SWIFT Chief Announces Trial DLT Integration With R3

SWIFT Chief Announces Trial DLT Integration With R3

SWIFT, the global banking payments network, is to begin testing its GPI payments standard through R3’s Corda platform.

Speaking on stage at the Paris Fintech Forum this morning, SWIFT CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt said: “Later today we are announcing an integration with R3.”

In a follow-up announcement, the firm explained that the “integration” will be a trial that will connect SWIFT’s GPI Link gateway with R3’s Corda platform to monitor payment flows and support application programming interfaces (APIs), as well as SWIFT and ISO standards.

“SWIFT GPI will integrate directly to Corda Settler, the application that allows participants on the Corda blockchain to initiate and settle payment obligations via both traditional and blockchain-based rails,” explained R3 co-founder Todd McDonald. “This will enable obligations created or represented on Corda to be settled via the large and growing SWIFT GPI network.”

In the trial, corporates using the R3 platform will be able to authorize payments from their banks via GPI Link; GPI payments will be settled by the corporates’ banks, and the resulting credit confirmations will be reported back to the trade platforms via GPI Link on completion.

While the trial initially addresses R3’s trade environment, it will be extended to support other distributed ledger technology (DLT), non-DLT and e-commerce trade platforms.

David E. Rutter, CEO of R3, said in a statement:

“Following the recent launch of our Corda Settler, allowing for the payment of obligations raised on the Corda platform, it was a logical extension to plug into SWIFT GPI. SWIFT GPI has rapidly become the new standard to settle payments right across the world. All the blockchain applications running on Corda will thus benefit from the fast, secure and transparent settlement provided through the SWIFT gpi banks.”

Luc Meurant, SWIFT’s chief marketing officer, added: “All trade platforms require tight linkages with trusted, fast and secure cross-border payments mechanisms such as GPI. While DLT-enabled trade is taking off, there is still little appetite for settlement in cryptocurrencies and a pressing need for fast and safe settlement in fiat currencies.”

Meurant said that, via GPI Link, banks will be able to provide rapid, transparent settlement services to e-commerce and trading platforms.

“Given the adoption of the Corda platform by trade ecosystems, it was a natural choice to run this proof of concept with R3,” he added.

At the event Wednesday, Leibbrandt was onstage with Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, which has long coveted SWIFT’s expansive banking network and often cites its aging architecture.

In December, R3 launched the Corda Settler, an application aimed to facilitate global cryptocurrency payments within enterprise blockchains and which would use Ripple’s XRP to start.

R3 said at the time that XRP was the first globally recognized cryptocurrency to be supported by Settler, bringing the Corda and XRP ecosystems into closer alignment – something of a rapprochement considering Ripple and R3 were previously locked in a legal dispute.

Update (12:30 UTC, Jan. 30 2019): SWIFT has clarified CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt’s statement to CoinDesk, saying that the integration is a proof-of-concept at this stage. The headline has been amended to reflect the new information.

Update (12:45 UTC, Jan. 30 2019): The article has also been updated with details later provided by SWIFT in an announcement 

Leibbrandt (L) and Garlinghouse (C) image via Paris Fintech Network

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US Blockchain Firm Introduces Wallet for Digital Assets and Securities

US Blockchain Firm Introduces Wallet for Digital Assets and Securities

San Francisco-based blockchain firm TokenSoft has rolled out a beta version of its wallet for digital assets and digital securities, according to a press release published on Jan. 29.

The new product called Knox Wallet provides cold storage and a self-custody platform for managing multiple assets, including both cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), as well as tokenized assets such as real estate, equity, or debt. The wallet is now undergoing a testing phase, while the general availability launch is set for the first quarter of 2019.

CEO of TokenSoft Mason Borda said that the secure storage of digital assets is of “critical importance given that almost $1 billion of cryptocurrency was stolen by hackers in the first three quarters of 2018 alone.”

A report by cybersecurity company Carbon Black found that roughly $1.1 bln worth of digital currency has been stolen in the first half of 2018. The firm said that criminals take advantage of the dark web to facilitate large-scale cryptocurrency theft, estimating that there are 12,000 marketplaces and 34,000 offerings associated with crypto theft of which hackers can take advantage.

In December, TokenSoft invested in a broker-dealer that is compliant with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The investment purportedly enabled TokenSoft to offer issuers the option to host a token sale themselves or work with a broker-dealer to carry out the sale on their behalf.

Last week, e-commerce giant Overstock.com’s crypto-related subsidiary tZERO launched secondary trading of its security tokens tZERO through securities brokerage account Dinosaur Financial Group, which is set up to act as a broker-dealer.

In mid-January, the Winklevoss brothers, Bitcoin billionaires and the founders of Gemini cryptocurrency exchange,  predicted that both tokenized securities and stablecoins will contribute greatly to the evolution of digital currency.

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SBI Holdings and R3 expand partnership to drive adoption of the Corda blockchain

SBI Holdings and R3 expand partnership to drive adoption of the Corda blockchain

SBI Holdings, a Japanese fintech holding company, and R3, the enterprise blockchain software company today announced that the companies have agreed on establishing a joint venture which will engage its business in Japan.

The new joint venture will support provision and introduction of the Corda license, arrange schemes for its actual use beforehand, as well as promote collaboration with overseas offices of R3 and other Corda partners. The joint venture also intends to develop its businesses in the Eastern Asian Region.

R3 develops and maintains its open-source blockchain Corda and its commercialization version of Corda Enterprise. With more than 300 partners from various industries around the world, including central banks and regulatory agencies, participating in the R3-led consortium. R3 conducts projects in a wide range of business areas utilizing DLT such as finance, i.e. syndicated loans, trade finance, insurance, real estate, supply chains and more.

The SBI Group is expanding its investments and partnerships with venture companies related to digital asset platforms to enhance the ecosystem based on digital assets. SBI Holdings will continue to promote the development of financial services through alliances with startup companies using blockchain/DLT which will be the core technology of next-generation fintech that is efficient and highly beneficial for customers.

