Walmart 2 Walmart Makes Buying and Selling Bitcoin More Convenient

Various companies and business are looking to make a name for themselves in the money transfer industry. Mainstream solutions such as MoneyGram are quite convenient to send funds all over the world, but their fees are rather high. While Bitcoin seems to be an obvious contender in this industry, Walmart has their own service to send money between locations. In fact, this Walmart 2 Walmart option has been getting a bit of attention from LocalBitcoins users. 

Also read: CEO of Cryptsy Claims Massive Bitcoin Heist Crippled his Exchange

Walmart 2 Walmart Takes on MoneyGram

It would be a bit of a stretch to say Walmart 2 Walmart and MoneyGram are direct competitors in the money transfer industry, although their business models are fairly similar. MoneyGram made a name for itself as being a convenient way to send and receive money all over the world, similar to how Western Union operates.

But at the same time, services like MoneyGram will not make it cheaper to send funds abroad, as they still rely on an archaic financial system of banks and other intermediaries. In fact, when it comes to sending money abroad, very few people will have used MoneyGram in the past, although it remains unclear as to why this would be the case.

Bitcoin is an obvious threat to both MoneyGram, Western Union, and any other competitor in the money transfer industry. With its very low fees and near real-time transfers, Bitcoin has taken the remittance world by storm, although the sector still needs to mature in the coming years. Not everybody in the world has an internet connection, and solutions have to be found to get Bitcoin into the hands of as many people as possible.

Surprisingly enough, major retailer Walmart has built up their own money transfer service. It has to be noted, however, that Walmart 2 Walmart will only allow users to send funds between the brand’s locations. With a far lower service fee than MoneyGram, it is a convenient way to send funds throughout the United States for a small cost.

The Walmart 2 Walmart process is rather simple and resembles the handling of transfers through other money transfer companies. Senders will fill in a form with the recipient’s details, pay in cash, and get a code they can then give to the recipient for pick-up. Everything is very straightforward, and the service can be accessed in the Customer Services section of any Walmart.

A New Way to Buy And Sell Bitcoin

Even though very few people had ever heard of Walmart 2 Walmart so far, the service has been getting attention from Bitcoin users in recent weeks. On LocalBitcoins, there are a few people looking to buy or sell Bitcoin in exchange for a Walmart 2 Walmart transfer.

Using this type of money transfer would eliminate the need for meeting up with someone in person to hand over cash, but it can also be seen as a risky way of dealing with Bitcoin funds, After all, a Walmart 2 Walmart transfer is non-refundable once it has been sent, so always tread with caution.

Source: Reddit

Images credit 1,2,3

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Court Vacates FHWA 90-Percent Threshold and Miscellaneous Products Exemptions Aspects of FHWA Secretary’s …

By recent order, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) 2012 Memorandum regarding exceptions to the Buy America preferences for use of domestic steel and iron on federally funded highway programs. Among other things, the Memorandum exempted manufactured items that were at least 90 percent steel or iron, and other miscellaneous steel and iron products, from the Buy America requirements.

The Buy America preference requirement is grounded in several evolutions of the Federal Surface Transportation Assistance Act. One aspect of the related acts was the preference for domestic unmanufactured and manufactured products purchased with monies funded in conjunction with those acts. Those preferences included domestic steel and iron products, both manufactured and unmanufactured.

However, the acts allowed the Secretary of the US Department of Transportation to exempt the Buy America preference when the Secretary deemed Buy America compliance would be inconsistent with the public interest. The 2012 Memorandum resulted from the Secretarys most recent exercise of that exemption authority, and was intended to clarify earlier exception determinations by the Secretary.

Using his exemption authority, in the 2012 Memorandum, the Secretary exempted from Buy America policy application two categories of products: 1) manufactured products made up of less than 90 percent steel or iron; and 2) miscellaneous or off-the-shelf steel or iron products. The case before the District Court involved challenge to those policy exemptions.

In short, the court agreed with the challenging plaintiffs and held the 2012 Memorandum violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) because: a) the 90 percent threshold had not been subjected to required notice and comment rulemaking processes, and was itself arbitrary and capricious; and b) the miscellaneous products exceptions likewise were not subjected to required notice and comment rulemaking processes under the APA and also for Buy America waivers.

