New Bitcoin Debit Cards may make cryptocurrency a universal coinage

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The Bitcoin craze that began a few years ago is yet another one of the unforeseen curveballs that the internet has thrown at us. Although this form of electronic payment may seem futuristic and innovative—and to some parties, illegitimate—there’s no denying that it has altered the landscape of peer to peer payment forever. With financial service institution “Xapo” set to launch a Bitcoin debit card this month, it brings to question what exactly the future of this cryptocurrency and other open source payments may be.

For those who are a little less tech savvy, Bitcoin is a form of digital payment used to purchase goods, services, or merely trade among consumers. Bitcoins are earned through a process called “mining”, where users connect their computer to a server to process countless other Bitcoin transactions. These transactions go to an independent Bitcoin ledger called the “block chain”.

As users gain more Bitcoins, the processing of mining becomes increasingly difficult, and block chain rewards decrease per every block mined. There are only a finite amount of Bitcoins, and this method of accumulation is only expected to last until about 21 million Bitcoins are created. By that point, the only way to make a profit off of Bitcoins will be through payment transaction fees. This could possibly explain why finding alternative ways to use and transfer Bitcoins has become a topic of interest.

According to www.coindesk.com, the Bitcoin debit card will act the same as a regular debit card, and will be usable at any location a Mastercard can be used. Zapo analyzes the user account registered to the card, and then sells the appropriate amount of Bitcoins through the Bitcoin exchange service “Bitstamp”. The merchant will receive whatever localized currency is accepted in the area, so businesses will still receive real money, not Bitcoins.

With Bitcoin value currently fluctuating near $600 USD per coin on www.bitcoinexchangerate.org, this is a huge step forward for the use of this peculiar digital currency. Now, owners and investors will have legitimate ways to spend their Bitcoins on goods and services outside of the internet. But what affect will this new service have on the market value and liquidity of Bitcoins? Will this make Bitcoin a more legitimate form of payment? Bitcoins were highly popular, largely because their fees were so much lower than those of regular credit card processors; how will this affect the price relationship, and what affect will this debit system have on other merchant payment systems? What do you think? Let us know!

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Run a non-profit? Call CoCard!

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Did you know that CoCard counts multiple nonprofits as clients? We’ve worked with nonprofits across the country, ranging from churches to museums and everything in between. We’re even a Goodwill preferred vendor! Regardless of your mission or services, CoCard is able to help by offering affordable, secure, nonprofit merchant accounts—so you can focus your time and your resources on what’s really important: your nonprofit. Gain insight from our team on what equipment and technology best suits your needs, from dial-up terminals to electronic payment gateway, and enjoy it all at a discounted nonprofit rate! Visit our website or call us at 800.317.1819 to get all of the nitty-gritty details.

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City Spotlight: Rio

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You’ve already heard the buzz: Rio is the place to visit right now thanks in large part to its selection as the hosting city for two major sporting events. Starting June 12, it will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament and in 2016, it will play host city to the 2016 Summer Olympics. Whether you have plans to see either of these sporting events onsite or not, there are a few things you’ll want to know when planning an excursion to Brazil’s coastal city.

Scattered with beaches, historic sites, rain forests and music, Rio is a vivid locale that’s vibrant with life. Its idyllic natural setting and temperate yearly climate makes it a strong candidate for outdoorsy types looking for a place to hike, surf and explore the flora and fauna. Sign up for a bike tour, swim among 100 area beaches, rock climb to the top of Sugar Loaf mountain and hike at the Serra Dos Orgaos National Park. A pick-up soccer game is always recommended.

Foodies who prefer centering their trips around local cuisine will be delighted by the options. Strong drinks, and spice-infused seafood, beef, black beans and rice are all staples of the local diet. Be sure to try Brazil’s national dish, feijoada (black bean stew with beef, pork, collards and rice) and to sample the area’s street food in-between the finer dining options. View travel expert Anthony Bourdain’s top food picks and takeaways here.