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Six REITs to Watch in 2019

Six REITs to Watch in 2019

Seniors housing, data storage-focused operators among the picks for strong performance this year.

All in all, 2018 wasn’t a stellar year for REITs. According to trade group Nareit, the total return for REITs slid to a negative 4.1 percent last year, on the heels of a positive total return of almost 9.3 percent in 2017.

Last year, the poor overall performance of office, retail, lodging and data center REITs weighed down the sector, Nareit figures show, while health care, self-storage and infrastructure REITs ranked among the winners.

Now, with 2018 in the rearview mirror, what does 2019 have in store for REITs?

Generally speaking, Nareit Economist Calvin Schnure believes factors such as healthy occupancy rates and a strong supply-and-demand balance set the stage for REITs to “do quite well” this year.

“For REIT investors, we are beyond the point where a rising tide lifts all boats,” says Tore Steen, co-founder and CEO of commercial real estate investment marketplace CrowdStreet Inc., based in Portland, Ore. “There are still positive returns to be had, but to achieve them, investors must be prepared to select specific strategies that are poised to outperform.”

Digging deeper, NREI asked experts to weigh on which specific REITs they’re watching in 2019. Here are six of them.

Ventas

Several industry observers indicate they’re keeping a close eye on Chicago-based health care REIT Ventas Inc., an S&P 500 company. Its portfolio comprises 1,200 properties, including seniors housing communities, medical office buildings, inpatient rehabilitation centers and skilled nursing facilities.

Certified financial planner Patrick Healey, founder and president of Caliber Financial Partners in Jersey City, N.J., says he likes this REIT—with a market cap above $20 million—largely because it’s positioned to capitalize on the wave of baby boomers entering the 75-to-85 age category over the next 20 years.

Healey also cites Veritas’ more than 5 percent dividend yield. For its part, Ventas boasts it supplies a compounded annual shareholder return of 22 percent.

Among health care REITs, Healey says, Ventas is “best of breed.”

AvalonBay Communities

Another favorite among REIT watchers is multifamily REIT AvalonBay Communities Inc., based in Arlington, Va.

As of Sept. 30, 2018, AvalonBay—the 12th largest publicly-traded REIT, with a market cap exceeding $25 billion—owned and operated 290 communities in the U.S. with nearly 85,000 apartments. The S&P 500 company touts a 13.1 percent annualized total shareholder return since its 1994 IPO, as well as a 5.3 percent annualized dividend growth rate.

Amid ongoing concerns over the affordability and availability of homes, Samuel Sahn, executive director of portfolio management and research in the New York City office of Timbercreek Asset Management Inc., expects AvalonBay to shine in 2019 as apartment landlords continue to enjoy strong demand from renters. Conditions are favorable for AvalonBay and other multifamily REITs to post robust NOI growth this year, Sahn says.

While not singling out AvalonBay, Cedrik Lachance, director of REIT research at Newport Beach, Calif.-based Green Street Advisors Inc., and his colleagues at the real estate research and analysis firm predict the multifamily REIT sector will outperform in 2019, “given its current low entry point, combined with expectations for healthy and slightly accelerating rent growth as renters stay put and supply growth continues at a reasonable pace.”

Realty Income Corp.

Louis Swingrover, founder and CEO of 1031Gateway, which advises investors about passive income real estate investments, is bullish on Realty Income Corp. in 2019, due to the characteristically recession-resistant nature of net lease properties.

San Diego-based Realty Income, part of the S&P 500, owns and operates more than 5,600 net lease assets, which are occupied mostly by tenants with investment-grade credit “that do not rely on discretionary retail,” Swingrover notes. Major tenants include Walgreens, 7-Eleven, FedEx, Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar.

“Income from its properties and dividends to its investors remained stable throughout the Great Recession,” Swingrover notes.

Realty Income brags that it has declared dividends for more than 580 consecutive months.

Equinix

In September 2018, data center REIT Equinix Inc. delivered its 63rd consecutive quarter of revenue growth. And some observers see no slowdown in sight with newly installed President and CEO Charles Meyers at the helm of the Redwood City, Calif.-based company.

Equinix and other data center REITs are realizing gains thanks to stepped-up demand for data storage, driven by the proliferation of mobile devices, tablets, cloud computing, web traffic and online content, Sahn says.

“We believe the next leg of demand growth for the data center sector is even more promising, led by artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, virtual reality and the internet of things,” he notes.

Data center REITs are primed for a rebound from a subpar 2018, says Lachance, when, according to Nareit, the sector notched a negative total return of 14.1 percent.

Prologis

Unlike mall REITs, industrial REITs, which are buoyed by the e-commerce explosion, are a favorable investment type, according to Healey.

As the largest REIT specializing in warehouses and logistics, San Francisco-based Prologis Inc., part of the S&P 500, is positioned for success in 2019, Healey says. He attributes that, in part, to an active development division that contributes significantly to the company’s growth. In 2018, Prologis tallied more than $2.4 billion in development starts.

As of Dec. 31, 2018, the Prologis portfolio contained nearly 770 million sq. ft. across four continents. In all, it has $87 billion in assets under management. The REIT’s occupancy rate at the end of 2018 stood at 97.5 percent. It’s projecting year-end occupancy in 2019 ranging from 96.0 percent to 97.5 percent.

“The Amazon effect has created and will continue to create significant demand for industrial properties, and Prologis is best of breed in this space,” Healey notes.

Extra Space Storage

In the self-storage REIT sector, which experienced flat performance in 2018, Healey highlights Extra Space Storage Inc.

The Salt Lake City-based company, a member of the S&P 500, owns or operates more than 1,400 storage facilities across the United States. It posted increases in three key metrics—FFO, NOI and same-store revenue—in the first nine months of 2018 compared with the same period a year earlier.

