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Microsoft Asks 400 Million People To Buy A New PC…And Other Small Business Tech News

Computer Stores Prepare For Release Of Microsoft Windows 7

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Microsoft is recommending that 400 million users buy new PCs by next month.

After recently announcing that they will be ending support for the Windows 7 Operating System, Microsoft released a statement this week suggesting that its nearly 400 million users still on Windows 7 switch entirely to Surface rather than upgrade their devices. The company detailed that—for most users who are using Windows 7—navigating over to a brand new PC that has Windows 10 Pro will be the most efficient move since—according to Microsoft—those devices are more secure, powerful, lightweight, and operate faster than the previous models. (Source: MS Power User)

Why this is important for your business:

OK, no one’s saying that you HAVE to buy a Surface. There are plenty of other great devices you can get for your business that also run Windows 10. But please…if your company still has computers running Windows 7 you have to do something. Upgrade. Switch to new devices. Turn them off. Computers running older operating systems like Windows 7 are very vulnerable to malware attacks which means that the cost of not upgrading could very well exceed the cost of replacing those older computers.

2 — Google is planning to kill support for third-party cookies that track you all over the internet. 

Google announced this past week that—within the next two years—it is planning to cease support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser. Ad networks and advertisers are typically the ones who add third-party cookies in an effort to track users through various sites in order to help target advertisements and monitor performance. Before Google begins to dial back support for third-party cookies within Chrome, they first plan to navigate meeting the needs of advertisers, publishers, and users who will be impacted by the change. (Source: CNBC)

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Why this is important for your business:

This is a potentially big deal. Cookies from third parties are at the core of many brands’ efforts to track visitors and drive ads to their attention. If your business does online ad campaigns or use re-targeting services to drive traffic to your website, then Google’s potential change could impact your marketing plans. Stay tuned.

3 — Apple’s new privacy features have further rattled the location based ad market. 

The deliberate steps that Apple took this past September to help users stay more informed regarding their data and what they share seems to be working. With their new privacy protection approach, background location data that was available for advertisers to target in the past, is now data that those advertisers need to do without. With the new privacy feature, users are able to decide whether or not they want the apps they are using to share their data with companies who—in the past—would have had access to it. Currently, typically less than 50% of users opt-in to allow their data to be shared with apps when they are not being used. (Source: DigiDay)

Why this is important for your business:

Man, between Apple and Google this is a bad week for advertisers. Does your business use location based advertising to attract customers? If so, then Apple’s new privacy features may have an impact on your marketing spend. The best thing to do is to play close attention to what apps are generating business and make sure that these trends continue over the upcoming months. If you see a drop off, it could be because of Apple’s new privacy protections and may make you change some of your marketing investments.

4 — After years of decline, the PC market saw rare growth in 2019.

Research released this past week indicated that the PC market had seen growth for the first time in 8 years. According to Gartner and IDC—the firms conducting the research—annual PC shipments over the last year went up. Although the numbers released by both firms differed—with IDC estimating the increase at 2.7% year over year and Gartner finding the figure to be only 0.6%— any growth is a move in the right direction for the industry, with smartphones having taken precedence over desktop and laptop purchases. (Source: PCMag)

Why this is important for your business:

Maybe this is understated. If Microsoft had their way, the company (per above) would say another 400 million PCs to buyers too! Two thoughts on this: because PC sales have dropped so dramatically over the past decade, growth was inevitable because things can only drop so far. Secondly, it’s good news. As things have shaken out in the hardware market, it’s clear from what I see at most clients that businesses do need PCs and laptops and that tablets and phones can’t do it all. So go ahead: get that new PC.

5— TurboTax, H&R block, TaxSlayer, and more were described as the best tax software for 2020. 

Editors at CNET—a tech news website—revealed their picks this past week for the best tax software companies for 2020. TurboTax was highlighted as being the best tax software for live personal support, offering several options regardless of how complicated one’s tax scenario is. (Source: CNET)

Why this is important for your business:

Looking for tax software? CNET’s piece above is a great resource for you. According to the editors there, for the best multiplatform option, H&R Block was highlighted for their features helping with taxes such as unlimited technical support, as well as chat and phone support for customers who are on a higher tier. TaxSlayer was deemed as having the best overall pricing for the services it provides, while Credit Karma Tax, Tax Act, and FreeTax USA were also highlighted for their features and offerings.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I was a former senior manager at KPMG and since 1994 the owner of the Marks Group PC, a 10-person customer relationship management consulting firm based outside Philadelphia. I’ve written six small-business management books, most recently “The Manufacturer’s Book of Lists” and “In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash: Simple Lessons From Smart Business People.” Besides Forbes, I formerly wrote for The Washington Post and the New York Times and now write regularly for The Guardian, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Inc., Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine and Fox Business. I make no compensation from the number of people who read what I write.

