A radical proposal to keep your personal data safe | Richard Stallman

The surveillance imposed on us today is worse than in the Soviet Union, tells president of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman

Journalists have been asking me whether the revulsion against the misuse of Facebook data could be a turning point for the campaign to regain privacy. That could happen, if the public induces its campaign broader and deeper.

Broader, entailing extending to all surveillance systems , not only Facebook. Deeper, meaning to advance from regulating the use of data to regulating the accumulation of data. Because surveillance is so pervasive, restoring privacy is inevitably a big change, and requires powerful measures.

The surveillance imposed on us today far outstrips that of the Soviet Union. For freedom and democracy’s sake, we need to eliminate most of it. There are so many ways to use data to hurt people that the only safe database is the one that was never collected. Thus, instead of the EU’s approach of mainly governing how personal data may be used( in its General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR ), I propose a law to stop systems from collecting personal data.

The robust style to do that, the style that can’t be set aside at the whim of a government, is to require systems to be built so as not to collect data about a person. The basic principle is that a system must be designed not to collect certain data, if its basic function can be carried out without that data.

Data about who travels where is particularly sensitive, because it is an ideal basis for repressing any chosen target. We can take the London develops and buses as a case for study.

The Transport for London digital pay card system centrally records the journeys any given Oyster or bank card has paid for. When a passenger feeds the card digitally, the organizations of the system associates the card with the passenger’s identity. This adds up to complete surveillance.

I expect the transport system can justify this practice under the GDPR’s regulations. My proposal, by contrast, would require the system to stop tracking who runs where. The card’s basic function is to pay for transport. That can be done without centralising that data, so the transport system would have to stop doing so. When it accepts digital pays, it is appropriate to do so through an anonymous pay system.

Frills on the system, such as the feature of letting a passenger review the listing of past journeys, are not part of the basic function, so they can’t justify incorporating any additional surveillance.

These additional services could be offered separately to users who request them. Even better, users could use their own personal systems to privately track their own journeys.

Black cabs demonstrate that a system for hiring vehicles with drivers does not need to identify passengers. Hence such systems should not be allowed to identify passengers; they should be required to accept privacy-respecting cash from passengers without ever trying to identify them.

However, convenient digital payment systems can also protect passengers’ anonymity and privacy. We have already developed one: GNU Taler. It is designed to be anonymous for the payer, but payees are always identified. We designed it that way so as not to facilitate tax dodging. All digital pay systems should be required to defend anonymity utilizing this or a similar method.

What about security? Such systems in areas where the public are acknowledged must be designed so they cannot track people. Video cameras should make a local recording that can be checked for the next few weeks if international crimes pass, but should not allow remote viewing without physical collection of the recording. Biometric systems should be designed so they are recognise people on a court-ordered list of suspects, to respect the privacy rights of the rest of us. An unjust nation is more dangerous than terrorism, and too much security encourages an unjust state.

The EU’s GDPR regulations are well-meaning, but do not run very far. It will not deliver much privacy, because its rules are too lax. They permit collecting any data if it is somehow useful to the system, and it is easy to come up with a way to make any particular data useful for something.

The GDPR stimulates much of requiring users( in some cases) to give consent for the collection of their data, but that doesn’t do much good. System designers had now become expert at manufacturing permission( to repurpose Noam Chomsky’s phrase ). Most users consent to a site’s words without reading them; a company that required users to trade their first-born infant got permission from plenty of users. Then again, when a system is crucial for modern life, like buses and trains, users ignore the terms because refusal of consent is too painful to consider.

To restore privacy, we must stop surveillance before it even asks for consent.

Finally, don’t forget the software in your own computer. If it is the non-free software of Apple, Google or Microsoft, it spies on you regularly. That’s because it is controlled by a company that won’t hesitate to spy on you. Companies tend to lose their scruples when that is profitable. By contrast, free( libre) software is controlled by its users. That user community keeps the software honest.

* Richard Stallman is president of the Free Software Foundation, which launched the development of a free/ libre operating system GNU

Copyright 2018 Richard Stallman. Released under Creative Commons NoDerivatives License 4.0

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Voice shopping estimated to hit $40 billion across U.S. and U.K. by 2022

The growing popularity of smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home will lead to an detonation in voice-based shopping, according to a new market research report from OC& C Strategy Consultants out this week. The firm is bullishly predicting that voice shopping will grow to a whopping $40 billion-plus in 2022, up from$ 2 billion today across the U.S. and the U.K.

