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Don't turn to the end: While he didn't compare bitcoin to colonial currency, the dramatic spike in the cryptocurrency's value over the past year is a bubble that will "end badly," famed investor Warren Buffett told CNBC. Buffett said he does not know when or how that will happen, but said he does not own bitcoin futures, nor would his firm take a position in them, though he did say he does not know a lot about bitcoin futures. Earlier this week, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said he regretted calling bitcoin a "fraud," adding blockchain has potential value, though he said he's still not very interested in bitcoin.

Bloomberg News

Investors chase payroll tech: Payment automation has proliferated in India since the government took most of the country's cash out of circulation about two years ago, an innovation wave that's starting to become more specialized. Human resources fintech startup NiYO has drawn a $13 million investment to expand its service and geographic footprint in India, including employee features such as payroll, benefits, health care and food allowances. TechCrunch reports U.S. VC Social Capital led the round, adding NiYO's digital credit card account feature enables payments to be locked to specific segments such as hospitals or clinics, making the cards a particularly good fit for employee benefit programs.

Contactless takes off in Turkey: Since Turkey's national card scheme (BKM) launched a host card emulation contactless initiative in May 2017, more than 2 million contactless TROY cards have been introduced nationally, according to BKM. These cards have performed more than 12 million transactions worth about $800,000. BKM has set a goal of having 40 million TROY cards in circulation by 2022. The contactless payments have a head start, considering more than 30% of online payments in Turkey are made via mobile apps, according to BKM. TROY has global reach through a partnership with Discover.

Put your hands together: How diverse are blockchain's uses? The Musiccoin project and ROCKI may be putting that to the test by developing Volareo, a "smart speaker" that allows users to pay recording artists remotely by clapping, or pressing a button on a mobile app. The speakers will have an embedded wallet that will use sound sensors (or the button) to load Musicoins to an artist's account. Musiccoin has about 2,500 artists signed up for its basic service, a cryptocurrency and streaming platform built on a blockchain, and hopes to have the smart speaker in the market by the end of 2018.

From the Web

China warns of rising US protectionism after failed acquisition deal
CNBC | Thu Jan 11, 2018 - China's commerce ministry said on Thursday protectionist sentiment is rising in the U.S. after Chinese company Ant Financial's plan to buy U.S. money transfer company MoneyGram International collapsed. China is disappointed that the Ant Financial-Moneygram deal was rejected on national security grounds, ministry spokesman Gao Feng said in a regular briefing. Ant Financial's plan to acquire Moneygram collapsed last week after a U.S. government panel rejected it over national security concerns, the most high-profile Chinese deal to be torpedoed under the administration of President Donald Trump.

Why bitcoin mining sucks up so much electricity
Yahoo! Finance | Wed Jan 10, 2018 - Bitcoin runs on blockchain, a public, permanent, decentralized ledger where all bitcoin transactions are recorded in bundles of multiple transactions, called “blocks.” The blocks are added to the chain (hence “blockchain”) by “miners” who mine, or verify, the blocks. Mining requires large, expensive machines that compete to solve complicated math problems in real time. The computations get continuously harder, and so the machines are getting more advanced to keep up, and more expensive as a result. The best ones cost thousands of dollars. Mining doesn’t require the human being to physically sit and solve those formulas—you can plug it in, download the proper mining software, and let it run; the machine does the work. As the machines race to do their computations, they burn through a lot of electrical power, make a lot of noise, and generate a lot of heat—enough to heat your house in the winter.

China's cyber watchdog scolds Ant Financial over user privacy breach
Reuters | Thu Jan 11, 2018 - China’s cyber watchdog has scolded Ant Financial, Alibaba’s payment affiliate, for compromising user privacy after many users of its Alipay service were automatically enrolled in its credit scoring system. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement it had summoned Ant Financial representatives to a meeting last Saturday and told them they had failed to meet the country’s personal information security standards.

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