Thursday, 15 June 2017

A Challenger Appears: Ethereum Approaches Bitcoin Market Capitalization


At the start of 2017, the global cryptocurrency market cap, that is, the total value of all cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin, was just under $18 billion USD. This was already a very promising increase from just $7.1 billion the year before. Compared to what was about to come however, even that increase seems minuscule. As of mid-June 2017, cryptocurrencies have reached a global market cap of just over $115 billion. That’s a 533% increase in less than half a year!
Payza has been keeping a close eye on the exciting new cryptocurrency trends, and in 2014, became one of the first e-wallets to allow its members to load and withdraw from their accounts using Bitcoin.
Until a few months ago, Bitcoin’s dominance, or the percentage of Bitcoin’s total value compared to the total combined cryptocurrency value, held steadily between 80% and 90%. Since March, however, there has been a tremendous rise in both awareness and value of Bitcoin alternatives, dubbed Altcoins. As a result, Bitcoin’s dominance has dropped significantly, making up just under 40% of total cryptocurrency value as of mid-June.
Trailing closely at 31% of the total cryptocurrency market cap, a challenger seems eager to take Bitcoin’s throne: Ether.
Ether
Built on the Ethereum computing platform, Ether (ETH) was released in May 2015 and has since gathered strong support from developers and investors alike, despite a hard fork in 2016 that prompted the creation of the Ethereum Classic (ETC). Following the success of the network and a growing market capitalization, multiple ventures are aiming to use Ethereum for projects related to finance, energy sourcing and pricing, sports betting, the internet-of-things, etc.
With an adoption rate that rivals that of Bitcoin, both experts and enthusiasts are becoming reluctant to use the term ‘altcoin’ when referring to Ether. There’s even speculation within the community that Ether will soon overtake the current leader, an event humorously named “The Flippening.”
The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance
With partners from multiple Fortune 500 companies (Microsoft, J.P. Morgan, Intel, etc.), research groups and blockchain startups, the nonprofit organization Enterprise Ethereum Alliance was established in March 2017 with a vision: to augment the Ethereum blockchain by creating a private version (currently known as EnEth 1.0), based on a reference architecture focusing on confidentiality, privacy, scalability and security. It will facilitate collaboration, as everything created will be open-source, making the EEA evolve alongside the public Ethereum community in harmony.
A Surge of ICOs
Part of the extraordinary increase in cryptocurrency value during the second quarter of 2017 is attributed to growing cryptocurrency awareness, the creation of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, but also to a multiplication of successful Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), crowdfunding campaigns dedicated to projects that build upon the Blockchain to provide solutions to existing problems or to future-proof the technology. Among the top ten crowdfunding projects, six are cryptocurrency-related, all based on the Ethereum blockchain: Bancor, the DAO, AEternity, MobileGo, Basic Attention Token and Aragon.
These projects, which have raised just over $477m, show tremendous support for the Ethereum blockchain, which was itself crowdfunded in September 2014 for $18m, a figure that pales in comparison of recent investments.
Altcoins and Payza
Payza has kept a watchful eye over all cryptocurrency developments, not just developments related to Bitcoin. As such, we’ve already started exploring and developing new ways to incorporate Ether and other Altcoins into our global online payment platform.
As cryptocurrency and blockchain technology advances, it is becoming increasingly clear that these currencies will make up a meaningful part of the global e-commerce ecosystem. The only questions that remain are which coins will emerge as the market leaders, and how much of global e-commerce volume will cryptocurrency payments make up?

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Tips to Improve Your Online Privacy

The term Internet privacy or online privacy refers to the privacy and security of your personal data that is available online. It includes different technologies and techniques that can be used to protect sensitive data and prevent any unauthorized access to it. Online privacy is important as your information could be misused leading to identity theft and online frauds. Many sites indulge in the online tracking of user activities. While this is primarily to provide a better user experience, you may not realize how much information about you is available to these sites leading to privacy risk. Here is a list of tools that you can use to improve your computer security and online privacy.

Browsers

Did you know that from a privacy point of view Firefox is one of the safest browsers to use? Most browsers collect a lot of user data. This includes popular browsers such as Safari, Chrome and Internet Explorer. Some of these browsers do allow you to surf the net incognito. Take a look at other browsers such as Tor and Midori for a more private browsing experience. You can also use browser add-ons for enhanced security. Some popular add-ons are https everywhere and disconnect. These add-ons can help keep you safe from online eavesdroppers and reduce privacy risks.

