2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Jon Ungerland Jon Ungerland believes the core philosophy underlying credit unions is the plausible and sustainable model for preserving healthy financial institutions and promoting financially dignified and strong communities in the 21st … Web: www.dalandsolutions.com Details Cryptocurrency market cap is growing, again, with even previously reserved or skeptical analysts projecting increased adoption of the assets/currencies and potential quadrupling of market cap.FinTechs are acquiring Banks as a means of controlling distribution of modernized digital and financial products/services to localized and internet communities of consumers.The World Economic Forum officially formed a cryptocurrency governance council at their Davos 2020 summit.Major governments around the world are actively exploring their own digital currency initiatives as alternatives to challenges confronting fiat currency markets and as digital alternatives to cash.These are just some of the current events which clearly indicate money is morphing, merchants aren’t waiting around for banks, and consumer cryptobanking is happening, and cryptocurrency is no longer the nerd living in the basement of financial services (it’s the promising protégé with an impressive and growing side hustle!).Yet, institutional participation and readiness lags woefully – especially in the community FI sector.Community financial institutions can’t afford to react to consumer sentiment; because for the first time ever (due to the technological innovation known as distributed ledgers) waiting will mean the money is already gone; it will have morphed into new distributed networks and out of dollar deposits at traditional/local financial institutions.Sure, there are recent examples of persisting challenges with cryptocurrency transaction speed and stability. However, before anyone presumes plastic will persist without challenger (not to mention planned price increases for processing payments in the eCommerce space), it’s important to remember the inherent simplicity and openness of this ‘internet of money’ means that a few highly-skilled and seriously motivated players will be able to innovate around and past those challenges without the inefficiencies of prior payments networks and their myriad of stakeholders, territorial players, and incumbent interests.In the end, consumers will move towards value, convenience, rate of return, ease of use, security, and other factors favoring digital payments and currencies; merchants will move towards pricing, features, and value for patrons/consumers. Legacy payments solutions offer little to communities, consumers, or cooperatively minded financial institutions. Cash is dirty; plastic is pricey; consumers and merchants know this. Community financial institutions need to be positioned to support local, valuable, sustainable, and relevant networks with modern technology. We can help. If your credit union hasn’t asked this question yet, put it at the top of the list for your next executive strategy and technology chat: how long will traditional and bank-controlled payments (cash, paper, plastic) be considered viable or safe in a world where Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 is an economic and social reality (as an ideal medium for all sorts of nasty vulnerabilities and systemic diseases)!?My suspicion; recent global and economic events will help ensure 2020 is the year merchants and communities accelerate into the future of payments and away from legacy and cash/paper contaminated banking and settlement services.My suspicions are rooted way back in 2011, when my wife and I took a trip to The Berkshires; and there we encountered Main Street merchants using/accepting “Berkshares,” a local currency which provided additional purchasing power to patrons who used the proprietary currency issued by a local bank.Now, in 2020, I’m concerned (and convinced) other alternative currencies represent real and present dangers to the existence of local financial institutions and the affordable and fair access they provide to community strengthening consumer financial services.To understand why, let’s rewind back to 2012, when my team and I wondered why this localized economy concept of “Berkshares” couldn’t/shouldn’t be digital. This thought led to the design and development of our technology to support direct-to-merchant relationships for digital payments, capturing patron prepaid balances in local financial institutions, supporting digital payments and rewards, etc.In 2016, I bought my first Bitcoin on Election Night … fully mesmerized by the political events of that evening (and a fair ways into my third glass of bourbon).In 2016 the financial services industry was intoxicated by a different “B” word, Blockchain.Execs and IT leaders of most institutions I encountered at the time were excited, energized, and invested in some ‘security’ or ‘ID verification’ experiment using Blockchain. If they weren’t planning to use Blockchain to solve for an entire array of ‘security’ issues, they were attempting to ‘improve’ everything from loan file tracking to toilet paper inventory management using the promising distributed