Author Archives: mariawrite

Digital currency Ethereum reaches an all time high

Digital currencies have been making international news since blockchain pioneer currency Bitcoin reached an all time high at the beginning of 2021. Riding on the coat tails of Bitcoin’s success and the increased interest in digital currencies, online coin Ethereum has also reach a peak in its market value. 

As of Sunday February 28th 2021 on Ethereum coin was worth $1,380 United States Dollar after reaching highs of $1,960 United States Dollars on Friday 19th February 2021. In comparison, Bitcoin reached a peak of $57,849 United States Dollars on Sunday 21st February 2021, before a relative decline to $46,189 United States Dollars as of Friday 19th February 2021. 

The spike comes as more companies are becoming interested in the digital currencies as the number in circulation begins to reach towards its limitations. Bitcoin for example will only ever have a maximum of 21 million coins in circulation. There are currently 18.5 million coins that have been mined, meaning there are only 2.5 million coins left to be unearthed. With far more less to mine, there were 72 million Ether coins launched at generation point but only 18 million Ether have currently been mined. 

Interest in the online currencies was peaked when Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer and billionaire tech entrepreneur, Elon Musk, tweeted on the subject. In a trend for stocks to rise on anything the cult celebrity figure comments on, Bitcoin and Ethereum proved no exception. He went on to comment that “That said, BTC & ETH do seem high lol”. 

Fuelling the speculation around digital currencies Musk also commented: “Money is just data that allows us to avoid the inconvenience of barter …” The remark came after a dramatic purchase by Tesla of $1.5 billion Bitcoins. The record purchase is one reason prices for the coin may have risen so high in early to mid February.

Gamestop caught in the middle of protest against hedgehfund shorts

In an unlikely turn of events this month, humble games retailer Gamestop has been caught in the middle of an spontaneous campaign protesting the practices of hedge fund managers in the stock market. 

So what happened?

Let’s begin at the beginning. The campaign to raise Gamestop’s shares began on Reddit. The reddit thread is called “WallStreetBets’ and a place for anyone interested in talking about the stock market or trying to pick up some tips. The users of this Reddit thread came together and decided to sell the Wall Street short-sellers on stock a message through a mass online protest where they would encourage the buying of Gamestop shares to artificially raise the price. In this fashion, hedge fund managers who were shorting the stock had the potential to lose incredibly large sums of money. 

Did it work?

The question of ‘Did it work?’ is a good one, and maybe we don’t quite know the answer yet. From an average of around $20 United States Dollars a share from Gamesop beginning in early October 2020, the stock price rose to a peak high of $357.51 United States Dollars on Wednesday 27th January 2021. Whilst prices reached a second peak of $325 United States Dollars on the 29th January 2021, they have since fallen and peaked again just over $100 United States Dollars since the end of February 2021. Whether the stock can be prevented from falling short ultimately remains to be seen. 

But what is shorting anyway?
Shorting in a term most of us know from Hollywood films such as ‘The Big Short’ and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, yet our understanding of what the term actually means might not go much further than that. What shorting means is the selling of stock not owned by the seller, which ideally then drops in value and the seller can buy back the lower priced stock, which if there is a significant difference, means lots of profit.

Bitcoin price peaks over $52,000 AUD

Bitcoin is an online currency that has been on the radar for many people for the past few years. Renewed interest in the digital currency has come about though this January 2021 as the online coin’s value has skyrocketed into the new year, and peaked at just over $52,000 Australian Dollars on the 8th January 2021. 

There are many speculations for the reasons behind the niche currency’s sudden peak, but rapid increases and decreases in the value of the online coin are not new. Other notable peaks occurred in 2013 and again in 2017, when Bitcoin’s price went from $5,000 USD to $10,000 USD in a matter of months. 

Jump to 2021 and Bitcoin’s surging popularity has seen a meteoric 40% rise in 2021, quadrupling its value for the same quarter last year. Prices rose steadily into early January before starting a predictable steady and continuing deterioration in price. 