“Self-storage is a highly favorable property type for investment, particularly in a rising interest rate environment,” Healey says.

Pointing out the software-powered dynamic pricing model adopted by industry heavyweights, he adds that the self-storage sector “is almost as much a technology business as it is a real estate operator.”

Extra Space and other self-storage REITs offer “an excellent hedge against inflation,” he adds.

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Blockchain-Driven Real Estate Platform Closes Seed Funding Round Backed by Morgan Creek

Blockchain-Driven Real Estate Platform Closes Seed Funding Round Backed by Morgan Creek

Blockchain-based real estate platform RealBlocks has successfully closed a seed funding round backed by digital assets manager Morgan Creek Digital, a press release reveals Friday, Jan. 25.

Per the announcement, a $3.1 million round was led by United States-based commerce company Science Inc. with participation from Morgan Creek Digital, Zelkova Ventures, Ulu Ventures, and Cross Culture Ventures. The specific amounts of investment were not disclosed.

RealBlocks has designed a decentralized platform that tokenizes shares of private equity funds. It also allows real estate investors to sell shares at both domestic and international markets, accept payments in digital and fiat currencies, and enable peer-to-peer trading at its bulletin board. Explaining the investment, Anthony Pompliano, founder of Morgan Creek Digital, said:

“2019 is going to be an incredibly important year for blockchain projects […] One of our core theses at Morgan Creek Digital has been that every stock, bond, currency, and commodity will be tokenized at some point in the future.”

Last year, Morgan Creek Digital, backed by the institutional investment house Morgan Creek Capital with $1.5 billion in assets under management, launched its own digital asset index fund in partnership with crypto-focused Bitwise Asset Management.

The fund gives accredited investors, endowments, pensions and other approved institutional investors the possibility to gain indirect exposure to Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and eight other large market cap assets, excluding Ripple (XRP) and Stellar (XLM) as they were created through a pre-mine.

Blockchain is widely tested in real estate to store data, issue digital mortgages and moderate land registry. In June, the Netherlands’ Land Registry announced it would test blockchain technology for national real estate data. In October, the Chinese Bank of Communications successfully issued $1.3 billion of residential mortgage-backed securities using blockchain technology.

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Tokenization Platform AlphaPoints Taps Scott Grayson For SVP

Tokenization Platform AlphaPoints Taps Scott Grayson For SVP

Tokenization platform AlphaPoint, a provider of asset digitization software and trading technology for licensed broker-dealers, ATS and exchange operators, announced Scott Grayson as its new SVP & head of enterprise sales.

Grayson brings more than 25 years experience leading sales teams in the financial services technology industry. Grayson will be responsible for sourcing and onboarding businesses seeking software that automates the generation of digital assets, including real estate backed tokens, debt-backed tokens, and equity-backed tokens.

“Due to AlphaPoint’s efforts in the tokenization and cryptocurrency software markets, I am excited to join a company bringing the experience of seasoned professionals to the revolutionary blockchain technology sector,” Grayson said.

Prior to joining AlphaPoint, Grayson was the chief sales officer at R3, a blockchain platform company. Grayson has also led global sales teams at Charles River Development, SAP, Algorithmics, and NumeriX.

Grayson was also an equities and options trader and began his career with 12 years in banking at Bankers Trust Company (Deutsche Bank) and Bank of America in sales and marketing of cash management and risk management products and services.

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Digital Currency Exchange Covesting Introduces First Stage of Fiat Gateway & Cryptocurrency Converter

Covesting Introduces First Stage of Fiat Gateway & Cryptocurrency Converter

Covesting, a cryptocurrency exchange and trading platform, announced on Monday it has introduced the first stage of its fiat gateway and cryptocurrency converter. According to Covesting, EUR deposits through wire transfer are now available, with additional options for fiat deposits/withdrawals as well as the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies will be released in stages over the coming weeks.

While sharing details about the features, Covesting’s Founder and CEO, Dmitrij Pruglo, stated:

“The launch of a fiat gateway is yet another step towards our ultimate goal of being the most complete, secure and transparent cryptocurrency platform in the industry. Allowing retail and institutional clients to legally exchange fiat into crypto automatically gives Covesting an edge and puts us among very few exchanges who offer such a solution. There are hundreds or maybe even thousands of crypto-crypto exchanges out there, but few who offer a legally compliant bridge between crypto and the traditional world of finance. We will continue to monitor the market and adapt to the new reality while offering the most demanded tools for our users.”

Founded in 2017, Covesting is described as a cryptocurrency exchange and a trading platform that offers a complete and secure infrastructure for investors and traders

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Real estate software provider HomeSpotter acquires Spacio

Real estate software provider HomeSpotter acquires Spacio

Open house lead generation system added to HomeSpotter’s offerings

HomeSpotter, a company that provides software for real estate agents, is growing its offerings by acquiring Spacio, an open house lead generation system, the companies announced recently.

Spacio is a mobile-first platform that helps real estate agents digitally capture open house visitors’ contact information and automates follow-up interactions, helping agents turn more of those visitors into customers. According to the company, its software is currently being utilized by more than 100,000 real estate agents in the U.S. and Canada.

Now, the company’s software will be integrated into HomeSpotter’s platform.

HomeSpotter Founder and CEO Aaron Kardell said the company has long looked for an open house solution, even considering building one itself, before determining that acquiring Spacio is the right move.

“We’ve been thinking about the open house opportunity since 2013, as open house visitors represent some of the most motivated buyers in market that aren’t always captured through other lead gen sources,” Kardell said.

“The combination of the founding team at Spacio, their proven track record of delivering a best-in-class solution, and resoundingly supportive customer feedback — there’s such strong alignment that it makes sense to bring our businesses together,” Kardell added. “We believe we will go further and faster together, and are excited about how the company will continue to evolve to help agents, brokers, and the consumers they service facilitate better relationships around real estate.”

