Digital Banking: Is Your Local Bank Branch About to Become a Dinosaur?

Digital Banking

Digital Banking – Phasing our the Bring and Mortar Banks Branch

Digital Banking

Digital Banking: Is Your Local Bank Branch About to Become a Dinosaur?

In the past, we have written about digital currencies like Worldcoin and BitCoin. For most, however, the dollar is still king and traditional financial institutions remain a big part of our lives. Until the past decade or so, banking has remained relatively unchanged. Banks consisted of a quiet, almost library-like lobby. Velvet ropes would guide us to the next teller, who would sit behind a window or tall counter. But the banking industry is undergoing growing, and in many cases, shrinking pains. There are big changes taking place in this legendarily stoic business and odds are they will, if they haven’t already, affect you.

The Growth of Digital and Mobile Banking

Banks have always seemed to be just a step behind when it comes to transforming digitally. In part, this reluctance to change has been purposeful. This was to cater to an older customer base who held significant deposits and were less likely to appreciate change. It also was due to security concerns and significant investments in bricks and mortar buildings and infrastructure. In the past, banks dealt with a large amount of currency and needed secure locations to store and manage it. Today, most money already exists in the digital realm.

Since the Great Recession of 2008, bank branches and employees have dropped significantly. This was due to economic concerns, competitive reasons, and the transition of a significant number of their customers to digital banking. Millennials, today’s largest generation, prefer digital banking and is quite comfortable conducting banking tasks on mobile devices. If checks aren’t direct deposited, banking apps can easily scan and deposit funds quickly and securely.

A report by a research firm CACI and quoted in an article in The Financial Brand predicts that physical visits to bank branches will drop by 36% by 2022. It also anticipates mobile banking to rise by a whopping 121% over that same period. This increase in mobile banking will lead to a drop in “old” technology like desktops and laptops by 63% over that five year period. Younger consumers are already comfortable with digital and mobile banking. By 2022, it is expected that these 18-25-year-olds will only find it necessary to visit a bank branch twice annually. Even older customers may find their visits limited to five to seven times per year.

Digital Banking

What Will Happen to Bank Branch Locations?

The American Bankers Association says that the banking industry has lost over 67,000 jobs since 2009. That is a bit deceiving because the industry is in transition and is hiring. Instead of hiring tellers and loan officers, however, banks are hiring more IT and technically adept employees to help facilitate this major shift in their industry.

Traditional banks are looking for ways to reinvent the banking experience into a more contemporary model. The traditional “Bankers hours” will likely become a thing of the past and the sterile bank branches will give way to more convenient alternatives. In Europe, banks are already experimenting with pop-up and kiosks type banking centers in malls and retail stores. In the United States, some large retailers have worked in establishing banking offices in their locations. They still mainly operate like traditional branch locations.

Will your local bank branch become a dinosaur? Well, a report from commercial real estate firm JLL says that bank branches will be reduced by over 25% within the next ten years. That still leaves thousands of bricks and mortar locations. What will they do at these locations and how will banks improve the customer experience with fewer employees?

Digital Banking

The Transition from Financial to Technological

To keep up with their strictly digital competitors, banks are making the transformation to become as much technical organizations as financial. They are also taking the opportunity to expand their services and products into other financial areas. But with a shrinking number of employees and locations, how will they accomplish this?

The answer may lie in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

You see, banking, after all, is a data-driven business making it an almost perfect industry for machine learning and artificial intelligence. Using predictive and customer analytics, your “teller” of the future will know the best time to suggest refinancing your home, changing credit cards, and even when you should start thinking about buying a new car. They know your age and can prompt you to increase your retirement savings. They will learn your willingness to accept or desire to avoid risk and offer investment products accordingly.

Your bank can determine when you get paid and how much you make. Currently, much of this data is siloed in different locations, on different servers in various data centers or in the cloud. It is just a matter of time before this information is connected and machine learning and AI combine to create your teller of the future. Will it actually be a robot? It will more likely be in the form of a digital image on your phone or on a touchscreen in a discrete, cozy private office at a bank branch. It will recognize you, pull up your past transactions and financial history, conduct your transaction, and offer financial advice and products. Some will find it imposing and a bit frightening. Others will embrace the speed, accuracy, and convenience of this new way of banking. They will sell you on the convenience and advantage of having all your financial data with one bank so they can better help you manage an all-compassing financial plan. It will be a compelling argument.