Source: Microsoft Asks 400 Million People To Buy A New PC…And Other Small Business Tech News

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Amazon Alexa application is authoritatively accessible in the Windows 10 Store. Amazon Alexa can enable you to complete numerous things on Windows 10 with s

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5 Ways to Protect Your Skin

a glass of water

Your skin plays a vital role in protecting your body, so it’s important to take steps to promote skin health. Caring for your skin doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming, and can quickly become second nature, like brushing your teeth.

You can keep your skin looking and feeling great by guarding against a slew of skin woes, from chapped skin to premature aging to skin cancer. “We’re talking about things that happen over decades,” says dermatologist Samantha Conrad, MD, in practice at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

That’s why it is important to develop healthy skin habits —and it’s never too late to start. Here are five skin protection tips you can incorporate into your routine right away.

Limit Sun Exposure

You’ve heard the message a zillion times, but there’s good reason — ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun cause many types of skin damage, including:

  • Skin cancer
  • Wrinkles
  • Freckles
  • Age spots
  • Discolorations
  • Benign growths

Using skin care products that offer ultraviolet protection is one of the best ways to help keep your skin looking fresh and youthful. Try these tips to help protect your skin from the sun:

  • Use sunscreen every day and reapply regularly whenever you’re outdoors for extended periods. “I encourage people to use sunblock that is more mineral- or physical-based,” says Dr. Conrad. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Cover up. “It’s really about protection — that means wearing hats and protective sun clothing,” says Conrad. Long sleeves and pants or long skirts give you more coverage.
  • Stay indoors when the sun is at its most intense, usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., according to the AAD.
  • Combine sun protection strategies. A study published in January 2017 in JAMA Dermatology found that beachgoers using an umbrella alone for sun protection were more likely to get sunburn than those using sunscreen alone — but neither strategy completely prevented sunburn. The researchers concluded that combining multiple strategies offers the most protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

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Keep in mind that tanning beds are just as harmful as direct sunlight, as they also emit ultraviolet rays, according to the AAD.

Stay Hydrated

“Drinking enough water/fluids is important for your general health,” says Karyn Grossman, MD, a dermatologist in private practice with Grossman Dermatology in Santa Monica, California, and spokesperson for the AAD. She recommends starting the day with a cup of green tea for hydration, caffeine, and antioxidants.

In addition to drinking enough fluids, keeping your skin moist is essential to skin protection.

“Dry skin can have small gaps in the skin barrier that allow entry of bacteria and fungus,” says dermatologist Michael Lin, MD, medical director of the Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Institute in Beverly Hills, California.

Skin that is properly hydrated retains pliability and is less likely to become chapped, scaly, or flaky. Try these tips to keep your skin hydrated:

  • Use the right moisturizing cream or lotion for your skin. “Look for moisturizers with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, or coconut oil,” says Dr. Grossman. “Always apply on damp skin. This keeps the moisture in the skin.”
  • Take warm (not hot) showers or baths and limit them to between five and 10 minutes. It seems counterintuitive, but exposure to water actually dries out your skin, Grossman explains. If dry skin persists, consider cutting back on the number of baths you take.
  • Invest in a humidifier. “If your skin tends to be on the dry side, using a humidifier in your bedroom at night and in your work space during the day can help keep the air hydrated, which can prevent the air from zapping moisture from your skin,” says Grossman.

Take Health Precautions

Cold sores are caused by a viral infection of the skin bordering the lips, while bacteria can contribute to acne and other skin conditions. Paying close attention to what touches your skin can help lower your chances of exposure to germs. Start with these tips:

  • Don’t share any personal items, such as lip balms or toothbrushes, with others.
  • Don’t share drinks with other people.
  • Avoid touching your face with your fingers, and avoid facial contact with objects that have been used by other people, such as telephone receivers.
  • Don’t pick at cysts or splinters. Instead, ask your doctor to help you with these skin conditions, says Grossman.

Being prompt with first aid is also important, she says. If you get a bug bite or a scratch, “get on it right away.” Grossman recommends cleaning the site, applying antibiotic ointment if there is a break in the skin, using a clean bandage, and cleaning the site twice daily as it heals.

