Mobile Phone Retailer Joins China's Blockchain Land Grab With US Company Investment - Coindesk - Canada News Media
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Mobile Phone Retailer Joins China's Blockchain Land Grab With US Company Investment – Coindesk



Dixintong Technology Group, whose parent company, D.Phone, is one of the largest smartphone retailers in China, has entered the blockchain space by acquiring a minority stake in a U.S. blockchain company called Monsoon Blockchain.

The agreement was signed on Jan. 7 and the stake was sold at a nine-digit valuation, according to people who are familiar with the matter.

The partnership between the two companies comes at a time when China is encouraging enterprise blockchain adoption as well as the development of emerging technologies

Started as a mobile phone retailer in 1993, D.Phone went public in Hong Kong in 2014 with four anchor investors including Lenovo Group, Qihoo 360, China Telecom and TCL Corporation. Alibaba’s major e-commerce rival,, has also acquired 9 percent of Dixintong worth $30 million in July. The firm’s total market capitalization is around $200 million.

According to its 2018 annual report, the company sold nearly nine million cell phones in its more than 1,500 physical stores across the country, generating over $2 billion in revenue and $46 million in net profit for the year. 

The parent company has made efforts to expand its businesses to other related industries. It partnered with China’s Tianjin city government in December to build an industrial park focusing on 5G and IoT with a total investment estimated to be over $3 billion. 

Political boost

A slew of tech companies have explored blockchain technologies since Chinese President Jinping Xi called on the country to “seize opportunities” in the space. Stock prices skyrocketed for companies whose businesses are related to the new technology. 

“When you have that level of endorsement from the government, everything moves much faster,” Donald Basile, the Monsoon’s CEO, said. 

The country’s two largest telecommunications services providers, China Mobile and China Telecom, are members of a consortium that runs Blockchain-Based Service Network (BSN), a state-backed blockchain infrastructure project. 

The Chinese government is also rolling out 5G services in 2019 across the nation. The emerging technology would require new mobile devices. Most major carriers in China have started to offer 5G data plans and cloud services. 

The Shanghai government plans to spend millions of dollars on supporting a public blockchain project and open an incubation center for startups that want to build decentralized applications (dapps) on the blockchain. Meanwhile, the Guangdong province has launched a blockchain-based project to help small and medium-sized businesses borrow money from commercial banks. 

Top Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba and Baidu have also launched their own projects to integrate blockchain with cloud services. 

Blockchain-based marketplace

Monsoon Blockchain touts an ethereum-based protocol that aims to use smart contracts to provide a more efficient marketplace for cloud service providers and potential clients, according to Basile.

He said prices for cloud computing and storage services could vary over time between data centers, depending on locations and capacity. Basile believes that’s where blockchain can play a role. 

The firm aggregates prices and collects information about the conditions of data centers across the world. It then submits the data to the blockchain network, he said. On the other hand, companies that want to buy computing and storage services can submit their specific requirements.

The peer-to-peer blockchain-based protocol will use smart contracts to match those companies with the most suitable cloud services provider for them, according to Basile. 

Users now need to buy the network’s native token with fiat currency to use the smart contracts on the blockchain. While the token is only circulated within the network, the firm may consider launching a private token sale or issue a public offering in the future when regulators have a clear guidance on the processes, Basile said. 

Monsoon Blockchain worked with a spate of IT giants including IBM, Oracle and Alibaba as a data services distributor, said Basile, who previously headed Fusion-io and Violin Memory, both of which are data processing software and hardware providers.  

Billion-user access?

While Monsoon Blockchain primarily serves enterprise clients, the deal with Dixintong could boost a consumer-oriented business, potentially bringing users onto its blockchain protocol.

Besides mobile devices, Dixintong also sells telecommunications services such as data plans as a licensed virtual services operator. 

Basile said the partnership with Dixintong would give Monsoon the access to billions of users in China to reach a larger scale, which would be otherwise impossible in the U.S.

He said Monsoon could assign a unique identity to each smartphone user on its blockchain platform where they can enjoy cheaper data services thanks to its optimized cloud services solution.

In return, users’ data will be processed and stored in the network. When people use 5G services or devices that are connected to the internet they create much more data than the current network, and that can be valuable for companies to analyze for their business decisions, according to Basile.