The combined company boasts a client base of more than 450,000 agents, 250 brokerage firms, 300 MLS connections, and services the four largest brokerages in the U.S.

“Marketing activities for open house lead generation have three parts — before, during, and after. We spent the past four years building, iterating, and perfecting the during and after pieces and we do those very well, better than anyone else,” said Spacio co-founder and CEO Melissa Kwan.

“However, we always knew that in order to complete our product offering, we needed to give agents a way to market their listings before their open houses; this wasn’t something we had the expertise to build on our own,” Kwan added. “With HomeSpotter’s digital advertising product, Boost, we can finally deliver the complete solution to agents that allows them to do all three: advertise their open houses before, capture leads during, and automatically follow up after, all within a single platform.”

According to the companies, all of Spacio’s employees are joining HomeSpotter.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Finatext UK launches trading app Pipster

Finatext UK launches trading app Pipster

Finatext UK has launched Pipster, a consumer-friendly currency trading app which the company claims will provide a simpler, smarter and more responsible way of trading for both forex and cryptocurrencies.

Pipster can be downloaded from both the Apple and Android app store and has useful features powered by Robota Intelligence, Finatext’s sentiment analysis technology.

The Bitcoin Social Sentiment Indicator (SSI), in particular, monitors social media posts in near-real time.

The insight provided by the tool claims to give Pipster users indicators of when may be a good moment to both buy or sell, maximising returns by allowing profits to be made in both rising and falling markets.

Pipster also has a virtual ‘Pioneer’ mode, enabling users to practice trading, familiarise themselves with the markets and develop their strategy risk-free using virtual funds before trading any real money.

Finatext says Pipster goes above and beyond new regulations which limit leverage and trade values, allowing even lower entry and trade sizes for new investors. This helps new users to trade without having to invest large values at high-risk. Full transparency with pricing is also a significant element of Pipster’s pledge.

In-app video and tutorial content, alongside user forums, will enable users to discuss strategies and trends on a peer-to-peer basis, opening up what has traditionally been a very closed community. It is hoped that this open forum will promote healthy discussion and support networks between traders, mitigating the errors and common pitfalls that many conventional investors and market watchers can suffer from.

Rob Brockington, CEO of Finatext UK, said: “With Pipster and our unique Robota Intelligence SSI, Finatext UK, backed by Finatext Japan, believes that the trading industry stands to be changed for the better by creating a more inclusive and integrated crypto and forex market.

“As a company regulated by the FCA, we’re acutely aware of and are committed to the need to instil financial literacy in new users and traders, responsibly. That’s why we are focussing on the app’s virtual mode, community chat forums and video tutorials to familiarise new users with the sector before encouraging them to trade in live mode.

“Our platform is designed with the user in mind. Incorporating new technology and simplification of previously complex features like technical analytics, Pipster opens the market up to a new generation of traders… and gives everyone a better opportunity to do well from forex and crypto trading.

“This industry has already changed beyond recognition in just the last couple of years. These are exciting times, and Pipster is the next phase of this change.”

Finatext UK also recently announced its partnership with Z.com Trade, which is an affiliated company of GMO CLICK Securities Inc, the provider of Forex which processes around one trillion dollars in trading volume every month.

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Why BlocPal Is the Easiest Way to Accept Cryptocurrency

Why BlocPal Is the Easiest Way to Accept Cryptocurrency

The face of the retail industry is always changing.

E-commerce is one of the fastest growing trends worldwide, and for good reasons.

It’s convenient, secure, and is effective at connecting merchants with interested shoppers from across the world.

For this reason, it’s no surprise that online shipping is expected to overtake brick-and-mortar stores globally by 2021, making it the world’s largest medium for retail. As the industry changes, it’s important for retailers to keep up with the latest technology so they’re able to accommodate more customers at once. This is where BlocPal comes in.

BlocPal offers business owners an easier way to process payments

BlocPal understands that not every business owner adapts to technology at the same rate. As such, BlocPal has been designed to optimize transactions for both online and brick-and-mortar companies so that every retailer can enjoy the benefits that come with the world’s first true multi-currency payment solution.

With BlocPal, business owners can enjoy the following benefits:

    • The ability to process payments in fiat (USD and CAD) currency as well as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV, Litecoin, and Ethereum. Expect more currencies to be added as BlocPal grows.
    • Compatibility with e-commerce and Point-of-sale (POS) systems.
    • Instant authorizations that bypass the waiting times associated with cryptocurrency transactions.
    • Guaranteed payouts directly to your bank account. All transactions processed through BlocPal are final, meaning vendors are protected against fraud including chargebacks.
    • Some of the lowest transaction costs in the industry. Fees are 1%, with a maximum of $5 being charged at any time.
    • A robust merchant dashboard that makes it easy for vendors to keep track of all their inventory, invoicing, sales, and more.
    • An auto-convert currency feature eliminating currency exchange risk for the merchant.

BlocPal is also designed for maximum convenience.

It doesn’t have the same learning curve as other blockchain-related payment platforms, meaning anyone can pick it up and get started. This is because BlocPal comes with a fully integrated system that supports POS transactions and e-commerce, accepting both fiat and cryptocurrencies. Using BlocPal in physical stores is as simple as scanning a barcode, and since the platform has plugins for WooCommerce, Shopify, and Magento, integrating BlocPal into your online marketplace can be completed with the click of a button.

Looking for a new way to process payments? BlocPal offers a quick and easy way to switch between fiat and cryptocurrency without any of the risk. Merchants can even opt to automatically convert crypto transactions into fiat currency, ensuring they’re fully protected from market volatility. This means the transaction can start with cryptocurrency and end with fiat currency within a split second, without the merchant ever holding cryptocurrency.

Visit the BlocPal website today to register and become a BlocPal merchant.