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTCO4KFSOv4tG5aoGToDXZsaLP5qzyHeRUJDJrfjSh0c9mULbJr&sUse Gentle Skin Care Products

Washing your face is important to remove dirt, oils, germs, and dead cells from your skin. However, scrubbing your face can cause irritation and lead to chapped skin that can become vulnerable. “I find that people often over-rub, over-scrub, and over-peel,” says Grossman, who recommends avoiding abrasive exfoliation skin care products.

The AAD recommends:

  • Washing your face twice daily with warm water and a mild cleanser.
  • Gently massaging your face with your fingers, using a circular motion.
  • Rinsing thoroughly after washing to remove all soap and debris.
  • Patting — not rubbing — your skin dry, then applying moisturizer.

Know Your Skin

“Check your skin regularly for changing moles and other signs of possible skin cancer,” says Grossman.  Talk to your dermatologist about what kinds of changes should concern you.

Certain skin conditions merit a visit to the dermatologist, including frequent acne, inflamed or irritated dry skin, and skin rashes and irritations that don’t go away, as these could be signs of one of the many types of dermatitis, or skin inflammation.

However, should you ever notice any other skin problems, it’s important to get medical attention to resolve them quickly and avoid putting your skin at risk.

Dennis Thompson Jr

Source: 5 Ways to Protect Your Skin

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Skin Care Products from Amazon.com

Your skin fights the elements daily, whether it be the sun, the wind, or the rain. When you want the perfect combo of protection and pampering, Amazon.com offers skin care products sure to give your skin a little love. Our selection can help you exfoliate, free your face of free radicals, and reduce stress on the skin.

Our Skin Care Products Store features a curated special events section, so you can select from bridal beauty, wedding prep, honeymoon essentials, and summer beauty trends. Even better, our editors’ picks, best of Allure, SHAPE SUN and CEW beauty awards sections can help you customize your look all-year round. With skin care products for everything from men’s grooming needs, new and noteworthy selections, prestige styles, natural styles, 50+ active and healthy living, and more, you can pluck luxurious skin care products from our selection and keep yourself protected from UV rays and more. We even offer our Subscribe & Save program, so we’ll help you save money while stocking up on all the skin care products and supplies that you always need on-hand.

Why Marketers Should Integrate Video Marketing Into Their Content Strategy

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There’s no denying that we’re witnessing a shift in the way content marketing is delivered. The rise of “stories” on Instagram and Facebook has changed the way brands deliver messages to their audiences. While there was once a time when long pages of text (like this) dominated content marketing strategies, today’s market is shifting toward the ephemeral, the fun and the visual.

A recent study found that 83% of marketers believe that video marketing is becoming more important for reaching and engaging new audiences. Among millennial audiences, two-thirds of social media users reported engaging with a brand after watching a video posted on social media.

Clearly, video marketing has reached maturity, and all indications suggest that it’s here to stay. We at IronMonk constantly use and recommend video marketing for our clients. One of our clients in the travel niche, for example, saw a 120% increase in conversion rates for tour packages when we created short-form videos to promote each of those tours. The company also gained 5,000 YouTube subscribers in less than a year.

Video App Suite - Devices Compatibility

In this article, we’ll discuss future trends in video content marketing and how your brand can capitalize on these growing trends in the year ahead.

What The Critics Say

Let’s face it: Email marketing isn’t as attention-grabbing as it once was. These days, our inboxes are jammed with Mailchimp blasts and “last-minute” ads for the hottest deals at every retail store you’ve ever been to.

I’ve heard critics who believe that video marketing is headed in the same direction. They suggest that the medium of video is becoming too highly saturated on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. As a result, videos command less of our attention, and eventually we’ll scroll past them without paying them a second thought.

What They Get Wrong About Video

What the critics don’t realize is that video content marketing and email marketing represent a classic apples-to-oranges comparison. On one hand, email marketing is a “push” technique that directly contacts individual prospects and customers and attempts to incentivize repeat sales. On the other hand, content marketing “pulls” new prospects to attract initial sales and leads.

An effective, diversified digital marketing strategy should include email and video marketing content. However, to suggest that video marketing will suffer from the same type of saturation as email marketing is to misunderstand the medium of video fundamentally.

