Assorted links – March 2018

Hello friends, here’s some of the online articles around IT, business, technology, finance, media, economics, politics, and other interesting stories I have been reading lately. Let’s launch your new web project together. Enjoy!

WhatsApp co-founder who made billions from Facebook now says to delete it

Automated trading platform AlgoTrader raises €1.1 million

Game Theory Scowls at Trump-North Korea Talks

Forget $100,000 bitcoin, says Kenneth Rogoff — try $100 instead

Time is FAST – Capture the MOMENT

Moovit raises another $50M led by Intel for its urban transit app, plans Mobileye collaboration

Trump Embarks on a Gigantic Fiscal Experiment: Debate

Stathis Kassios

Assorted links – January 2018

Google CEO: AI is ‘more profound than electricity or fire’

Argentina’s gamble on economic gradualism is working, so far

WhatsApp officially launches its app for businesses in select markets

Here’re 15 ideas to save your time on writing essay on future technologies

Ending Bitcoin support

Ikea Wants You to Pee on This Ad. If You’re Pregnant, It Will Give You a Discount on a Crib

Moovit: Big data for big cities

Thoughts about Morocco

-Stathis Kassios

My personal predictions for 2018 – tech & business trends in a globally connected world

It is this time of the year again to share my personal thoughts & predictions for how the world will change more in the new year with all the tech, business & economic developments taking place around the globe. Do you feel the world is a smaller place with all the direct global communications and consumption of media content? As we are bombarded daily with massive information through social media platforms, subconscious confusion is lurking in our rational thinking and we crush in perception walls of not understanding the events or the international forces that affect and shape our lives as economic entities & citizens. These global powers are aggressively shaping urbanization and the future which is now.

What a year for Bitcoin. There will be more excitement for cryptocurrencies as some financial institutions are starting to see opportunities where other bankers or governments see a growing threat for traditional currencies, trade and exchanges. History teaches us that when regulatory agencies tried to limit a new technology embraced by millions, they ended up strengthening these movements instead of stoping their activity. Just check the global news on Bitcoin to see that it is here to stay.

Bitcoin technology is hard to attack because of its decentralization core features making it less vulnerable to hackers and cyber attacks, in comparison to traditional online banking systems which are far more centralized as financial data stored or customer records can be broken (See Equifax). Cybersecurity therefore will be vital for customer trust and the IT infrastructure of banks needs to be updated, an opportunity for fintech startups. Goldman Sachs has decided to trade bitcoins which is a positive sign for potential investors of cryptocurrencies. The expected fluctuation of the Bitcoin price is normal because of its natural risk. Blockchain technologies supporting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will be an attractive field for investors willing to pour money in startups that develop blockchain to secure these systems from hacking or create new business models. Blockchain will make sure that data communications and financial exchanges will remain secure across the manufacturing, processing, distribution chain in various industries.

The banking and finance industry has started adopting mobile applications to serve their customers where a physical presence is not needed. In Asia, more and more people are using their smartphones for various payments, a trend grasped by local banks to offer payment methods through fintech applications. China is leading online payments as millions of people are skipping credit cards, cash, choosing mobile online payments (see Alipay).

Artificial Intelligence: Chatbots are gaining ground and although still in experimentation mode for advanced usage, virtual assistants will start replacing customer support jobs as bots will evolve to serving more complicated tasks and interacting with customers in real time. Bots will soon process our health records, financial records and consult us to optimize our diet or purchases when exceeding our card limits.

Because we are at a critical point where we are closer to creating computer systems that will surpass human performance, marking the beginning of the Singularity era and a new industrial revolution, a wave of change will benefit the world and bring domestic & international problems at the same time. AI will be generating so much data that data analytics will become a new science already taught across universities of the world and through online seminars. Understanding big data means a competitive advantage in global sales, operations and growth for companies. Internet-of-services (IoT) will also produce vast amounts of data and information gathered through sensors applied in house devices connected to the web (See Amazon’s Alexa).

Back in the offline world, Brexit is still discussed and negotiated between UK and EU casting shadows for the unity of the eurozone in 2018. Catalonia is another example of separatist national voices supporting analysts fears for the possible long term collapse of the European Union. A neo-liberal EU where economic and monetary policies are mainly set by Germany and Brussels, find opposition from populist parties and far-right politics. Euro-skepticism and separatism is an important threat to Europe’s unity.