This sizable increase will be driven by Amazon’s smart speaker sales, in particular, research reports said.

This forecast far surpasses earlier estimates of voice shopping revenues in the years ahead. While not an exact comparing, RBC Capital Markets lately predicted Amazon would generate $10 to $11 billion in marketings from Alexa devices- including device marketings themselves and voice shopping- by the year 2020.

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Healthcare is a huge industry no wonder Amazon is muscling in | John Naughton

Boss Jeff Bezos is ahead of the game again, snooping an opportunity for big data to transform the system

Walmart and Rakuten partner on grocery delivery in Japan, Kobo e-books and audiobooks in U.S.

Walmart today announced a major expansion to its implementation of its global e-commerce presence: the retailer is entering a strategic partnership with Tokyo-based Rakuten, which will see the companies collaborating on the launch of a new online grocery service in Japan, and the sale of e-readers, audiobooks and e-books in the U.S ., via Rakuten-owned Kobo.

The strategic alliance is one that has two of the world’s largest e-commerce retailers joining forcing in an effort to combat Amazon, and is yet another example of how Walmart is using large-scale partnerships to aid in that battle. For instance, Walmart last year teamed up with Google in order to have an entry point in the voice-assisted shopping space, by way of Google Home smart speakers- an area where Amazon’s Alexa has mopped up market share.

In this new partnership, Walmart says it and Rakuten will co-create an online grocery serving in Japan that will launch in the third quarter of 2018. The service will be operated by Rakuten and Seiyu GK, a Walmart subsidiary, and will be called “Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper.”

Walmart, via Seiyu, has operated a grocery delivery business in Japan since 2000. This new co-branded service will replace that, the company says.

Once live afterwards this year, some customers’ orders will continue to be fulfilled by their local Seiyu store, as before. But depending on their geography, other customers’ orders may come from a new, dedicated fulfillment center operated by Walmart and Rakuten. The centre, which is an existing constructing Walmart owns, is likely to be exclusively used for online grocery.

Walmart today also operates an online grocery business in the U.S ., where customers can shop online and pay, then pull up to a designated parking place for curbside pickup when their order is ready. The option to take delivery is available for an additional fee, but Walmart hands off that part of the operation to third-party partners, like Uber.

However, in all other marketplaces where Walmart operates online grocery- including Japan, the U.K ., China, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and India- the service is focused on home delivery. This will be the case with Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper, as well. Groceries will also continue to be delivered to homes using existing local delivery companies, Walmart tells us.

Another difference between the U.S.-based pickup service and Japan’s delivery service is that Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper will offer pre-prepared dinner kits, as well as partly prepared foods and other convenience-focused items like pre-cut veggies, in addition to its selection of fresh render and other consumables. Some items from Rakuten’s Ichiba marketplace- which has over 93 million registered members- will be available, too, including gourmet foods.

Rakuten will additionally help craft the website for the new online grocery service, which will take advantage of its e-commerce technology, including big data and A.I ., in order to personalize the merchandise offerings.

“Rakuten is a strong e-commerce business and we’re excited to collaborate with the top
online shopping destination in Japan, ” said Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon, in a statement. “Here in Japan and everywhere we operate, we’re constantly investigating new ways to build every day easier for customers by offering great experiences in stores, online, via mobile–no matter how clients want to shop.”

The other significant initiative to emerge from this alliance is the addition of Kobo’s e-book and audiobook selection to Walmart’s website- a clear attempt to unseat Amazon Kindle’s dominance in e-readers and e-books, and Amazon-owned Audible’s dominance in audiobooks.

Kobo will bring nearly 6 million audiobooks and e-book titles from hundreds of thousands of authors to Walmart, which will sell them on Walmart.com starting sometime later this year.( E-books will arrive first, followed by audiobooks .)

Walmart will also sell digital book cards in stores, as well as Kobo’s e-readers.

Kobo is the second-largest e-reader manufacturer worldwide, but never became a household name here in the U.S. However, the company has been fairly innovative with its hardware, offering premium versions and even a waterproof model years before Amazon did with Oasis. If anything could take on Kindle, it’s more likely to be a Walmart-backed Kobo rather than a Nook.

The companies haven’t yet chosen which of Walmart’s stores will get which e-reader models, as the smorgasbord details are still being worked out.

