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No more kebabs for bitcoins as Turkey’s crypto-payment ban looms

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By Ezgi Erkoyun

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Kebab chef Kadir Oner hoped to boost his new business by accepting payment in cryptocurrencies, but a ban by Turkish authorities will force him next month to fall back on payment methods as traditional as his spit-roasted meat.

Interest in cryptocurrencies has boomed in Turkey, where double digit inflation and a tumbling lira make them an attractive alternative investment, and Oner says that customers used them to settle between 5% and 10% of their bills.

“The world is adapting to the digital era and we have to get on board with it,” Oner said adding that crytopayments were easier than bank transactions and would have accounted for a growing slice of his doner kebab sales if allowed to continue.

But Turkey’s Central Bank sees dangers in the new practice, and on April 16 banned the use of cryptocurrencies and crypto assets for purchases from April 30, citing “irreparable” damage and transaction risks.

Authorities last week also launched investigations into possible fraud at two cryptocurrency exchanges, and the Central Bank Governor Sahap Kavcioglu said the Finance Ministry is working on wider regulations regarding cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrencies remain little-used for global commerce even as they become increasingly mainstream assets, although companies including Tesla Inc and travel site Expedia Group Inc do accept such payments.

In Turkey, businesses like hairdressers and small grocery shops started accepting payments out of convenience as they also held crypto coins, Altug Isler, the founder of the Kripto Teknik news website said.

If the sector were well regulated, there would be potential for more cryptocurrency transactions, he said, but the central bank had taken the “easiest option” by closing it all down.

“The ban has became a serious issue for the fintech firms working in this area and they have started taking the crypto payment ban to court,” Isler said. “I think the government will make an effort to bring regulations into the cryptocurrency market and loosen this ban.”

Trading volumes in Turkish crypto exchanges doubled on the weekend following the central bank ban on crypto asset payments compared to the previous weekend, according to data from U.S. researcher Chainalysis and trading data firm Kaiko shared with Reuters.

Cryptocurrency trading volumes often spike during periods of volatility, with short-term traders seeking to profit from swings in price. Many market players say this is a key attraction of the emerging asset.

PLANS SHELVED

In the covered halls of Istanbul’s 15th century Grand Bazaar, cryptocurrency exchange shop Cointral can no longer sell gold for cryptocurrencies, its founder Ugur Hakan Cakan said.

He also had to put on hold a new initiative for e-commerce websites offering crypto asset payments.

“We have been selling gold, real estate and we were preparing to launch a new service… but the project is shelved now with the new regulation,” Cakan said.

“I hope that this ban is a transition until the necessary regulations are put into implementation,” he said, adding that gold for cryptocurrency sales had been popular.

Chef Oner says he will survive the ban on cryptopayments, which had been used to purchase more than 1,500 of his kebabs since he opened in March, but he also hoped the move would be temporary.

“I am sure when the necessary legal regulations are made we will win back the customers we’ve lost due to this ban.”

(Additional reporting by Emin Caliskan and Bulent Usta in Istanbul, and Tom Wilson in London; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Dominic Evans and Alexandra Hudson)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/no-kebabs-bitcoins-turkeys-crypto-payment-ban-looms/14264

Big Data

How Tech is Driving Sustainability in the Seafood Industry

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As our appetite for seafood increases, marine ecological degradation follows. In recent decades, the demand for marine food sources rose. Fisheries attempt to meet societal needs by overfishing, harming the natural ecology.

Eco-friendly engineers came to the rescue, developing various sustainable fishing devices. They decrease the environmental interference of seafood extraction and help fisheries thrive. As more individuals adopt these practices, we will restore the aquatic ecosystem.

Aquaculture

Aquaculture is a fishing methodsociety used since 500 BC, which recently came back into the light. Fish farming sustains society’s nutrition demands while reducing the harms of overfishing. Major consumption species include salmon, tilapia and catfish, which humans can generate through aquaculture.

Many fish farmers usehydroponics to improve the sustainability of their production. In condensed fish populations, waste can contaminate the water and affect native species. Fishers grow aquatic vegetation in the region to filter toxic elements and preserve the environment’s natural composition.

Hydroponics combined with green technology can provide sustainable seafood to the global society. Light-emitting nets, smart devices, origin detection technology and geolocating gadgets may help fishers meet eco-consumers’ demands.