Greece is and will remain the weakest link across all member states of the eurozone with a striving economy and highly indebted. Presenting a budget surplus due to over-taxation and not through real growth prospects is clearly a negative sign for the future of its economy. If Angela Merkel’s coalition government weakens more, we might see a different picture in European politics.

According to the IMF, India will be the country with the highest growth in 2018 leaving even China behind. Asia is the hot bed for watchers of global economic growth. This is because China is focusing on consumer growth along with product innovation. Networking effects will take place as the fruits of China’s economy will positively boost the economies neighbor states. If the world does not face an armed conflict between NK and the West in 2018 (US, SK, Japan), analysts expect moderate economic expansion in Asia although more reforms will be needed to meet global trade policies. Geopolitical tensions of late 2017 in the Eastern world for Jerusalem led by Trump might not scare global markets but Syria is a field where powers will not easily withdraw. Climate change is already affecting our economies and cities, countries should collaborate to further reduce the carbon print.

Global firms, institutions, companies & people, need answers. The way to provide reasonable answers today for the immense changes shaping our lives is by leveraging the power of technology and especially big data generated by smart applications, AI, IoT, Blockchain, online payments, etc. Globalization expressed through technological progress, geopolitical tensions, and the free movement of capital also creates inequality in countries where governments are corrupted or unfriendly policies are imposed upon citizens and entrepreneurs. The global economy is a playfield of technological disruptions, geopolitical tensions and political fragmentation, which will become more intense in 2018. By working together and understanding domestic and international powers will fill us with hope for the future.

Happy New Year!

I dedicate this blog entry & analysis to my daughter, Jenny, who turned 2 in December 2017. 

-Stathis Kassios

Κύπρος: Ενίσχυση της γυναικείας επιχειρηματικότητας


Το Σχέδιο Χορηγιών Γυναικείας Επιχειρηματικότητας αποσκοπεί στην ανάπτυξη, υποστήριξη και προώθηση της επιχειρηματικότητας των γυναικών (από 18 έως 55 ετών) που επιθυμούν να δραστηριοποιηθούν επιχειρηματικά σε οποιανδήποτε οικονομική δραστηριότητα με μικρές εξαιρέσεις, αξιοποιώντας τις γνώσεις τους, την κατάρτιση και τα ταλέντα τους.

Περιγραφή πρόσκλησης:

Οι χορηγίες που θα παραχωρούνται στις γυναίκες που θα ενταχθούν στο Σχέδιο ανέρχονται στο 50% πάνω στο κόστος των επιλέξιμων δαπανών της επένδυσης (εξοπλισμός, κτήρια/ διαμόρφωση χώρων, κατάρτιση, προβολή-προώθηση, κεφάλαιο κίνησης) με ανώτατο ύψος χορηγίας ανά επιχείρηση τις €70.000 για δραστηριότητες που αφορούν τη μεταποίηση και τις €50.000 για άλλες δραστηριότητες στους τομείς των υπηρεσιών, ηλεκτρονικού εμπορίου και τουρισμού.

Δικαίωμα συμμετοχής έχουν γυναίκες που:

  • Έχουν νόμιμα την μόνιμη διαμονή τους στις ελεύθερες περιοχές της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας κατά τους τελευταίους έξι μήνες πριν την υποβολή της πρότασής τους,
  • Έχουν κλείσει το 18ο έτος της ηλικίας τους και δεν έχουν ξεπεράσει το 56ο έτος κατά την ημερομηνία υποβολής της πρότασής τους,
  • Έχουν την ιδιότητα του ανέργου ή του μισθωτού κατά την ημερομηνία υποβολής της πρότασής τους,
  • Δεν ασκούσαν επιχειρηματική δραστηριότητα κατά τους τελευταίους έξι μήνες πριν την υποβολή της πρότασής τους.

Δικαίωμα συμμετοχής έχουν όλες οι κατηγορίες δραστηριοποίησης εκτός επιχειρήσεις που ασχολούνται με:

  1. την πρωτογενή παραγωγή ή εμπορία γεωργικών προϊόντων,
  2. τους τομείς της αλιείας και της υδατοκαλλιέργειας,
  3. το χονδρικό και το λιανικό εμπόριο,
  4. τα ξενοδοχειακά καταλύματα ή τα κέντρα αναψυχής, τα εστιατόρια και τις ταβέρνες, τους κλάδους της υδατοκαλλιέργειας, των ναυπηγικών εργασιών, τη βιομηχανία άνθρακα και χάλυβα.