Thus far, the FWHA has not issued any additional clarification regarding Buy America implementation, nor has it initiated any related rulemaking processes. The overall impacts remain to be seen, but pending any overturning of the decision on appeal, or such rulemaking processes, all steel and iron for new federally funded highway projects must be reviewed for compliance with the Buy America requirements, and potential exemptions .

FWHA personnel have suggested that vacating the 2012 Memorandum is likely to significantly impact utility components. However, there will be other impacts as well.

Smart Home Joe Releases New Informational Website On Buying and Selling Homes in Virginia

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Smart Home Joe, a Northern Virginia realty guide, has released new online resources for new and existing consumers interested in selling a home in Virginia. The new resources will help inform consumers before they begin the arduous task of selling their home.

And also…too stoned for the FBI, a wild ride in the snow, and lotsa pants

Watch the video:

Norwegian braves big freeze to foil car thief
Norway: man clings onto stolen car in underpants at -17°C to stop thief

One young Norwegian had a rude awakening this week when he was roused from his slumbers by the sound of his car being started. Despite the -17°C temperatures outside, he rushed out in his underpants and tried to grab the driver’s door as the thief pulled away.

Newspaper Aftenposten revealed that the 25-year-old was able to climb onto the car roof, where he stayed for several kilometres as the thief tried to shake him off at speeds of up to 90 kph.

Panting for the return of Spring
Frozen underwear defy cold in Minnesota

More pants, but this time in the USA, where as temperatures drop below zero in Minnesota, people have started displaying upright frozen pants in front of their houses around Minneapolis.

Minneapolis’s Star Tribune found the person who set the trend back in 2013 during the Polar Vortex. Tom Grotting had started the trick to cheer up his neighborhood during this cold period. Now the trend has spread everytime the cold bites.
Check out #frozenpants on Twitter to see the best displays

Serious games in Iran
Iran-Iraq: not everything is allowed for “Clash of clans”

Online game The clash of clans is so popular: in Iran and Iraq that a thriving market has sprung up with many young people in these two countries buying and selling their game accounts.

One disciple of Grand Ayatollah Sistani asked him recently if playing this game and trading the accounts was religiously authorized.

The most important Iraq Shiite cleric answered: “Buying and selling is not correct. To play the game, in general, disciples can ask the opinion of another ayatollah because he, (Ayatollah Sistani), did not take any position on the subject.


Iran-Iraq/Clash of clans

Mineapolis Star Tribune

Property for Africa – how real estate boom can shape economic development

South Africa is home to 15 million sqm of office space, while the rest of Africa, including North and Sub-Saharan Africa, contains a mere six million sqm, according to a report by Jones Lang Salle.  But this is set to change.

Africa is witnessing a remarkable growth of its city economies, with a rate of urbanisation that in some areas is pushing 9% a year.

The commercial real estate sector in Africa has been described as poised for lift off by expert analysts. But how will the continent capitalise on this sector to ensure that property markets foster economic growth and development?

It is to address this challenge that the Department of Construction Economics and Management  at UCT has partnered with Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking (NCIB), to form the UCT-Nedbank Urban Real Estate Research Unit under the directorship of Associate Professor Francois Viruly.

The primary source of funding for the Unit is NCIB’s Property Finance business, which has committed ZAR1 million per year to the Unit for the next four years.  With this generous funding, the Unit will develop an interdisciplinary research platform to identify issues within and solutions to urban real estate investment, finance, economics and management problems in Africa.

“The success and long-term sustainability of African cities is a function of vibrant property markets,” explains Viruly.

“It should be founded on an understanding of how these markets function and what they can be expected to deliver.”

The Unit aims to develop a unique research alliance between UCT, industry and society at large to collaborate with public and private sector partners, thereby ensuring a community and industry aligned agenda.

“This engaged research aims to ensure that the property sector is able to play its role in fostering the needs of investors and other stakeholders”, says Viruly.

“There is a growing understanding that the performance of the built environment is not merely the outcome of economic growth, but has a critical role to play in creating the physical and social environment from which economies are able to prosper.

According to Viruly, the risk of letting the African real estate sector boom take place without the accompanying research and understanding of the impacts of property development is huge.

“A great example of this was the 2008 global financial crisis which clearly demonstrated the social risks of an unmanaged property boom.”

A core research team in the Department of Construction Economics and Management which includes Associate Professor Kathy Michell and Rob McGaffin, has already been active in this area.

Research projects under way include an investigation into the challenge of developing high-density affordable housing in the inner-city of Cape Town; the role of property markets in post-conflict countries; and how to leverage technology in the commercial real estate sector.