Search Engines

There are search engines beyond Google and Bing that track far-less user data than their popular counterparts. You can try DuckDuckGo which is a search engine that is gaining increasing popularity.

Messaging

Popular messaging app WhatsApp now allows you to encrypt your messages. Make sure your contacts also switch over to encrypted messaging as it will work only when both sides involved in the conversation use encrypted data. Given that WhatsApp is free and so is its encrypted messaging, there is absolutely no reason why users should not opt for this.

VPNs

When you browse the net directly, a lot of your online activity is available to your Internet service provider. However, you can avoid this by using a VPN. A good VPN can go a long way in enhancing your privacy protection.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Beyond Bitcoin – Cryptocurrencies and Altcoins to Watch in 2017


It’s telling that one of the most popular colloquial terms for a cryptocurrency is “altcoin”, a portmanteau of “alternative” and “bitcoin”. Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency, has become so ubiquitous that it is the definition of its own category. But the future of Bitcoin is currently in question and, because of this uncertainty, many traders are switching to other cryptocurrencies.

On March 10, Bitcoin hit an all-time high trading value of $1,325 as investors banked on a US proposal for a bitcoin-backed exchange-traded fund (ETF). However, the proposal was rejected by US authorities, which happened to coincide with a crackdown on bitcoin exchanges by Chinese regulators. Together, these two events caused Bitcoin’s value to drop by over $300.

The root of the problem putting the future of Bitcoin in question is scaling: Bitcoin is becoming too popular for its own infrastructure. The number of Bitcoin transactions that can take place at any given time is limited, which is causing a backlog of transactions in queue for processing, slowing down the whole system. This is because of the limited computing power of the blockchain, a distributed database that records all transactions and serves as a public ledger. In some cases, the backlog becomes so great that some Bitcoin transactions are not confirmed for hours or even days, and in some cases, the bitcoins being sent never reach their intended destination.

The Rise of Cryptocurrencies

Blockchains, invented in 2009 by the anonymous developer of Bitcoin, would prove to be a core technology of all cryptocurrencies. Blockchains are the key software that allows digital currencies to break the double spending problem by timestamping transactions into a public ledger on a peer-to-peer network. Without this solution, double spending represented a flaw in which the same digital token can be spent twice, rendering it useless as a currency. This technology allowed bitcoin and other digital currencies to be decentralized.

Cryptocurrencies are a subset of digital currencies, distinct in that they are decentralized: they are not tied to any real-world assets, not backed by any government or central bank, and no one is required to accept them as valid forms of payment or exchange them for any real-world currencies. Nonetheless, Bitcoin became so successful that it is now accepted by major companies such as Microsoft and Dell. You can even use Bitcoin at some brick-and-mortar stores and coffee shops around the world. In fact, there’s a coffee shop in Prague that only accepts payment by Bitcoin!

Naturally, Bitcoin’s success inspired imitation. Many copycat coins failed, but those that refined and built upon Bitcoin’s model attracted investors looking to capitalize on the technological innovation promised by these new altcoins. While some digital currencies like Litecoin and Dogecoin may have already hit their high water mark, there are still lots of intriguing cryptocurrencies that have something new to offer.

Here are the up-and-coming Bitcoin alternatives to keep an eye on in 2017.

Today’s Top Altcoins

Ether (founded 2015)

Shortly after Bitcoin’s crash in mid-March, Ether, the cryptocurrency that powers the Ethereum network, reached an all-time high trading value, surpassing $55 on March 16. Ethereum is an interesting case, as 2016 saw its value rise and fall erratically due to the same scaling problem Bitcoin is currently facing. To solve it, Ethereum split their blockchain into two parallel streams, a solution bitcoin has sought to avoid.

Known as Ethereum and Etherium Classic, these two cryptocurrencies both trade in Ethers, but they can have two different values depending on which stream they belong to, which can rise and fall independently of each other. Microsoft, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and J.P. Morgan Chase are all investing in proprietary software built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, lending credence to Ether’s reputation as a preferred network for digital software applications.

Zcash (founded 2016)
Zcash is one of the highest-valued cryprocurrencies today, currently trading around the $65 mark. The success of Zcash in what is now a very competitive landscape is due to its revolutionary, totally anonymous blockchain. The public ledger reveals no information about the parties involved or the amounts transacted; no other cryptocurrency provides complete privacy and anonymity.

Dash (founded 2014)
The third most valuable cryptocurrency by market capitalization behind Bitcoin and Ethereum, Dash hit an all-time high of $108.32 on March 20. This is a huge leap in value from its 2016 peak of $14.42.
After two different name changes, it appears Dash has finally taken off, driven by its proprietary InstantSend technology that allows transactions to be verified without the longer confirmation times of Bitcoin and other altcoins.