The two companies will also release a co-branded Walmart/ Kobo e-reading app for iOS and Android, as their alternative offering to Amazon’s Kindle app, as well as a desktop app. The new app will replace the existing Kobo app that’s live on app stores, but the companies couldn’t detail how the transition process will work for existing U.S. Kobo users.

Similar to how Amazon lets customers choice the format of the book they want to purchase while shopping, Walmart says Kobo’s product selection will also be “fully integrated” into its Walmart.com shopping site. That entails when clients find the book they want to buy, they’ll be able to choose from the physical book, an e-book or an audiobook version from one place.

Walmart says it will use the power of its physical retail presence to get this e-book offering off the ground , noting that its stores find over 140 million weekly customers who will be able to buy e-readers and digital volume cards.

Amazon, meanwhile, has been moving in the other direction- it already has the e-book empire others want to topple, so now its focus is on launching Amazon bookstores that put physical volumes in front of shoppers, too. But unlike Walmart, the Amazon Books retail stores are only open in select( generally urban) markets at this time. The bookstore chain is part of Amazon’s larger make further efforts to establish a brick-and-mortar footprint to rival Walmart’s, in fact- attempts that include its acquisition of grocer Whole Foods and its new, cashier-less Amazon Go stores.

“Kobo has been very successful in working with market-leading book retailers around the world to provide a very competitive experience in the e-book space, ” Rakuten Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn told TechCrunch.

“We’re very excited to come to the U.S. and bring e-books and audiobooks to Walmart, and take advantage of the scale that a market leader and a leading bookseller like Walmart can provide, ” he added.

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Bitcoin won’t last in world of finance, warns Nobel-winning economist

Davos speakers round on cryptocurrency as Robert Shiller calls it a clever idea with an impermanent future

Amazon shipped over 5 billion items with Prime in 2017

Amazon still won’t officially reveal how many customers worldwide participate in its Amazon Prime membership program, but it did today offer a few new stats related to that program’s adoption and growth. The company on Tuesday announced that more new, paid members joined Prime worldwide in 2017 than any other year. It also noted that over 5 billion items worldwide shipped with Prime in 2017, including via one-day and two-day shipping.

The company has never before released details around how many items it has shipped via Prime in a year’s period, and declined to provide last year’s figures for comparison purposes.

The closest it get last year was revealing that over a billion items shipped via Prime and Fulfillment by Amazon during the 2016 holidays.

To some extent, the increases in membership and shipments represent the expanded reach of Prime in 2017, and its most recent arrival in key markets- not only its they are able to convert online shoppers to paying members.

For example, Prime in 2017 arrived in Mexico, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Singapore, in addition to existing markets including the U.S ., U.K ., Spain, Japan, Italy, India, Germany, France, China, Canada, Belgium and Austria.

Contributing to Prime’s growth is the fact that the program is still relatively new to one of the world’s biggest marketplaces, India, where it launched back in July 2016. Though India didn’t start offering Prime this year, its existence in that country has certainly impacted 2017 ’s numbers.

For instance, India became Amazon’s fastest-growing market for Amazon Prime this year, having grown virtually 5 times between the beginning of the year and October, Amazon stated earlier this autumn. Today, the company told us that more Prime members joined in India than any other country in its first year.

Amazon Prime has grown stateside in 2017, as well. A third-party calculate from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, released a few months ago, said that 63 percent of Amazon clients are now Prime members, and that Prime had grown to 90 million U.S. Prime members.

While we don’t know the official number of Prime members worldwide, we do know that the number of “new paid members” in 2017 is at least more than 20 million. This is because Amazon reported “tens of millions” of new paid Prime members in Q4 2016- a number which Amazon confirmed to mean 20 million.

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Bitcoin bubble inflates again after pre-Christmas rout

Cryptocurrency heads back towards $16,000 after losing more than 30% of its value in one day and sinking as low as $12,000

Bitcoin ricochetted back over $16,000 on Boxing Day, regaining some of the ground lost in a pre-Christmas rout that pushed its price down below $12,000.

Q& A

What is bitcoin and is it a bad investment?

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Bitcoin is the first, and the biggest, “cryptocurrency”- a decentralised tradable digital asset. Whether it’s a bad investment is the big question. Bitcoin can only be used as a medium of exchange and in practice has been far more important for the dark economy than it has for most legitimate utilizes. The lack of any central authority makes bitcoin remarkably resilient to censorship, corruption- or regulation. That means it has attracted a range of backers, from libertarian monetarists who enjoy the idea of a currency with no inflation and no central bank, to drug dealers who like the fact that it’s hard( but not impossible) to trace a bitcoin transaction back to a physical person.

