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Why the rise of bitcoin could be the first shot in a currency revolution

Oliver Dobson lives in a town outside of Canada’s financial nerve centre, a nearly three-hour drive from Toronto. How he earns his living is worlds apart from the traditional business of Bay Street. For the past few years, Dobson has been trading in cryptocurrencies, stockpiling a horde of digital coins that have suddenly skyrocketed in price. In the real world, he lives off of cash savings, but on the Internet, he works in myriad ways to harvest these tokens. He considers it his full-time job. “I’m very frugal with my money,” Dobson said. “I focus my time stocking up on these coins, so that when they explode [in price], I can take advantage of it.” Prices for these cryptocurrencies, which have less familiar names like ether and nano, are exploding because they’re riding on the coattails of bitcoin, which has been on a feverish run. The going rate has catapulted from about $9,000 per bitcoin a year ago to a peak of roughly $58,000 in late February, according to CoinDesk. The tidal wave has showered digital wealth on Dobson and other Canadians with a stake in the game, while attracting large players from Wall Street like never before. Bitcoin’s flirtation with mainstream acceptance and the gravity-defying climb in the price — along with some white-knuckle dips — have made headlines around the world and even captured the attention of the doubters. Underneath the mania is a potential sea change in the world of finance that observers say was made possible by a global pandemic. And what’s at stake is nothing less than a war for the future of money. But there are plenty of skeptics. They warn bitcoin is a highly speculative investment play with no real value backing it up and that investors run the risk of crushing losses. Oliver Dobson estimates banks handle only 10 or 20 per cent of his finances. He says he manages the rest in crypto networks. (Submitted by Oliver Dobson) Create money out of thin air’ The rally has made Dobson’s seemingly bizarre occupation all the more lucrative. Among other methods, he said he uses bitcoin to buy other digital coins on crypto exchanges and sell them when they rise in price. He also keeps his eye out for so-called airdrops, where crypto startups release free tokens or coins as part of a marketing stunt. “If you’re asking me, how do you make your money? I guess in a way, you just go try random stuff and they might just create money out of thin air and hand you some.” The new wave of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies has its share of colourful characters. It also has some heavy hitters from legacy finance. Wealthy investors and big institutions, such as PayPal Holdings Inc., Mastercard Inc., Visa Inc. and Tesla Inc., are embracing bitcoin in various ways, signalling broader approval of crypto for the first time. The 2018 rout To understand how this happened, and what it all means, it’s helpful to look back at the last bitcoin wave, which ended when investors watched vast sums of wealth get wiped out in a brutal crash. Invented as an alternative to national currencies in the depths of the financial crisis in 2009, bitcoin enjoyed one of its sharpest climbs almost a decade later, in 2017. The going rate escalated from less than $3,000 per coin to nearly $20,000 in six months. This bitcoin boom was driven not by big institutions like banks and pension funds, but by amateur, regular investors making a bet on new technology, said Alex McDougall, the managing director of portfolio management at the bitcoin and digital asset fund manager 3iQ in Toronto. People were drawn to an alternative to the legacy banking system, McDougall said. Bitcoin and its underlying technology presented a possible end-run around these gatekeepers, allowing people to do their own banking without a large financial institution. “We saw this potential move towards a radically open world and an entire new generation of wealth could be created in an entirely different type of market participant,” McDougall said. Monty Kohli, a 25-year-old cryptocurrency investor, says he believes in the ethos of decentralized finance and continues to have money tied up in digital coins. (Submitted by Monty Kohli) “We also saw a ton of scams and