Renowned for its music and party-going atmosphere,  the nightlife scene in Rio is legendary. While you’re in town, take advantage of the vast nightclubs, bars and discos peppering the area. You can enjoy a truly unique experience during the 200-year-old tradition of Rio de Janeiro Carnival–which takes place in the four days before the beginning of Lent each year and includes a dancing competition between various samba schools at the annual parade.

Read more about Rio here 

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Happy Father’s Day!

From all of us at CoCard, happy Father’s Day! On June 15, we salute all of our leading men for their guidance, their love and their support. Make sure you pick up the phone and thank your old man for being a great guy. Thinking about doing something special for him? Plan an outing together that you know he’ll enjoy. Take him to a baseball game. Go play a round of golf, just the two of you. Go fishing. Take him out for a steak or a burger (depending on how dressed up he likes to get) and gift him something small but gentlemanly—a pocket knife, a beer growler, a shaving brush, cufflinks, a pocket square. Most importantly, ‘fess up that you love him.

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Apple unveils changes to Mac, and hints at potential watch

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Apple recently unveiled their most recent collection of products, most notably the Ios8 mobile phone.

Although there were many improvements with the iPhone, such as multi-app messaging and group message self-removal, there were also several other products that got some upgrades; this includes their signature personal computer, the Mac, and reportedly, a potential watch.

According to www.hufftingtonpost.com, the new Mac computers will run off a program entitled “Yosemite”. Yosemite has a few notable features, one being a new, “flat” design that makes every application on the screen appear more like those on an iPhone. It’s OSX programming allows users to make calls and send text messages from their computers.

Other improvements include an enhanced search bar, as well as enhanced email usability. Users now can send larger documents, and the Apple email app allows users to mark up emails and write signatures.

The most notable improvement may be the ‘DropBox-like’ storage device called iCloud Drive. The program allows users to organize and find documents from both Apple and Windows devices. They are set to be available his fall.

The potential iWatch also has interesting features, reportedly include a new Healthbook software that hosts multiple health-monitoring devices (blood pressure monitors, heart rate monitors, etc.), and notifies the wearer of any changes during exercise.

The “Quicktype” feature may also be featured for wearers, an app that allows quick messaging to contacts by suggesting words and phrases.

Although one can always speculate about the innovations that Apple intends to make every year, it’s undeniable that their work continues to change the landscape of technology every year. What do you think of the changes to Apple products? Reply and let us know!

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iOS8 Arrives

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Apple recently revealed its next generation of iPhone, the iOS8, at a conference yesterday. Although there weren’t too many changes, there were still some interesting improvements made to the device. Since iPhone’s are arguably the most popular and widely used phones in America, it seemed only necessary to review a few of the improvements made.

The most interesting (and arguably most useful) improvements to the iPhone are the notification updates. Users now have the ability to respond to messages in different applications while still using another one. For example, if you received a text message right as you were sending a tweet, you are now able to respond to the text message without having to close the Twitter application. The double-tap feature of the home button now also allows you to see your most frequent contacts.

Users are now also able to mark and delete emails in a single motion through the mail application, as well as now having the ability to look through the inbox while composing messages.

Another major improvement to the iPhone is the annoying ‘autocorrect’ feature that it has. Users are now able to get suggestions for the correct word while they are typing, but can ultimately ignore the changes if desired. The update also allows users to form a kind of jargon with their most frequent contacts; the iPhone will memorize specific slang and word choices that users associate with particular contacts.

Another major problem that is addressed with the update is that annoying, contantly buzzing, ever-glowing group message. You can finally remove yourself from any group you don’t desire to converse with! Another text message update is the ability to send locations to contacts for set amounts of time.

Overall, the updated iPhone addresses many of the issues that iPhone users frequently faced. Apple seems to constantly find new ways to improve their cutting edge electronics, and the iOS8 doesn’t disappoint.

What do you think of the iOS8? Let us know!

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The Mobile Market

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The market for business growth has shifted rapidly in the last two decades. The explosion of the internet has thrown all of us into a matrix of numbers, lights, and screens. I personally can’t recall the last time I walked down the street and made eye contact with a person; all I see are averted eyes, white earphones shaking with every step, and a slight smirk on the face of whoever happens to be viewing their Snapchat at the moment. Because of this, businesses have taken notice. Although many businesses are struggling to adapt with their advertising and marketing strategies, many are beginning to realize that having mobile functionality adds a fourth dimension to their industry.