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DealerX: Eliminate Your Dependency On Cars.Com, Cargurus & AutoTrader - NOW

DealerX: Eliminate Your Dependency On Cars.Com, Cargurus & AutoTrader – NOW

Jeff Tognetti of DealerX confirms the rumors, “Yes, We Have The Data, And I Mean All The Data!”  What is all the data? Simple, the cross-device automotive active shoppers seen browsing on major automotive portals like Cars.com, AutoTrader, Cargurus, KBB coupled with people walking in to over 23,000 Dealerships & Service Centers nationwide. DealerX will be demonstrating how the RoiQ platform leverages billions of daily events in the industry 1st “hands free” marketing automation, analytics & walk-in attribution solution.  Seamlessly activating this data via ROIQ omni-channel marketing automation platform (eMail, Direct Mail, Paid Search, Display and Social) to once anonymous, now identified buyers in real-time.

The DealerX – RoiQ solution tracks the results of every ad served, impression viewed and which vendor contributed to each lead, call, walk-in or sale.  Finally..  giving dealers the true cost of every sale. RoiQ  tracks the mobile devices of the majority of shoppers and service customers in a dealers market as they walk into any dealership. Tying out each ad dollar spent to an individual, whether he or she bought or serviced at any dealership while they were targeted. This enables the dealer to determine true closing ratios and lost opportunities, not just what is often misreported in the CRM.

“As we speak to Dealers across the country they ask us how they can reduce their digital ad spends and eliminate dependency on 3rd party websites like Cars.com, AutoTrader & Cargurus along with the many other wasteful vendors all offering the same old bag of tricks. Our answer is DealerX’s RoiQ platform, 1-part vendor “BS detector” and the rest, an all-in-one marketing automation platform.  RoiQ leverages our patented proprietary technology (real patents – not fluff) which can be leveraged to identify shoppers in any market.  Building profiles of these shoppers by capturing their cross-device (PC, Tablet & Mobile) browsing behavior while they surf the web, on auto or non-automotive sites. Feeding RoiQ with insights derived from Machine Learning which identify the specific vehicles of interest, where the shopper is physically located, and even important information like what the buyer maybe trading-inAlong the way answering the question; are those well known automotive portals, blogs and review sites really worth the marketing $$$.  Culminating in dynamically built ads, targeted to buyers in real-time often before they’ve ever touched the dealer’s website. That’s Omni-Channel Conquest! Not this other ish* often pushed by “me too” vendors,” says Jeff Tognetti – Managing Partner.  Don’t take our word for it, come see it at NADA 2019 January 24th through the 27th at Booth 7156W.

Anthony Monteiro – National Sales Director says “Imagine having the person’s name, email address and physical address coupled with a profile consisting of what he or she is shopping for, gleaning insight into their trade-in, budget and what they cross-shopped. Essentially seeing your shoppers path to purchase –Predicting– which shoppers are going to convert to a sale in the least amount of time and expense!”

About DealerX Partners LLC.
DealerX offers the industry’s FIRST, Marketing Automation, Analytics, & Walk-in Attribution platform with Predictive Scoring rolled into one – RoiQ.  DealerX has offices in New York Metropolitan Area and Florida. Our services touch 10’s of millions of consumers every year while our diversified folio of clients range from Large Multinationals, Media Companies, OEMs (Including Volkswagen of America) to select Agencies and many of the Nation’s Top Dealer Groups.

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Finney, the 'world's first blockchain smartphone' by Sirin Labs, is now up for pre-order

Finney, the ‘world’s first blockchain smartphone’ by Sirin Labs, is now up for pre-order

Most of the details surrounding Sirin Labs’ Finney “blockchain phone” were revealed back in the spring/summer, including the Safe Screen dual sliding display design and a whole pile of specs. I’ll be honest, on paper it sounded like it could be Saygus-level vaporware, but the phone is now open for pre-order ahead of its expected launch.

In case you missed it, the Finney includes most of the specs you expect from a 2018-era flagship — like a Snapdragon 845, Android 8.1 Oreo (via Sirin OS), 6GB RAM/128GB storage, etc. — together with some additional cryptocurrency-targeted features. Things like a separate hardware wallet with its own slide-up screen, DApps (decentralized apps) support with a built-in DApps browser/store, and Sirin Labs’ Token Conversion Service for making cryptocurrency transactions without using exchanges.

At the time of writing, it appears that sales are only taking place via SRN tokens, though other payment methods will be offered later. Amazon’s Launchpad will also be selling the phone in January, and Sirin Labs expects to have two concept stores open in London and Tokyo over the next two months.

The company livestreamed the launch event in Barcelona just a few hours ago — if you’re interested in a full recap, it’s over on YouTube, though the audio is pretty impossible to parse in spots. Interestingly, the timer on Sirin Labs’ site still says it’ll be a bit longer (over an hour at the time of writing) until the official Finney launch.

A ship date is conspicuously absent from either the announcement press release or preorder page on Sirin Labs’ site, so it could still be some time before preorders see their Finney in person. If you have any lingering concerns about the phone being vaporware, it might be worth waiting until dates are set.

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New Software Provides an All-In-One Solution for CRE

New Software Provides an All-In-One Solution for CRE

Real Clear Software is launching a RCS Portfolio, a new software that will house data in a single place. Real estate is largely a data-driven business, and real estate veteran Chris Sausser and Craig Morris saw an opportunity to bring a software program to the market that could help real estate professionals access and analyze data. They describe RCS Portfolio as “an advanced analytics and automation software that that solves  the problems of dispersed and uncorrelated data.” And, they think it is a game changer for the market.

“In 2015, our firm, SVN was hired by the CEO and counsel of a then 250-location US retailer that was wanting to expand to over 2,000 location. The client needed to improve their real estate planning, processes, location approvals, C-level reporting, lease administration, and store selection criteria in order to successfully execute their strategy to reach 2,000 locations,” Chris Sausser, CMO and a founder of Real Clear Software, tells GlobeSt.com. “They had the typical problems that many multi-location retailers face: dispersed and inconsistent data, manual reporting that didn’t track real estate KPI’s that impacted financial performance, and a reactive real estate team that was putting out fires and unable to create strategic value through real estate. They needed self-service analytics and automation tools that would combine real estate with financial and operational data, measure and track portfolio performance, and help them understand things like why some locations out-perform others.”