fraud and a bunch of, quite frankly, B.S. that sprung up around the market.” The price of bitcoin ultimately crashed in 2018, dropping more than 80 per cent in a year. Left in the ashes were people who lost their life savings. Monty Kohli, a cryptocurrency investor in his early 20s at the time, didn’t face catastrophic losses, but still watched up to $8,000 in wealth disappear. Despite the setback, he believes in the ethos of decentralized finance and continues to have money invested in digital coins, but it’s money he said he can afford to lose. Now 25, Kohli said he’s a bitcoin banker. He said he loans out tokens in a secondary, crypto market where he collects interest, though he maintains a day job working in the finance department of a Toronto company. “My time horizon for investing is quite long and so that’s where I can also afford to take some risk in my portfolio,” he said. While long-time core believers like Kohli remain in the game, some bigwigs on Wall Street are suddenly stepping in from the sidelines. And that’s part of what makes this latest bitcoin wave so different. COVID-19 fuelling the latest bitcoin rally “There is relentless demand,” said Edward Moya, a New York-based senior market analyst with the currency trading company Oanda Corp. “What we’re starting to see is Wall Street, Main Street are really embracing the crypto world. Even when we have significant sell-off days, there is still strong demand, and it’s global.” Moya said the arguments in favour of an alternative to government-issued currency haven’t changed all that much, but critical conditions have shifted in the past year, making that case more persuasive. “If we did not have COVID, we would not be talking about bitcoin right now,” he said. Central banks around the world have been pumping trillions of dollars into their economies to help them survive crippling lockdowns and various restrictions meant to control the spread of COVID-19. A major concern with all the pandemic-related stimulus is that it threatens to ‘devalue or debase’ national currencies, said Gavin Brown, a senior lecturer and associate professor of financial technology at the University of Liverpool. (Gavin Brown) A major concern with all of that stimulus is that it threatens to “devalue or debase” national currencies, said Gavin Brown, a senior lecturer and associate professor of financial technology at the University of Liverpool. “The purchasing power is less because, quite simply, there’s more of it and therefore it’s worth less.” Bitcoin, on the other hand, is “not controlled by a central bank; it doesn’t have any domicile; doesn’t have any formal governance structure like you would expect with a company or a nation state,” Brown said. “Instead, the supply of bitcoins is controlled by mathematical code and computer code, which means that the supply side of bitcoin is known at all times. It will never be more than 21 million [coins in circulation].” Critical infrastructure allows for big investments Cash was already on the decline for years, while the pandemic has accelerated demand for fast and convenient digital payments, analysts at the investment bank J.P. Morgan said in a recent report. “The pandemic has boosted demand for digital services and also for ‘alternative’ currencies as multiple rounds of stimulus, accommodative monetary policy, and excess savings have boosted money supply, leading to record inflows into bitcoin investment vehicles.” Critical storage infrastructure is one development making cryptocurrency more accessible to institutional investors. Here, an illustration of bitcoin’s logo stands on a PC motherboard.(Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters) Another important change is that critical storage infrastructure required to hold large sums of bitcoin for institutional investors is now available. Tesla revealed in early February it had bought $1.5 billion US in bitcoin, something that “would have been almost impossible just a couple of years ago due to the lack of institutional controls and infrastructure at play,” Brown said. It’s not only easier for some large institutions to invest, the academic said, it’s also more publicly acceptable — entirely different than the 2017 surge. A bet or an investment? Some bright minds in finance don’t buy all of the enthusiasm. Stephen Poloz, the