But this success leads to a dilemma

But this success leads to a dilemma

The Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt has launched a support platform for local retailers, restaurateurs as well as cultural and social institutions in the Corona crisis. These have already been closed for several weeks, and entrepreneurs fear massive economic losses.

Some shops and restaurants in Frankfurt are already listed on the platform www.in-eintracht-helfen.de, including hairdressers, fashion shops and bars. If you want to help them, you can click on them and donate a desired amount via PayPal. The donor and the amount are noted so that they can be redeemed when the shop opens again later.

"Because just as Eintracht belongs to Frankfurt, restaurants, bars, shops and institutions are part of our colorful cityscape. So that it stays that way in the future, you can now provide them with the money that you would spend with them anyway", write the initiators. They hope that this will spread the financial losses over a longer period of time and mitigate the effects. "You too can make a contribution to preserving the colorful cityscape." 

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So far, only 15 institutions can be found on the platform. Affected companies are therefore called upon to contact the initiators so that they can be included in the list. 

Sources used: Eintracht Frankfurt: Press release from April 2, information from the in-eintracht-helfen.de platform

Facebook wants to launch the digital currency Libra and thus build up competition with dollars, euros and the like. But what do economists say about it? The most pressing questions about cryptocurrency.

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A few days ago, Facebook presented a concept for the new global digital currency Libra. In the meantime, experts have taken a closer look at the concept so that important questions about Libra can now be answered – including possible dangers for the financial system and the data of millions of customers.

When will Libra start?

The official start is planned for the first half of 2020. But even Facebook managers now admit that there are still many regulatory and legal issues to be clarified by then. The old Facebook motto "Move fast and break things" (Be quick and break rules and established rules) does not lead to the goal here.

How can Libra be used?

As with other cryptocurrencies, you need a digital wallet ("Wallet"). Facebook is using "Calibra" bring out your own wallet. It will work as a standalone app, but it will also be integrated into WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Users can buy Libra with classic currencies such as dollars, euros or yen from authorized exchange sites – and also exchange them back again.

What advantage do users have when they use Libra?

In the first phase, Libra is aimed primarily at people who want to transfer money across national borders and who have previously paid horrific fees in the traditional financial system. Another application scenario is the quick transfer of money between friends, for example when splitting a restaurant bill.

Is Libra even one "Facebook currency"?

Facebook pushed the concept forward and financed the first phase of development work. However, Libra will be responsible for its own consortium, the Libra Association. The association includes 28 companies from the tech and financial sectors, including Uber, Paypal, Visa, Masterdard, Vodafone and Spotify. Non-profit companies like Kiva are also included. The organization from the USA organizes the granting of microloans in developing countries.

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Facebook actually notices when money is transferred via Calibra, WhatsApp or Messenger. However, the network promises to keep the financial information of its users separate and not to use it for targeted advertising.

And should you believe Facebook?

The statement is actually publicly doubted. The Federal Government’s data protection officer, Ulrich Kelber, warned against Libra. "A corporation with such huge amounts of data shouldn’t have any details of our payment history"said Kelber to him "Cologne city indicator".

Facebook promised not to combine the transaction data with other data. But: "If we are dependent on the goodwill of Facebook, I would advise against trusting it"said Kelber. Even when Facebook and Whatsapp were merged, the company failed to keep its promises.

What do the classic banks mean?

So far, the big banks have been reluctant to make public statements. But there are also financial experts who are already speaking plainly and who are massively critical of the advance towards a digital world currency: "Of course, Facebook has another request"says Robert Halver from Baader-Bank.

"If you get data from billions of customers about how they surf the Internet, what they spend money on, take out loans, etc., then the data octopus that we have so far is just a little cuddly toy."

What do Europe’s monetary authorities think of so-called cryptocurrencies?

Central bankers already had a clear opinion on the Bitcoin hype: Such crypto tokens are not a real currency, there is no control by a central bank or a state, said ECB President Mario Draghi. Meanwhile, the blockchain technology behind it is "quite promising"because it allows invoices to be paid automatically as soon as they are received. A number of central banks are experimenting with blockchain – including the Deutsche Bundesbank.

What does the influential Financial Stablity Board (FSB) think?

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) believes wider use of new types of crypto assets for retail payments would require close scrutiny by authorities to ensure they are subject to high regulatory standards.

"The FSB and the standards organizations will monitor the risks very closely and in a coordinated manner and will consider additional multilateral measures if necessary." With the FSB statement, Facebook’s hopes that Libra will only be gently regulated have probably vanished.

What is the difference between Libra and the cryptocurrency Bitcoin?

Bitcoin and Libra differ centrally in several points. On the one hand, Libra is pegged to a basket of established currencies such as the US dollar, euro and yen and secured by short-term government bonds. This avoids massive price fluctuations like with Bitcoin ("Stable coin").