This was the inspiration for what would become RCS Portfolio. At the time, there was nothing in the market that could accommodate these needs. “After an exhaustive technology search, we learned there wasn’t really anything built for tenant occupiers, despite real estate being one of their largest fixed costs,” explains Sausser. “We had a broker friend who was also a talented developer and decided to create what turned into Real Clear. As other brokers and retailers saw and loved the software, we had that ‘ah hah’ moment and knew that this was a big void in the market and opportunity to help thousands of companies.”

Sausser says that the ultimate goal of the software is to create portfolio transparency in real estate operations. This, he says, produces myriad benefits, including faster site selection, faster approvals, better market strategies and execution and increased productivity. “By integrating real estate with other key business data—sales, ERP, HCM, finance, inventory—companies can view their business from any departmental angle in real-time, whether it’s understanding all real estate costs across their portfolio, correlating this data sets with their operating, sales and HR KPI’s, identifying what specific aspects create successful or underperforming locations, or simply as an advanced portfolio transaction tool,” he says. “Our advanced analytics and data visualization capabilities analyze a companies’ top performing locations to unveil, which metrics correlate to profitability and operational efficiency. They use this to create better site selection criteria, benchmark their critical operating KPI and real estate expenses in order to improve their decision process.”

In addition to working to streamline data and create more efficient operations, the program also aims to improve decision making and communication. “The program supports cost reduction analytics, defining metrics that best predict performance, and make data-driven decisions,” says Sausser. “We also wanted to create productivity tools that would free up time for strategic thinking and improve departmental communication among stakeholders. This means reducing manual data entry, centralizing project and task management, and standardizing broker communications across markets; overall it’s a single version of the truth and hub for real estate teams to do their job more effectively.”

Sausser uses the example of a client correlating key sales and operating data through the program. “We confirmed 4 of 12 items that was thought to be true, but also found 6 key site selection items were inversely correlated,” he says. “One item was demonstrating the Net Income loss between a freestanding location and an end cap location (-32% NI), and further eroding of profitability with inline locations (-12%). We have included a C-Suite Dashboard that shows daily updates on key metrics as it pertains to the health of the real estate portfolio.”

The industry has been very receptive to the program. “Tenants, sponsors and brokers have been very impressed with what we’re doing. They’re often pleasantly surprised that a company is finally creating solutions specifically for tenants or occupiers,” says Sausser. “There’s been significant technological innovation throughout Commercial Real Estate in recent years, but much of it is focused on brokers, landlords, and investors. Real estate teams are ready to shed the stigma of being late adopters of technology and have an immense desire to harness the power of data to improve how they operate. 90% of sales till occur in physical stores and this is one more way retailers can gain a competitive edge through real estate.”

Subscription services range from $500 to $3,000 per month, depending on users and portfolio size. In the beginning, the team works with clients to understand the company strategy and challenges and to identify areas of improvement. “From there, we customize their dashboard and work to select the right metrics to measure and track,” he adds. “Our team has experience working with Fortune 1000 clients to drive successful technology adoption, so we make it simple to embed Real Clear into operations and set them up for success.”

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tZERO is Rounding into Form, After Being Awarded a Recent Patent

tZERO is Rounding into Form, After Being Awarded a Recent Patent

Patent Race

In a positive development for tZERO, they were just awarded the patent for a new means of ‘Crypto Integration’.

This patent described a process in which traditional trading systems are able to interface with developing cryptocurrency exchanges.  The following is an excerpt from the application, describing usage of the platform.

“The Crypto Integration Platform provides, among other things, an interface between legacy trading systems and crypto exchanges that trade digital transactional items. In doing so, the Crypto Integration Platform takes a protocol for trading and communication between broker-dealers, Alternative Trading Systems (“ATS”), and exchanges, and transforms the message so that the trade can be consummated using cryptographic techniques.”

*For those interested in a complete read-through of the filed patent, the document is available via the USPTO website here*

Recent Dealings with tZERO

Beyond the news of awarded patents, tZERO has been the subject of our discussions various times in recent months. For instance, here are a few of those articles, showcasing advancements being made by tZERO.

It is clear to see that the team behind tZERO has been as active as can be. Through moves such as the ones described above, they have been able to establish themselves as one of the most promising companies within the digital securities sector. Hopefully they are able to deliver on all fronts as 2019 rolls on.

tZERO

tZERO is based out of New York, and is a subsidiary of Overstock.com. Each are products of founder Patrick Byrne.

Above all, tZERO will function as a platform geared towards providing various services aimed towards security tokens. The expected 2019 launch of their platform is much anticipated.

To this day, Patrick Byrne has stayed steadfast in his belief that tZERO has the potential to become a giant. He has stated in past interviews, “I don’t care whether tZERO is losing $2 million a month…We think we’ve got cold fusion on the blockchain side.”

In other news

For those interested in patent news related to digital securities, make sure to check out our articles about IPWe. Not only do we give details on IPWe, in ‘patents powered by blockchain’, but we sat down with their CEO for an exclusive interview.

Perhaps, future patent filings by tZERO will be able to benefit from changes made through the implementation of IPWe.

With the blockchain industry rapidly developing, there has been no shortage of patent filings through the last two years.  In addition, the companies putting for application, have done so for a variety of services.

A few noteworthy filings were detailed on icodesk.io here.

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Photo: https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/806431/Jelurida.jpg

Jelurida’s Ardor Blockchain Platform Now Offers Java Smart Contracts with Ignis Lightweight Contracts

Jelurida today unleashed the potential for external enterprise systems to efficiently integrate with the blockchain using a streamlined smart contract life cycle management framework. Ignis Lightweight Contracts on the Ardor platform are coded in Java, the most widely used enterprise software language on the planet. These revolutionary smart contracts utilize an elegant two-step deployment process – minimizing the data stored directly in smart contracts, while ensuring maximal data security.