former governor of the Bank of Canada, said in an interview that bitcoin is more of a speculative investment play than it is a currency. “Even the pros who deal in bitcoin often use the word ‘bet’ rather than ‘invest,’ which suggests in our minds it’s sufficiently volatile; it really is close to gambling as opposed to actual investment, since the asset itself has no intrinsic value,” said Poloz, a special advisor at the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt. “But that doesn’t mean that it can’t become mainstream.” Stephen Poloz, a special advisor at the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt and a former governor of the Bank of Canada, says bitcoin trading is akin to gambling. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press) Poloz said the Toronto Stock Exchange took important steps in this direction by listing two bitcoin exchange-traded funds. It means investors can put money into bitcoin under a regulated system of controls that ensure those investments are backed by the coins. Dobson, the crypto token trader, said the funds traded on the stock market and other developments, such as PayPal’s foray into bitcoin, represent the antithesis of why cryptocurrencies exist in the first place. “Would you appreciate it if you agreed yesterday to buy a car paying in bitcoin and then you go to pick it up today and it cost you 16 percent more today than yesterday? – Stephen Poloz, former governor of the Bank of Canada “The whole point of cryptocurrency is that it’s peer-to-peer, decentralized digital currency; it’s immutable, it’s uncensorable, and it’s yours, purely yours,” he said. “They don’t give you access to withdraw your coins, so you never actually own them.” Dobson estimates that banks handle only 10 or 20 per cent of his finances and he manages the rest in crypto networks. “Dollars don’t make more dollars,” he said, meaning he can make higher returns holding onto cryptos than national currencies, “so I keep basically everything I possibly can out of dollars. I do everything in my power to make sure that the amount of Canadian dollars that I’m holding is the smallest amount that I can get away with.” But Poloz argues bitcoin can’t replace national currencies in part because it takes far longer to process transactions. If, for example, someone used bitcoin to buy a cup of coffee, the drink would likely be cold by the time the payment cleared. While the technology could theoretically improve to make payments faster, he said there is no fundamental value behind the coins, leaving the price vulnerable to wild swings. “Would you appreciate it if you agreed yesterday to buy a car paying in bitcoin and then you go to pick it up today and it cost you 16 per cent more today than yesterday?” he said. “That’s not the kind of volatility that you can endure in something that is being used for payments.” ‘A real seismic shift’ There is no shortage of predictions of where bitcoin’s latest wave is headed. The financial services firm UBS Wealth Management reportedly warned investors there is little stopping cryptocurrency prices from falling to zero. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she worries about potential investor losses. People pass in front of a crypto currency ‘Bitcoin Change’ shop near the Grand Bazaar on December 17, 2020 in Istanbul. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images) Brown, the fintech academic from the U.K., said there probably will be a correction, or drop, in the price of bitcoin over the coming weeks and months, but he expects the appeal of a decentralized currency won’t disappear. “It allows them to move money without a payment intermediary,” he said. “The idea of doing banking without a bank … that is a paradigm that flies in the face of not just centuries of financial development but millennia. That’s a real seismic shift.” Still, Brown doesn’t believe bitcoin will someday dominate global finance. Where this is ultimately headed, he predicts, is a digital currency war. There are three groups that Brown believes will be competing for supremacy: decentralized coins, like bitcoin; corporate coins, such as one launched by J.P. Morgan and the currency Facebook proposes; and, finally, future digital currencies backed by central banks. “There’s a three-way fight for the future of money.”

