What cryptocurrencies do that Visa, Mastercard & American Express cannot do for your online business?

Since you can’t pay with cash online, I would venture to say that most online buyers use a credit card to pay for their purchases. If you are the online seller, you pay up to 6% or more to accept credit cards and you take a risk due to the rampant fraud on card not present transactions. Lets us assume you are an online business where budgets are tight and cannot put in place the sophisticated fraud-detection software required in your checkout process to limit or stop fraud. If this sounds like your shop then keep reading, this is for you.

The customer is always right.

If a credit card number gets cloned or stolen and you as a shopper gets charged for a shopping spree you call your bank/credit card company and reject all the charges — because it was not you making them. For the most part, the credit card companies will side with the customer and either put a hold on the transaction and even reverse the charges for the cardholder while the issue gets resolved with the vendor.

Customer protection equals loyalty.

Usually, the bank and credit card company do a very good job of fulfilling their promise to the cardholders, they will reverse all the charges and eventually get all your money back. This makes a lot of sense if you are the credit card holder, after all, you are paying for the card and all the benefits it brings with it – the credit card companies and the banks want you to keep your card and happily pay the fees every year/month. It is in their best interest to have a loyal customer.

woman holding card while operating silver laptop

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

But did you ever wonder what about the hundreds of merchants who sold, shipped or served to someone using a stolen card number? Well, the short answer is they are the ones carrying the burden.

The credit card processor policy: reverse the charge first ask questions later.

If you are a merchant that accepts credit cards, most often you need a credit card processor. In short, they take the cash from your customer and deposit it into your bank account minus a few fees. That works well most of the time, until a cloned credit card transaction comes across, in which case the credit card processor will take the cash out of your bank account and “process a reversal of the transaction” — and yes they are allowed to do that for up to a year after the transaction was executed… read the fine print in your merchant processing contract. Not cool if you are the seller right?

What are the alternatives?

An alternative you might want to consider is accepting cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or ethereum just to name a few. Payments in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin (BTC) or ethereum (ETH) are better suited for online shipping because they are irreversible. Once the transaction has been confirmed by the network, you got your payment and there are no reversals. The blockchain is immutable, no one can go back into the blockchain take your money.

The bad news is that crypto wallets (where you keep the keys to your bitcoins or ethereum) are not as prevalent or as widely accepted as credit cards are today. Just ask around how many people in a room have a credit card on their wallet vs how many have a crypto wallet (even though the vast majority are free and pretty easy to use as an app on your phone).

Who will drive the adoption of cryptocurrency?

Consumer have a solution in their pockets already, they have cash and credit cards. They are not the ones feeling the pain and neither are their banks or Visa, MasterCard or American Express, those guys are making millions of dollars on transaction fees. It is the online shops who have the problem, and it is them who need to start changing the habits of their consumers to prevent the millions of dollars lost to credit card fraud.

Cryptocurrencies are not hard, you already know how to use them.

If you know how to use Venmo, PayPal, Square, Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp, Tinder, Instagram or Twitter, you already know how to use a crypto wallet in your phone. It is as easy as to download a reputable wallet like MyCellium, Blockchain, Xapo, Ethereum or Jaxx. If you are a retailer, you might want to try Coinbase or a cryptocurrency enabled shopping cart.

The most important step is to get educated on this new technology, because it will save you lot of money in the long run, and that is something Visa, MasterCard or Visa cannot do today.

If you want to learn more about how using cryptocurrencies or using blockchain technology can save you money, contact me via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/powermeza/

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How to reset your crypto wallet password.

In the early days of bitcoin, I jumped at the opportunity to learn something useful and new and in the process change the world. That was waaay back when I could mine enough bitcoins on my desktop so I could trade some and give some away. This was the time when bitcoin was “really cheap”.