Light Emitting Nets

A company in the U.K. developed light-emitting devices, helping reduce bycatch. Today, one out of ten fish caught are unsuitable for the market. Fishers are unable to sell endangered and small fish, leading to 16 million tons of annual waste.

They also waste 20% of space on ships, increasing environmental, ecological and economic costs. As fishers continue to practice wasteful collection methods, the marine ecosystem suffers. Environmental scientists developed a solution to the sustainable seafood problem.

They developed the Pisces light kit, which attaches to fishing gear. The devices fasten onto fishing nets to attract a target catch and repel bycatch, eliminating waste. Pisces uses LED lights, increasing the system’s energy efficiency.

LEDlights use 75% less electricity than conventional light bulbs. They also last 25 times longer, generating less waste over time.

Smart Seafood

Purchasing seafood thatfinancially supports sustainable fishing is smart. Sourcing seafood with artificial intelligence (AI) is downright futuristic.

The SMARTFISH H2020 technology enhances sustainable fishing, providing fishers with the resources necessary to protect the marine ecosystem. Environmental engineers at the companyutilize machine vision technology, data procession, visibility devices, machine learning methods, AI, hydroacoustic systems and more, making eco-conscious fishing possible.

Their devices locate sea beds, ensuring fishing equipment only penetrates regions with sufficiently abundant target species. They also have a size and species recognition system. The instrument assesses the length, weight and type of fish below the boat, maximizing catch efficiency and decreasing waste.

Origin Detection Technology

IBM recently teamed up with the Norwegian Seafood Association, Sjømatbedriftene, generating blockchain technology for fishers. The device allows industry members totrack supply chain data, ensuring the safety and sustainability of seafood. Origin detection technology increases transparency in the industry, creating a single version of the truth.

Fishers install blockchain technology on their vessels, recording the time, location, temperature and more, regarding their catch. Industry members can then access this information to ensure accurate labeling on store-sold seafood. Customers may also gain access to this information in the future.

Eco-consumers demand more documentation for the goods and services they consume. In coming years, customers can access the blockchain information in the store. They will see when fishers caught the seafood, where it is from, its consumed feed and processing facility’s sustainability.

Geolocating Devices

Similar to IBM’s technology, innovators at pelagic developed geo-tracking boat devices. Nearlyhalf of the seafood supply derives from small-scale fishing boats. It is challenging to regulate small vessels on conventional identification systems, allowing them to go unregulated.

Pelagic developed geolocating boat devices to track smaller fishers’ practices. Large seafood distributors now require all small vessels to install the data collection system, showing the company where and when they catch seafood. It optimizes the sustainability of the overall business, restricting non-sustainably sourced purchases.

Demand
Sustainable Seafood

Eco-consumers make up the most extensive customer base in America. For fisheries to remain competitive in the industry, they must adopt green fishing technology and sustainable practices. When consumers demand sustainable seafood and fishers eliminate ecologically degrading procedures, we can restore the marine ecosystem. 

Image Credit: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://datafloq.com/read/how-tech-driving-sustainability-seafood-industry/14643

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Factbox: How big is Bitcoin’s carbon footprint?

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(Reuters) – Tesla boss Elon Musk’s sudden u-turn over accepting bitcoin to buy his electric vehicles has thrust the cryptocurrency’s energy usage into the headlights.

Some Tesla investors, along with environmentalists, have been increasingly critical about the way bitcoin is “mined” using vast amounts of electricity generated with fossil fuels.

Musk said on Wednesday he backed that concern, especially the use of “coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel”.

So how dirty is the virtual currency?

POWER HUNGRY

Unlike mainstream traditional currencies, bitcoin is virtual and not made from paper or plastic, or even metal. Bitcoin is virtual but power-hungry as it is created using high-powered computers around the globe.

At current rates, such bitcoin “mining” devours about the same amount of energy annually as the Netherlands did in 2019, data from the University of Cambridge and the International Energy Agency shows.

Some bitcoin proponents note that the existing financial system with its millions of employees and computers in air-conditioned offices uses large amounts of energy too.

COAL CONNECTION

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency, which was once a fringe asset class, has become increasingly mainstream as it is accepted by more major U.S. companies and financial firms.

Greater demand, and higher prices, lead to more miners competing to solve puzzles in the fastest time to win coin, using increasingly powerful computers that need more energy.