Ignis Lightweight Contracts process input data from a trigger transaction and the result is recorded on the blockchain as an output transaction. This intuitive design means for the first time ever, simply deploying a new version of the code and updating future trigger transactions is enough to upgrade a smart contract. It is also easier than ever to develop oracles that interface between external data sources and the Ardor blockchain since Ignis Lightweight Contracts automate specific processes without storing state information, like token balances, internally. Well-received lightweight contract templates and decentralized applications (dApps) have the potential to be sold or distributed open source through the existing Ignis marketplace.

Fair play in contracts is ensured by a security framework that makes it easy to deploy verification and approval nodes to replicate contract calculations and outputs of the executing account. Additionally, Jelurida’s innovative “hashed secret” solution ensures funds are never permanently locked in an Ignis Lightweight Contract when a contract fails to trigger. The combination of these solutions provides an unprecedented level of confidence in financial and data security when using the Ardor platform’s public distributed ledger.

Providing Real World Utility

Jelurida further expanded the Ardor platform’s real world functionality with the activation of Asset Properties and the Max Property Group (MPG) child chain.

Ignis has offered the ability to tokenize assets since its inception. Now, Asset Properties make it easier than ever to manage full supply chains on the blockchain by linking asset relationships and asset states. New guidance demonstrates three simple steps for tokenizing an agricultural supply chain.

The Max Property Group (MPG) child chain represents the Ardor platform’s most distinct real world use case since the launch of Ardorgate’s AEUR euro-pegged token. Users that complete the necessary KYC/AML account verification processes with Max Property Group will be some of the first individuals ever to have access to on-chain real estate and investments.

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Decentralized Platform Qtum Introduces Bitcoin Atomic Swaps to Its Mainnet

Blockchain platform Qtum is introducing Bitcoin (BTC) atomic swaps to its mainnet infrastructure, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph Jan. 9.

Atomic swaps are a technology that enables the exchange of one cryptocurrency for another without the need for a trusted third party or centralized exchange infrastructure.

The implementation of Qtum-to-BTC atomic swaps has been achieved with the use of the Hash Time-Locked Contracts (HTLCs) technology and is based on the code of the open-source cryptocurrency Decred. HTLC — according to Qtum’s announcement — are the most secure way of implementing the swaps.

The team has also announced plans to release “0 Value UTXOs,” which will allow users that don’t hold Qtum tokens to interact with smart contracts while a third party pays the fee.

As Cointelegraph reported in February, Qtum is a cryptocurrency platform that supports smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps). As of press time, Qtum’s own cryptocurrency token is up 2.6% on the day, trading at around $2.39, according to CoinMarketCap data.

One of Qtum’s main differences, when compared to Ethereum (ETH) — arguably the most popular cryptocurrency platform that also supports smart contracts and DApps — is that because the former uses the Unspent Transaction Output (UTXO), its blockchain reportedly enables more lightweight smart contract interactions.

As Cointelegraph reported in December, Qtum awarded $400,000 to a Columbia University research team to fund the development of a smart contract programming language. The language, dubbed DeepSEA, is meant to support “reliable, dependable, and ultimately – adoptable” Ethereum-style smart contracts.

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Overstock’s tZERO Receives Patent for ‘Crypto Integration Platform’

E-commerce giant Overstock.com’s cryptocurrency subsidiary tZERO has filed a patent for a “crypto integration platform” for trading digital assets. The patent was published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Jan. 1.

The patent filing describes a system that would be able to receive orders to trade “digital transactional items” — such as securities, tokens, digital shares, cash equivalents and digital assets — from broker-dealers and then translate the orders into crypto orders on a digital exchange. The platform reportedly aggregates various market data from cryptocurrency exchanges and “locate[s] the best price in the crypto market for the digital asset or liability involved in the transaction.”

Before matching orders, the system purportedly secures the digital transaction items to be traded and cryptographically signs the transactions, as the filing describes. The system subsequently verifies the availability of the funds and digital assets, and clears and settles the transaction.

The platform reportedly serves as a bridge between legacy trading systems and crypto exchanges, the filing stating:

“The Crypto Integration Platform provides, among other things, an interface between legacy trading systems and crypto exchanges that trade digital transactional items. In doing so, the Crypto Integration Platform takes a protocol for trading and communication between broker-dealers, Alternative Trading Systems (“ATS”), and exchanges, and transforms the message so that the trade can be consummated using cryptographic techniques.”

The platform reportedly uses blockchain technology to verify ownership and availability of the digital transactional items, the patent filing also notes. The filing further explains that the platform can be used to conduct initial public offerings and other offerings of securities that are registered U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), “and by the general public to trade those securities in secondary market transactions.”

As Cointelegraph reported in December, tZERO was contracted by private equity firm GSR Capital to develop a smart contract token for the sale of cobalt, expected to launch in 2019.

Recently, Overstock announced it will pay part of its business taxes in the state of Ohio using Bitcoin (BTC) via the cryptocurrency taxpayer platform, OhioCrypto.com. The company’s CEO and founder Patrick Byrne said the move is “the best way to ensure the U.S. does not lose our place at the forefront of the ever-advancing global economy.”

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Tesla’s Software-First Approach Foreshadows The Future Of Cars

Originally published on EVANNEX.
By Charles Morris

Everyone knows that Tesla is an innovative company, and almost everyone knows that its cars don’t need gasoline. But as Lou Steinberg points out in a recent article entitled “Some of the Greatest Innovations are not What You Think,” electrification is not Tesla’s only innovation, and when it comes to competing in the global auto market, it may not even be the most important.