Banking may have been just a tad slow in embracing technology in the past but it is riding a tidal wave of change right now. Bank branches may not totally disappear but they will certainly change in form and function. Considering the drudgery traditional banking has been in the past, most of us will view this as a good thing. A very good thing.

Catching Up With Bitcoin Value: Where’s It Been? Where’s It Going?

Bitcoin Value

Catching up with the Bitcoin Value!

Bitcoin Value

Catching Up With Bitcoin Value: Where’s It Been? Where’s It Going?

If you are a late-comer to the world of Bitcoins, don’t be alarmed. There are many who don’t understand how or where this digital currency made its way into our vernacular or our economy. If you’ve been following Bitcoins for years and understand their history and the reasoning behind them, feel free to take a break. This is for the people who need to catch up on what Bitcoins are, how they came into being, why they are perceived as having value, how they are being used today, and their potential purpose in the future.

A Quick History of Bitcoins

Bitcoins have a relatively short history, being first introduced in 2009. They were created as a cryptocurrency, basically a digital asset that is controlled by cryptography. More simply put, Bitcoin is digital money that its users agree to trade for things or services of value.

Bitcoins are earned or traded between users over a block-chain ledger. Block-chain is a network of computers worldwide, where each user is identified by their own address or “wallet.” Unlike traditional “money”, there is no central bank. Instead, users with access to the block-chain ledger verify who has how many bitcoins so the validity of transactions can be determined.

Both block-chain technology and bitcoins were created by a person or persons who went by the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto. Transactions take place as follows:

  1. A transaction is created.
  2. The transaction is broadcast to the peer-to-peer block-chain network.
  3. The transaction is validated and bitcoins are transferred to the verified “wallet”.
  4. The “ledger” maintains a record of the transaction.

Bitcoins and block-chain technology work hand in hand although there are those who are using block-chain technology in more diverse ways.

How do Bitcoins Have Value?

In the early days of money, coins had value because the metal content in them had value. Today, that is generally not the case. A dollar bill is valued at a dollar because we all agree it is worth a dollar. The same is true for those who use bitcoins. Bitcoins have value because those who exchange them believe they have value. To add to the perception of “value” the creator of bitcoin had decided to cap the production of the digital currency to 21 million bitcoins.

You may ask. “If Bitcoins exist only in the digital realm, how is it possible for them to have value or be exchanged?” It is important to note that worldwide, most financial transactions today are already essentially digital. If you are paid through direct deposit, pay bills online, and use a debit card for day to day expenses, you are already trading in the digital realm.

The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Bitcoin

For the first couple of years bitcoins were “collectible” mainly by techies and had little to no value. In 2010, a year after first appearing on the scene, a Jacksonville, Florida pizza shop sold two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins. In early 2011, the price reached $1 per bitcoin, and soared to $31 by mid-year. By the end of the year it fell back down to $2, In 2012, the value slowly rose, rebounding to $13 by the end of the year.

The year 2013 was a remarkable year for bitcoins as it soared to $266 by mid-April, dropped to $100 by June, and then peaked at $1,232 by the end of November. In 2014, the price bounced between $340 and $1,000 throughout the year.

By 2015, bitcoins value had settled in to the $200-$500 range, and took another leap in value to $500-$700 through much of 2016. But few were prepared for the coming explosion in the value of bitcoins in 2017.

In January of 2017, the value of a bitcoin reached over $1,100 and was just getting started. In May and June the price soared to $2,000 and $3,000 respectively. In August, Bitcoin reached a new peak at $4,600 and briefly reached $5,000 in September. As of the fourth quarter of 2017, the price remained at over $4,000.

Those two pizzas in Jacksonville would be worth about $40 million dollars in today’s value for bitcoins.

Bitcoin Value Graphic

The Future of Bitcoin

Since 2013, Bitcoins have become increasingly accepted, helping to spur its growth and value. Today, many countries acknowledge it as currency and it is the most widely accepted crytocurrency on the planet. In the United States, the IRS refers to bitcoins as an intangible asset subject to taxation.