I was very excited about the new technology and have given many of my friends a few bitcoins; to show them how this new thing worked. Naturally, my friends surely thought “…here he comes with yet another one of his inventions…” and politely listen to my explanation of the blockchain, loaded the app on their mobile phones, created their wallets, accepted the bitcoin and nodded and smile a lot as I ranted on and on about how this was going to transform and empower people in the future.vid.project2

Fast forward a few years when the price of bitcoin moved above $10,000.00 USD and kept going up a few months ago, I started to get calls that roughly went like this:

my friend: “Hi there, do you remember when you gave me those bitcoins?”

me: “Yes, I remember, can you believe it, they are worth a small fortune now!”

my friend: “Well yes, I want to sell them, but I forgot the password for my wallet, do you know how to do a password recovery or how to reset the password?”

me: “well… [long silence], you see, there is no such thing as a password recovery method that I know for X wallet…”

my friend: “Huh? [you can kind of hear a big gasp], what do you mean there is no password reset?”

The privacy, security and fraud triangle

Bitcoin was designed with the idea of privacy and decentralization. This was accomplished by using very high security. The dark part of privacy is that it lends itself to fraud. And in order to implement anti-fraud measurements, you need to expose the participants on a transaction. By now you should begin to figure out it is an all or none type of conundrum.

In summary, if you lost your wallet password (keys or PIN) there is not a place, person, organization that has a way to re-issue a new one like they do at your local bank, because it will violate your privacy and security, and will expose you to fraud.

The distributed ledger part

At one conference I overheard someone explaining to their friend about the blockchain, it is a difficult concept to grasp for a non-techie, and I was sensing a bit of frustration on the guy trying to explain it to this friend until he said: “Man… the blockchain is in the cloud!”. What I think he meant is that it is not centrally located, everyone (kind of) has a copy on their machine of the blockchain, so it is technically not in the cloud but it kind of is. The key take away here is that because it is not owned or controlled by a central organization, it is up to each an everyone to look after your own keys (aka passwords). The cool thing about the blockchain ledger is that you can inspect any account on it as well as all the transactions on it.

Let’s repeat it together 3 times: increase security, increase security, increase security.

I spend a lot of time analazing, new technology, new and innovative companies, ICOs (aka Initial Token Offerings), funds and more to invest on (or not). I am not a financial advisor nor I play one on TV, and I dont recommend anyone getting into something he or she is now knowledgeable about. But there is ONE thing EVERYONE should do: increase your level of security. I started a new practice a few years back; now when I start to teach anyone about how to get into crypto trading I have them adopt a new mantra. It is very simple, I tell them to repeat three times what is the first thing and the most important thing they need to do to keep their investments safe: increase security, increase security. increase security.

This of course means don’t forget your password but go the extra length to secure your wallet keys (maybe use hardware wallets), use very long passwords (maybe use LastPass), implement two-factor authentication (2FA) on all your accounts or use a YubiKey and if you must exchange sensitive information encrypt your emails (maybe use Virtru) or use a fully encrypted email service like ProtonMail for example.

It is sometimes inconvenient, but believe me, it is a small price to pay not to lose your money. One more for extra credit — if you have old email or social media accounts that you do not use, close/delete them. Same goes for old blogs, picture sites, or accounts in e-stores you no longer buy from. Remember, someone trying to hack you to gain control of your bitcoins will go through ALL your accounts, old PCs, old USB drives, etc to gain information they can exploit.

If you can’t remember your password we should thank you!

I am truly very sorry for those friends of mine and everyone else who lost access to their wallets; they technically lost a small fortune. There are people advertising ways to recover access, but the reality is that it is not that simple. In the bright side, the amount of bitcoins that will ever be minted is fixed and thanks to all those who lost their keys, the number of bitcoins in circulation will slowly shrink and therefore the value of the ones available to trade will increase… and for that, we should thank you.

In short, don’t lose your password!

Should I move to Silicon Valley to immerse myself in technology and entrepreneurship?

I get asked this question a few times a year so it is time to write a post about some of the most common misconceptions of being in a wrong or right place.  It is very true that there are a lot of factors, but let’s explore two, what your potential customers think and what your potential suppliers/employees think.

Your customers won’t really care where you are as far as you have a great product/service.