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Bitcoin, the world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, lost more than a one-quarter of its value in a single day, falling 30% at one stage on Friday to $11,159.93. Despite a late recovery, it had its worst week since 2013.

The digital currency had risen around twentyfold since the start of the year, climbing from less than $1,000 to as high as $19,666 on 17 December on Bitstamp and to more than $20,000 on other exchanges. However, it has posted heavy deteriorations since.

While bitcoin investors and analysts believe the decline in its value was a natural correction after a heady run-up in costs, there have been further warnings from market regulators and central banks.

” There is no right current price which would reflect the right current valuation ,” said Andrei Popescu, Singapore-based co-founder of COSS, which describes itself as a platform encompassing all features of a digital economy based on cryptocurrency.

” Taking profit is right, while buying into a long-term projection is also right. You don’t have to be right in this market, simply less wrong than the rest ,” Popescu said.

Shmuel Hauser, the chairman of the Israel Securities Authority, said on Monday he would propose regulation to ban companies based on bitcoin and other digital currencies from trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Singapore’s central bank warned last week against investment in cryptocurrencies, saying it considered the recent surge in costs to be driven by supposition and that the risk of a sharp fall in prices was high.

Cost of rival cryptocurrencies, which slid along with bitcoin last week, have also recovered, with Ethereum, the second-biggest cryptocurrency by marketplace sizing, quoted around $771, up from Sunday’s low of $689 but still far away from highs of around $900 reached last week.

* Follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk, or sign up to the daily Business Today email here.

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Lily raises $2M from NEA and others for a personal stylist service that considers feelings, not just fit

One of the reasons recently IPO’d Stitch Fix became so popular among female shoppers is because of how it pairs the convenience of home try-on for dres and accessories with a personal styling services that are adapts to your savours over hour. But often, personal stylists bring their own subjective takes on fashion to their customers. A new startup called Lily aims to offer a more personalized services that are takes into account not just what’s on trend or what appears good, but also how women feel about their bodies and how the right garb can impact those perceptions.

The company has now closed on$ 2 million in seed funding from NEA and other investors to further develop its technology, which today involves an iOS application, web app and API platform that retailers can integrate with their own catalogs and digital storefronts.

To better understand a woman’s personal predilections around way, Lily employs a combination of algorithms and machine learning techniques to recommend clothing that fits, flatters and makes a woman feel good.

At the start, Lily asks the user a few basic questions about body type and style preferences, but it also asks girls how perceive their body.

For example, if Lily asks about bra size, it wouldn’t just ask for the size a woman wears, but also how they think of this body part.

“I’m well-endowed, ” a woman might react, even if she’s only a full B or smaller C- which is not inevitably the reality. This sort of response helps to teach Lily about how the woman believes of her body and its various parts, to help it craft its recommendations. That same girl may want to minimize her chest, or she may like to show off her cleavage, she may say.

But as she shops Lily’s recommendations in this area, the service learns what sorts of items the woman actually prefers and then adapts accordingly.

This focus on understanding women’s impressions about attire is something that sets Lily apart.

“Women are looking for clothes to spotlight the parts of their body they feel most comfortable with and hide the ones that make them feel insecure, ” explains Lily co-founder and CEO, Purva Gupta. “A customer makes a decision because based on whether a specific cut will hide her belly or downplay a feature they don’t like. Yet stores do nothing to guide girls toward these predilections or take the time to understand the reasons behind their selections, ” she says.

Gupta came up with the idea for Lily after moving to New York from India, where she felt overwhelmed by the foreign shopping culture. She was surrounded by so much option, but didn’t know how to find the clothing that would fit her well, or those items that would induce her feel good when wearing them.

She wondered if her intimidation was something American women- not only immigrants like herself- also felt. For a year, Gupta interviewed others, asking them one question: what prompted them to buy the last item of dres they purchased, either online or offline? She learned that those choices were often prompted by emotions.

Being able to create a service that could match up the right attire based on those impressions was a huge challenge, however.

“I knew that this was a very hard problem, and this was a technology problem, ” says Gupta. “There’s only one way to solve this at scale- to employ technology, especially artificial intelligence, deep learning and machine learning. That’s going to help me do this at scale at any store.”