“Investment in and funding of property ventures and developments necessitate taking a long-term view that is properly informed. The importance of high quality real estate research in investment and financing decisions cannot be understated. Both our association with UCT and commitment to research are consistent with our aspiration to promote thought-leadership in the property industry, explains  Robin Lockhart-Ross, NCIB Property Finance Managing Executive.

“Nedbank’s interest in urban real estate economics extends beyond the pure property aspects. It includes the efficient functioning and sustainable financing of cities, which will fall within the scope of the research Unit. “In NCIB we have a division that provides banking facilities to metropoles and term funding of infrastructural programmes essential to the growth of the urban property sector”, Lockhart-Ross says.

Economic Moat

The concept of the economic moat comes from Warren Buffett, an American businessman and one of the most successful investors in the world. The term refers to a companys ability to maintain a competitive advantage over its rivals and thus protect its long-term profitability and market share. Buffetts investment strategy centers on companies with strong economic moats, as they are more likely to withstand their competitors and remain successful.

Why companies need a competitive advantage
A competitive advantage is any quality that enables a company to offer similar products to its peers while enjoying superior financial performance. Over time, companies are more likely to lose their competitive advantage because, as they grow increasingly profitable, competitors are more likely to replicate their methods or create even better ones. Establishing economic moats can help companies protect their long-term profits. There are several ways in which a company can create an economic moat, and its possible for a company to have more than one.

Cost advantage
Companies that can deliver or produce their goods or services at a low cost have a major advantage over the competition, because they can undercut their competitors on price. Companies with long-term sustainable cost advantages can command and maintain a large market share within their respective industries, thus forcing competitors out. Wal-Mart is a good example of a company that maintains a cost advantage, in part by buying and selling huge volumes of goods. Meanwhile, Apple leverages its brand power to squeeze lower prices out of its suppliers, which are eager to deal with this titan of consumer tech.

The network effect
The network effect occurs when the value of a good or service grows as more people use it. A good example of the network effect is eBay, whose ever-growing user base offers continuous value to buyers and sellers.

High switching costs
Switching costs are expenses or disruptions a customer will encounter when switching from one product or service to another. Its beneficial for companies to create high switching costs, as doing so can help them retain customers. Cellphone service providers, for example, can lock in customers because of their high switching costs. To change providers, a customer might need to terminate an existing contract and purchase a new phone, both of which can be costly. As such, customers might be less motivated to switch providers even if they are dissatisfied with their current service.

Intangible assets
Some companies have a distinct advantage over others due to their intangible assets, which include patents, licenses, and brand recognition. If a company establishes a well-known brand name, then it can charge a premium for its products or services. The perfect example might be Nike, which started out as a simple athletic-apparel company but has since become a major cultural institution and a purveyor not only of gear, but of status. Designer fashion labels have similar business models, using their prestige to sell clothing for prices several times higher than the cost of production.

Your job success is wired into you from BIRTH and no amount of extra money or …

The human brain has a limit to how well it can perform certain tasks, and this cant be boosted with bonuses, or increased pressure from bosses, research has found. 

Scientists from The Netherlands scanned the brains of participants as they performed computer-based tasks, measuring their ability to assess information under different situations. 

The scans revealed that while giving people bonuses or applying social pressure made people work harder, their overall performance in the tasks didnt improve. 

4 shares the pros are buying and selling

4 shares the pros are buying and selling
A roundup of trades by professional investors, featuring Ebiquity, Renew, Chamberlin and Liontrust.

Huntington’s 4Q Profit Rises on Commercial, Auto Loans

Deutsche Bank Said to Probe Subprime Auto Securitizations

Deutsche Bank AG officials are reviewingwhether some employees exaggerated demand as they marketed new securities backed by risky auto loans, potentially suppressing yields for investors, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The bank has looked at communications between the employees and investors to determine whether such marketing practices were normal salesmanship or if they crossed a line, said the person, who asked not to be named because the matter is private.The lender has also looked at whether preferential treatment in the allocation of the bonds may have improperly given the biggest investors a leg up over smaller firms, the person said.

The bank’s inquiry comes as the US Securities and Exchange Commission expands an industrywide crackdown on trading and sales practices in markets where mortgages, auto loans and other debt are bundled into securities. It’s also raising new questions in the booming market for subprime auto-loan securities that some regulators havelikened to the mortgage-bond binge of the 2000s.