The Rise Of Video Content Marketing And Its Growth Forecast

Many of today’s consumers want to be entertained. Rather than scroll through text or messages in an inbox, consumers may prefer to watch videos that are personalized to their interests. In fact, recent surveys indicate that over 50% of consumers are interested in watching videos from brands they support.

When done correctly, video content can make an excellent addition to your existing marketing strategy. According to a 2019 survey of business owners, 66% rank video as the most effective form of content for their marketing strategy.

I predict strong year-over-year growth in video content marketing engagement in the first half of the coming decade. There are two factors that point us in this direction. First, our mobile devices are becoming increasingly video-oriented; second, videos are most popular among younger demographics.

Video App Suite - 3 steps

We’re all committed to continuously supporting, updating and improving all Video App Suite apps behind the scenes, with no downtimes or disruptions, ever!

Rest assured that every app included with Video App Suite will just keep getting better and better in the future. Our developers are committed to keeping up with future innovations and technical changes as needed to keep all apps performing optimally!

And don’t forget, you’ll be able to easily access any app on your Video App Suite dashboard from virtually any browser, with nothing to download or install – ever!

More than 70% of the U.S. population (subscription required) owns a smartphone. And as the number rises, more consumers will be able to access mobile video marketing. Further, a recent report found that 85% of millennials have purchased a product after watching an online promotional video, a figure higher than any other demographic. The widespread popularity of, and engagement with, video content among this generation leads me to believe that video-based content will continue to be a dominant marketing channel in the coming years.

Getting Started With Video Content

Considering integrating videos into your content marketing strategy? Before you get started filming your first batch of content, consider that there are a variety of highly engaging video formats that make for easy introductions to the medium.

Interviews: Interview an expert in your niche or field. These videos should be one to five minutes in length. We love doing these within our company and for our clients. You’ll first want to come up with a list of people who are popular in your niche, and then send them each an email requesting the interview. It’s a win-win because the interviewee gets exposure, and you get a video with unique insights.

Company Culture: This is a slice-of-life introduction video to workplace culture and environment, and should be one to three minutes in length. This is the type of video you want to promote on your careers or jobs page. You can also add it to your custom Indeed profile so applicants can see how great your company culture is.

Product Introductions: Demonstrate a new product feature and its use cases in a 30- to 90-second video. Your Instagram and YouTube accounts are thirsty for these! Make sure these are professionally produced, as they can impact your bottom line directly. You can afford a little bit of amateurism while doing interviews, but aim for perfection when shooting product videos.

Webinars: A Google Hangouts-facilitated educational video conference can introduce prospects to your sales funnel. Keep these between 10 and 60 minutes. Webinars are great for educating clients or prospects about a new product or feature. They can also allow you to answer the most frequently asked questions by your users, as well as live questions. Use them to showcase your expertise and authority!

Is Video Marketing Right For You?

With the increase in video marketing, it’s not unreasonable to think that video content might be a bubble. However, analyses suggest that video is a booming market for tech-savvy brands looking to appeal to a younger audience.

Increased conversion rates, superior reach and the ability to personalize are three main selling points of video marketing. By incorporating video content into your content marketing strategy, you can capitalize on this growing medium and engage your audience before your competition does.

Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

Amine is a tech entrepreneur and writer. He is currently the CMO at Regal Assets and CEO at IronMonk Solutions. Read Amine Rahal’s full executive profile here.

Source: Why Marketers Should Integrate Video Marketing Into Their Content Strategy

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BlackBoard

This 31-Year-Old’s Company Rocketed To A $1 Billion Valuation Helping Workers Get Degrees

Its 9 a.m. two days before Thanksgiving, and Walmart executives are dragging their suitcases around a windowless Arkansas office building in search of a large conference room. They settle on an interior lunchroom with dull gray carpet, claiming one side of a long table in the corner and gesturing for their guests to sit opposite them.

Ellie Bertani, Walmart’s director of workforce strategy, says she’s struggling to find qualified people to staff the company’s expanding network of 5,000 pharmacies and 3,400 vision centers. Her fellow Walmart execs are silent, but Rachel Romer Carlson, 31, cofounder and CEO of Guild Education, sees her opening. Without hesitation she says her team can work with Walmart and find a solution fast. “You guys and us,” she says, “let’s do it!”

Carlson flew to Bentonville from Guild’s Denver headquarters the day before. Dressed in a sensible navy blazer and black slacks, she’s hardly bothered with makeup. Since 7:30 that morning she’s been huddling with teams of Walmart brass, going over options to train workers for those new jobs. They range from a one-year pharmacy technician certificate program offered by a for-profit online outfit called Penn Foster to an online bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration at nonprofit Southern New Hampshire University.