Bitcoin dates back to 2008, when it was supposedly invented by Satoshi Nakamoto – a mysterious and as yet unconfirmed figure. The software was released at open-source in early 2009 in a transaction that took place a prearranged exchange between Nakamoto and an early Bitcoin user. 

Papa John’s pizza chain in the USA was the first business to receive a real world transaction of Bitcoin in 2010. A Bitcoin miner chose to spend 10,000 bitcoins on a pizza in Florida – a transaction that would now make the pizza worth roughly $460,000,000 AUD. 
At its origin the digital currency was worth less than $0.01 USD a coin at its conception at the beginning of 2010, only reaching $0.08 USD per coin in July. The value of the coin comes from its scarcity as only 21 million Bitcoins will ever be allowed to be mine. As of January 2021 there are just under 3 million coins left to mine meaning roughly 88% percent of all Bitcoins available are currently in circulation.

Rice farmers join in one of India’s biggest protests

Rice farmers in India have been making global news headlines over the past few weeks for taking part in one of India’s biggest ever protests. The rice farmers are in protest against changes to the law made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that will significantly change the way they do business. 

The proposed changes to the law currently stand to affect the country;s 146 million farms. The current state run system is said by the Prime Minister to be having an effect of too much constraint on the selling of rice and agricultural industry. As an alternative, Mr. Modi is advocating for market-orientated reforms he believes would improve the rice farmer’s ability to do business in the free market. 

Many of the local rice farmers however feel differently. It is not unusual in India for a farm to be less than three acres in size, and local farmers fear that larger corporations will come in and buy up their smaller plots of land. Their biggest fear is that allowing intervention by these larger companies in this way, the overall price of rice will be lowered and severely affect their business earnings. 

In defiance and protest of the current regulations being overhauled, many rice farmers have chosen to burn their crops. This move comes as a reaction to the pollution response fine and prison time set up by the government, to punish farmers who burn their crops. The fine is up to 10 million rupees, which is roughly $176,000 Australian dollars. 
Protests so far have taken place all over the country, with marches in the capital of Mumbai, and other areas like New Delhi and Punjab. More tension is caused by the protest due to the ongoing coronavirus worldwide pandemic that is currently worsening in India, exacerbated by the gathering of crowds to protest, as well as air pollution caused by crop burning.

Music to my ears! Top headphones of 2020

Whether you’re looking to bring out the bass or some wireless freedom, shopping for headphones can be both a confusing and overwhelming task. So do not fear! We are here to bring you some of the best headphones of 2020, and bring some of those sweet, sweet sonic soundwaves to your eagerly awaiting ears. With 2021 fast approaching, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to upgrade your listening experience!

Headphone trends have taken some deviant turns in recent years. While a dancing black silhouette on a bright single colour pop background, ipod in one hand and swaying headphone wires dancing also was the aesthetic that made the early 00s Apple ipod advertisement iconic, the twitching wires seem a throwback to an almost ancient past. Since 2016 Apple has pushed its airpod wireless headphones into the foreground of the market, citing them as the newest development in audio consumer products whilst in reality utilising long available bluetooth technology. There have been many variations of both sport, recreational and professional headphones that have taken both large and small sized approaches according to the latest fashion trends. Dr Dre’s equally ubiquitous over-the-head beats headphones were all the rage upon their release in 2008, and the tug of war between overt and discrete headphone usage has been raging ever since. 

So what should I look for in 2020? For those wanting both sound quality and freedom for their, the Beats Powerbeats Pro have been a popular choice for many looking to get sweaty in their workout without fear of flooding their headphones to the grave. Elsewhere, Sony has proved themselves a consistent top player in the headphone market, and their release of the Sony WF-SP800N Wireless Earbud has proved no exception. The ergonomically designed headphones are made to sit snugly in the users ears while providing the highest sound quality for both work and play. 