The cryptocurrency is not without its challenges. Because users store their bitcoins in “wallets” with pseudonyms, the precise identity of each is unknown. This makes bitcoins the perfect currency for nefarious activity, especially on the dark web. Another issue is that the value of bitcoins are extremely volatile and is constantly changing. This is challenging in a currency and even more risky as an investment.

The recent rises and falls in the value of bitcoins has people speculating once again whether bitcoins are the future of currency or a path to financial disaster. An article in USA Today noted two recent challenges to the future of Bitcoin. The first is that one of China’s largest Bitcoin exchanges is closing ahead of reports the country will order all of the cryptocurrency’s exchanges to cease operations. The second was a quote attributed to the CEO of JPMorgan Chase calling Bitcoin a “fraud” and stating that if any of his traders were found dealing in them they would be fired.

Never the less, the trading goes on and Bitcoin popularity continues to grow, especially in internet transactions. Keep in mind, this is a worldwide currency that has only been in existence for less than nine years, half of which it struggled in relative obscurity. If 2017 is any indication, the future of this particular cryptocurrency will be interesting to watch, even if from the sidelines.

OrangeWebsite accepts Bitcoin as a payment method for any and all of our services. For more information about us, please don’t hesitate to contact us here. If you found this article interesting or know someone who might feel free to share it using the social media buttons on your screen.

Bitcoin Update

Bitcoin Update

Bitcoin Update

The Latest Bitcoin Update and Why It Matters for your Privacy

Bitcoin Update

Bitcoin Update

Bitcoin has been exploding as of late. For those who are concerned with getting web hosting and other services without needing to disclose who they are, this news about Bitcoin should be relevant and promising.

Just What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is what’s known as a cryptocurrency, which means essentially that is’ a means of sending money from one party to another online using a secure and largely anonymous process. One way of describing this process is a block chain. Basically, all transactions on Bitcoin are done publically and using mathematical equations.

This helps to make Bitcoin more private, especially with the additional encrypted used on it. There’s some debate on exactly what level Bitcoin provides, with many sources, such as the Bitcoin site itself, saying that cash is always going to be more anonymous.

Bitcoin News

The big news about Bitcoin in recent days is that the value of it is going up and up. One of the reasons why this is particularly relevant to those seeking privacy and security online is because there has been some concern in the past about the stability of Bitcoin. People have proclaimed the ultimate destruction of the cryptocurrency, and cryptocurrencies in general, for some time.

Recently, there was a spike in Bitcoin value, showing that the cryptocurrency still has life in it. It does look like there’s some correction needed in the market, of course, since there have been major dips after the spike as well. Just as an example, there was a week when the currency went all the way up to $2800 at its height, where it was trading as $200 per coin in 2013. There’s no doubt that there are some risks inherent in the currency as it moves up and down in a way that is unpredictable, but there’s also a lot of potential there as well.

Why Bitcoin Matters in General

There are a number of situations online where you would prefer a higher level of security and anonymity than you would get otherwise. For example, if you wanted to seek out hosting services from a company such as OrangeWebsite, you might be concerned that this money transaction can be traced back to you.

However, with the independent nature of Bitcoin, you can gain a level of privacy that many other electronic forms of transfer don’t provide. For example, credit cards require you to list your name and address so tracking you is easy. Bitcoin doesn’t require this. Once you fund a wallet, this wallet is accessible to anyone who has the mathematical key to it.

This means you definitely need to remember your key, and you definitely need to keep it to yourself, but it also means that it won’t be trivial to find you the way it is with credit cards.

Bitcoin Update

How the Bitcoin Update Affects Your Finances and Privacy

All this is to say that Bitcoin appears to be here to stay, despite its occasional instability. It also means that for some, it could represent a multi-purpose tool. For example, those who want to invest in Bitcoins can use some of this investment in order to pay for things privately and securely in a way that’s more independent and harder to track. In other words, you can accomplish multiple goals by working with just one thing, namely Bitcoins.

Plus, you’d be surprised how useful this is since there are more places where Bitcoins can bail you out then it might seem like initially. For example, some countries have bans on certain types of products and services. This isn’t to say that the product or service is illegal, just that traditional ways of paying for these services may be just about impossible to pay for because all the major credit card companies cave to pressure from governments or other institutions to not allow people from their country to use these common credit cards to pay.