Monero (founded 2014)
From the beginning, Monero set itself apart from other cryptocurrencies in a way that is proving very important: scalability. Unlike Bitcoin and most altcoins, Monero has no hard-coded limit on its block size, meaning that it will never face the slowdowns that provoked Ether to split its blockchain and that are causing Bitcoin’s current existential crisis.

This scalability is key because the popularity of cryptocurrencies has now reached epic proportions. Bitcoin’s inability to handle its own popularity has led one of its key developers, Mike Hearn, to state that bitcoin is a failure as more altcoins rush in to take its place.

Nothing is certain in this crowded, complex market, and cryptocurrencies should still be seen as experimental and high risk in terms of an investment, but their potential power within the digital economy cannot be understated. More and more people are investing their real-world money in Bitcoin and altcoins, while businesses of all sizes have begun to accept cryptocurrencies in exchange for goods and services both online and in-store. If you’re curious about digital currency, now might be the time to start trading, and it’s still possible to find coins that have not reached their full potential yet and still have room to rise in value.

We’ve only skimmed the surface of the history, complexity, and capability of cryprocurrencies, but this is a subject we at Payza will be following closely in 2017. Subscribe to the Payza Blog to get email notifications about more in-depth articles about this and other FinTech disruptors, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for even more e-commerce news from around the web.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Payza Wins Best Online Payment Method at the MPE 2017 Awards


2017 has only just begun and it’s already an exciting year for Payza. Wednesday night at the Merchant Payments Ecosystem Conference in Berlin, Payza was announced as the winner of the MPE 2017 Online Payment Method Award.

“2016 was a banner year for Payza,” said Firoz Patel, global executive vice president of Payza, who accepted the award on the company’s behalf. “The United Kingdom, for instance, saw over 150% year-over-year growth in terms of new merchant accounts. Overall, Payza saw 50% YOY growth in business signups and 225% growth in merchant payment volume. To be recognized as the best online payment method from among Europe’s leading providers is a credit to Payza’s continuing effort of providing local payment options to our users in Europe and across the globe.”

The MPE Awards, which celebrate and honor the achievements of companies and personalities across the European merchant payments ecosystem, selected Payza as the Online Payment Method Award winner based on its built-in fraud protection and state-of-the-art unique account security features, such as tokenized dynamic payment buttons, custom avatars and greeting messages, and Password and PIN protection; its flexible payment options, such as recurring subscription and split payments for marketplaces; and its hassle free integration that provides European merchants the choice to set their payment preferences based on the countries to which they are selling.

In addition to winning the Online Payment Method Award, Payza was also shortlisted for the Data Information Award, which recognizes achievements in using big data to improve the customer experience, decrease fraud, and increase profitability.

“Winning this award wouldn’t have been possible without the combined contributions of each and every Payza employee,” continued Patel. “From our amazing customer support staff, and our dedicated IT team and software engineers, to our merchant account managers, and our banking, fraud prevention, and account security teams, this achievement was the culmination of a full company effort.”

Payza’s staff has been growing rapidly to keep up with the increasing demand for the company’s services. That demand is a testament to the company’s focus on providing specialized local payment solutions for unique markets while offering an online platform where consumers and businesses in both developed and developing economies can participate.
With new offerings targeted at some of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world, including India, Brazil, and Bangladesh, Payza is poised for yet another breakout year.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Is Affiliate Marketing Right for You?

In most industries today, small business owners will find that e-commerce is the only true route to success. If you’ve already built your online business and are now struggling to turn a small but devoted customer base into a large and vocal fandom, maybe it’s time to recruit your customers to sell your product for you. If you’ve already come this far, maybe it’s time to look into affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is often confused with multi-level marketing (MLM). In light of the recent Herbalife settlement, people are once again thinking of MLM as a bad word – just Google “MLM” and you’ll see that one of the first results is “Is multi-level marketing a pyramid scheme?” But that’s missing the point of the settlement, which we believe is actually a good thing for the industry.

In 2012 Bill Ackman, founder of Pershing Square Capital, a hedge fund, began a campaign against Herbalife, accusing the 35-year-old dieting supplement company of being a pyramid scheme. After a lengthy investigation, the company agreed to establish a $200M fund to reimburse distributors for lost wages and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that Herbalife was operating legally.