Think about it for a moment, unless your product or service has a strong correlation to its origin, like Champagne or Tequila, does it matter where it was made? For most people the answer simply is no; for most customers, good quality and price are more important.  The point I am trying to make is that unless your product falls on a specific category were location is part of the brand, where you are is not so important.Golden Gate

For many companies, the “where something is made” is just a function of either cost or closeness to raw materials. This two factors will have the greatest impact on location, so let’s expand on that because costs and the sourcing of raw materials are intrinsically intertwined. For example, if you are close to the providers of raw materials then your costs might be less, but the place where you need to deliver your products is far you might need to add the cost to ship your products.

The same hoholdsrue for some services, it might be cheaper to service a customer from an offshore location, but you might incur additional overtime because the service time window is not the same.  For many transnational corporations, this is a constant balancing act, as new markets emerge and competitive pressures drive prices down, they must constantly find better ways to extract the cost from the process of manufacturing their products and deliver their services.

The other key ingredient of successful entrepreneurial ecosystems is the ecosystem itself.

While it is true that Silicon Valley has lead the high-tech revolution and as a byproduct created one of the most successful entrepreneurial ecosystems, it is not the only one. There are many thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems in the USA and around the globe. Some exist as byproducts of beneficial economic conditions and other were purposely created to fuel the improvement of economic conditions. There are great examples all over the world, all the way from Chile to Israel, from Miami, Austin, Boulder to Shenzhen China ( The Silicon Valley of Hardware https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGJ5cZnoodY )

So you are thinking about going to Silicon Valley in order to start a career and get immersed in high-tech; First of all congratulations, you have chosen one of the most exciting paths I can think of. Entrepreneurship and technology will continue to be areas of incredible growth for many more years. Historically, Silicon Valley has been the place to be surrounded by like-minded people. One does not need to wander too far to find some interesting places to land, for example, Startup Embassy ( http://www.startupembassy.com/ ) is the oldest entrepreneurial residence located in Palo Alto. They provide a soft landing for international tech entrepreneurs they claim to be a community of like-minded founders and provide collaboration, living and workspace. In short, Silicon Valley’s ecosystem does a good job welcoming people (https://youtu.be/r44RKWyfcFw ) but the key point is that there are many other great places too.

So you see, where one should go really depends; like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland says ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4fHre-yRPY ) it all depends on what you want to do.

Drop me a line in the comments below, what would you do?  Would you pack your bags and head to Silicon Valley, Austin, Boulder, Shenzhen or Miami? If so, tell me why or why not?

Is Miami the place to catch the next Unicorn or just a bunch of mosquitos?

Start-up city Miami

Start-up city Miami

Sometimes opportunities reveal themselves in very subtle ways that only trained eyes can spot.  Some other times, opportunities are like a mosquitos that it just keep coming back, and keep buzzing around until you slap yourself, only to realize that you missed it.

The story of Miami and its up and coming startup scene, is turning out to be like that of the mosquito; an opportunity that you almost slapped your neck and missed it – but didn’t!

Back on September 16th, 2013, I wrote in this same blog, a post about the Miami tech scene (https://innovationstrategy4.biz/2013/09/16/is-the-super-hot-miami-tech-scene-sustainable/ ), in it I speculated if the movement that started to gain the attention of a few was sustainable, it could turn out to be something big. The post attracted some attention and was the trigger for many interesting conversations with high-tech investors and VCs in South America, Europe and the US Norths East.

Fast-forward to today and you can actually feel the vibrant ecosystem buzz with energy, very accurately represented by the sign on the terrace at the top of BUILDING.co, one of the newest and hottest co-working spaces in Miami that reads: “Start-up City Miami”.

I think the 2015 Kauffman index (http://www.kauffman.org/microsites/kauffman-index ) is not wrong, Miami has the highest startup density, and if you have already started your search to catch the next Unicorn (a company valued at $1 Billion dollars+), you most definitely need to keep a watchful eye on Miami, because if you blink, you will end up slapping your neck, only to realize that just like that mosquito, you might have just missed your chance of a life time.

Sustainability Management as part of your Innovation Strategy

In order for a company to have a sustainable business each senior manager should have assigned responsibility for sustainability within each business unit.  Innovation strategy and sustainability management go hand in hand for future growth, and excellence in execution of ‘brilliant’ innovative ideas. The senior managers should oversee the following:

  • Implementation of local sustainability policies and initiatives.

