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Marco Polo and the #Blockchain

Colin Stevens

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For many of us the world of crypto currencies, sometimes known as digital assets, is a mystery and those involved are performing some form of magic using a mysterious spell known as the blockchain. But those with experience of crypto currencies have realised that great rewards are available to those brave or clever enough to invest in this new world of digital finance, writes Colin Stevens.

But those with experience of crypto currencies have realised that great rewards are available to those brave or clever enough to invest in this new world of digital finance.

Best known of the crypto currencies is the Bitcoin, a crypto coin invented in 2008 by an unknown person or group of people using the name Satoshi Nakamoto and started in 2009 when its implementation was released as open-source software.

Over the course of bitcoin's history, it has undergone rapid growth to become a significant currency both on and offline. From the middle of 2010 some businesses began accepting bitcoin in addition to traditional currencies.

Bitcoin was followed by Ethereum in 2015 and a host of other crypto currencies, so that today there are over 2000 crypto currencies.

The legal status of bitcoin and related crypto instruments varied substantially country to country at first, but many countries quickly realised that crypto currencies are the first apolitical form of money in history, which makes it borderless, impossible to control and regulate. Everyone can use crypto currencies for P2P transactions, which makes it the most inclusive form of money there is.

However, since nothing as decentralized as crypto currencies existed before, it is a true headache both to regulators and tyrannical regimes.

Enlightened governments began to realise the potential benefit of these digital assets, and accepted and even encouraged new crypto currencies tied to their national currencies – such as the USA with Tether (USDT), a crypto currency with a value meant to mirror the value of the U.S. dollar. The idea was to create a stable crypto currency that can be used like digital dollars. Once this happened crypto currencies came of age and became acceptable and mainstream.

Coins that serve this purpose of being a stable dollar substitute are called “stable coins” Tether converts cash into digital currency, to anchor or “tether” the value of the coin to the price of national currencies like the US dollar, the euro, and the yen.

Banks quickly realised the potential of crypto currencies, both for investment opportunities and for their business customers who wish to use it for instant cross border money transfer and exchange services. Major banks are now launching their own crypto coins or “tokens”.

J.P. Morgan in the USA this month became the first US bank to create and successfully test a digital coin representing a fiat currency, that is a government-issued currency that isn't backed by a commodity such as gold.

The JPM Coin is based on blockchain-based technology enabling the instantaneous transfer of payments between their institutional clients. Wall Street has been quick to welcome both the advantages this brings to businesses in competitive markets and the investment opportunities coupled with potentially seismic return on investment for early investors.

Across the Atlantic, after negotiations with the Chinese government, LGR Global is creating a new crypto utility token called “Silk Road Coin” which is destined to facilitate trade and commerce along the Belt and Road Initiative, formerly known as One Belt One Road or OBOR for short. This is a global infrastructure development strategy by the Chinese government mirroring the old Marco Polo trade route between China and Europe. Started in 2013, its purpose is to benefit and invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations along the route.

The Belt and Road project will construct a unified large market and make full use of both international and domestic markets. The Belt and Road Initiative addresses an "infrastructure gap" and thus has potential to accelerate economic growth across the Asia Pacific area, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe, estimated to be worth at least US$900 billion per year over the next decade, 50% above current infrastructure spending rates. The gaping need for long term capital and an instant and easy means of cross border money transfer and exchange services along the 70 country Belt and Road project almost guarantees the success of the new Silk Road Coin crypto currency, with substantial gains possible for early investors.

Many investors wise enough to invest in bitcoin in its initial years made millions, even billions of dollars, pounds or euros return on their initial investments. Just as the Venetian merchant and adventurer Marco Polo did between 1271–95, new merchant adventurers stand to make their fortunes via the new digital currencies of the Silk Road.

Huawei

More than 100 jobs to be created by Huawei in Ireland

Technology correspondent

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Huawei today (21 February) announced it would create a further 110 new jobs in Ireland by the end of 2022, bringing to at least 310 the total of new jobs it will have added over a three year period from 2019 to 2022 – more than doubling its workforce in that time. Huawei will invest €80 million in Irish research and development (R&D) over the next two years to support its growing business in Ireland.

Over the past 15 months, Huawei has created 200 jobs in Ireland, as well as investing €60 million in R&D. In the next two years, Huawei will invest a further €80 million in R&D in Ireland, doubling its commitment from 2019.*

The new jobs will meet sustained growing demand for Huawei’s products and services across its sales, R&D, IT development and in its consumer division. The company has a strong focus on helping its business partners roll out 5G across Ireland in coming years.  The jobs will be mainly based in its Dublin headquarters and across operations in Cork and Athlone.

The investment is supported by the Irish government through IDA Ireland.

Commenting on the announcement, Tánaiste and Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister Leo Varadkar said: “The news that Huawei will create 110 new jobs is most welcome.  The company is creating new jobs at a time when we really need them with so many people out of work. Despite all the current uncertainty and challenges, Ireland continues to attract top class investment from global technology companies. These 110 jobs, which come in addition to the 200 created over the past 15 months, will be accompanied by an €80m investment in Irish research and development. I wish the company the best of luck with this expansion.”

Confirming the latest recruitment plans Huawei Ireland Chief Executive Tony Yangxu said: “We are delighted to see such growth in our workforce and business.  Huawei has a long-term commitment to Ireland, where since 2004 we have built a world-class team servicing our ever-growing consumer and enterprise customer bases.  Today’s announcement is testament to the strength of those, as well as the ongoing success of our research and development programme, to which we committed €70 million in 2019.  Our story in Ireland is one of mutual success, as we assist with the national digital transformation and Ireland continues to grow its international reputation as a pro-business environment with great talent available.”

