chilly morning weather, longtime Baltimore resident Randy Lichtenberg and others took cellphone photos or just quietly looked at the broken pieces of the bridge, which including its steel trusses weigh as much as 4,000 tons.

“I wouldn’t want to be in that water. It’s got to be cold. It’s a tough job,” Lichtenberg said from a spot on the river called Sparrows Point.

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The shock of waking up Tuesday morning to video of what he called an iconic part of the Baltimore skyline falling into the water has given way to sadness.

“It never hits you that quickly. It’s just unbelievable,” Lichtenberg said.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

One of the first goals for crews on the water is to get a smaller auxiliary ship channel open so tugboats and other small barges can move freely. Crews also want to stabilize the site so divers can resume searching for four missing workers who are presumed dead.

Two other workers were rescued from the water in the hours following the bridge collapse, and the bodies of two more were recovered from a pickup truck that fell and was submerged in the river. They had been filling potholes on the bridge and while police were able to stop vehicle traffic after the ship called in a mayday, they could not get to the construction workers, who were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The crew of the cargo ship Dali, which is managed by Synergy Marine Group, remained on board with the debris from the bridge around it, and were safe and were being interviewed. They are keeping the ship running as they will be needed to get it out of the channel once more debris has been removed.

The vessel is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd. and was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk.

The collision and collapse appeared to be an accident that came after the ship lost power. Federal and state investigators are still trying to determine why.

Assuaging concern about possible pollution from the crash, Adam Ortiz, the Environmental Protection Agency’s mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, said there was no indication in the water of active releases from the ship or materials hazardous to human health.

REBUILDING

Officials are also trying to figure out how to handle the economic impact of a closed port and the severing of a major highway link. The bridge was completed in 1977 and carried Interstate 695 around southeast Baltimore.

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Maryland transportation officials are planning to rebuild the bridge, promising to consider innovative designs or building materials to hopefully shorten a project that could take years.

President Joe Biden’s administration has approved $60 million in immediate aid and promised the federal government will pay the full cost to rebuild.

Ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore remains suspended, but the Maryland Port Administration said trucks were still being processed at marine terminals.

The loss of a road that carried 30,000 vehicles a day and the port disruption will affect not only thousands of dockworkers and commuters, but also U.S. consumers, who are likely to feel the impact of shipping delays. The port handles more cars and more farm equipment than any other U.S. facility.

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Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Washington, D.C.; Kristin M. Hall in Nashville, Tennessee; Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington, contributed.

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

DALLAS (AP) — The Texas attorney general has opened an investigation into a key Boeing supplier that is already facing scrutiny from federal regulators over quality of parts that it provides to the aircraft maker.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said it began looking into Spirit AeroSystems because of “apparent manufacturing defects” in parts that “have led to numerous concerning or dangerous incidents.”

In a statement Friday, a Spirit spokesman said, “While we do not comment on investigations, Spirit is wholly focused on providing the highest quality products to all our customers, to include the Boeing Company.”

Paxton asked the Wichita, Kansas-based supplier to turn over documents produced since the start of 2022 about communication with investors and Boeing about flaws in parts and corrective steps the company took.

The request goes into detail in seeking internal discussions around Spirit’s efforts to create a diverse workforce “and whether those commitments are unlawful or are compromising the company’s manufacturing processes.” Paxton asked for a breakdown of Spirit’s workforce by race, sexual orientation and other factors, and whether the makeup has changed over time.

Since a Spirit-made door-plug panel blew off an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max in January, some conservatives have tried to link aviation safety to diversity at manufacturers.

Paxton is a conservative Republican who this week agreed to pay $271,000 in restitution to victims and take 15 hours of training in legal ethics to settle felony charges of securities fraud. Paxton did not admit wrongdoing in the 9-year-old case.

The Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into Boeing Spirit after the Alaska Airlines incident. An FAA audit of manufacturing procedures in Spirit’s factory gave the company failing grades in seven of 13 areas.

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Boeing is in talks to buy back Spirit, which it spun off nearly 20 years ago, as part of a plan to tighten oversight of manufacturing in its supply chain.

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Boeing plane found to have missing panel after flight from California to southern Oregon

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Boeing plane found to have missing panel after flight from California to southern Oregon

By CLAIRE RUSH and LISA BAUMANN

 

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A post-flight inspection revealed a missing panel on an older Boeing 737-800 that had just arrived at its destination in southern Oregon on Friday after flying from San Francisco, officials said, the latest in a series of recent incidents involving aircraft manufactured by the company.

United Flight 433 left San Francisco at 10:20 a.m. and landed at Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in Medford shortly before noon, according to FlightAware. The airport’s director, Amber Judd, said the plane landed safely without incident and the external panel was discovered missing during a post-flight inspection. No injuries were reported.

The airport paused operations to check the runway and airfield for debris, Judd said, and none was found.

Judd said she believed the United ground crew or pilots doing a routine inspection before the next flight were the ones who noticed the missing panel.

A United Airlines spokesperson said via email that the flight was carrying 139 passengers and six crew members, and no emergency was declared because there was no indication of the damage during the flight.

 

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The Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center is pictured in Medford, Ore., on Jan. 4, 2024. The first lawsuit filed Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, brought amid reports that a nurse at the southern Oregon hospital replaced intravenous fentanyl drips with tap water seeks up to $11.5 million on behalf of the estate of a 65-year-old man who died. (Janet Eastman/The Oregonian/The Oregonian via AP)

 

“After the aircraft was parked at the gate, it was discovered to be missing an external panel,” the United spokesperson said. “We’ll conduct a thorough examination of the plane and perform all the needed repairs before it returns to service. We’ll also conduct an investigation to better understand how this damage occurred.”

The Federal Aviation Administration also said it would investigate.

The missing panel was on the underside of the aircraft where the wing meets the body and just next to the landing gear, United said.

The plane made its first flight in April 1998 and was delivered to Continental Airlines in December of that year, according to the FAA. United Airlines has operated it since Nov. 30, 2011. It is a 737-824, part of the 737-800 series that was a precursor to the Max.

Boeing said, also via email, that it would defer comment to United about the carrier’s fleet and operations.

In January a panel that plugged a space left for an extra emergency door blew off a Boeing Max 9 jet in midair just minutes after an Alaska Airlines flight took off from Portland, leaving a gaping hole and forcing pilots to make an emergency landing. There were no serious injuries.

The door plug was eventually found in the backyard of a high school physics teacher in southwest Portland, along with other debris from the flight scattered nearby. The Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation.

On March 6, fumes detected in the cabin of a Boeing 737-800 Alaska Airlines flight destined for Phoenix caused pilots to head back to the Portland airport.

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The Port of Portland said passengers and crew noticed the fumes and the flight landed safely. Seven people including passengers and crew requested medical evaluations, but no one was hospitalized, officials said.

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Baumann reported from Bellingham, Washington.

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