  • Development of local sustainability policies and processes.

  • Collation of all relevant data on sustainability issues.

  • Reporting of all progress to company’s sustainability team.

In many companies and business units, individual managers might oversee sustainability activities alongside other professional responsibilities. These activities are therefore reflected in the overall assessment of the sustainability manager’s job performance.

The need for sustainability team is vital for business success, thus the company has to appoint a Head of Sustainability to execute their enterprise wide sustainability goals.

The Head of Sustainability should report to the CEO, and the organization should have a member of company’s Management Board be responsible for sustainability issues. Questions of strategy and policy are subject to approval by company’s Executive and Management Boards.

For example the Aegon company uses this innovation model and embracing sustainability management successfully with excellent results as reported in their 2012 Annual Report (what sustainability means to us).

In this business model. the responsibilities of local sustainability management include:

  • Managing the strategic framework for business unit sustainability activities; developing and introducing relevant policies; and

  • Supporting operating entities in integrating and implementing the department’s strategic approach and policies

  • Coordinating the main sustainability activities between subsidiaries, strategic functions and Executive Board of Management

  • Further integrating sustainability aspects into existing business processes and operations

  • Acting as a knowledge hub and facilitating best practice exchange across the business units

Additionally, the company might utilize existing business processes, such as Risk Management Framework, Project Management Framework and Compliance System, to establish minimum sustainability standards and monitor compliance with them.

By Tanya Petrova, MSMIS, PMP at Green PM Consulting
www.LinkedIn.com/in/tanyapetrova

Is the super hot Miami tech scene sustainable?

According to a recent article published by Fast Company, Florida ranks number one for Innovation and number three in Revenue per startup at $1.2 million.  There seems to be a consensus from the various media outlets that Miami’s high tech movement has legs.   I can attest to the veracity of the rankings and media buzz because almost every other day I learn about a new startup, technology event or product being launched either here in Miami or by a Miami based startup.

Brickell Ave

Brickell Ave

Unlike some hyper-local technology hubs, the theSouth Florida (SoFL) and in particular the Miami (MIA) tech hub has significant international influence and its ripples can be felt from as far as Buenos Aires (Argentina), Santiago (Chile),  Western Europe and of course San Francisco, California.  Much of the success can be attributed to the many local organizations doing a great job energizing and attracting talented individuals to the region.  Their hard work in conjunction with local and state leaders, educational institutions and local companies is paying off big.  I do want to mention some of the organization that should receive recognition, below in no particular order:

http://www.southfloridatech.org

http://venturehive.co/

http://refreshmiami.com/

http://sfima.com/

http://www.lift1428.com/projectlift

http://www.miamijobfest.co/

The good news is that all this attention is good for Miami.  The fact that media is labeling Miami’s Technology hub as “Silicon Beach” and social medial hash-tags like #SunshineEconomy are found frequently in twitter, has help attract some key technology events and conferences, like:

 http://tedxmiami.com/  

http://tfamericas.org/

http://fiba.net/

http://www.simemia.co/

http://webcongress.com/miami/

But I believe being able to attract great talent, foster collaboration and innovation, will only get you so far without a steady flow of capital.  To really make a significant and sustainable impact, investors must make money.  It seems traditional venture capital (VC) firms have just begun to expand their portfolios in SoFL, but most remain cautious and most continue to fund predominantly west coast startups based in “Silicon Valley”.

But not all the recent buzz has gone unnoticed, we have seen some organizations very active locally like the Knight Foundation and some non traditional organizations making inroads. Many agree that Miami already has the attention of the Latin American investors, or at least the local media is quick to point out in some of their recent publications like: “TechCrunch Disrupt Finale: Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer and .. The Latin Invasion” or “How Miami Is Filing The High-Tech Void In Latin America”.

And all this is beginning to sound very familiar, it it sounding like an excerpt from Andres Oppenheimer’s best seller book Cuentos Chinos, where he proposes a connection of between Miami’s success and the worsening economical and social situation in Latin-america.  I am not an economist, but one can easily extrapolate and conclude that if Miami’s high tech success is depending heavily in Latin-america, then the party will abruptly end by 2017 when Brazil economy decelerates and the rest of the region finds some form of equilibrium.