To train Lily’s algorithms, the company spent two-and-half years building out its collect of 50 million plus data points and analyzing over a million product recommendations for users. The objective result is that an individual item of garb may have over 1,000 attributes to be given to it, which is then used to match up with the thousands of attributes associated with the user in question.

“This level of detail is not available anywhere, ” notes Gupta.

In Lily’s app, which works as something of a demo of the technology at hand, users to be able to shop recommendations from 60 stores, ranging from Forever 21 to Nordstrom, in terms of price.( Lily today makes affiliate revenue from marketings ).

In addition, the company is now beginning to pilot its technology with a handful of retailers on their own sites- details it plans to announce in a few months’ hour. This will allow shoppers to get unique, personalized recommendations online that could also be translated to the offline store in the form of reserved items awaiting you when you’re out shopping.

Though it’s early days for Lily, its hypothesis is proving correct, says Gupta.

“We’ve insured between 10 x to 20 x conversion rates, ” she claims. “That’s what’s very exciting and promising, and why these big retailers are talking to us.”

The pilot exams are paid, but the pricing details for Lily’s service for retailers are not yet set in stone so the company declined to speak about them.

The startup was also co-founded by CTO Sowmiya Chocka Narayanan, previously of Box and Pocket Gems. It’s now a squad of 16 full-time in Palo Alto.

In addition to NEA, other backers include Global Founders Capital, Triplepoint Capital, Think+ Ventures, Varsha Rao( Ex-COO of Airbnb, COO of Clover Health ), Geoff Donaker( Ex-COO of Yelp ), Jed Nachman( COO, Yelp ), Unshackled Ventures and others.

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Missed the bitcoin boom? Five more baffling cryptocurrencies to blow your savings on

Regretting not spending a few hundred quid on bitcoin five years ago? Get ahead of the speculators by expending thousands of dollars on a imaginary cat or the Paris Hilton-backed LydianCoin

If you are worried you’ve missed out on making millions by betting on bitcoin, don’t worry: there will be plenty more bizarre, borderline-incomprehensible digital bubbles in the future, and their value is only going to go up( until it all comes crashing down, that is ). Here are five assets each vying to be the next bitcoin.

Ethereum

If there is a reason beyond marketplace exuberance for the most recent boom in bitcoin’s cost- $16,900( PS12, 600) as I write this, though who knows what it will be when you read it- then it is Ethereum. It is hard to buy Ethereum directly, so most investors trade currency for bitcoin, then bitcoin for Ethereum, entailing a spike in interest in the latter helped revive the former.

Ethereum, which was launched in 2015, allows users to build” decentralised applications”, spending tokens called ” ether” to buy processing power on computers run by other members of the network. Those applications can offer anything from file storage to financial services or simple games, all in a way that is impossible for any centralised authority to shut them down.

CryptoKitties

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A Cryptokitty- the purrfect investment?

One of the oddest Ethereum projects in operation, CryptoKitties is a three-way cross between Tamagotchis, Beanie Babies and animal husbandry. Users can buy, sell and breed the eponymous cats, with traits inherited down the generations. The CryptoKitties network is responsible for 11% of all traffic on Ethereum, according to one report. A new “gen0” cat is born every 15 minutes, which the company auctions off, and it also takes a cut of all other CryptoKittie sales. The typical cat sells for about$ 4 these days, but a few of the rarer cats- particularly those descended from some of the oldest bloodlines- are worth many times that. The most expensive CryptoKitty sold to date, Founder Cat # 18, ran for more than $110,000 on Thursday.

Monero

If lovable algorithmic cats are too cutesy for you, Monero harks back to the dark origins of the cryptocurrency fad. This alternative to bitcoin lets users construct the same sort of digital transactions as its older sibling, but with vastly greater privacy protections. While bitcoin transactions are permanently recorded, and visible to everyone( if hard to connect to a real person ), Monero goes to great lengths to obliterate what is actually going on: you can’t ever prove the sender, recipient and value of a transaction at the same period. The currency is also altered to make it easier to generate new coins utilizing the sorts of processors in information technology and phones, rather than requiring specialised” mining rigs “. This induces it very popular for services ranging from medication dealing online to monetising malware by taking over the processors of victims.

LydianCoin

Perhaps you want to plough your fund into something backed by an authority you trust. In that case, let me introduce you to LydianCoin, the” first AI big data marketing cloud for blockchain “. If the buzzword bingo doesn’t get you pulling out your e-wallet, maybe the celebrity backer will: in September, Paris Hilton said she is backing the currency.

