Caitlin Reilly

Cryptocurrencies complicate effort to stop opioid dealers
Law enforcement ramping up efforts to trace, halt use of digital currencies in illegal drug trade

The fight against the opioid crisis is facing a growing problem: Criminals are getting better at hiding the cryptocurrency transactions they use to buy drugs online.

The opioid crisis, which claims more than 100 lives a day, has been fueled partly by cryptoassets, but law enforcement is ramping up efforts to trace and halt their use in the illegal trade.

Investors mull blockchain to improve corporate elections, shareholder votes
Move could help boost participation and limit miscounts

Blockchain, a technology most closely associated with cryptocurrency, is being explored as the solution to better corporate board elections and shareholder votes, which have been plagued by cases of low participation and high-profile miscounts.

The decentralized, distributed ledger technology gained prominence as the backbone of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin because it allows tracking ownership as the tokens change hands. It also provides access and enables verification of pseudonymous information by multiple users in real time. Once entered in the ledger, encrypted “blocks” of information can’t be changed or falsified because the entire network can view the ledger. 

Venezuelans use cryptocurrency to bypass corruption, inflation
Some charities turn to digital assets to circumvent government’s chokehold on ecomony

Faced with hyperinflation and borders closed to humanitarian aid, Venezuelans are turning to cryptocurrency as a workaround of government control of money. Aid providers say digital currencies are becoming an important route to bypassing corruption or repressive regimes.

Digital currencies have no shortage of critics, who point to their use in scams, theft and money laundering. U.S. lawmakers blasted Facebook’s plans for a cryptocurrency, and regulators routinely warn of wild volatility.

Mobile technology may serve underbanked with no cryptocurrency
As Facebook touts a new cryptocurrency, mobile technology companies may provide the same path with dollars

As Facebook touts a new cryptocurrency as a way to serve people who are underbanked, mobile technology companies may provide the same path to financial services using good old-fashioned dollars.

The technology would avoid many risks worrying lawmakers and regulators, such as money laundering and undermining the Federal Reserve’s ability to set monetary policy. But some who track these technologies say allowing tech companies to become the bankers for the underserved carries risks of its own.

Mobile payments up but pace of growth slows
23 percent of smartphone owners used a mobile wallet app in 2018

Payments made through mobile apps like Apple Pay are rising, but at a slower rate than in past years, according to a report by the Electronic Transactions Association.

U.S. consumers spent $64 billion through mobile wallet apps or dedicated apps from a retailer last year, up from $45 billion in 2017, the ETA said. The 42 percent rate of growth in 2018 was down from 51 percent in 2017. The pace is expected to slow to 37 percent in 2019, resulting in $88 billion in consumer spending by such means.