This settlement is meaningful because, despite the fine, it reinforces that MLM is a fair and legitimate business model. In the words of Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson: “The settlements are an acknowledgement that our business model is sound and underscores our confidence in our ability to more forward successfully.”

While it shares superficial similarities with MLM, affiliate marketing is itself a distinct business model from both multi-level marketers and illegal pyramid schemes:

Pyramid schemes require that people pay to participate in the scheme and only profit when they recruit others to participate. The “product” is only redistribution of money pumped into the scheme: the business is built on recruitment. It’s a closed system and the money flows overwhelmingly toward the top. With no incentive to actually sell a product, those at the bottom of the pyramid eventually run out of new recruits and the pyramid collapses.

Multi-level marketing companies rely on the sale of real products for their cash flow. New recruits are brought on board and the company incentivises recruiters, but the profits at all levels still come from actual sales. Rather than profiting off fees charged to recruits, the company rewards recruiters with a percentage of profits based on sales. In other words, the product is everything.

Affiliate marketing is a single-tier system which rewards affiliates for each visitor or customer the affiliate directs to the business. The affiliate is not selling the product but is instead marketing the business and directing traffic to the company’s website.

Affiliate marketing is often overlooked by digital marketers. Though the methods are more or less identical – SEO, SEM, PPC, email campaigns, etc. – instead of coming from the business directly, the content is actually being promoted by a third-party “publisher” (the affiliate). This is a powerful tool for building trust in a brand; when somebody else speaks up for your product, it makes a greater impression on consumers than hearing it directly from the merchant.

The product is still everything, however. Some people get into affiliate marketing or MLMs because they seem like a solid, profitable business model, and then figure out what the “product” is later. But the medium is not the message. There is no product that is a poor fit for affiliate marketing as long as you’re doing it for the right reasons. Get your product right first – the best time to introduce affiliate marketing to your business is once you have a small but growing customer base, a group of potential brand ambassadors who can prove to you and others that you have a great product.

Affiliate marketing is not a “get-rich-quick scheme” and it’s certainly not a scam. It’s good business. If you know you have a great product and a great online business, affiliate marketing is right for you.

From the start, our mission has always been to provide freelancers, self-employed professionals, entrepreneurs and small business owners with convenient and affordable tools for growing their business. We believe in small business and want to do what we can to help improve the lives of your customers – check back often with the Payza blog for the latest tips and tricks on growing your online business, and be sure to follow us on: Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Developing Successful Strategic Partnerships

As businesses grow in size and expand operations, there is a need to look at partnerships to achieve goals and objectives. Trying to do it all yourself is no longer a good strategy in today’s times. There is instead an increasing emphasis on finding strategic partners to expand and support your business.

Defining Strategic Partnership

So what is a strategic partner? A strategic partner is a like-minded company that provides products or services that not only complement your business but also support its growth story. The partnership is usually defined by means of a business contract and is time bound. A common example can be found in the supply chain industry where logistics are usually managed by a 3PL that functions as a strategic partner. This allows the main company to focus on its primary business while leveraging the skills and experience of the partner to carry out the logistics function.

The success of the partnership largely depends upon the homework you have done while choosing the partner and if your partner’s goals match with yours. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Be Clear On The Objective

You need to be very clear on why you are venturing into the partnership in the first place. Make sure you have clearly laid out goals for the partnership and how they align with your vision and long term plans. Also, set up periodic checkpoints to ensure that the business case for the strategic partnership continues to hold true and goals are being met.

Focus On Similarities But Also Leverage The Right Differences

It is very important to find a partner who has similar values, ethics, culture as you in order to build a good relationship. Also, check if the partner can adapt to your changing needs and keep up with your pace of growth. While looking for similarities also spend some time understanding the differences. There might be some opportunities hidden here, for example, a marketing partner serving a different region could create future opportunities for you to expand your operations. If your partner is innovative then it creates new service opportunities for you as well.

Understand The Risks

While strategic partnerships are great for business you must also be aware of the risks involved. Think of the long-term implications before getting into the partnership. Also, be prepared with a mitigation plan in case the partnership does not work out. How will you measure the success of the partnership? How will you safeguard your interests in case of a discrepancy? The more risk identification and mitigation planning you do up front the easier it will be for you work with your partner.

Learn From Experience

Your long-term growth plan might involve setting up a series of strategic partnerships. As you go along, pause to reflect and debrief with key stakeholders. This learning will help you to setup a robust process for defining partnerships and making them work for you.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Increasing Your SEO Score for More Online Visibility



Here we provide a strategy to ensure your customers will find your online business when conducting internet searches.  