Χρόνος Υποβολής Προτάσεων: 20/12/2017 έως 19/03/2018

Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες επικοινωνήστε μαζί μας:

Ενίσχυση της Ίδρυσης & Λειτουργίας Νέων Τουριστικών Μικρομεσαίων Επιχειρήσεων

α) Τουριστικά Καταλύματα

β) Κύρια ξενοδοχειακά καταλύματα,
1. Ξενοδοχεία δυναμικότητας από 10 έως και 50 κλίνες.
2. Ξενοδοχειακά τουριστικά καταλύματα εντός παραδοσιακών κτισμάτων.
3. Οργανωμένες τουριστικές κατασκηνώσεις (camping).
4. Ξενώνες Φιλοξενίας Νέων.

γ) Μη κύρια ξενοδοχειακά καταλύματα.
1. Αυτοεξυπηρετούμενα καταλύματα – τουριστικές επιπλωμένες κατοικίες υπό τον περιορισμό ότι ο ελάχιστος αριθμός κατοικιών θα ανέρχεται στις τρείς (3).
2. Ενοικιαζόμενα επιπλωμένα δωμάτια – διαμερίσματα (3 και 4 κλειδιά), υπό τον περιορισμό ότι η ελάχιστη δυναμικότητα θα ανέρχεται σε 10 κλίνες.

δ) Τουριστικά γραφεία
1. Γραφεία Γενικού Τουρισμού.
2. Γραφεία ενοικιάσεως αυτοκινήτων ολικής μίσθωσης ιδιωτικής χρήσης αυτοκινήτων.
3. Επιχειρήσεις εκμίσθωσης μοτοσικλετών, τρίτροχων και τετράτροχων οχημάτων άνω των 50 κ. εκατ.
4. Τουριστικές Επιχειρήσεις Τουριστικών Λεωφορείων.
5. Ναυλομεσιτικά γραφεία που αναλαμβάνουν την εκναύλωση επαγγελματικών πλοίων αναψυχής.

ε) Εναλλακτικές Μορφές Τουρισμού
1. Αθλητικός Τουρισμός: α) στη θάλασσα (καταδύσεις αναψυχής, θαλάσσιο σκι, θαλάσσιο αλεξίπτωτο, ιστιοσανίδα, κλπ), β) σε λίμνες – ποτάμια (π.χ. canoe kayak, rafting κ.ά), γ) σε ορεινές, ημιορεινές, πεδινές ή/ και αστικές και ημιαστικές περιοχές (π.χ ορειβασία, αναρρίχηση, αιωροπτερισμός κλπ).
2. Θαλάσσιος τουρισμός: Εκτός πολλών εκ των ανωτέρω δραστηριοτήτων του αθλητικού τουρισμού στη θάλασσα όπως π.χ. θαλάσσιο σκι, στην ειδική αυτή μορφή τουρισμού περιλαμβάνονται δραστηριότητες αναψυχής που συνδέονται με θαλάσσιες περιηγήσεις (κρουαζιέρες).
3. Τουρισμός υπαίθρου: α) φυσιολατρικός τουρισμός, β) τουρισμός παρατήρησης και ερμηνείας της φύσης, γ) περιπατητικός τουρισμός και δ) περιηγητικός τουρισμός όταν η περιήγηση ή η εκδρομή γίνεται στην ύπαιθρο.                                                                                          4. Άλλες ειδικές – εναλλακτικές μορφές τουρισμού: Ψυχαγωγικά και θεματικά πάρκα π.χ πάρκα περιπέτειας, πάρκα ομοιωμάτων (miniature parks) κ.ά.

Ύψος Επιδότησης
Από 25.000€ έως 400.000€. Η χρηματοδότηση καλύπτει το 45% των επιλέξιμών δαπανών και προσαυξάνεται κατά 5%, φτάνοντας στο 50% στην περίπτωση πρόσληψης νέου προσωπικού.

Επιλέξιμες Δαπάνες                                                                                                                                         

  • Κτίρια, λοιπές εγκαταστάσεις και περιβάλλων χώρος
  • Μηχανήματα – Εξοπλισμός,
  • Προβολή – Προώθηση – Συμμετοχή σε Εκθέσεις,
  • Ανάπτυξη & Πιστοποίηση συστημάτων διασφάλισης ποιότητας & περιβαλλοντικής διαχείρισης,
  • Δαπάνες τεχνικών μελετών Μηχανικού και υπηρεσιών Φοροτεχνικού και Νομικού Συμβούλου,
  • Λογισμικά και Υπηρεσίες Λογισμικού,
  • Μεταφορικά Μέσα,
  • Σύνταξη και Παρακολούθηση υλοποίησης του Επενδυτικού Σχεδίου.