According to www.theatlantic.com, 25% of media consumption in America consists of internet activity, and is increasing. Another 20% is spent on mobile devices, while radio, print, and T.V. rapidly decrease. Although only 1/20 of advertising spending goes into mobile devices, the bigger picture is that mobile apps are creating a new dynamic for the way businesses are operated and marketed.

Statistics show that mobile app growth has jumped from a measly $2 billion in 2008 to $38 billion in 2013. The most popular apps without question tend to be more interactive and social media based, whether they be Twitter, Facebook, or the ever-improving Instagram. The emphasis on mobile photography and high resolution visuals is exceptional, with over 1,500,000,000 photos shared on a daily basis. From a business standpoint, it becomes very clear that the answer to successful marketing is joining the mobile network and creating some form of visual/interactive appeal.

Looking towards the future, it seems that a company that creates its own mobile app or becomes involved with mobile social media applications has a higher likelihood of reaching their target audience. Being readily accessible at all hours of the day is no longer a preference, it’s a necessity.

CoCard can be located on twitter at https://twitter.com/CoCardAtlanta,

and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/COCARD.AAAccess.

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Sunny Days

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While basking in the warm weather courtesy of that neighborhood picnic, after-work happy hour or poolside vacation, enjoy the leisure, but keep an eye on the sun exposure.  Though you’re likely aware that prolonged sun exposure—along with indoor tanning beds—are the leading causes of skin cancer, did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States? This year alone, 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer (the most common types found on the base layer of the skin, like the face, ears, neck and backs of hands) will be reported, and melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer) will affect  more than 76,000 people. Brush off those preconceived notions that skin cancer is limited to fair-skinned people or the elderly;  everyone, regardless of age and race, is at risk. 

Despite the scary statistics, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers. Though you can’t go back in time and intercept that blistering sunburn five years ago, you can take these tips from the Skin Cancer Foundation:

Seek out shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is the strongest and avoid direct sunlight. Hang out in the shade or beneath an umbrella. While you may have heard that the sun is a source for vitamin D, it’s safer to eat vitamin-D-rich foods like salmon or orange juice than subjecting your skin to UV rays.

Don’t get burned. If you start to see your skin redden, get out of the sun, stat!

Wear protective gear like hats, sunglasses and clothing—darker clothing protects better than clothing with lighter hues.

Put on a high-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day, year-round. Coat your body with about 2 tablespoons at least 30 minutes before you go outside and reapply every two hours if you’re swimming or sweating.

Self-check your skin once a month for irregular moles or discoloration.

Visit your dermatologist once a year for a professional skin cancer exam. 

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2014 Decatur Book Festival

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CoCard is proud to call Decatur, GA home. Our city is a huge part of what has made the Decatur Book Festival so successful. Each year, the Festival brings more than 600 authors and 85,000 people to Decatur! Cocard has sponsored the Decatur Book Festival since 2012 and is happy to announce our third year of sponsorship for 2014!

Click here to learn more about the Decatur Book Festival.

CoCard is a Decatur-based merchant services company that’s provided simple, secure, and cost-effective electronic payment and fraud prevention services for clients across the country – and across the street – since 1988. If you’re not already processing locally, now’s a great time to switch. Imagine being able to pick up the phone, call someone locally, and have them come out to fix your problem the same day!

Are you a Decatur, GA business owner? Click here to find out how we can help you!

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Security Alert!

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Recent RSA findings report that ChewBacca malware has compromised the security of numerous POS systems since being discovered in October 2013. According to a Visa alert in March, the malware operates by installing a copy of itself in the Windows startup folder as a file called “spoolsv.exe” and then disguising itself as a Windows Print Spooler (so it runs automatically when you start Windows). The malware utilizes two data-stealing mechanisms: a generic keylogger and a memory scanner that look for credit card numbers, PIN, identity information and security data. ChewBacca is privately owned, and it is currently unknown how many were affected by the breach.

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