Carlson’s groundbreaking idea when she launched Guild four years ago: help companies offer education benefits that employees will actually use. Many big employers will pay for their workers to go to school (it’s a tax break), but hardly any workers take advantage of the opportunity. Applying and signing up for courses can be cumbersome, and in most instances employees have to front the tuition and wait to be reimbursed.

Meanwhile, many colleges are desperate for students because they have small—or nonexistent—endowments and are financially dependent on tuition. Many nonselective online programs spend more than $3,000 to attract each new student. Carlson charges schools a finder’s fee (she won’t say how much) for the students she delivers from her corporate partners.

So far Guild has signed up more than 20 companies, including Disney and Taco Bell. Guild gets paid only if students complete their coursework, so a full 150 of the company’s 415 staffers serve as coaches who help employees apply to degree programs and plan how to balance their studies with work and family.

When a company like Walmart requests a customized training course, Guild solicits proposals from as many as 100 education providers (nearly all of them online) and recommends the programs it deems best. It also negotiates tuition discounts and facilitates direct payments between employers and schools, a big plus for workers who would otherwise have to wait months to be reimbursed.

Carlson, an alumna of the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and a judge on the 2020 list, says she has already channeled more than $100 million in tuition benefits to workers this year alone. Forbes estimates 2019 revenue will top $50 million, and Guild investor Byron Deeter of Bessemer Venture Partners predicts 2020 revenue of more than $100 million.

In mid-November Carlson closed her fifth round of financing, led by General Catalyst, bringing her total money raised to $228 million at a $1 billion valuation. In the sleepy, well-intentioned world of edtech, Guild is one of only a few startups whose values have soared, says Daniel Pianko, a New York-based edtech investor with no stake in the company.

“I can see a path for Guild to be a $100 billion company,” says Paul Freedman, CEO of San Francisco venture firm Entangled Group, who has known Carlson since she was in business school and was one of Guild’s earliest ­investors.

When asked to detail Guild’s inner workings, like its strategy for soliciting custom courses, Carlson eschews specifics and delivers what sounds like a political stump speech: “The economy’s moving so fast,” she says. “We can’t let higher education dictate the skills and competencies that we need five to ten years from now.”

There’s a reason she talks this way. Her grandfather Roy Romer was a three-term (1987–1999) Democratic governor of Colorado before spending six years as superintendent of Los Angeles’ public schools. Carlson started riding along on his campaign bus when she was 6 years old; occasionally she would even speak at his rallies. When her father, Chris Romer, a former Colorado state senator, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Denver in 2011, she served as his finance director. (“The loss was devastating,” she says.)

                            

Along with politics, the Romers were committed to increasing access to education, especially for working adults. Roy Romer helped start Salt Lake City-based Western Governors University, a pioneer in online adult education. In the wake of Chris Romer’s mayoral bid, in 2011, he cofounded American Honors, a for-profit company that offered honors courses at community colleges (the company struggled, and the brand is now owned by Wellspring International, a student recruitment firm).

After graduating from Stanford undergrad and working briefly in the Obama White House, Carlson launched her first venture, Student Blueprint, while getting her M.B.A. (also at Stanford) in 2014. Student Blueprint sought to use technology to match community college students with jobs.

It was a noble idea, but she decided to finish school and sold the software she had developed to Paul Freedman’s Entangled Group in 2014 for a negligible sum. In 2015, after she wrapped up her M.B.A., she pitched the idea for Guild to one of her professors, Michael Dearing, and to seed investor Aileen Lee, of Cowboy Ventures, raising $2 million.

                          

After relocating to her home turf in Denver, she landed her first major corporate partner in the summer of 2016 when she sent a LinkedIn message to a Chipotle benefits manager that played up the fast-food chain’s “strong Denver roots and social mission.”

With help from Guild, Chipotle’s $12-an-hour burrito rollers are now pursuing online bachelor’s degrees from Bellevue University in Nebraska or taking computer security courses at Wilmington University in Delaware. In October 2019, Carlson persuaded Chipotle to lift its cap on tuition benefits above the $5,250 the IRS allows companies to write off.