But independently of the outcome of Latin America and its impact on Miami, the region still must prove to the investors one thing and one thing only: it must show returns.  All this must produce success stories and demonstrate there are profits to be made.  If “Silicon Beach” is here to stay, it must produce a stable stream of IPOs (Initial Public Offerings), buyouts or any arrangement where institutional and private investors can see returns.

It takes a couple of years for the average startup to start seeing profits, this means if Miami’s high tech scene is going to be sustainable, we should be starting to hear the IPO chatter soon and hopefully thing getting ready to go no later than 2016.

So lets get the ball rolling, shall we?  What Miami based company do you think will IPO or be sold/bought first?

by Juan Meza

Why should we hire you when we can outsource or crowdsource it?

Yes, I know, it is a loaded question, but every opportunity I get to run this experiment on my digital marketing students I do it; and to add a little motivation for them to participate, I add: “… and whomever gives me the right answer, I will make sure they get the job.”

Usually many eager hands go up for a chance to answer the question, so I pick a few students and listen to their answers, but so far to this day, all have missed the point.  But everyone deserve a second chance and invite them to think about it a little more and write me an email with the answer.

Imagine you are at a job interview — I tell the class — and the interview has gone great, they like you, you like them and then, as you are just about the head out, someone knocks at the door and a head pops in through the corner of the door frame.  The head belongs to the  the boss of-the-boss of the people interviewing you.  She apologizes for the interruption and ask you if she can ask you one last question before you leave.  You nod your head in approval and she walks into the room and asks the question — “So why should we hire you and not just outsource/freelance it?”

Although the scenario above is unlikely to happen to you in an interview, I can assure you it is happening, and it is happening every day in all companies.  The main reason for this is because employee costs have a direct and significant impact the to the bottom line. But the interesting part is; if the current trend towards an open talent economy holds, things will flip upside-down and the same question might sound something like “So why should we freelance/crowdsource it and not just hire you?”

According to my friends at Deloitte, in their Human Capital Trends 2013 leading indicators publication, by 2020 half the people you rely on will not actually work for you.  So allow me to be the first one to welcome to the open talent economy — “a collaborative, transparent, technology-driven, rapid-cycle way of doing business. What the open source model did for software, the open talent economy is doing for work.”

So getting back to what is the right answer, as you might already suspect, it depends.  Not all the jobs can be outsourced for a myriad of reasons.  To name a few, security, intellectual property, technology trade barriers, physical location dependency, etc.  But many can be freelanced/outsourced/crowdsourced and by doing so, companies and individuals will gain significant advantages in cost, flexibility and speed.

If I was at that interview, I will answer to the executive something like “If your company is ready to outsource/crowdsource/freelance then you should and I am the freelancer to do it for you.  If in the other hand, the company is not ready, I can help you innovate faster and more efficiently than anyone else.”  Then I will pause to let her process the info and then toss my favorite theatrical quote for the occasion, “Help me… help you.” — Jerry Maguire [1996].

by Juan Meza

Most Innovative Companies of 2013

The most innovative companies of 2013 can be considered to be the ones which are on the verge or already leading a market takeover. These companies combine together a diverse group of experts and innovators, all of which have their eyes set towards changing the world. Whether it is the creation of new technology or the innovative footwear, these are the top 5 companies which leaped all others according to the fast company magazine.

1. Nike

FuelStefan Olander,  the lead of the Nike’s Digital Sport division, is working in collaboration with a team of engineers who are creating of a pair of Nike Shoes with embedded sensors. These sensors would be able to detect the pressure which is created by the shoes. The data collected is then digitally fed to an iPhone. This device is just a fragment of the innovative products and services the company plans to launch.

2. Amazon

Having introduced the same day shipping options in a number of US Markets, and then same day delivery service Amazon deserves to be at the top grabbing the 2nd spot among the most innovative companies. In all, the entire retail industry has by now realized the true potential of Amazon, as it notches up its market shares with every second that passes by. That’s not all, as every other week the company manages to make the news through the launch of a new technology or service.

