Opposing Bitcoin Regulations Could Impede Currency Expansion

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According to Payment Source, the state of New York Department of Payment Services recently proposed the framework for ‘BitLicense’, a money transfer license pertaining to businesses that use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Although this proposal still has yet to be approved, the potential effects could alter the course of Bitcoin’s use nationally.

The proposed Bitcoin license would require state businesses to not only provide full customer disclosure, but also transaction receipts, a complaint resolution center, and user account verification. A cyber security program is also a requirement of the proposal, with heavy emphasis on record keeping ot be spearheaded by a chief information security officer.

When this proposal is placed in comparison to more liberal Bitcoin states like Texas, there is an extreme conflict in both interest and practice; Texas’ current Bitcoin laws make the currency an unofficial form of payment that is unregulated by the market. Bitcoin is not treated as real money, but can be used for goods, services, and currency exchange would still follow state law. With varying forms of enforcement for this controversial cryptocurrency, it leaves many wondering which the best course is for the future.

The new proposal is not yet active, and must be voted on by state businesses interested in transmitting Bitcoin. The voting period began July 23, 2014, and will continue for 45 days.

Although these new regulations only apply to New York for the time being, it is still a largely relevant issue because a majority of New York’s financial policy acts as a model for the national industry. Also, any customer not based in New York would still likely feel the effects of the legislation because any and all Bitcoin transactions/advertisements that go through New York’s financial industry will still have to be regulated.

New York’s new license proposal would likely deter many businesses, simply to avoid the hassle of registering for a license. Although Bitcoin miners themselves would remain unaffected, businesses would not only have to report all Bitcoin activity on a daily basis, but also be subject to independent investigation by the Department of Financial Services.

The proposed changes to the Bitcoin market vary extensively from many of the current practices on a national level, although it may not be all bad; these changes can significantly reduce the risk of money laundering, Bitcoin thievery, and overall illicit financial activities that could otherwise be disguised through Bitcoin. The tradeoff is that many companies are more than likely not looking to go through the steps to obtain a license, especially when it is subject to so many regulations. Will this have an overall negative effect on the national Bitcoin market? Will other states follow suit? We will all soon have answers once voting is concluded.

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Credit Card Use is On the Rise

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Credit card usage is finally on the rise again in the United States. According to ISO & Agent, Consumers are more comfortable borrowing money and using revolving credit than they have in years, with the Federal Reserve Board noting a spike in annual consumer credit rates.

This year’s annual credit rate increased by 12.3% with consumers, a large difference from the 15% drop noted at the beginning of the Great Recession.  Although credit use has begun to improve, there is also a high rate of credit debt as well, with month to month debt being at its highest level since 2008.

Lower credit standards are mainly the cause of this increase, but a substantial influence has also been increased consumer confidence. People feel more trustworthy of the economy, optimistic that their funds will remain in order.

Even though the rate of credit usage has increased, there are still many variables affecting its slow, methodical pace; one of the most influential is the decrease in credit usage by the younger generations. Individuals 18-29 years of age are the highest percentage of those without any credit cards.

The American Banking Association claims the percentage of cardholders that fully paid off their monthly balance climbed to 29% in the fourth quarter, the highest level ever. Although credit card debt is still at an alarming rate, personal consumption financed by debt is still lower than its rate during the mid 2000’s.

With this increased capacity for borrowing, now’s a better time than ever for customers to use credit cards for spending. That being said, the market for credit card processing is at an all time high, and it’s important that you have the right people processing your transactions. CoCard is an industry leader in payment processing and merchant services, and is certain that we can provide an experience superior to any other.

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Popcorn Report

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You know the drill: Summer is synonymous with major movie releases. Cue the action-hero flick and the anticipated all-star rom-com. Now that the first day of summer has officially come and gone, here’s what’s on our film-viewing radar for the next couple of months:
 
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)
Starring Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis and Keri Russell, this ape-driven action flick chronicles the battle between a nation of genetically evolved apes and a tribe of human survivors.
 
Boyhood(July 18)
We’re interested to see how Director Richard Linklater’s (the guy behind Dazed and Confused) 12-year project pans out in a story that captures a boy’s childhood from ages 5 to 18. The indie flick stars Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke.
 
Sex Tape (July 18)
Funny leading actors, Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz, portray a frantic couple who discover their sex tape has gone missing.
 
Planes: Fire & Rescue (July 18)
Disney returns with a sequel to Planes in this family-friendly animated feature. Starring voices from Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen and a host of others, this flick follows crop-duster plane, Dusty, as he joins a crew of aerial firefighters.
 