“With the scale of people in China, you can have 20 million users in no time, so that’s a huge amount of computing and analytics needed to be harnessed,” Basile said.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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London Community Foundation tackling lack of housing with $20-million investment – Global News



The London Community Foundation (LCF) is committing up to $20 million to addressing London’s affordable housing crisis.

The funds will be used to create a dedicated affordable housing fund of $17 million to $20 million to support the creation of more affordable housing options in the city.

“Adequate, safe and affordable housing should not be out of reach,” said LCF president and CEO Martha Powell.

“The shortage of affordable housing in our community is at a crisis point.”

London currently has a housing shortage of 3,000 units and more than 2,400 individuals and families accessing emergency shelters each year.

The fund is designed to offer flexible financing for community organizations interested in creating affordable housing.

London is rethinking how it addresses homelessness and housing instability

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According to the LCF, a major barrier to entering the affordable housing market is the high startup costs.

LCF is proposing low-interest, early-stage, flexible financing to help groups with initial startup costs like fund assessments, land acquisition, and planning and zoning expenses needed before the first phase of a project can be completed.

This idea builds upon the concept of LCF’s $10-million Social Impact Fund, which has helped to create 341 units of affordable housing.

In addition to the $20-million fund, the foundation announced the establishment of a Housing Action Committee, which will identify organizations that have an interest and capacity to help create affordable housing but who need more information and financial assistance to develop their plans.

“We hope to help those already providing housing solutions and those who may be able to help,” said committee chair John Nicholas.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Kate Middleton and Prince William host glamorous reception for UK-Africa Investment Summit



William a speech at the event in which he spoke about the important relationship between the UK and Africa.

“The African continent holds a very special place in my heart,” the Duke of Cambridge said in a speech after arriving in the Music Room for the event. “It is the place my father took my brother and me shortly after our mother died.

“And when deciding where best to propose to Catherine I could think of no more fitting place than Kenya to get down on one knee.

“Throughout my life, I have been lucky enough to spend time in many other parts of Africa. I’m also honoured to be the Patron of the Royal African Society.

“And as Catherine and I have said to several of you here tonight, we hope to have the chance to visit many more countries in the future and share our mutual love of your continent with our children.”

Photo: © Yui Mok/AFP via Getty Images

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Supporting employees and families in crisis is a good investment – Campbell River Mirror



Coping with stressful situations can be difficult at the best of times.

Supporting coworkers who are trying to process the loss of a loved one, marital separation, addiction issues or other life circumstances can also be challenging. While one’s co-workers, managers – even business owners – may be supportive and well-intentioned, they may not be equipped to adequately help someone through a difficult time or crisis.

It’s an issue more companies are addressing as a way to invest in their employees’ health and well-being, says Kelsi Baine, executive director and certified counsellor with Upper Island Counselling in Campbell River. Having a professional outside agency on standby to help employees and their families manage difficult times can be a good short- and long-term strategy, she adds.

Putting the ‘human’ into HR

If you oversee human resources for your company, no matter what its size, knowing how to respond when a staff member needs personal help can be tricky. Baine says many of her member companies learned about UIC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program through conversations and referrals from other HR professionals.

“For those in HR, when someone is struggling in their office, they want to support them, but they recognize they’re not a counsellor,” Baine says. “So they want to have a trusted and effective resource they can suggest as a way to best help them. Sometimes we’ve heard that one HR director will tell another, ‘if you don’t have this resource in your back pocket, you’re missing out.’”

Getting people the help they need

Brian Cruise, of Cruise HR Solutions, works with employers on ways to better support their staff. He agrees managers often struggle to help employees deal with personal issues that may be affecting their work.

“Those of us in the HR world, we’re not trained counsellors, so you often hesitate to involve yourself with employees because it’s unfamiliar turf,” he says. Not only that, he adds, employees can be reluctant to divulge personal struggles fearing that doing so may reflect badly on their work performance. “People are much more likely to talk openly and honestly with someone not connected with their workplace.”

Healthy workers mean healthy companies

With company owners or upper management focusing on running the business, it’s often operational staff who initiate discussions about the need for outside resources, Baine says.

“Frontline workers know when something is going on in someone’s life that requires taking time off or the availability of counselling supports,” she says. “When requests for more supportive services come from the ground up, many employers are receptive – they see it as a wise investment in their people, and we couldn’t agree more.”

If you’d like to find out how Upper Island Counselling can help you, your family and the people you work with, visit or call 250-287-2266.

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