3. Square

Empowering the customers with the credit card management and transaction services using a mobile device, is the basic idea which Square had at the start, but now it has managed to extend its lead over all of its competitors.

4. Splunk

Whether it is the billions of clicks on Facebook and Twitter or any activity on all other websites, Splunk has the expertise and the resources for monitoring, indexing as well as collecting the data and putting it to good use through which has provided new business opportunities and profits for its clients.

5. Fab

With dozens of online boutiques and design centric products, Fab managed to capturea revenue of about $ 150 million in 2012. Moreover, the membership for the company is also progressing at maddening pace which earns it the right to be termed among the top innovation companies.

For the complete list go to http://www.fastcompany.com/section/most-innovative-companies-2013

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Building innovation teams is a top priority for CEOs

The creation of an innovation team is not something that can be taken lightly in order to be effective.  The job demands good strategy and strong commitment and involves the formulation and creation of a culture that would encompass the whims of innovation through the process of encouragement and promotion of entrepreneurship in the organization.  According to the most recent research conducted by the Conference Board, CEO Challenge 2013, innovation is among the top 3 challenges faced by CEO’s in 2013. need to tackle. Moreover, this report also ranks at the top, issues related to human capital, for example training and retention, both important aspects of innovation.

Conference Board, CEO Challenge 2013

Conference Board, CEO Challenge 2013

In the pursuit of growth and innovation, executive leadership is committing to the allocation of dedicated teams that are responsible for leading the entire organization.  The Chief Innovation Officer is yet another important figure when it comes to guiding the plans and goals of organization towards creation of new ideas and profit. The Innovation Leader Forum (ILF) has been working for the past three years connecting innovators and leaders who are directly concerned for the initiation of an organizational change.

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Innovation must encompass the entire organization

Innovation in any organization is about doing something new or different which would turn out to be beneficial.  It involves the encouragement of new ideas and perspectives in all dimensions of the business and it must go all the way from operations to customer service.  For innovation initiatives to be truly effective, they must encompass the entire organization.   Among the numerous facets to consider, there are four key aspects that require special attention and these are,

Sony Latin America’s Juan Meza asked, “Who is going to make the next iPhone? Is it going to be Apple? Probably not.” PHOTOS: Carlos Miller

Vision

Many organizations lag behind maybe because they over emphasize on historical performance and data.  Traditional thinking leads us to repeat those things that have worked in the past.  The risk of only focusing on what have worked in before, is that the one thing that was successful before does not guarantee success in the future.  In reality, innovation encompasses looking in the forward direction and not necessarily backwards.

Training

Another core reason, for which most of the companies fail to respond to the need of the modern times, lies in the lack of training.  If the employees and other people linked to the organization are not trained on the latest techniques and methods, growth and expansion of a business will be much slower.  This is often one of the most overlooked aspects of the innovation puzzle, yet one of the most important since most often than not, employees and partners play the most important role in accelerating organizational change or stopping it on its tracks.

Teamwork

Collective effort is something which can be termed to be the backbone of an organization.  The outcome of teamwork is speed and efficiency.  Most modern business challenges are extremely complex, it is unlikely for individuals to get as far as if the task is done collaboratively.  There is no such thing as individualism when working an organization and the companies which emphasize on the teamwork and collaboration are the ones that gain the maximum rewards and profits.

C-Level Support

We are beginning to notice some organizations embrace innovation at the highest levels with the creation of a new C-Level function; welcome the new Chief Innovation Officers. We are seeing these new CIOs transforming the innovation arena, as they not only get the chance to tap on organizational wide resources but have also the responsibility to bring new revenue.  The key point is to secure executive management support to tap the right resources across the organization.

Innovation initiatives are often seen as risky investments by some, however in the hyper competitive environment we live in today, those organizations who do not innovate will soon find themselves fighting for survival as they one day will notice their sales had vanish overnight.

For more on this topic go to  http://www.worldcityweb.com/event-coverage/marketing-connections/101-innovation-sonys-meza-says-must-encompass-entire-company

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