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Uber Surges Prices During Sydney Hostage Crisis; Offers Free Rides Amid Backlash

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During the recent Sydney hostage crisis in Australia, one company may have profited off of the panic of potential customers trying to flee to safety. That’s right, while a hostile hostage situation unfolded and hostages tried to escape, Uber’s taxi service raised prices for rides to almost $100 AUD ($82 USD) for rides.

Reports of gunshots frightened the streets of Sydney. Man Haron Monis is an Iranian man known for sending hate mail to the families of fallen soldiers who was apprehended once police stormed the building with automatic weapons and flash grenades to save the unknown number of hostages. At one point prior to police intervention, five hostages escaped, sending the unidentified gunman into a frenzy.

As the Washington Post covered the story, Uber charged $100 a ride to “escape.” While the sentiment seems a bit harsh, it does seem as though someone at Uber Sydney does have to initiate surge-pricing somewhat manually; it doesn’t seem to be a pre-planned, automated event.

Surge-pricing encourages more Uber drivers to get on the road and pick up rides as the drivers know they’ll profit more during those times. Unfortunately, it’s proven to not be a good tool to use in a crisis from a public relations standpoint.

Within an hour of initiating the surge pricing, Uber retracted the decision. Katie Curran, an Uber spokesperson, spoke with the Washington Post and released a statement amidst the backlash:

We are all concerned with the events happening in Sydney. Uber Sydney will be providing free rides out of the CBD to help Sydneysiders get home safely.

Uber also wrote a blog post and tweeted that riders who were subjected to surge pricing could get a refund on a transaction by emailing supportsydney@uber.com.

Uber Experiences Even More Public Relations Nightmares

Uber Sydney Hostage HackedIn 2012, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman criticized Uber for practicing their surge pricing techniques during the Hurricane Sandy crisis. Uber announced this past summer that it would make sure to cap prices during emergency situations, but it seems to not be practicing that in full effect just yet.

Prior to that, Uber’s SVP of business, Emil Michael, was quoted saying that he believed Uber should investigate and smear journalists due to the negative image the company received. He was targeting a single editor, trying to expose any dirty laundry she had hidden away in her personal life for criticizing the company.

The sentiment was met with overwhelming backlash, so Uber decided to apologize. Unfortunately, the apology was not through Michael himself, but a public relations employee. The statement was released through an Uber spokeswoman, saying the following:

The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner — borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for — do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach. They were wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.

Now the company is facing yet another public relations disaster and hoping that free rides and refunds can fix the damage to the Sydney community.

Images from Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Clay Gillespie a writer and reporter for many different platforms across the tech industry. He holds a B.S. in Public Relations from Ball State University, and freelances for different clients in technology and cryptocurrency. For more information, visit his personal website, claygillespie.com.




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  1. Alex Gorale

    December 17, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Price Gouging saves lives.

    After or during a disaster high prices is one of the only reasons a business has to continue to operate. If prices are forced to artificially low prices you create a run on the market. E.g. a $.50 bottle of water during a crisis is probably worth $5.00.

    If I get to the market first I am going to buy all the water. I would rather have more than not enough. This prevents other people from having access to the commodity. In Uber’s case, the supply of driver’s is fixed. The demand rises during a disaster. Also, the supply is lowered because people are tending to their emergency.

    The people who remain in service during an emergency deserve to set the price for their good or service just like anyone else.

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Crypto Market Development: Goldman Sachs-Backed Circle Acquires Crowdfunding Platform

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  • Goldman Sachs-backed Circle has announced it has acquired SeedInvest. The fee has not been disclosed.
  • SeedInvest are a crowdfunding platform. Circle are planning to expand SeedInvest’s offerings to support cryptocurrencies.

The Goldman Sachs funded crypto start up Circle, are really stepping up their dominance within the market. Over the past two days, there has been a couple positive developments from their camp. Firstly, the firm has acquired crowdfunding platform SeedInvest. Elsewhere, they have added a new feature for their app, known as Collections.

Circle Acquires SeedInvest  

Circle Internet Financial is acquiring SeedInvest. Should all be approved by regulators, the company are targeting the strategy of delivering a token marketplace. This will enable businesses as well as individuals to raise capital and interact with investors using open crypto rails and infrastructure. Circle will want to make it easier for startups to issue digital coins. The scope also to facilitate customers to trade a larger variety of digital tokens. A full statement can be observed by their latest blog.