In addition, Libra does not use a blockchain in the narrower sense, but a different system of distributed cash books ("Distributed Ledger Technology"). Libra uses only a fraction of the energy that the "Prospect" the bitcoins must be spent.

If Libra will be comparatively stable, why is the Bundesbank criticizing the concept anyway?

Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann is of the opinion that cryptocurrencies that are less volatile also pose a risk for consumers: "In particular, the question arises of how the value of stable coins can be guaranteed."

If stable coins are used on a large scale, they could undermine deposit formation and the business model of traditional banks, warns Weidmann. This in turn could disrupt their payment transactions and processes on the financial markets.

Can Libra be abused by criminals?

Yes, at least Bundesbank board member Joachim Wuermeling sees this danger: "For example, such platforms must not become a new marketplace for money laundering or terrorist financing"warned Wuermeling in one go "FAS"-Interview.

According to Bafin President Felix Hufeld, politics, supervisors and central banks would be required in a wide variety of areas – from currency policy to money laundering – if Libra prevailed. Basically the question arises: "How can the state control ability in the digital world be guaranteed?"says Hufeld.

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Does Libra mean more than finance?

Yes, it is entirely possible. There are two short sentences in the whitepaper that indicate that the project’s ambitions go further than bringing billions of people into the global financial system. "Another goal of the (Libra) Association is the development and promotion of an open identity standard. We believe that a decentralized and portable digital identity is a prerequisite for financial inclusion and competition."

With 2.4 billion users worldwide, Facebook could be successful where others failed to introduce a globally accepted digital ID.

Sources used: dpa news agency

Serious security incidents caused by the Emotet Trojan do not stop. And thanks to a new capability, the online banking Trojan is even more dangerous than before.

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The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) renewed the warning it issued at the beginning of December about the Emotet online banking Trojan. After a "Christmas break" Now, massive amounts of spam land in the mailboxes with the malware in tow – often still undetected by many virus scanners.

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The most important protective measure is therefore: Even and especially with supposedly known senders, do not open attachments – especially Office documents – immediately and do not click on links immediately. If in doubt, you should call the alleged sender to verify the sending of the mail, its content and the attachments.

Trojan horse reloads malware

Once Emotet gets onto the computer, the disaster takes its course: The Trojan not only reloads Trickbot malware that spies on the online banking access data. The BSI warns that Emotet is also piloting the Ryuk encryption trojan onto the computer more and more frequently. In addition to encrypting files, his perfidious specialty is deleting backups if he finds any – in order to increase the willingness of the blackmailed to pay.

Since Emotet also gathers contact information and relationships as well as communication content from e-mail programs, the authentic-looking spam e-mails come about, the BSI explains. It is a partly automated social engineering attack, which is also so successful because spam mail recipients allegedly received messages from the senders with whom they were actually last in contact.

The BSI generally advises users to regularly back up all their data on an external data carrier in order to prevent total loss due to a malware attack.

What those affected should do

According to the authorities, users whose systems have been infected by Emotet should immediately inform those around them about the infection, because email contacts and especially the last conversation partners are particularly at risk. In addition, it makes sense to change all passwords that were stored on infected computers – for example in browsers.

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Finally, the BSI recommends that computers with an Emotet infection should be restarted because the Trojans and downloaded malware sometimes make profound and security-relevant changes to the system.

Sources used: dpa / tmn news agency

BERLIN / NEW YORK (dpa-AFX) – "I can’t remember when the last customer paid with Bitcoin"says Niels Göttsch. The owner of the Leuchtstoff coffee bar in Berlin Neukölln is by no means the only shop owner who feels this way. Bitcoin is establishing itself in the financial world and hurrying from one record high to the next. But this success creates a dilemma.

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Because what was actually intended as a digital currency threatens to become a pure object of speculation. Bitcoin is therefore only conditionally suitable for payment. Extreme price fluctuations are uncomfortable for shop owners and online retailers – prices have to be constantly adjusted. And who wants to spend money that doesn’t have a stable value and invites you to speculate on price gains?

"What we want in a monetary system is not that it makes people rich who hoard money"said US economist Paul Krugman once. "We want it to be used for transactions and make the economy as a whole rich". But that is exactly the case with Bitcoin, whose value has risen from around $ 1,000 to over $ 20,000 at times since the beginning of the year. Is digital money still suitable as a means of payment or just for gaming?

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In Berlin, where more and more hip cafes and start-ups have been offering Bitcoin payments for years, the problem is already noticeable. In the beginning there were at least ten Bitcoin payments per year, says coffee bar owner Göttsch. In the meantime, however, the transactions have dried up completely. "The employees are already forgetting how Bitcoin acceptance works in the first place."