In Steinberg’s view, Tesla’s most important innovations stem from the fact that it’s the first company to approach cars the Silicon Valley way: as a software problem. Steinberg perceived the power of “tin wrapped software” as the CTO of Symbol Technologies. “Symbol built hardware, but was able to use software to tune how it worked in different environments. Flexible software meant that the hardware behaved one way in a hospital (long-battery life for a 12-hour shift) and another way in a retail store (higher-power radios to overcome dead zones).”

“I bought the Model S because it was the first time I had ever seen someone treat a car as a software problem,” Steinberg writes. Sure, modern cars are full of software, but their builders are hardware companies, and automotive hardware is a mature market with few opportunities to disrupt, or even to differentiate their products.

Tesla has changed everything — for the first time, a car can improve itself over time via software upgrades. “Aside from navigation maps, all of my cars [he has owned many] had features that were largely fixed on the day they left the factory,” says Steinberg. “Not my Tesla. Every month, it gets software updates that make it better. It learned how to park. Then it learned how to do it better. It opens my garage door when I come home. It improved its self-driving. It improved the stereo. It added anti-theft features. After one year, my car is safer and better to drive than the day I bought it. My Tesla driving experience keeps improving through patches and updates.”

Tesla owner describes why he loves the car’s software updates: “It’s the feeling that your car is always new.” (YouTube: Tesla)

Steinberg vows never again to buy “a car whose capabilities are frozen in time,” and once they’ve experienced the ever-improving Tesla ownership experience, most drivers probably feel the same.

Another important but overlooked innovation that the Sages of Silicon Valley have made is to free up constrained resources. The Tesla Rangers — mobile teams that perform minor service at customer locations — provide an example. Why are the Rangers such an innovation? Because they free up resources at service centers. “The most constrained real estate at a service center is in the service bays,” Steinberg writes. “You can hire more technicians if demand increases, but the service bays are a big capital investment that can’t be flexed up and down. The second most valuable real estate at a showroom is in the parking lot. You can fill it with cars to sell, but only if you don’t have a lot of cars you already sold taking up space while waiting for a service bay to become available. Cars waiting for service, especially warranty service, crowd out cars that are ready to be sold and delivered. Add to this the fact that many owners will ask for a loaner car, and you need a fleet of loaners. It all costs money.”

Thus, the Tesla Rangers represent not just a convenience for customers (though they certainly are that), but also “a way to optimize constrained resources and save capital. It frees up the parking lots to sell and deliver cars.”

And the third and greatest innovation of all? Tesla isn’t selling just cars. There’s a saying in the software business: “People don’t buy software, they buy a roadmap.” In other words, customers, especially large companies, don’t buy software based only on what it can do today, but based on their confidence that it will continue to get better and keep up with future needs. Once you conceive of a car as software, the capabilities you can offer to customers are almost unlimited.

“Tesla isn’t limited to promoting the current features,” writes Steinberg. “Tesla and Musk are either lauded for offering a vision or panned for over-promising, but they offer a glimpse of what your car will be able to do in the future. Not another car you have to purchase again…the very same car you buy today. My car knows how to park, and will someday have full autonomous driving. Why shouldn’t it drop me off in front of the store and then find a parking space on its own?”

Many stock market observers believe that the high valuation of TSLA stock has a lot to do with investors’ belief that the company will someday offer full self-driving capability, an innovation that could have even greater implications for mobility and society than electrification. And it’s not just the stock price. A Mercedes or a BMW is a great automobile, but once you buy it, it’s going to be the same vehicle you bought until the day you sell it. If, instead, you could have a machine that’s going to get better and better, and eventually be able to drive itself, how much more would you be willing to pay?

“By treating cars as software, and constantly pushing updates, Tesla can command a premium price today by selling the roadmap,” concludes Steinberg. “Other manufacturers may innovate incrementally, but as the character ‘bored Elon Musk’ once tweeted, ‘Incremental innovation is really just adjusting for inflation.’”

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Tesla stock on a blockchain offers hint of where crypto’s headed

A digital exchange opening next week will enable investors to trade in companies including Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Tesla Inc. outside of the U.S. even when the stock markets are closed.

DX.Exchange, which has offices in Estonia and Israel, will offer digital tokens based on share of 10 Nasdaq-listed companies with plans to expand to the New York Stock Exchange as well as in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Each digital security is backed by one regular share and holders will be entitled to the same cash dividends, even though the companies themselves aren’t involved.

The exchange’s virtual stock offering will provide a test of investor appetite for products that seek to improve upon mainstream financial markets by using technology from the world of cryptocurrencies. DX will offer digital stocks, or tokens, based on actual shares bought and held by partner MPS MarketPlace Securities Ltd. The tokens will be based on the Ethereum network, with the amount corresponding to demand on the DX exchange.

Digital stocks could hold advantages over traditional shares because they can be traded even when exchanges are closed, and traders can choose to buy fractions of a share. They could also give foreign investors the ability to buy and sell U.S. shares they might otherwise struggle to access.

Even though U.S. regulators oversee trading of DX’s initial roster of stocks, Chief Executive Officer Daniel Skowronski said he doesn’t need permission from the Americans to offer this service because DX doesn’t operate there. The company says it’s licensed by the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit with full authorization to operate in the European Union.

“We saw a huge market opportunity in tokenizing existing securities,” the CEO said by email. “We believe that this is the beginning of the traditional market’s merge with blockchain technology. This is going to open a whole new world of trading securities old and new alike.”

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates trading of U.S. stocks, declined to comment.

Tokenization is an increasingly talked-about development among cryptocurrency enthusiasts that involves the transformation of real-world assets into digital contracts that use blockchain technology. While security tokens have been discussed for a few years, they could be a key area of growth in 2019 as entrepreneurs seek to tokenize everything from fine art and real estate to stocks and bonds.

MPS MarketPlace which is licensed by Cyprus’s financial regulator, will hold the stocks on behalf of the token owners and will keep them in a segregated account, Skowronski said. DX’s offering is compliant with Europe’s Mifid II directive, he said.

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