The value of money: Malawi sensitises citizens to currency care

The value of money has been a long time mystical notion since its first conception thousands of years ago. The practice of ascribing value to objects and imbuing them with value is an almost magical practice that continues to inspire markets today from the art market to new digital currencies like bitcoin. However, the value of money, or any form of currency, relies on a collectively agreed notion of its worth from a community, without which the object is devoid of its value and made again effectively worthless. 

In Malawi however, the government and national bank are struggling to encourage citizens to care and respect the national currency Kwacha. Dramatically, the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has estimated an average currency loss of over 12 billion Kwacha annually from misuse by the population. 

The maltreatment of the paper banknotes comes from a tendency by people to fold and place banknotes, often in wet places, causing irreparable damage to the notes. Mistreatment of the notes is said to happen most at markets – especially wet ones selling items such as fish – and more likely to occur during large celebrations such as engagement, wedding and anniversary parties according to Merlyne Yolamu, the commissioner responsible for the Central West Region. 

Yolamu went on to describe the police’s role in continuing to sensitize the public to care for the national currency, and make people more aware of their responsibility in preserving the notes. In a statement she shared how: “We must spread the message on the care of currency in order to save billions of kwacha that are lost by the reserve bank annually through banknotes replacements.” 

With the first credit card in use in 1946, digital banking has been steadily on the rise. As digital currency and contactless payments continue to gain traction throughout the world, it remains to be seen how long Malawi will keep paper banknotes in use before transitioning to more technological formats.


Top fashion influencers to follow on Depop in 2020

Christmas and the new season are fast approaching and for many of us that also means a switch up in our wardrobe styles. Whether you’re moving into the chilly scene of winter or entering a more sunny period in the Southern hemisphere, now is the time to seek out some fresh style inspiration. Whilst many fashion bloggers can be found channeling their style, beauty and lifestyle tips over on Tiktok or Instagram, we’re here to recommend some of our favourite Depop fashion influencers you can also buy from. Combining ebay with Instagram, Depop is a truly 2020 way to follow fashion trends. The site boasts over 4.5 million users, with each user selling an average of one item every four second, making it one of the internet’s most used and most successful resell fashion e-commerce platforms. Much of the site’s popularity comes from its ethical and sustainable focus from many of its users promoting second hand clothes. Depop is here to make thrift trendy again. 

So who is catching our eye this month? Let’s find out!

 Based in the USA, Ugli clothing is a brand selling 90s neon cardigans and crop tops amongst some standout jewelry pieces. Its bright pop aesthetic is sprinkled with just a touch of irony, keeping the brand’s edge of cool intact as it markets itself to a fresh-faced teenage audience. 

Fiona Short ships worldwide from the United Kingdom. Her curated selection of 90s and 00s rave wear and cartoon sweaters is available to purchase from anywhere in the world and is promised to be shipped with fully recyclable packaging. 

Ann Kim, or andyheart as she’s known on Depop, is a follow for those interested in a more minimal and mature style. The fashionista’s sleek style sees a muted colour palette of earthy browns and sensuous greys contrast with starker black and white monochrome pieces.

Online exam company sees coronavirus boost

An online tech company, Better Examinations, has seen a massive boost in their profile and usage this exam season. The company hosts software that has enabled thousands of students in Australia and around the world to take examinations at home. The site, Better Examinations, is desirable for educational institutions as it allows multiple students to be monitored taking the test at the same time. All students require in order to join the examination is a stable internet connection and laptop or desktop connected to a webcam. The slightly Foucauldian-esque eye of the webcam and knowledge of the student that they are being watched are thought controls enough to prevent any unusual increase in test cheating. 

How does it work?

The software uses an advanced form of artificial intelligence called machine learning, or ML, to keep watch for patterns in participants’ behaviours that could suggest cheating. Before the exam, facial recognition software is used to ensure the identity of the candidate is correct. During the exam, the software temporarily disables or fully restricts access to the internet, as well as any specified applications on an individual’s computer. The software also contains technology that allows it to mark the answers to multiple choice and Mathematics exams automatically. 