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a fundamental component of website building and digital marketing, has been around long enough that we in the business already look back fondly at the “good old days” of SEO. Once upon a time, getting your website to rank was as simple as cramming enough keywords into a page, a practice that now has the opposite effect. These days, SEO is a complex set of best practices that is constantly being changed and updated, so keeping your website optimized can be a full-time job.
Before we go any further, to understand SEO we need to understand how search engines work. Basically, Google, Bing, etc. send robots all around the internet that “crawl” every website they can find. They pull all the data from these sites and, using a very large set of complex algorithms, attempt to identify which ones have the most valuable information for their users.
For example, when you type “e-commerce” into Google, it attempts to sort the search results in order of what you are most likely to find useful. The problem with this is that robots are not that good at deciding what is and isn’t useful to humans.
The practice of search engine optimization then is to find ways to tell those robots that your website is the one people are looking for. But this comes with a problem as well, which is that even poor or spam websites can still have good SEO, and so Google, etc. have to constantly improve their algorithms in order to filter out the sites that are trying to “trick” them into thinking they’re useful and return only the best possible results for their users.
So as search engines get smarter, SEO practices have to get more sophisticated. Let’s have a look at some of the key elements of SEO and how you can use them to increase your online visibility.

Terms you need to know

  • Keywords: Keywords are the terms or phrases browsers are searching for. Search engines catalog the keywords you’ve incorporated in your website and use them to rank your site appropriately in their results pages.
  • In-bound and out-bound links: Search engines consider how many other websites link to yours, as well as which websites you link to, to measure the legitimacy of your site. The quality of the in-bound and out-bound links will also influence your score.
  • UX: User experience is a broad category of its own which includes ease-of-use, intuitive navigation and quick loading times. Search engines consider how pleasurable it is to use a website when ranking them in their results pages.
  • Bounces: When someone clicks through to a site only to discover that it is not what they were looking for, they will hit “Back” to return to the results page. This is called a “bounce” and it signals to search engines that your site is not what visitors are looking for, so they will rank it lower in future search results.

Tips to get you on track

Slide1
If you haven’t updated your SEO practices in the last year they’re at least partly out of date, but there’s another reason why you need to be constantly tweaking and maintaining your website. Search engines rank websites lower if they appear stagnant – if the content of your website is updated infrequently, it may do damage to your SEO score.



Slide2
The main function of SEO is to leverage keywords. By modifying the structure and content of your website, you can incorporate keywords that are relevant to your products and that your target market is using to search for similar products on the web. However, it’s important to focus on target keywords very specific to your potential audience. Popular search terms are a double-edged sword – avoid common keywords unless they’re definitely favored by your specific audience, otherwise you risk a high bounce rate.


Slide3Analytics can help you keep it fresh. By keeping a watchful eye on your website analytics you can identify which of your SEO campaigns are performing well and how to deploy your resources most effectively. Pay attention to your bounce rates, paid vs. organic traffic, brand vs. non-brand keyword performance, and long-tail vs. short-tail traffic.
Search engines also use analytics to identify the legitimacy of a website. If you can increase the average time your visitors spend on your website, search engines will see that as a vote of confidence that your website is indeed useful to their users.

There are a few ways to optimize your site:Slide4
  • Pages more than three levels deep into your website are rarely going to be seen by a human being, so keep all the important information close to the surface. If users have to click more than twice from your homepage to get to the information they’re looking for, most of the time they will go looking for it somewhere else.
  • Trimming unnecessary pages from your site and eliminating duplicate content can increase your score since both of those are interpreted by search engines as spam.
  • Search engines consider loading times and broken links when ranking sites, so make sure your site is running smoothly at all times.

Slide5Good customer service never goes out of style – it’s even more important to the overall success of your business than SEO. In the age of social media, a bad review can spread like wildfire and severely impact your ability to reach new customers. Social media is a boon to SEO practitioners for its utility in link building, user-generated content and reputation management. Signals from social media, including the number of followers, community engagement and content sharing tells search engines that your brand and website are valuable to their users.
More traditional forms of marketing can be effective as well, such as email marketing, maintaining a local physical presence, and getting your business reviewed by popular blogs and news outlets.

We are far from the age of “If you build it they will come”, especially not in the crowded and competitive online retail industry. Search engine optimization is the key to standing out in this market –9 out of 10 consumers use search engines to make purchasing decisions, and SEO is the way to compete for their attention. If you have any further questions about implementing good SEO practices for your website, leave a comment below, and keep visiting the Payza Blog for more tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your e-commerce business.