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan added: “This is a welcome investment by Huawei which will add substantially to Ireland’s technology and R&D ecosystem.  The company’s continued commitment to significant investments in R&D and creating high value jobs demonstrates Huawei’s confidence in Ireland and the talent pool available here.”

Huawei has a broad range of activities in Ireland, where it serves all of the major telecommunications providers with products and business solutions.

Huawei’s R&D operations in Ireland work closely with Science Foundation Ireland research centres, including Adapt, Connect and Lero, while also having partnerships with DCU, Trinity, UCD, UCC and UL.  Its R&D efforts in Ireland focus on the areas of video, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), site-reliability engineering and 5G consumer use cases.

In 2020, Huawei Ireland began supporting Ocean Research & Conservation Ireland through its global digital inclusion TECH4ALL programme.  Huawei Ireland is providing a research grant and technological support to ORC Ireland as it conducts the first real-time study of the impact of marine traffic on whales in Irish waters. Huawei Ireland also launched the ‘TECH4HER’ Scholarship Programme in partnership with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) and University College Dublin (UCD), aimed at supporting female students studying STEM subjects.

Huawei Ireland was recently announced as a 2021 regional Top Employer by the Top Employers Institute. Each year, Top Employers Institute certifies organisations who are focused on putting their people first through their exceptional HR policies. The Top Employers Institute programme certifies organisations based on the participation and results of their HR Best Practices Survey. This survey covers 6 HR domains consisting of 20 topics such as People Strategy, Work Environment, Talent Acquisition, Learning, Well-being and Diversity & Inclusion and more.

About Huawei Ireland

Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. With integrated solutions across four key domains – telecom networks, IT, smart devices, and cloud services – Huawei is committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organisation for a fully connected, intelligent world. Huawei employs over 194,000 people in 170 countries across the globe.

Huawei has been in Ireland since 2004, with its business now serving over 3 million people and supporting over 860 direct and indirect jobs.

Huawei’s business activities in Ireland continue to thrive. Intelligent connectivity with fibre and 5G technologies has begun and will empower the market of mobile networks and broadband networks with AI and IOT technologies.  Huawei Ireland is working very closely with local operators and partners, and is focused on nurturing future talent and highly-skilled professionals in these areas across the country.

Huawei works with a number of Irish third-level institutions, including Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University of Limerick, University College Dublin, and University College Cork, funding vital Irish research into video, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.  The company also partners key Science Foundation Ireland centres such as Connect, Insight, Adapt and Lero.

Huawei Ireland is supporting Ocean Research & Conservation Ireland, a “for-impact” non-profit organisation based in Cork, to conduct Ireland’s first real-time study to assess the impact of marine traffic on whales in Irish waters. The new study will see the deployment of acoustic monitoring equipment in the Celtic Sea at locations where sightings of whales and other wildlife have been recorded. The equipment will be able to listen for movements of whales, and with the help of machine learning models to enhance data analysis, for the first time provide near real-time detection.

In 2020, Huawei Ireland launched the ‘TECH4HER’ Scholarship Programme in partnership with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) and University College Dublin (UCD), aimed at supporting female students studying STEM subjects. The scholarships are available at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In addition to financial support, TECH4HER also offers the opportunity to engage in a mentoring programme with representatives from Huawei.

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Huawei CEO calls for easing of US-China trade tensions

Technology correspondent

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Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei (pictured) urged the new US administration to adopt a more open policy towards Chinese companies, though admitted the vendor had no expectation current restrictions on it would be lifted, writes Chris Donkin.

Speaking at a media roundtable, Ren said the company wanted to focus on making good products and did not have the “energy to be involved in this political whirlpool”.

The executive went on to question if the US’ aggressive stance against China’s companies was beneficial to its own economy and businesses.

However, he conceded it would be “extremely difficult” for authorities in the US to lift restrictions already imposed on Huawei.

Huawei was a target of a sustained campaign against it led-by former US President Donald Trump, with various restrictions placed on the company’s activities including bans on US companies supplying the vendor.

The rules have severely restricted Huawei’s handset business in addition to hampering its networks unit: the US successfully persuaded several countries to follow its lead in banning the vendor from supplying 5G network equipment on security grounds.

Trump has since been replaced by Joe Biden, though so far there has been no indication this would lead to an easing in restrictions against the company or its local peers.

During the session Ren also reiterated earlier comments stating Huawei was open to negotiations with US-based businesses about licensing its technology, though noted none had contacted it so far.

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Huawei opens new front in FCC fight

Technology correspondent

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Huawei escalated a fight with Federal Communications Commission (FCC), filing a lawsuit seeking to reverse the US regulator’s designation of it as a national security threat, writes Diana Goovaerts.

The Chinese vendor argued in a court filing the FCC exceeded its statutory authority in naming it a threat and the label was “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion, and not supported by substantial evidence”.

It asked a judge to scrap the FCC’s designation and “provide such other relief as this court deems appropriate”.

A FCC representative told Mobile World Live the designation was “based on a substantial body of evidence developed by the FCC and numerous US national security agencies”, adding “we will continue to defend that decision”.

The FCC formally named Huawei and Chinese rival ZTE as security threats in June 2020, and subsequently rejected appeals from both companies challenging their designations.

Under an FCC rule adopted in November 2019, the title prevents US operators from using government funding to purchase or maintain equipment from either vendor.

Huawei’s lawsuit is separate from legal action taken against the FCC in December 2019 aimed at overturning the rule.

The company lost an earlier attempt to reverse US restrictions on government contractors using its products.

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