Collections

Another development from Circle, coming in the form of adding a new feature, is “Collections”. This will allow its users to invest in a particular theme. The following themes offered are “Platforms, Payments, and Privacy.” Users will be able to invest in an entire theme, with a single click. Providing a simplified way for investors portfolio be focused on multiple coins. Full coverage was posted within a blog from the company.

Market Review

These developments continue to cement the huge improvements being observed across the market. The sky appears to be the limit, as the digital currency sector does not stop having its infrastructure solidified. Updates such as the announcements from Circle, demonstrate capabilities are not limited. See previous acknowledgement points of the sector taking big legitimizing steps, in a prior Litecoin article, under the section Big Infrastructure Improvement In The Crypto Market’.

The one thing that will likely continue to slowdown the market is regulation. This will have to be the case for the foreseeable future. As revolutionizing as the industry is, regulators must remain cautious for the sake of all parties involved. Their concerns remain about the safety of investors that want to participate in the marketplace as well as ensuring that anti-money laundering protocols are maintained. In the long run, it is in the best interest of all those involved. Besides all of this, there is still remains some way to go for complete a complete solid system, in comparison to the traditional financial system.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 33 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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EOS Developer Secures New Funding from Bitmain, PayPal Co-Founder in Major Investment Deals

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Despite its recent struggles, the development firm behind EOS has received new backing from several big-name investors, including Bitman and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. The deals solidify EOS’ emergence as a major player in the booming market for decentralized applications.

EOS Backing

Bitmain, the world’s largest blockchain company, announced its investment stake in EOS on Monday after CEO Jihan Wu praised the protocol’s performance and scalability potential.

“The EOSIO protocol is a great example of blockchain innovation. Its performance and scalability can meet the needs of demanding consumer applications and will pave the way for mainstream blockchain adoption,” Wu said.

While the specifics of the deal were not disclosed, Bitmain’s involvement is said to align with Block.one’s vision of creating a more “connected world,” according to CEO Brendan Blumer.

Bitmain has quickly evolved into an international conglomerate with a number of key investments in recent months. The company, which was originally a bitcoin mining manufacturer, announced in May it had led a $110 million Series E round for Circle, a cryptocurrency exchange and wallet platform that is also backed by Goldman Sachs.

Earlier this month, Bitmain announced plans to purchase a roughly 43% stake in Opera Ltd., a Norwegian internet browser that has filed for an initial public offering with Nasdaq.

As Hacked reported earlier this month, Bitmain has emerged as the world’s largest blockchain company with a total value of about $12 billion.

EOS in the Spotlight

In addition to Bitmain, the development arm behind EOS has announced that Peter Thiel and hedge fund billionaires Louis Bacon and Alan Howard have also invested in the company. While their monetary contributions have not been publicized, their backing is considered a silver lining for EOS, which has struggled in the wake of a botched mainnet launch that has revealed more weakness than strength.

False starts, account suspensions and, more recently, RAM hoarding have all tainted EOS’ mainnet campaign. The project’s arbitration mechanism has also come under attack, which has compelled founder Dan Larimer to propose a new constitution entirely.

“I am merely saying that the current constitution is not wise,” Larimer said last month. “I have learned a lot about human nature by watching the disputes, the witch hunts, the ‘bring everything before ECAF’ mindset.”

Since peaking in late April, EOS has lost more than two-thirds of its value. The cryptocurrency is back below $8.00 a unit on Tuesday after reaching a high of $8.11 earlier in the week.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 648 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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FIC Network – Bringing Fixed-Income Assets to the Blockchain

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As blockchain and cryptocurrency continue to gain adoption, use cases are moving away from things that are solely related to the cryptocurrency world as people explore the potential for blockchain and digital currency to change existing structures.

In fact, business spending on research and development of blockchain-based spending is set to explode from $2.1 billion in 2018 to $9.7 billion in 2021.

One of the ways in which people are looking to implement blockchain is in traditional finance, where things like blockchain and tokenization will vastly speed up processes as well as make them more accessible to everyday investors.

Bonds on the Blockchain

FIC Network is an example of such a project and is aiming to bring bonds to the blockchain by allowing users to both issue and invest in fixed income assets, such as bonds, using cryptocurrency.

According to FIC Network’s website, the worldwide global credit and fixed income market is valued at $230 trillion, which is more than 3x the already formidable global equity market of $70 trillion.

Cryptocurrency, which is accessible by just about anyone who’s on the Internet, has a much smaller market size ($255 billion as of writing according to Coinmarketcap). Moreover, there is no infrastructure in place to create crypto-based credit and fixed income assets like bonds in traditional finance.