This includes products like medication that has been reviewed as being OK by most countries in the world but banned by a few, for example. It can also include various kinds of services like Virtual Private Networks for privacy. Bitcoin can make paying for these products or services possible logistically when it wouldn’t have been otherwise.

But this isn’t necessarily limited just to items that are controversial. When you rely on credit cards and banks, they are often directly beholden to government control. As long as you are in a country that doesn’t try to limit what you want to do, this is obviously a new problem. But some countries may restrict your Internet freedom.

They may prevent you from getting hosting from the companies you want to use, whether this is Orangewebsite or any other for no other reason than the company isn’t approved by your country of origin or any number of other unfair reasons.

So, the news of Bitcoin having the occasional surge and continuing to survive despite all naysayers that predict its doom over and over indicates that there may be enough faith in Bitcoin that more and more websites will start taking it as a form of payment.

This is good news if you don’t wish to announce your choice for hosting, VPN, medication, or anything else that any number of credit agencies, governments, or anyone else that might be spying on you online.

For more information about Bitcoin Updates and using Bitcoin to pay for hosting, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

WorldCoin, the Faster Cryptocurrency

WorldCoin Foundation
WorldCoin Foundation

Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency. It’s still the best known and most widely used, but it’s far from the only one. The first attempt at anything will have problems, and Bitcoin’s biggest problem is that it takes a long time to confirm transactions. WorldCoin is an alternative that confirms transactions in minutes. OrangeWebsite accepts payment in both Bitcoin and WorldCoin. Either way, you get complete anonymity, and all you have to give us is an email address.

Cryptocurrency and blockchains

Cryptocurrencies depend on blockchain technology. It’s a “distributed ledger” which depends on two factors to guarantee its integrity. First, transactions are digitally signed. A wallet has an encryption key for authorizing transactions, so no one except its owner can spend its money. Second, many copies of the ledger are available on the Internet, under the control of different people. Changing one copy against the rules — for instance, to delete a transaction — will put it out of sync with all the other copies, and a comparison process will reject it.

This comparison takes time, though. Until a transaction is confirmed, a wallet could have insufficient funds. The confirmation time is inconvenient when people are in a hurry, especially for live transactions. Sometimes it takes hours, and no one would want to wait that long in a store. We recognize that when you’re setting up a new website with us, you’d like to finish the process in one sitting, rather than having to come back when the payment finally goes through.

Comparison with Bitcoin

WorldCoin is similar to Bitcoin in many ways, but its blockchain design gives a confirmation time of about a minute. As with Bitcoin, new WorldCoins can be produced by computational “mining.” Unlike Bitcoin, there is a hard limit of 265 million on the number that can ever be mined. About 113 million are currently in existence. This limit is intended to make sure WorldCoin appreciates over time. Currently, though, its price is lower than it has been historically. (That could change by the time you read this article. Always check current prices before investing!)

The market price of 1 WorldCoin is a fraction of a cent, compared with over $1,000 for 1 Bitcoin. That doesn’t actually matter, as long as you know the exchange rate. It just means that the same amount of money is a much bigger number of WorldCoins. It doesn’t tell you whether the value will go up or down in the future. People like to speculate in cryptocurrencies, but that’s a high-stakes game which is beyond the scope of this article. Both currencies work as practical payment systems.

Bitcoin is unquestionably easier to work with in many ways. It’s been around a while and has a fairly mature ecosystem. With WorldCoin, you’re venturing into less explored territory. If you’re comfortable with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, or if you just enjoy trying out new things, you should be able to find your way.

WorldCoin

Getting started

The first step is to create a WorldCoin wallet. The website offers wallet installation instructions. The procedure isn’t as simple and polished as with Bitcoin, where many software alternatives are available. Allow enough time to figure it out.

The next step is easier than with Bitcoin. You can use the faucet to get a small amount of WorldCoin. It won’t be enough to buy you anything, but it will help you get a feel for the wallet’s operation.

To get meaningful quantities of WorldCoin, you either have to get paid in it or exchange for it. The easiest way is to use a WorldCoin exchange. Be sure to pick one with a good reputation, not just the first one you encounter. Anyone can set up an exchange, and some can be unreliable, give you a poor exchange rate, or defraud you. CoinGecko lists four exchanges that handle WorldCoin.