Guild’s biggest competitor is a division of ­Watertown, Massachusetts-based ­publicly traded daycare provider Bright Horizons, which has offered tuition benefit services since 2009. It works with 210 companies including Home Depot and Goldman Sachs. Under Bright Horizons’ system, the companies—not the colleges—pay. Much of the genius of Guild’s business model is that it correctly aligns incentives: The colleges are the most ­financially motivated party, so they foot the bill. ­Another ­competitor, Los Angeles-based InStride, launched in 2019 with funding from Arizona State University, and like Bright Horizons it charges the corporations.

“I see our competition as the status quo,” Carlson says. “Classically, employers have offered tuition-reimbursement programs, but no one is using those programs.”

The nonprofit Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation has done five case studies showing returns on investment as high as 140% for companies that offer tuition-reimbursement programs. “We saw powerful impacts on retention,” says Lumina’s strategy director, Haley Glover.

“Walmart and Amazon are in a death struggle,” proclaims Joseph Fuller, a professor at Harvard Business School. “If a Walmart worker can say, ‘I got an education that allowed me to get promoted,’ they’re going to be someone who speaks generously about Walmart and they are more likely be a Walmart shopper.”

Like a good politician, Carlson is working to please everyone. “We found a win-win,” she says, “where we can help companies align their objectives with helping their employees achieve their goals.”

Get Forbes’ daily top headlines straight to your inbox for news on the world’s most important entrepreneurs and superstars, expert career advice and success secrets.

As an associate editor at Forbes, I cover young entrepreneurs and edit the 30 Under 30 lists. I’m particularly interested in companies finding unique ways to make our world more sustainable. I previously wrote for The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel and the Weekend Argus in Cape Town, South Africa. I graduated from Northwestern University where I studied Journalism, Environmental Policy and Political Science. Follow me on Twitter @AlexandraNWil.

Source: Class Act: This 31-Year-Old’s Company Rocketed To A $1 Billion Valuation Helping Workers Get Degrees

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Bertani says Walmart is using technology to increase productivity and help workers focus on customer service.

Bitcoin: IRS Takes On The Crooks—And The Good Guys

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Are cryptocurrencies reportable for FBAR? For Fatca? No and maybe.

Turns out there’s no FBAR mandate on your offshore bitcoin account. Is the government making a tactical retreat in its war on money launderers and tax cheats?

In response to a request for guidance from an accountants’ group, the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has recently decreed that cryptocurrency accounts held by exchanges located outside the country don’t have to be disclosed.

That means you don’t have to confess your Binance assets on the Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report, alias FBAR. The report, which is filed on a form called Fincen 114, is required when a taxpayer’s financial assets (cash and securities) held in foreign institutions top $10,000.

Why the leniency? Mostly because the antiquated laws aimed at financial mischief simply can’t cope with crypto.

A rational observer would say that bitcoin, which is both a store of value and a medium of exchange, is money. But the IRS, enforcing legislation written in a pre-internet age, has concluded that cryptocurrencies are “property”—more like Picassos than pesos.

At some point the tax police will get up to speed. They’ll rewrite rules or get legislation including digital assets in the offshore reporting scheme. But they’ll still have a hard time ferreting out hidden wealth. Cryptocurrencies, already somewhat anonymous, are getting more so. There are tumblers that erase bitcoin trails and there are newer currencies designed to offer enhanced privacy.

To investors, crypto is an asset class that might warrant an allocation in a portfolio. Although cryptocurrencies are volatile, they have the virtue of being not very correlated to stocks and bonds that fall, directly or indirectly, under the spell of central banks.

To enforcers, crypto is nothing but trouble. Bitcoin was the common currency of Silk Road, that bazaar of contraband whose manager got a life sentence. Russian hackers used bitcoin in their election meddling. A press release in May from Immigration & Customs Enforcement, crowing about the indictment of an alleged fentanyl vendor, gives bitcoin a prominent mention.

Donald Trump doesn’t like crypto. His Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, complained recently that cryptocurrencies are being used illicitly. He vowed to produce regulations to keep them from turning into a new form of numbered Swiss bank account.

But aren’t bitcoins by their nature numbered accounts? The blockchain—a record of all transactions to date—is a string of integers, with no holders’ names attached. Still, holders can get nailed for doing something wrong.

Chain analysis software traces the history of a bitcoin as it moves from account to account. If at any point that coin passed through an exchange subject to U.S. know-your-customer rules (like Coinbase), the cops can get the name and taxpayer ID of someone who used the coin. That may give them a wedge, via subpoena or a threat of prosecution, to identify other participants in the chain of ownership.