FIC wants to become the blockchain-based infrastructure to allow for the creation of a global, mixed crypto and fiat currency credit and fixed income market. By doing so, the FIC team believes that they will greatly accelerate worldwide economic growth by allowing anyone, anywhere to borrow and lend both crypto and fiat-based assets, including but not limited to bonds, loans, collateralized loan obligations, credit default swaps, and futures, as well as securitize both crypto and fiat-based debt.

Moreover, crypto itself should grow by adding a “mainstream” element (fixed income financial products) to crypto, which will expand crypto’s uses.

Such a project can only be seen as positive news when it comes to wider adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Not Just Blockchain, Taking on Conventional Fixed Income

To repeat, FIC Network wants to create a blockchain infrastructure for both crypto and fiat credit and fixed income.

FIC believes that its solution will be better than those offered by traditional finance because through blockchain, common problems, such as differing information, friction, illiquidity, lack of interoperability, and other operational problems, will be greatly mitigated.

Furthermore, users will be able to access this crypto and fiat-based network with the currency or currencies of their choice thanks to FIC Network’s built in exchange. Not only is this more convenient, but it also eliminates things like exchange rate risks experienced on conventional platforms.

Here is a brief overview of how FIC Network works.

fic network overview

FIC Token

Of course, like a lot of projects out there, FIC will have its own cryptocurrency that will power its ecosystem. In this case, FIC is a utility coin that will be used to perform various activities on FIC Network like listing, trading, and holding financial assets.

Page 31 of the FIC whitepaper has a table of actions that require FIC deposits and fees to be paid.

Moreover, while a lot of projects issue Etheruem-based ERC20 tokens, FIC will immediately release its own native blockchain cryptocurrency to investors who partake in its ICO.

FIC Network’s Team and Advisors

FIC Network Founder and CEO Arturs Ivanovs was a marketing executive and senior project manager at Porter Novelli Latvia, a leading public relations agency in the Baltic region. At Porter Novelli, Ivanovs represented clients like the European Investment Fund, Z-Towers, the Baltics’ biggest real estate project, and Mercedes-Benz.

He later quit his job in 2015 after discovering blockchain technology the year prior and moved to the United States, where he founded FIC’s parent company, Factury. Factury was named a Top 10 Company Worldwide by Startupbootcamp NYC and selected to be part of Boost VC, a prominent Silicon Valley-based blockchain startup accelerator.

Co-Founder and COO Alvar Soosaar brings a lot of experience in the financial sector to FIC and according to the FIC whitepaper, he previously managed a $7.8b fixed income securities portfolio for nearly 10 years. Soosaar is a University of Virginia (undergraduate) and University of Oxford (MBA) graduate.

Co-Founder and Senior FIC Network Architecture Advisor Aigars Staks spent part of his career at well-known companies like Microsoft and PwC and has built his career around large-scale IT project planning and management.

FIC Network advisors include Matiss Ansviesulis, Co-Founder and CEO of Creamfinance, which he helped grow to a 35m euro revenue business with 300 employees in 8 locations. Inc. Magazine named Creamfinance the fastest growing fintech company in 2016.

FIC Network Risks

What FIC is doing is definitely something that could bring massive improvements to the fixed-income market. However, the team’s plans for achieving its goals are unspecified. For example, there are no major partnerships with financial services providers that would facilitate onboarding of clients and growth of FIC Network.

In addition, the team is not as strong (deep experience of success in fixed-income and/or blockchain) as it could be.

Related to the above is the fact that there are lots of different parties working on bringing blockchain-based solutions to things like bonds.

For example, Swiss asset manager Lomard Odier Investment Managers completed its first blockchain-based bond transaction back in January, and it’s believed that that particular example was the first catastrophe bond transaction to be settled via blockchain.

Other examples include BondChain, which issues bonds on The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger blockchain, a project being worked on by huge companies like IBM.

The city of Berkeley, California is looking to use blockchain for issuance of municipal bonds as well.

FIC Network Potential

While FIC Network does face obstacles like lack of partnerships, lack of strong team, and competition from various parties, it does have some potential to become a big project.

For one, the mere idea of bringing the benefits of blockchain technology to traditional asset classes like fixed income assets is definitely a huge growth opportunity.

Moreover, they have a working demo, which is always a huge plus in the blockchain and crypto world, where many projects have nothing but vague whitepapers (if that).

Therefore, FIC Network is definitely something to keep an eye on as the application of blockchain to uses, such as fixed-income marketplaces, continues to come to fruition.

For more information, check out the FIC Network website.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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