Want someone else? Boxer Floyd Mayweather posted his support of Stox.com’s ICO( a” Bancor-based open-source prediction market platform that is built on Ethereum”, to quote industry news site Coin Telegraph ), as well as Hubii Network( a content marketplace ). He even dubbed himself” Floyd Crypto Mayweather “. Or you could follow Jamie Foxx( Cobinhood, a” zero trading fee cryptocurrency exchange “) or Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah( Cream Capital, a blockchain-based ATM network ).

PlexCoin

PlexCoin, an innovative attempt to build” the next decentralised worldwide cryptocurrency “, has already raised $15 m from backers, so you’d better go faster to- ah, hang in. No. The founder has just been sent to jail for two months for , among other things, falsities on the company’s fundraising documents, as well as taking investor money and using it to money home improvements. A statement by the US Security and Exchange Commission( SEC) said the company” hittings all of the characteristics of a full-fledged cyber scam “. Oh well. At least PlexCoin is now a steal on the open market: merely 2C/ a coin, down from 12 C/ before the SEC filed charges. Perhaps you could buy low and make a killing after all?

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Bitcoin is a vehicle for fraudsters, warns Goldman Sachs boss

CEO Lloyd Blankfein assaults cryptocurrency after value dives 20% in a day, saying bank will not get involved until it becomes less volatile

The boss of Goldman Sachs became the most recent high-profile critic of bitcoin, claiming it was a vehicle to commit fraud as the value of the cryptocurrency plunged 20% in less than 24 hours.

Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of the US investment bank, said:” Something that moves 20%[ overnight] does not feel like a currency. It is a vehicle to perpetrate fraud .”

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Bitcoin is the first, and the biggest, “cryptocurrency”- a decentralised tradable digital asset. Whether it’s a bad investment is the $97 bn topic( literally, since that’s the current value of all bitcoins in existence ). Bitcoin can only be used as a medium of exchange and in practice has been far more important for the dark economy than it has for most legitimate employs. The absence of any central authority induces bitcoin remarkably resilient to censorship, corruption- or regulation. That means it has attracted a range of backers, from libertarian monetarists who enjoy the idea of a currency with no inflation and no central bank, to drug dealers who like the fact that it’s hard( but not impossible) to trace a bitcoin transaction back to a physical person.

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His comments came during another wildly volatile trading conference for the digital currency, which plunged by over $2,000 in a 24 -hour period. Having topped $11,000 to reach a new record high of $11,395 on Wednesday, it fell to a low of $9,000 on Thursday, before picking up slightly later in the day.

Blankfein said Goldman did not need to have a bitcoin strategy, adding the digital currency would need to be a lot less volatile and a lot more liquid to justify closer attention.

” When do I have to have a bitcoin strategy? Not today. Life must be really rosy if that is what we are talking about ,” he said.” Bitcoin is not for me. A plenty of things that have not been for me in the past 20 years have worked out, but I am not guessing that this will work out .”

Blankfein is the latest boss of a major bank to voice scepticism about bitcoin, after JP Morgan’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, described it as hoax that would ultimately blow upand said it was only fit for use by drug dealers, assassins and people living in places such as North Korea.

On Wednesday, Sir Jon Cunliffe, a deputy governor of the Bank of England, said the digital currency was too smallto pose a systemic menace to the global economy. He also cautioned that bitcoin investors needed” to do their homework “.

Despite the fall in bitcoin’s value on Thursday, it remained far higher than it was at the start of 2017, when it was trading at $998. It is the biggest gainer of all asset class this year, prompting sceptics to declare it a classic speculative bubble that could burst.

Banks and other financial institutions remain concerned about bitcoin’s early associations with money laundering and online crime. Unlike traditional currencies, bitcoin is not issued or regulated by a central bank or government.

bitcoin

Lee Wild, head of equity strategy at online trading company Interactive Investor, said the volatility in bitcoin trading was ” wild west stuff “.

” Cryptocurrency land’s extreme volatility is like catnip to high-risk traders, and even traditional investors are dipping their toe. Dedicated there’s no logical style to value them with any accuracy, this remains wild west stuff .”

Analysts at the spread betting firm, City Index, said:” While traditional assets are experiencing historically low levels of volatility, the whipsaw action of the bitcoin is depicting “members attention” of traditional traders. Meanwhile existing traders and newcomers are increasingly interested in dread of missing out .”

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