Wish I Was Here (July 18)
Scrubs alum Zach Braff is pushing out his anticipated second directorial effort after his surprise 2004 indie hit Garden State. FeaturingBraff, Kate Hudson, Ashley Greene and Josh Gad.
 
Hercules (July 25)
Dwayne Johnson rocks armor and sandals in his portrayal of the famed demigod alongside John Hurt and Joseph Fiennes. Expect lots of battles, blood and sword wielding.
 
Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)
Comic book aficionados, your Marvel hit for the summer follows a manhunt by the “guardians of the galaxy” as they join half human/half alien Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) in stopping a master villain from destroying the universe. Starring Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Josh Brolin, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro and John C. Riley, among others.
 
A Most Wanted Man (September 5)
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s posthumous spy thriller surrounds a Chechen Muslim’s escape and capture in Hamburg, Germany during the international war on terror, and boasts an all-star cast of Hoffman, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe and Rachel McAdams.
 
Watch trailers for these and other films here.
 
Orange is the New Black, Scandal, Mad Men or Sherlock? Share your latest Netflix binge with us on Facebook.  

 

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Growing New Farmers

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Contemplating adding the title of “farmer” to your growing repertoire of talents? Now just may be the perfect time. According to an announcement by the U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden at last month’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee meeting, attractive new implementations and policy changes are being made to the Farm Bill that offer financial security to newbie farmers and ranchers.

Since the average age of the U.S. farmer is 58 and older, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking to attract fresh faces to the field with these appealing new perks. Among said incentives are: waiving service fees for new and beginning farmers looking to enroll in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for 2014; increasing pay rates to beginning farmers and ranchers under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the development of a farmers website full of helpful need-to-know info for wannabe growers.

In the near future, the USDA is also looking to bring discounted insurance premiums to beginner farmers. Has the idea grown on you yet?

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Who We Are

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CoCard is an industry leader in Point of Sale / POS payment processing with advanced debit and credit card processing software and hardware.

Since 1999, CoCard has led the way in payment processing services, staying one step ahead of the curve. During this time, we’ve built a strong reputation in the processing industry and gained both the tools and management to turn your business into everything you have ever dreamed.

CoCard has also developed one of the most complete and robust selections of payment and authentication services in the industry, making CoCard the perfect option for a business that’s just getting on its feet, or one that’s been established for years.

What We Do

CoCard offers a wide selection of fully integrated, bank-neutral credit card and cash management products. We enhance our core-product offerings with best-in-class risk management and authentication tools. Your business’ security and safekeeping is the highest priority for CoCard.

We link merchants and entrepreneurs to customers and financial institutions, overseeing the secure transfer of funds. In seconds, we are able to securely process MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover, JCB and many other card types on behalf of any merchant card issuers.

Our Mission

Our mission is to make your electronic payment and authentication services simple, reliable, secure and cost effective. Simply put, we strive to offer you the best merchant services available.

HOW WE ACCOMPLISH OUR MISSION

Bank Certified and Recommended

Many merchant service providers claim to be as qualified and distinguished as CoCard, but very few have been certified and recommended by major banks. Bank certification ensures that all payment and financial systems have been rigorously scrutinized for accuracy and reliability. Banks only recommend organizations that have ample training and support mechanisms in place to serve their customers. Because CoCard is bank certified and recommended, you can be assured that we will serve your needs with the highest level of expertise.

Person-to-Person Service – One Call Resolution

CoCard works as a consultant for our customers. Our support technicians take the time to provide you with good advice and get you online fast and hassle-free. We are there for you when you need help the most. When you call our offices, you talk to a real person who can address your real needs. Stop arguing with an automated voice, and start conversing with a living, breathing professional.

Security

CoCard protects you and your customers with our industry-leading 4096-bit encryption and SSL. Our systems are monitored 24 hours a day by one of the leading firewall monitoring and intrusion detection firms. Any attempts at unauthorized access to our systems are immediately logged and appropriate security measures are taken. In addition, CoCard and its affiliates are all PCI compliant. Your business’ security and safekeeping are the highest of every employee’s priorities.

Speed

Every second counts for you and your customers. CoCard’s support and equipment ensures that your customer will be taken care of in a timely manner. Your marketing and sales strategies are optimized by efficient payment systems, so you spend less time calculating, and more time reaching potential clients.

Simplicity

CoCard specializes in electronic payments, so you don’t have to be an expert. We have a wide variety of integration methods and APIs available for all popular operating systems. We have invested in enterprise class servers and redundant data/banking feeds, and we hire skilled, trained technicians to oversee them all . Our systems are monitored 24 hours a day from 3 different locations to ensure that our services are always available to our clients.