Χρονοδιάγραμμα Υλοποίησης                                                                                                                    Οι επενδυτές θα έχουν την δυνατότητα να εκτελέσουν τις επενδύσεις τους εντός 30 μηνών.

Υποβολή                                                                                                                                                                         Η υποβολή των προτάσεων θα ξεκινήσει την 18/12/2017 με καταληκτική ημερομηνία στις 28/03/2018.

Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες:

Assorted links – October / November 2017

Technological predictions by Ray Kurzweil

AI Enters University. Your Move Humans!

Corporate Web & Mobile Development

Why the World Is (Still) Better Than You Think—New Evidence For Abundance

Do tight labor markets cause inflation?

New Mobility World 2017 — Nir Erez Speaking on the Moovit Future Of Mobility

Urban commercial transport and the future of mobility

Bitcoin is making banks nervous. Here’s why

Why Does Sweden Have So Many Start-Ups?

Inside the World of the ‘Bitcoin Carnivores

Yours truly
Stathis Kassios

Greece’s Dark Matter

Judging from the title of my new blog publication you will probably assume that you will further read about the universe’s mysteries, black holes, dark matter, etc. Far from that…the universe obeys to discovered and yet undiscovered laws of physics and the cosmos. Economies too are driven by the laws of economics which politicians do not consider as having the same weight and impact upon the markets and the lives of the people they govern.

Won’t keep you in anxiety more. The inspiration of this new blog entry title comes from recently reading an interesting interview by Ricardo Hausmann who has spent many years of his life researching & consulting on what went wrong with the economy of Venezuela.

Every country is different although the factors that help an economy grow or fade into recession follow similar patterns. Think for a moment about the current situation in Greece. I believe there is dark matter which works against all hopes of revival. First of all, Greece has not solidified a concrete and long term business plan on a national level that will drag its economy out of the recession and bring it back to normality. Current fiscal policies and overtaxation do not work in favor of accelerating the economy. They actually keep on destabilizing it while creating uncertainty for investments. Take the example of the following foreign companies that tried to do business in Greece and left because of bureaucratic struggles: China New Era, LKS Partners & Lockheed Martin, Las Vegas Sands, Vopak, Tesla, and many others (let’s see the outcome with Eldorado Gold).

Even if some parts of the government budget look positive for the markets, the ”dark matter” is there if you look more closely to the bitter economic indexes and statistical numbers.

Ricardo Hausmann observed that fiscal policies in Venezuela spurred contractions in the economy. Rings a bell? Yes, Greece’s governments have managed over time (lost) to adjust fiscal policies without realizing the policies were working against the economy’s real growth. Even the access for Greece to borrow money from the international markets took a long time and still investors are not feeling confident. Thus Greece is not reflecting confidence to borrow money at bad times.

Greece is also in a position that cannot handle its public debt which the IMF is repeatedly positioning as non-sustainable. According to Hausmann, emerging economies are not able to handle their surmounting debt and often lead their economy to fails. Greece is not an emerging economy (maybe pragmatically returning slowly to this phase) but is going through a state at which the country is not able to monitor its public debt and hopes the IMF will align their policy with EU’s bureaucrats and offer debt forgiveness by cutting it down.

Greece needs a collective effort to attract scientists, entrepreneurs, or people that can offer productive knowledge which can bring added value to new products & services. Otherwise, the dark matter lurking will be driving the economy to repeated failures while politicians will be looking to outside factors to explain the economic hurdles, same as the notorious dark matter in the universe is observed by its effect on its surrounding stars.

Stathis Kassios
Web Entrepreneur & Business Consultant

Assorted links

Global news have been focusing on artificial intelligence a lot in 2017 but let’s take a look also in other fields and interesting updates in the world of business, tech & media.

Germany draws up rules of the road for driverless cars  

The new dynamics of financial globalization

Mesonista supports the Epilepsy Foundation of Metropolitan New York

How YouTube perfected the feed

Fire Walk With Me: how David Lynch’s film went from laughing stock to the key to Twin Peaks

Corporate profits over time

Moovit adds 1,500th city to world’s top public transport app

Yours truly