database technology.In the following year, 2017, Bitcoin burst to historic price points and market cap marks as a security and potential alternative/digital currency. At peak market (thus far) in Dec 2017 total (global) crypto market cap was ~$600b.In January 2018 “the bubble burst,” or so the predominant narrative goes.Throughout 2018 the typical conversation I experienced with financial institution execs or IT experts in banking/credit unions went something like this, “Bitcoin, isn’t that the fake money stuff that collapsed at the end of 2017 and is just like the Dutch Tulip Bulb mania from the 17th Century?” I’d estimate that out of 2000 financial institution execs I spoke to/with throughout 2018 and 2019, twenty (20) were intrigued to understand cryptocurrency – specifically Bitcoin. At the same time, in 2019, FinTechs maintained a furious pace of development, furthering distributed ledger technology and targeting payments and banking services with complete awareness of the exposed flank in financial services. In January of 2020 Jack Dorsey’s Square Inc. secured a patent for a merchant based payment network predicated upon cryptocurrency.As of Feb 2020 Bitcoin had rallied back to $10k+ per coin, and altcoins/other cryptocurrencies followed the same parabolic path. The resurgence of market cap strength and the strong return on investment in the cryptocurrency sector should be troubling for financial institutions. The consumer value proposition for a financial institution savings account was between .25% and 2% from 2011 to 2019, 2% being a “high yield” offering at boutique online outlets. During the same timeframe the return on Bitcoin (as just one cryptocurrency) was approximately 9.4k% (no, that’s not a typo) – and that includes the loss of value during the ‘great bubble burst’ of Jan 2018.In other news from Feb of 2020, Coinbase (US leading cryptocurrency exchange) became the first official cryptocurrency firm/exchange to receive Visa’s blessing to offer the holy sacrament of financial services – a debit card.So, here’s the situation for financial institutions and providers of traditional retail financial services:Consumers can currently receive exponentially greater value return from non-dollar holdings in assets/currencies like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ether, Ripple XRP, etc.Payments tech firms are securing intellectual property to overlay on their existing merchant transactions processing networks, which will not only allow consumers and merchants more affordable payment methods, but will (presumably) allow consumers to store value outside banks/credit unions and receive greater returns/rewards for values stored/spent on cryptocurrency and alternative merchant payments networks.Local financial institutions are unware they could do the same, but ought to be rapidly seeking solutions to support similar payments networks.Community financial institutions should also be looking to add value to consumers by providing a secure place to store cryptocurrency with a trusted and local partner.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisAlpena Community College’s Marine Technology Program were out at Rockport State Park to learn how to use some drone technology along with underwater ROV’s.Four Marine Tech Alpena Community College students expanded their minds working endlessly at Rockport State Park learning how to operate ROVs in water along with drones.The students broke up into teams and worked as drone operators and ROV techs trying to find shipwrecks along with other items in Lake Huron.Working as an under water pilot during the project, marine tech student Andrew Fredrick said he enjoys learning the different ways to see things under water.The goal was to capture images to show how each program can possibly be used in other settings, as well as a way of showing how programs at the college tend to work together.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis Tags: ACC, alpena community college, Drones, ROVsContinue ReadingPrevious Senior Expo Coming to Alpena Aplex WednesdayNext Thunder Bay Theatre Hosting Anniversary Event this Weekend Find Out Details!
LOS ANGELES — Andre Ethier has appeared in more postseason games than anyone in Dodgers history. Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday was his 51st.Ethier, 35, might never play another game in a Dodgers uniform. The team will almost certainly decline his $17.5 million contract option for 2018. That doesn’t mean Ethier won’t be back. Even if he is paid a $2.5 million buyout, the Dodgers can always negotiate a new deal to keep him in Los Angeles for a 13th season.If Ethier does not return, his Dodgers career ended with a lasting memory. As a pinch hitter in the sixth inning of a 5-0 game, Ethier singled through the right side of the Astros’ infield to drive in the Dodgers’ only run. It was his first World Series hit at home.Related Articles Photos: Dodgers vs. Astros, World Series Game 7 Astros’ George Springer slugs his way to World Series MVP Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Yu Darvish’s World Series Game 7 start is a disaster for Dodgers Reaction to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Game 7 