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Interac: Canada’s Latest Payment Solution Phenomenon

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Few can argue that digital payment methods aren’t central to modern-day society. In recent times, increasing numbers of payment solutions have come to the forefront, offering consumers more choice regarding their transaction preferences. Canada, in particular, has embraced a wide-ranging selection of secure, forward-thinking options. Of those available throughout the country, Interac has piqued the interests of local consumers the most. So, let’s look at why this payment solution is an especially popular option throughout Canada. 

Usable Across Various Markets 

It speaks volumes about Interac’s versatility in that it’s usable across a variety of different industries. Since being founded in 1984, the Canadian interbank network has become integral to numerous markets, including local air travel. Air Canada, which has been operating since 1937, has expanded their accepted payment methods, and now passengers can pay for their flights using Interac. According to the airline’s official website, the Interac Online service lets consumers pay for their tickets via the internet directly from their bank account. 

Not only that, but Interac is also available at Walmart. In November 2020, the two organizations partnered together to expand in-store and online payment options. Walmart has adapted well to the digital trend, with American Banker reporting that they’ve opened Interac Flash sale points throughout their stores. 


Source: Unsplash

Aside from the above, Interac has also taken the digital world by storm. Following its rapid rise to prominence, the solution has also altered the online casino industry, with platforms like Genesis Casino now accepting the transaction type. The provider, which features Interac Canadian casino options, uses the popular payment method to enhance transaction speeds of deposits and withdrawals, as well as security. Players can use Interac Online and Interac e-Transfer to make deposits or withdrawals from their desktops or mobiles as the platform is fully optimized. 

A Reflection of Modern-Day Society 

In recent times, Interac recorded a 55 percent increase in transactions between April and August 2020 compared to the same period the previous year, as per BNN Bloomberg. These figures somewhat reflect the current state of e-Commerce and modern consumerism. Following the rise of Interac and other payment methods, it’s now less troublesome for consumers to complete in-store and online purchases. 


Source: PxHere

There’s an ever-growing perception that land-based businesses need to adapt within the digital era and accept forward-thinking payment methods. According to Cision, Interac is of utmost importance to the Canadian economy, and a year-on-year increase in Interac Debit payments of 333 percent reflects that. Not only that, but Interac e-Transfer payments are growing at 52 percent each year. This Interac-oriented trend appears unlikely to fade over the coming years, with the network being selected as the country’s provider for a new real-time payment system, as per Lexology. 

Consumer Habits are Changing 

There can be no doubt that consumerism has changed drastically over the past decade. The popularity of Interac suggests that a cashless future may be on the horizon, with increasing numbers of shoppers enjoying the security of online payment methods. While it’s currently unclear if that will happen, Interac appears to be prevalent for the long run.

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Your Education and Certificates Need to Align the Job Requirements

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After your professional experience, your education/certifications (verified skills) will be the next section on your resume the reader will use to judge whether you go into the “to be interviewed” pile. 

Many job seekers apply to job postings knowing they don’t have the education/certification requirements. They believe their “experience” will compensate. With so many highly qualified job seekers now on the job market this is rarely the case. If your education/certifications align with the job requirements, the education section of your resume will play a critical part in setting you apart from all the “spray and pray” job seekers.

Suppose a job posting for a Director of Finance lists as a qualification “Canadian Accounting Designation (CPA).” You have a university degree and 15 years of experience managing a mid-size company’s finances, but no CPA—don’t bother applying. Job postings generate an influx of applicants. Undoubtedly there’ll be many applicants who possess a CPA applying. There’s also the employer’s ATS to consider, which likely has been programmed to scan for “CPA.”  

Education background information you should provide:

  • Degree/certification obtained 
  • School’s name
  • Location of school
  • Period of attendance
  • Relevant coursework
  • Honors, academic recognition, extracurricular activities, or organizations participation worth mentioning

When it comes to presenting your educational background keep your ego in check. You may have impressive education background; however, it may not be impressive for the job you’re vying for. Prioritize relevancy over perceived prestige.

Here’s my suggestion how to present your education/certificates (there’s no hard formatting rule):

BS Biomedical Science

University of Calgary, Calgary, AB — 09/1992 – 06/1996

Courses:

  • Principles of Human Genetics
  • Organismal Biology
  • Principles and Mechanisms of Pharmacology
  • Advanced Bioinformatics

PMP® Certification

Ryerson University Continuing Education, Toronto, ON — 10/2001 – 04/2003

Courses:

  • Planning and Scheduling
  • Leadership in Project Management
  • Project Cost and Procurement Management
  • Project Risk and Quality Management

As I’ve pointed out in previous columns— there’s no universal hiring methodology. No two hiring managers assess candidates the same way. Depending on the job requirements respective employers search for different things when it comes to a candidate’s education. Read the qualifications in the job posting carefully. Then present your education/credentials accordingly. Don’t hesitate to add/remove courses to better tie in your education towards the job. It’s for this reason I suggest you list courses, not just your degree/certification. Listing of courses is rarely done, doing so will give your resume a competitive advantage.