A boost from the coronavirus 

With millions of students at home from the ongoing coronavirus global pandemic, the company saw a much increased demand in their services in April and May this year. Piero Tintori who runs the company said: “We had 60 organisations from all over the world contact us out of the blue, who wanted to run exams online in May and June.” The demand, he went on to describe has been “everything from universities, to professional organisations, to schools”, and even five country’s governments that he declined to name. With the dreaded second wave occurring current across North America and Europe especially, it’s likely the company’s good fortune will continue.

Singaporeans to receive $100 SGD SingapoResdicovers vouchers

In an effort to revitalize home tourism spending after dramatic losses from the impact of COVID-19, the Singaporean government will be issuing each resident with a $100 SGN SingapoRediscovers voucher. In an announcement for further support to identified key areas, the Singaporean government described how it had allocated a 320 million SGD reserve for tourism credits to boost local tourism. The key areas identified as key to transforming Singapore’s economy in a post-COVID world were the aerospace, aviation, tourism sectors. 

The SingapoRedisocvers vouchers are an integral part of the government’s scheme to inject life into the local tourism scene. It hopes that by issuing vouchers to be used as credits in local, national attractions, that the Singaporean public will connect, or reconnect with ‘their local culture and heritage, nature, art, and architecture, while at the same time supporting our tourism sector.’ 

The vouchers will be released to all Singaporean residents over the age of 18 and available via the Singpass from December 2020. Credits can be used until June 2021, so that’s six-months of spending time available for those lucky receivers! Credits can be spent on over 400 local itinerary trips, 200 hotels, and 40 leisure attractions, all approved by the Singapore Tourism Board. 

The move comes as the number of coronavirus deaths worldwide reaches over 1 million. Whilst numbers of new cases each day are still growing exponentially in many places around the globe, Singapore has seen record lows, with only four new cases of coronavirus – the country’s lowest since March 4th 2020 with only two cases – reported on Monday 12th October. This takes Singapore’s total number of cases of the coronavirus pandemic to 57,880. Although 10 new cases of the virus were confirmed on Sunday 11th October, none of these were said to be cases of spreading within the community. All of the 10 patients had been waiting to find out their positive or negative COVID status, as they stayed in quarantine following their entry to Singapore.

Tensions rise between India and Pakistan over Basmati rice

Tension the rise between India and Pakistan over the geographical identification of Basmati rice. The two countries are currently in dispute over the European Union’s identification of the type of rice’s Geographical Indication (GI). In a recent lobby to the EU on September 11th, 2020, India has claimed the rice as being grown at the foothills of the Himalayas on Indian terrain – despite the EU’s assertion that Basmati rice is a joint export of India and Pakistan, in 2006. 

India claims a cultural legacy the basmati name: first recorded reference to basmati rice appears in ‘Heer Ranjha’, a Punjabi poem by Varis Shah in 1766. The Indian application of the name derives from two Sanskrit word roots. The first word ‘vas’ refers to the aroma of the rice, whilst ‘mati’ alludes to the ancient tradition of the rice in Indian culture, meaning ‘ingrained from the origin’. 
The opposition to India’s claim over the rice comes from the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Razak Dawood. Following a meeting with the Secretary of Commerce, Chairman, Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO-Pakistan), and representatives of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP), Dawood declared Pakistan would oppose the designation sought by India with the Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act. This would prevent India from claiming exclusive rights to Basmati rice labelling for products exported to the EU. Such an act would exclude Pakistan from being able to label their exported rice as Basmati, and could significantly damage rice sales that rely on customer’s brand recognition of the rice-growing region. In data from the Pakistani Commerce Ministry, out of the 500,000 – 700,000 tons of rice exported by Pakistan, roughly 200,000 – 250,000 is currently exported to the EU. Pakistan is known around the globe for its quality exports of the famous rice. Rice exports contribute over $2 billion to the Pakistan economy each year and are the second highest-grossing export after textiles.