If you’re buying with a credit card or from your bank account, then you’re giving the exchange information about your identity. In some countries, the mere act of purchasing cryptocurrency might flag you as a suspect. However, it is the most convenient way to get WorldCoin.

Be sure to use a different password for the exchange than for your wallet. Don’t put temptation in the path of an exchange, even if it’s an honest one. Don’t leave your coins sitting in the exchange any longer than you have to. They’re safer in your wallet than on any online site.

The future of WorldCoin?

WorldCoin has a small user base compared with Bitcoin, so it’s more prone to fluctuations. Those who like taking risks may enjoy the ups and downs. People who just want to use it as a method of fast payment can put in just enough money to cover their immediate plans.

The UNOCS (United Open Currency Solutions) group, formed in 2013, included WorldCoin, Feathercoin, and Phenixcoin. The goal was to join forces for software development. However, Feathercoin soon pulled out, and PhenixCoin (not to be confused with the still-active PhoenixCoin) collapsed. People lost WorldCoins in Phenix’s associated exchange, PhenixEx, which is doubtless why WorldCoin warns people so strongly against leaving their coins in exchanges. WorldCoin proved more durable than either of the other currencies, and it’s still going strong.

We think WorldCoin has a promising future, and that’s why we’re accepting payments in it. You can set up a service plan with us, pay in WorldCoin, and get confirmation in about a minute. We also accept Bitcoin if you’re less adventurous. We believe in offering you a choice.

To learn all about how you can set up an anonymous, uncensored website with OrangeWebsite, please contact us.

Online Shopping – 10 Things to Keep in Mind

An image of 3D man thinking about domain name.

Shopping online is more popular than ever before. Choose wisely when selecting where you buy from, and only shop on approved websites.

Online shopping has changed the retail industry by providing customers with 24/7 access to everything they could ever think of purchasing. There’s really very little need any more to go to physical stores. But just how great is that? Here are five pros and five cons of online shopping to consider before you make another purchase:

Pros

  1. Convenience: This is, of course, the main reason people shop online. They don’t need to leave their homes to go to a store (or several stores). They can even buy groceries online. Online shopping means that consumers can buy what they want when they feel like it or when they have time for it.

 

  1. Instant Price-Matching: Instead of going to several stores to find the best deal, consumers can simply open up several tabs and click through the stores’ online sites to see what the best bargain is. Online coupon sites even reward consumers for shopping online with cash back or points incentives.

 

  1. No Crowds: Those of us who are not fond of standing in line or being shoved around by strangers at the mall can appreciate the luxury of shopping in complete solitude without pushy customers or salespeople interfering.

 

  1. Discretion: Shopping online allows consumers to purchase all their more intimate or sensitive items without embarrassment or uncomfortable conversations with the sales staff.

 

  1. Saves Money: That little shopping cart in the corner of the screen lets consumers know exactly how much they are going to be paying. Seeing the total at the end allows customers the chance to review their purchases and put something back. Consumers are far less likely to put an item in a real shopping cart back once the cashier tells them their total.

 

Cons

  1. Identity theft: While most sites are relatively secure, security breaches do occur, which can result in headaches and potentially lost money for the consumer. If you want to avoid this possibility altogether, shopping in stores with cash is your best option.

 

  1. No Fitting Rooms: Buying clothes online is risky, unless you are completely familiar with the particular article of clothing you are purchasing. Without a chance to try something on, you have no guarantee that it will fit you or even look good on you until you receive it in the mail.

 

  1. Returns: If you do decide to return something, you often have to send it back through the mail instead of taking it to a store. While this isn’t an altogether impossible task, it can be time-consuming and aggravating.

 

  1. Quality: Just like size, quality is something you cannot necessarily see based solely on a two-dimensional screen. You cannot see every feature of something like a dishwasher online, and may miss details you would notice in the store.

 

  1. Customer Service: The main thing missing from the online shopping experience is a helpful sales staff who can answer your questions and offer you guidance. Online consumers shop alone and don’t have someone to talk to about a product the way that in-store shoppers do.

So what’s better, online or in-store shopping? Probably neither – it all depends on your personal preferences and what you’re buying. If you haven’t yet ventured into the world of online shopping, it can be a satisfying and easy experience. Yet there are always going to be some items like clothes or appliances that you’ll want to see in person before purchasing.