And then there are users who make mistakes. Evidently the fellow accused of selling fentanyl wanted to convert bitcoins to dollars, and in the process of doing that transferred the coins to addresses that were controlled by federal agents. This is reminiscent of the bank robber who hops into what he thinks is a getaway car but turns out to be a police vehicle.

Cryptocurrency users who want their activities to be more cryptic have options. They can use one of the tumbler services that take in possibly dirty coins and replace them with randomly selected coins. They can use Monero or Zcash, currencies explicitly designed to be more private than bitcoin. And how is Secretary Mnuchin going to police Binance, the fast-growing coin repository that hops from jurisdiction to jurisdiction? It is now in Malta, where regulators are proud of their light touch.

Yet another way to keep coins hidden is to keep them in your own wallet instead of in the custody of an exchange. Just don’t lose the key.

Sean Golding, an Irvine, California attorney whose clientele includes global investors, says that you are under no obligation to report coins held in a wallet on your desktop, any more than you are obliged to report gold stored under your bed. You must, though, report and pay tax on profitable sales of either.

What about your account at an offshore exchange? Even with the recent dispensation from the IRS, Golding says, it might be a good idea to file the FBAR anyway. You might, after all, do some trading that temporarily turns bitcoins into dollars or euros. If your total of cash and securities held offshore exceeds $10,000, even for a day, the FBAR is mandatory.

The government takes the Fincen 114 form seriously. It’s trying to collect a $4.7 million fine from someone who forgot to fill it out.

Your account at a U.S. exchange needs no FBAR. The IRS can already see the account. Thus, Coinbase customers who neglect to declare gains from crypto sales can expect to hear from the feds.

What about Fatca? The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act is another disclosure regime, overlapping Fincen but with its own set of rules and different thresholds ($50,000 for a single taxpayer, $100,000 for a joint return filer). Play it safe, advises Golding. The recent guidance on FBAR doesn’t apply here. If you’re at or above the cutoff, file the Fatca report.

The FBAR must be filed electronically with Fincen, a Treasury unit separate from the IRS. Start here.

For Fatca, file Form 8938 with the 1040 you send to the IRS. It can be on paper. The form is here and the instructions are here.

A useful comparison between the FBAR and Fatca requirements is here.

This Journal of Accountancy report describes the recent guidance from Fincen.

The FBAR regs are here.

I aim to help you save on taxes and money management costs. I graduated from Harvard in 1973, have been a journalist for 44 years, and was editor of Forbes magazine from 1999 to 2010. Tax law is a frequent subject in my articles. I have been an Enrolled Agent since 1979. Email me at williambaldwinfinance — at — gmail — dot — com.

 

 

Source: Bitcoin: IRS Takes On The Crooks—And The Good Guys

1,000,000,000 XRP: Ripple Unlocks $442 Million in Crypto From Escrow

Ripple has unlocked 1 billion XRP from escrow, worth about $442 million at time of publishing.

The San Francisco startup will sell a portion of the funds to crypto exchanges and institutional participants and return the rest to escrow at the end of the month.

Source: Bithomp

Ripple, which owns more than half of the total supply of XRP, does not reveal the buyers. However, crypto whale watchers are constantly monitoring XRP movements from Ripple’s over-the-counter (OTC) wallets to unknown wallets, which indicate sales of XRP.

Ripple typically sells a fraction of the total amount unlocked each month and releases an overview of the dollar amount of XRP sold each quarter.

According to the company’s last report, Ripple sold $169.42 million worth of XRP in January, February and March.

Source: Ripple

Since 2016, Ripple has sold a total of $890 million in XRP – 34.4% to crypto exchanges and 65.6% to institutions, reports The Block.

Ripple’s sale of XRP recently triggered a lively debate on Reddit on whether it has an impact on the price of the leading digital asset.

Source: Pivot – Blockchain Community

Bitcoin (BTC) Poised to Dump on Crypto Suckers, Says Veteran Stockbroker – Plus Ripple and XRP, Ethereum, Tron, EOS, Litecoin, Augur

 

Image result for Bitcoin (BTC) Poised to Dump on Crypto Suckers

From gold bulls dissing Bitcoin to the new Captain America pledging his allegiance to Litecoin, here’s a look at some of the stories breaking in the world of crypto.

Bitcoin

Veteran stockbroker and CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, Peter Schiff, says he expects Bitcoin’s 132% rally in 2019 to reverse. In a new debate with Barry Silbert, the founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group, Schiff called Bitcoin an elaborate pump-and-dump scheme for suckers.