Accuracy & Availability

With CoCard, your credit card transaction, electronic checks truncation, and gift and loyalty information is available to you for review 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Flexibility

We want to earn your business, which is why CoCard is dedicated to building commerce solutions customized to your needs. In addition to integrating the best in third-party, risk-management services, we have developed many of our own services in-house. The CoCard system can be used for small-business segment applications, as well as large complex financial applications.

Low Cost / High Value

CoCard provides the best value in the industry with our extraordinary services at low cost. Some of the most recognized names in business have chosen the CoCard solution for their needs.

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Bitcoin Seeks to Expand ATM Services

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New Bitcoin ATMs continue to propel the currency forward

Bitcoin payment is still a highly controversial topic; many people don’t know what to make of it, many see it as illegitimate, and many don’t know what it is at all. Although it receives mixed reviews from economists and investors alike, the continued expansion of Bitcoin usage has caused an entirely new payment industry to arise.

As many people know, Bitcoin is a digital payment system that can be exchanged as a form of cryptocurrency. Individually valued at hundreds of USD per coin, the exchange of coins for goods, services, and even paper money has become a point of interest. In the wake of this increased interest, Lamassu Inc. has moved forward in the production of Bitcoin ATMs.

Lamassu has developed new software named Rakia, which will allow its operators to provide remittance services, bill payments and airport cash exchange. Lamassu Bitcoin machines originally only allowed users to exchange their paper money to buy Bitcoins, but since May, users have been able to receive cash in exchange for coins as well.

The software is open source, and developers are able to work with Rakia to further improve its functionality. Lamassu also keeps the Bitcoin theme of decentralization alive, allowing operators to personally decide their prices, commission rates, and partners.

Bitcoin continues to strengthen its argument as a legitimate currency with its innovate technologies. Does this mean that eventually Bitcoin may become the real deal? Comment and let us know!

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Major tech companies push for legislative reform of NSA’s accessibility laws

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With the continued expansion of internet prevalence in our everyday lives, it’s becoming harder each day to escape the ever-watching eyes of “Big Brother”. “Big Brother” is an idiomatic term that refers to government surveillance powers that oversee our actions on an everyday basis, the most relevant example in this instance being the NSA.

The NSA has recently experienced a significant amount of backlash from major tech companies because of its invasive and disturbing policies for mass data collection. A year after agency contractor Edward Snowden’s leak of private documents, executives from nine major tech companies (AOL, Dropbox, Google, Apple, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Twitter, Microsoft, Facebook) sent a letter to the Senate demanding a reform of internet privacy and security laws.

Specifically, Microsoft sounded off about the changes in legislation that they would like to see, in reference to cyber-spying and data hacking. One of their main gripes was towards the security of cloud-based services, and the lack of certainty behind the protection of their documents and information. Microsoft claims that the government has “intercepted data traveling across the internet”, and “hacked links between company data centres” (www.thegaurdian.com).

Microsoft has a strong call to action, with five specific desires:

  1. Recognize that U.S. search warrants do not have jurisdiction outside of the U.S.
  2. End bulk-collection of data (phone records, email records)
  3. Commit to the ending of large scale data centre hacking
  4. Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, which makes its rulings in private.
  5. Improve transparency in terms of exactly what rights the government has to information and records.

It’s no secret that the government watches over us and keeps an eye out for suspicious activity. Many people understand and accept that it is for the greater good, but a great many (me included) believe that it is a serious breach of our Constitutional rights. With the constant increase in web/cloud based technology that businesses use for records, it’s a scary thought knowing that your business’s private information is always at the fingertips of the government; with little to no control over what the government can do or take from us, how much power do the people really have? Is the internet just another way for the government to control us? How do you think the government’s aggressive interference with private information will affect businesses in the future? Reply and let us know!

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Unified Development Ordinance

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CoCard can be found in the beautiful community of Decatur, Georgia. Although our grassroots community is one of the most economically sound, and intriguing in the metropolitan Atlanta area, it still requires many improvements.

Many members of the community are either aware of, or actively involved in a community uplift project entitled the ‘Unified Development Ordinance’,.  For those who aren’t, ‘UDO’ is a collaborative citizen effort initiated due to the rapid economic and residential development of Decatur. This project has been put in place to help combat a plethora of conflicting regulations that have been in place long before community uplift began.

Read more about the Unified Development Ordinance here.