loss in the World Series against the Houston Astros Considering how the last two years have played out for Ethier, the ending was a fitting reward for his perseverance. Astros pounce early, top Dodgers for World Series title But in spring training the following year, Ethier fouled a ball off his leg, fracturing his tibia. He didn’t return to the field until Sept. 2016. By then he was relegated to pinch-hitting duties. Healthy again to begin the 2017 season, Ethier had a fresh opportunity to earn regular at-bats as the Dodgers’ primary left fielder. But another injury cropped up in spring training – this time a herniated disk in his back – and another season was thwarted. He did not recover until September.Video: What went wrong for the Dodgers?Ethier still found his way onto the Dodgers’ 25-man roster for all three postseason rounds. He started only two games but managed to collect four hits in 13 at-bats, including a home run in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.Now, he could enter the offseason among the key free agents the Dodgers’ front office must address.Reliever Brandon Morrow seems like the most likely to return. The right-hander forged a role as the primary set-up man to Kenley Jansen in a stalwart bullpen. Despite appearing in all seven World Series games, he was still touching 99 mph in Game 7.“I would love an opportunity to come back,” Morrow said after the game.Pitcher Tony Watson said he enjoyed his three months in Los Angeles after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the trade deadline. He was one of two impact left-handers out of the bullpen in the World Series along with Tony Cingrani. He made $5.6 million in 2017.Chase Utley’s veteran presence was often cited by teammates as instrumental among the Dodgers’ core leadership group. At 38, Utley was still useful as part of a lefty/righty platoon at second base with Logan Forsythe, who can also become a free agent if the Dodgers decline his 2018 contract option.Yu Darvish could become the most coveted pitcher in a potentially weak free agent class for starting pitchers. But the right-hander didn’t help his cause by throwing only 1⅔ innings in each of his World Series starts. He was the losing pitcher in the decisive Game 7.Curtis Granderson is even more certain to hit the free agent market. The 36-year-old outfielder looked like a shell of his former self after the Dodgers acquired him in an August trade with the New York Mets. He batted .161 in 36 regular-season games as a Dodger, and was left off the World Series roster.For Ethier, returning to the Dodgers would represent more than a sentimental victory lap at the end of a long career. It would be a just reward for his perseverance, and for a key contribution in the Dodgers’ most important game of the season.“Personally, he was great to me,” rookie first baseman Cody Bellinger said. “He helped me progress this year throughout the ups and downs. I’ve got to give him a lot of credit. That was awesome.” Dodgers fan: ‘L.A. is heartbroken’ Whicker: Astros leave Dodgers offense stranded in space Miller: An appreciation for a Dodgers team that delivered everything but what mattered most ‘Houston Strong’ prevails in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series against the Dodgers’ strongest efforts Ethier did not speak to reporters after Wednesday’s game.“He’s been here for 12 years with the same team,” Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson said. “That’s extremely hard to do. Obviously he’s doing a lot of things right and has a great mentality and outlook on how to handle baseball and adversity and everything.”Ethier looked rejuvenated in 2015, when he batted .294 with 14 home runs and 53 runs batted in. His 137 OPS-plus set a career high at age 33.
The Public Affairs Officer at the United States Embassy in Liberia, Paul Hinshaw, said that if Liberian youths are to be stakeholders and stimulate positive change in Liberia’s development, they must not only be engaged, but also integrated into the economic and civil society fabric of the country.Mr. Hinshaw spoke recently at a program marking the launch of Youth Entrepreneurship Training for 100 emerging youth entrepreneurs in Kakata, Margibi County.He said that it is vital for Liberian youths to be empowered to seize opportunities available to them, and to turn ideas into actions, and actions into income.According to Hinshaw, encouraging entrepreneurship and facilitating an expanding, inclusive economy are two cornerstones of much of the Embassy’s work in Liberia, adding that the Youth Entrepreneurship Training being implemented by Better Future Foundation (BFF), a partner of the of the US Embassy, underpins this goal.Quoting a 2012 Labor Market Assessment conducted by the U.S. Embassy, Mr. Hinshaw said the informal sector of Liberia’s economy is a significant source of employment opportunity for youths. He said youth unemployment is a major threat to peace and security.Also quoting the United Nations Population Fund, Mr. Hinshaw added that young people account for about 65 percent of Liberia’s population of 4.1 million, and youth unemployment is estimated as high as 85 percent.