Bitcoin is created when high-powered computers compete against other machines to solve complex mathematical puzzles, an energy-intensive process that often relies on fossil fuels, particularly coal, the dirtiest of them all.

GREEN BITCOIN?

Bitcoin production is estimated to generate between 22 and 22.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, or between the levels produced by Jordan and Sri Lanka, a 2019 study in scientific journal Joule found.

There are growing attempts in the cryptocurrency industry to mitigate the environmental harm of mining and the entrance of big corporations into the crypto market could boost incentives to produce “green bitcoin” using renewable energy.

Some sustainability experts say that companies could buy carbon credits to compensate for the impact.

And blockchain analysis firms say that it is possible in theory to track the source of bitcoin, raising the possibility that a premium could be charged for green bitcoin. Climate change policies by governments around the world might also help.

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Projects from Canada to Siberia are striving for ways to wean bitcoin mining away from fossil fuels, such as using hydropower, or at least to reduce its carbon footprint, and make the currency more palatable to mainstream investors.

Some are attempting to repurpose the heat generated by the mining to serve agriculture, heating and other needs, while others are using power generated by flare gas – a by-product from oil extraction usually burned off – for crypto mining.

CHINA CRISIS

The dominance of Chinese miners and lack of motivation to swap cheap fossil fuels for more expensive renewables means there are few quick fixes to bitcoin’s emissions problem, some industry players and academics warn.

Chinese miners account for about 70% of production, data from the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Alternative Finance shows. They tend to use renewable energy – mostly hydropower – during the rainy summer months, but fossil fuels – primarily coal – for the rest of the year.

(Writing by Alexander Smith: editing by Carmel Crimmins)

Image Credit: Reuters

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://datafloq.com/read/factbox-how-big-bitcoins-carbon-footprint/14639

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Colonial Pipeline has cyber insurance policy – sources

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LONDON (Reuters) – Colonial Pipeline has cyber insurance arranged by broker Aon, with Lloyd’s of London insurers AXA XL and Beazley among the underwriters, three sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Colonial Pipeline has begun to restart the nation’s largest fuel pipeline network after a ransomware attack shut the line, triggering fuel shortages and panic buying in the southeastern United States.

The cyberattack halted 2.5 million barrels per day of shipments of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel last Friday after the most disruptive cyberattack ever on U.S. energy infrastructure.

Insurance Insider reported the news late on Wednesday, saying the cover was for at least $15 million.

Cyber insurance typically covers ransom payments and insurers often provide staff to negotiate with the hackers, in addition to IT and public relations services.

Colonial Pipeline does not plan to pay the ransom, sources familiar with the company’s response told Reuters on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; editing by David Evans)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/colonial-pipeline-cyber-insurance-policy-sources/14638

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Foreign IT firms must open offices in Russia under new draft law – lawmaker

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – Foreign technology companies will be forced to open offices in Russia or face penalties such as advertising bans under draft legislation, a senior lawmaker said on Thursday, in a fresh move by Moscow to exert greater control over Big Tech.

Russia is keen to strengthen control of the internet and reduce its dependence on foreign companies and countries. It has imposed a punitive slowdown on social network Twitter over its failure to delete content Moscow says is illegal.

Apple, Facebook, TikTok and Alphabet’s Google are among other companies to have come under fire from Russian authorities.

The head of the information policy and IT committee at the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said the draft legislation would be submitted as soon as possible to combat what he described as IT giants abusing their monopoly positions and distributing content banned in Russia.

“Our draft law would oblige owners of large information resources with a daily audience in Russia of at least 500,000 people to open official offices, which would fully represent their interests and answer for their activities,” Alexander Khinshtein wrote on his Telegram channel.

Failure to do so could lead to companies being banned from advertising their services or hosting advertisements on their platforms. They could also be prohibited from collecting payments or personal data.

Officials say a package of more than 60 support measures is being discussed in government.

“It is important that all these measures in no way infringe the interests of Russian users, do not violate their ability to work with the resource, but create economic incentives for IT giants to observe our legislation,” said Khinshtein.

A law came into force in April obliging smart devices to offer Russian software upon activation.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Image Credit: Reuters

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://datafloq.com/read/foreign-it-firms-must-open-offices-russia-new-draft-law-lawmaker/14637

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