A majority of the UDO consists of cleaning and tightening Decatur’s library of existing development regulations, forming a unified document for practice.  A small portion consists of community gatherings and informational meetings, organized with the intention to reach a consensus on  regulations that are particularly hard to agree on.

These meetings discuss various issues in the community that play large roles in lifestyle, including: zoning categories for different residential demographics, sustainability for the environment and resources, storm water protocol for residents, and community character.

CoCard is an active member in the community of Decatur, and we offer our full support to all efforts looking to improve the quality of living for residents. CoCard  also provides electronic payment processing services for businesses located in Decatur and across the US, and we   believe that the well-being of the community is   a constant call to action for us. Whether you’re a business owner in Decatur looking to improve the community, or simply an entrepreneur looking for a secure electronic payment and fraud prevention service, CoCard is definitely the service for you!

Read more about CoCard here.

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How to Have Your Best Business Vacation Ever

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A recent survey done by American Express OPEN shows that small business owners are more comfortable taking summer vacations this year than any other year during the recession.

According to the survey, a reported 60% of respondents (small business owners) are planning a week-long vacation for this summer. This is a tremendous leap from last year’s record low 49%, and the highest percentage since 2006. The Small Business Monitor is crediting this increase to a rise in economic confidence on behalf of business owners, as well as in general optimism for sales.

Because so many small business owners are going on vacation this summer, it may be hard to keep the balance in the workplace. Here are a few tips to help you keep your business on track, so you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest.

Stop waiting for the perfect trip

For many business owners, the only reason they don’t actually take a vacation is because they don’t believe any options are convenient. Constantly looking for the perfect week in Paris, or that extended stay in Hawaii, business owners can miss simple opportunities to just get away. It doesn’t have to be fancy or extravagant, just somewhere that‘s unfamiliar and keeps your mind away from your office. A trip to the mountains can provide you solitude that promotes both productivity and relaxation. Wherever you decide to go, just go somewhere.

Plan for your return

Although you’re leaving your office for a period of time, you’re probably still thinking about everything that’s still left to be done in your absence. Instead of beating yourself up about what needs to get done, make a list of everything you want to accomplish on your return, and leave it at that. Make a few quick edits or additions to the list when an idea hits you, but other than that, make the list and leave it alone.

Sleep in

This can be a very hard concept to grasp when you actually have the time to do it. A lot of us get so caught up in the daily grind of waking up early and going to bed late, when we actually have the time to rest, it almost feels wrong. Catch up on all the sleep you’ve missed in recent weeks, and make it a point to do EVERYTHING on your own time. You spend every waking moment living on a schedule, how about you just take the day on as it comes?

Check in when YOU feel like it

Many small business owners tend to forget that the purpose of a vacation is to actually get away from work. Often times, owners will get sucked into making sure things are still on track while they’re away from the office. A true vacation means unplugging completely from work and only providing contact for emergency situations. Obviously, it’s not recommended that you abandon your staff in entirety, so putting a little time aside each day to check emails and voice messages is a good strategy. Maybe thirty minutes here or there, just don’t let staying in the loop dictate your vacation.

Bring your family

Working with your own business can have you so consumed in your office culture that you lose touch with the whole reason you’re even there; make sure to include your close friends and family on your vacation to restore balance to your life. Catch up with friends, see how your kid is feeling, give your significant other a day of attention. Don’t lose the queen trying to protect the castle.

Give your employees the reins, see who steps up

In any business, there are employees beneath the managers who have high potential to lead in the future. When you take your leave, make sure you let these people know the responsibilities and expectations you have set for them. They should be the ones that you know can keep your business moving seamlessly in your absence. Who works the fastest? Who gets the most done each day? Who understands your vision? These are important questions to ask, and the answers that you get will ultimately decide who is next in line to run your business.

Enjoy the moment

This may sound like a cut-and-dry statement, but always take time to actually appreciate your vacation. Stop and look, try some food you’ve never had before, take a lot of pictures; do everything in your power to make the trip as memorable as possible. Often times, moments of inspiration and epiphanies hit us when we are at the peak of positive thought. You may become inspired with an ingenious business idea while enjoying your time off, and who knows, it could make all the difference for your next quarter.

Get excited!

Although planning a vacation somewhere can be stressful for a multitude of reasons, that’s still not a good enough reason to dread the process. Sure, packing, booking, and the actual traveling process can be a tax, but once all of that is out of the way, you feel great! Often times, just anticipating a new adventure can be enough to get you through a tough day you’re having. Use the potential for a great, memorable experience to motivate you through your last few days of work. Having something to look forward to boosts your morale, happiness, and promotes positive thought.

 

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