“The young people,” he said, “must feel that their active, positive participation in civil society and in the economy are paying dividends and that a stable, economically expanding Liberia is in their best interest.”He said one way of engaging youths to make them stakeholders is through entrepreneurship, adding, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”Speaking to an audience that included senior government officials and members of the business community, Mr. Hinshaw said “Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates when he was 21 years old, and Steve Jobs was at the same age when he founded Apple, a renowned US computer conglomerate.” “But even closer to Liberia, examples abound. I was looking at a list from Forbes Magazine naming the top 30 entrepreneurs from Africa under 30 years of age. South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya dominate the listings, which include everything from tech companies to fruit processing centers. However, there is not a single Liberian young entrepreneur among this standout crowd. Now, I have only been in Liberia less than four months, but already met some impressive entrepreneurs. One has founded a clothing line and has already shown her collection in Paris; another has founded a snack company and produces banana chips with the hope of expanding her production capabilities this year. Then there is the company which makes fair-trade-certified clothing and handbags for American retailers, provides work and education opportunities for Liberian women, and invests in community development efforts here.“I want to add someone’s name from the group of participants here today to the list of successful youths when we talk about entrepreneurs in Liberia. That’s why I am pleased today to be here to inaugurate this first entrepreneurship workshop for Liberian youths to help them develop product ideas and business plans to help (them) gain more education and secure employment.” In his statement, the President Pro-Temp of the Liberian Senate, Armah Z. Jallah, applauded the training program and called on the youth to make good use of the knowledge gained from the training through service to their communities, the state and the larger society.Senator Jallah indicated that the future of the country lies in the hands of the youth, and as such, they must be educationally prepared to effectively meet future challenges.Also making remarks, Margibi County Senator, Oscar Cooper, who is an accomplished Liberian business entrepreneur, lauded the United States government, through its Embassy in Monrovia, for sponsoring the series of entrepreneurship training programs by BFF.Senator Cooper expressed delight with the significance of entrepreneurship training in the reconstruction of Liberia, saying, “Before I became a politician and Senator, I was an entrepreneur. And I can attest to the joy of being your own boss, an independent thinker, and especially the joy of empowering others, and the immense benefits of entrepreneurship.”For his part, the founder and president of Better Future Foundation (BFF), Augustine Arkoi, said the training, which catered to 100 young, emerging Liberian entrepreneurs, was aimed at sharpening the skills of Liberian youth in leadership and entrepreneurship, including how to start and sustain small business enterprises.According to Arkoi, the training was also geared towards making young Liberians develop economic literacy and freedom, career opportunities and income, promotion of learning opportunities for at-risk-youth and inspire them to seek higher education as well as development of networking skills, which would enable them to identify linkages for business advancement.An American business development specialist, Juan P. Casimiro, who is also founder and chairman of the famous Casimiro Global Foundation, an international youth development organization that provides college scholarships, global exchange internships and social ventures in marginalized communities in developing nations, served as lead facilitator for the training. Throughout his extensive career, and under his leadership, Casimiro has been actively engaged in creating and delivering effective entrepreneurship, financial literacy, sustainability and empowerment programs for youths and adults throughout the USA, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr. Arkoi said.The latest training marked the third in a series of youth entrepreneurship and empowerment training programs implemented in Liberia by BFF, with sponsorship provided by the United States government through its Embassy in Monrovia. Other personalities who participated in the training include Margibi County Superintendent, John Z. Buway; Bomi County Superintendent, Samuel Brown; Ganta City Mayor, Emmanuel Paye; Saclapea City Mayor, Wallace Yeedoun; and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Bomi County Head of Field Office, Mrs. Frances Alesi – all of whom underscored the importance of youth capacity-building and education for the consolidation and sustainability of peace in Liberia.A similar training was also held in Monrovia, Montserrado County, Ganta and Saclapea in Nimba County, and Tubmanburg, Bomi County.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)