“The air is already coming out of this bubble, right? The peak of market was at $20,000. And so that was a blow-off speculative mania when they launched the Bitcoin futures and everything rose. So now, we’re in a bear market. And in a bear market, you always have rallies. That’s what bear markets do. They try to sucker in the bulls. You have these false rallies. We’re having one now.

But initially, a lot of people got suckered into this pump-and-dump scheme because they heard all the stories about the young kids who took their bar mitzvah money and now they bought a Lambo. And everybody thinks they’re going to get rich because they think these kids were geniuses when all they did is get lucky because they bought Bitcoin and then the price went up.

So there’s a lot of stories about people who got rich because they got in. Well, pretty soon it’s mostly going to be stories about people who lost their life savings because they put real money instead of play money into Bitcoin. And when you have the horror stories outnumber those positive stories, the brand is going to be tarnished. I don’t think you’re going to have a bunch of young kids rushing to buy Bitcoin because they’re going to know how much money their friends lost because they bought it.”

In response, Silbert points to financial giants like Fidelity that are now joining the industry to sell Bitcoin to institutional investors. Silbert says he believes Bitcoin – and the growth of the cryptocurrency industry at large – is very real, and will push the price of BTC higher in the long run.  

“I think investors are hearing the gold argument and they’re hearing about the scenario where it performs well when things are going not so well in the world. And I would argue, given that Bitcoin has all the same characteristics as gold – scarce, finite, portable, highly divisible – I think it has a lot more utility. Arguably Bitcoin would perform well in that environment that Peter’s describing.

But Bitcoin, and more importantly, the community and the industry that is being built, the thousands of companies that have been launched over the past five year, the tens of thousands of jobs that have been created – the real innovation that’s happening – I assure you, is going to propel the Bitcoin price higher. Because it will generate real innovation in a world of economic growth, where gold will only perform well if the shit hits the fan…

What I think gold bugs don’t appreciate, is there is a generational shift in investor mindset that’s happening. Over the next 25 years, $68 trillion of wealth is going to be handed down from Boomers, Gen X, Gen Ys and Millennials. And I can assure you that the younger generation of investors, many of you here apparently agree with this, don’t view gold the same way that our parents and grandparents did.

We did not grow up under the gold standard. We did not grow up during a time of war, so as that $68 trillion gets handed down, it is not going to stay in gold. Now, is whatever is in gold right now all going to go to Bitcoin? No, of course not. But gold is an $8 trillion market cap asset class. Bitcoin’s $100 billion. So a lot has to go right or frankly, in Peter’s view, a lot has to go wrong for an $8 trillion asset class to jump in price. And $100 billion for Bitcoin, it really does not take a lot for Bitcoin to outperform gold over the next 10 years.”

Ethereum, EOS, Tron

Decentralized apps (DApps) on the EOS network continue to outpace those on Ethereum and Tron. According to DappReview, $25.2 million worth of EOS flowed through DApps on the network in the last 24 hours, with 125,600 active users.

Meanwhile, 48,600 users spent $14.6 million worth of TRX on Tron-based DApps, while 18,700 users spent $9 million ETH on Ethereum-based DApps.

Ripple and XRP 

Ripple continues to hire new employees around the globe. The company is now looking for an operations associate for Xpring, Ripple’s XRP development and fundraising arm. The position is in San Francisco. At time of writing, the start-up has a total of 62 open positions, including eight with Xpring.

Litecoin

In an interview with Vanity Fair, actor Anthony Mackie, who will assume the role of Captain America in future Marvel movies, says he checks his Litecoin app every day.

“I don’t trust Bitcoin. Litecoin forever.”

Source: Pivot – Blockchain Community

Overstock to Retain Retail Arm, Support Blockchain and Crypto Ventures

The CEO of retail giant Overstock.com, Patrick Byrne, noted the potential profitability of the firm’s retail arm in its Q4 2018 earnings conference call on March 18. Byrne’s statements indicate that Overstock may not be divesting from its retail wing as soon as was previously indicated. Last year, Byrne reportedly told The Wall Street Journal that Overstock would sell off its retail wing sometime in early 2019. During the section of the conference call devoted to retail, Byrne said that “this is going to be a year of explosive growth,” and that the retail wing would “spit out cash…..

Source: Overstock to Retain Retail Arm, Support Blockchain and Crypto Ventures

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