You’ll have noticed my examples indicated start and end dates. Many “career experts” advise against this. The thinking being dates, even just the graduation year, will give employer’s a sense of your age, which if your over 45 can hinder and prolong your job search. This advice is supposed to be a workaround to ageism. However, these same “career experts” unanimously agree employment dates (month/year) need to be indicated. To me, this is a mixed message.    

I believe in complete transparency from both sides of the hiring process. Full transparency ensures the likelihood of there being a solid fit for both parties. At some point, whether when the employer checks your digital footprint or interviews you, your interviewer will have a good indication of your age. Besides, not mentioning dates, which I call “obvious” information, is a red flag. 

If your age is a deal-breaker with an employer, they aren’t the employer for you. The job search advice I give most often: Seek employers who’ll most likely accept you, where you’ll feel you belong—look for your tribe.

Some professions, such as finance or healthcare, require specific certifications or degrees. In such cases, show you have the necessary “must-have” (a deal-breaker if you don’t) credentials by placing your education at the top of the page just below your contact information before your professional experience.

One last note: Often overlooked is education in progress. If relevant, this should be included in your resume. In this case, list pertinent courses and the month/year you intend to graduate.

Using suggestions in this and previous columns you are now able to create a resume that “WOWs.” Next week, I’m going to begin discussing cover letters. Yes, many hiring managers, like myself, do read cover letters, which have one purpose—to give the reader a reason to read your resume.

______________________________________________________________

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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4 Simple Reasons Why Doing Business With the Right Safety Equipment Supplier Matters

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photo of woman writing on tablet computer while using laptop

As a business owner, you know the value of working with suppliers that offer what your operation needs. With many options to consider, it can take some effort on your part to find the right industrial safety equipment supplier and set up an account. If you need some incentive to choose one supplier that’s right for you, consider these reasons

One-Stop Shopping For What You Need

You have plenty of things to do each day. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to compare the pricing that different suppliers charge for things that you need. Your best bet is to do the research up front and identify the supplier that has all of the industrial safety supplies that you use while providing reasonable unit pricing.

Instead of spending an hour or more checking multiple sources, you make one call or submit one online order to the supplier that you’ve already vetted. The time that you save can be spent taking care of other important tasks.

Items are Always in Stock

Competitive pricing is great, but it doesn’t help a lot when the items you need to buy are out of stock. While this is likely to happen from time to time, it should not be a common occurrence. What you need is a supplier who has strict procedures in place for restocking whenever the number of units available reaches a minimum level.

This type of vendor will ensure that the odds of not being able to fill a customer order immediately are somewhere between slim and none. That’s good news, since you don’t want a lack of essential industrial safety products to interfere with your ability to take care of your customers in a timely manner.

Only the Highest Quality is Available

Price does matter, but it’s not the only consideration. When you look for a vendor who offers the type of industrial safety equipment and supplies that you need, pay close attention to the quality. Ideally, you want to spend money on items that do more than meet the minimum requirements in your area. Those products should exceed the minimum and offer your team more benefits.

One of the more important is effectiveness and the impact on safety. You do want the safety supplies and equipment to work quickly while also limiting the potential for damage to the property. They should also minimize the risk to your employees. The right supplier will offer products that provide you with all of these benefits.

And Your Orders Arrive in a Timely Manner

A supplier who offers multiple options for delivery times is exactly what you need. There will be times when standard shipping that comes with a three or four day delivery is fine. You may also have a need for something to be delivered by the following business day. That would call for expedited shipping.

Whatever your need, it helps to work with a supplier who can process your orders and have them delivered in the time frame you desire. This can be especially important if a recent event exhausted one or more of the products you use for industrial fire safety and need to replace them without any delays.

Take an inventory of what the type and quantity of fire safety supplies and equipment you keep on hand. Check with a quality supplier like HerbertWilliams.com and see what’s available. Your likely to find the pricing as well as the shipping options will be just what your business needs.
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