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A Passwordless Future | Is Blockchain the Answer?

We live in a time of rapidly advancing technology. Interconnectivity has brought the world closer than it’s ever been before, however, it’s also made our personal information far more vulnerable as a result.

Passwords have long been seen as the cornerstone of online security. Whenever we indulge in internet shopping, or access work emails, or log in to our online banking, we’re protected by a network of passwords that are designed to keep our data safe.

But do passwords really bring peace of mind and security at a time when hackers have so many tools at their disposal that can force breaches?

In 2017, Centrify, a leading digital security organization, found that 81% of data breaches involved compromised credentials. This, according to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), represents an alarming increase from 50%, to 60% to over four-fifths of breaches coming down to stolen or weak passwords over the past three years, especially when you consider the fact that a lot of passwords are repeated:

Safety not Guaranteed

The fundamental problem with passwords often has roots in human error. Many organizations advise employees to change their codes repeatedly throughout the year and to keep hackers guessing by only opting for passwords that are longer than eight characters which include numbers and symbols.

This may seem like an obvious way of ensuring safety, but when people can expect to create dozens of password restricted accounts online every year, the chances of them keeping on top of their passwords decreases.

The notion of remembering such an unnatural combination of special characters and numbers within a long code is so difficult to some, that they instead opt for utilizing simpler passwords. Fortune published a list of the world’s most common passwords of 2017, and coming in at first place was ‘123456’, with ‘Password’ a close second, overtaking “Password1” in 2014, according to Statista.

Picking such generic passwords may seem like users are asking for trouble, but the reality is that for many, the task of remembering elaborate phrases and character combinations is simply too difficult. When customers are prompted to create passwords that they feel they won’t remember, oftentimes the solution is to record their new password somewhere, sometimes in their phone and sometimes physically, for future reference – but then this act only leads to increasing the chances of the code falling into the wrong hands.

Time for an Alternative?

Biometrics has long been touted as a successor to the flawed password system, but with Jonathan LeBlanc, Paypal’s Ex-Global Head of Developer Advocacy, already declaring the widespread fingerprint identification technology as obsolete, there’s something of a race emerging between companies searching for an even more reliable way of protecting private information with the help of our bodies.

A Toronto-based startup, Nymi, has recently developed a wearable wristband that utilizes its user’s ‘unique cardiac signature’ as a form of identification, while Paypal itself has been working on developing ‘wearable computer tattoos’ that’s capable of providing biometric confirmation of its wearer’s identity.

Another approach has been adopted by companies like Remme, which ditches passwords for SSL certificates and integrated devices coupled with blockchain technology to keep delicate information secure without the need for passwords. Alex Momot, Co-Founder and CEO of Remme explains “The new process of logging in without passwords can be compared with the airport registration. You show your passport, and if there’s no record (negative record), you’re good to go.

Because of the immutable power of blockchain, a business’ information can be kept safe with zero prospect of a brute force attack manipulating or stealing the data stored.

Is the Future Passwordless?

Passwords have been increasingly the subject of compromises in recent years. A survey by Kaspersky Lab found that 59% of people fail to store their passwords securely, while 63% use ‘easy-to-guess’ codes that are easy for hackers to interpret, and a further 39% select the same passwords for all of their accounts.

This evidence points towards frailty among password protected systems on a stage as large as the world wide web. They may make for an effective way of keeping information protected in a closed circuit intranet-based system, but at this time of unprecedented interconnectivity, a more intricate way of ensuring security needs to be devised.

Fortunately, as the tools at the disposal of hackers develop, so too does the technology that can be utilized to keep our information safe.

Blockchain is designed to flummox even the most persistent of codebreakers, with its “untamperable” chain of information spread across a series of networks, while the reliability of biometric encryption has proven popular enough for leading banks to adopt the form to provide enhanced security for mobile banking customers. 

IBM estimates that the average cost for a UK company to remediate a data breach is around £2.5m. This coupled with the collective fear at the effect a loss of data could cause to a company’s image necessitates a need for change within the old-fashioned framework of online security. A wholesale overhaul of passwords as we’ve come to know them today will be inevitable if businesses are to guarantee protection for its customers and values.

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Blockchain Tech and Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty is one of the cornerstones for every successful business, which is why it is no surprise that many businesses offer club memberships, frequent customer rewards and many other loyalty program incentives to their customers. However, the massive multitude of clubs and programs can be frustrating for customers to navigate, as they try to maneuver between the numerous club cards in their wallets and online, often finding it difficult to keep track of their point status and where they can be redeemed.

While cryptocurrencies made a splash in recent years, making headlines and causing general public interest, it is the underlying blockchain tech that is proving to be the real game-changer. The ability to transfer and verify information on a decentralized network opens up many possibilities across multiple industries and could become the new standard in many ways – including customer loyalty.

Using blockchain tech for loyalty programs is already showing great promise as several of the world’s biggest brands have already converted some or all of their programs using the technology. The ability to manage a large customer base while maintaining perfect tracking of each client’s token count, without the need for a central governing entity, is a major step up in this industry, which sees $360 billion in points go unredeemed each year. From airlines to small restaurants, it seems that any business can harness the new technology to benefit customers as well as themselves.

 

Major Brands Are Making the Move to Blockchain

On top of the decentralization and easy tracking, another main advantage of blockchain is the ability to exchange and redeem tokens of values, such as frequent flyer miles or phone minutes. While this ability is widely in use on cryptocurrency platforms such as Ripple and Stellar, it is also being used in other industries.

One such example is Singapore Airlines. Considered the best airline in the world, Singapore is also a pioneer in using blockchain for its business, introducing a loyalty program built on the technology. The advantages of Singapore Airlines’ loyalty program are twofold: Using blockchain to track each customer’s account status to accurately reward them with miles, and enabling clients to redeem them with other service providers that are partnered with the airline. Launched last July, if the loyalty program takes off, it could become the yardstick by which all other airline clubs are measured.

Naturally, blockchain-based loyalty programs are not limited to airlines. Car rental giant E-Z Rent-A-Car has also created a similar program, which includes features such as payment with cryptocurrencies and even redeeming points for crypto assets within the company’s app. Japanese technology giant Rakuten, HP, and many other companies are also in the process of creating blockchain loyalty programs.

 

Bringing Blockchain Technology to SMBs

But what about the little guy? Many small and medium businesses (SMBs) don’t have the resources to develop their own blockchain networks, but would still benefit from the advantages it has to offer. For that reason, several companies have begun offering services which take care of the infrastructure and enable these businesses to build blockchain-based loyalty programs of their own.

 

The Building Blocks of Brand Loyalty

As blockchain solutions become more widespread, it is safe to assume that a growing number of brands will implement blockchain into their loyalty programs. Larger brands will most-likely build their own blockchain, or use the services of companies such as IBM, which is already offering an API for creating loyalty programs.

As a growing number of businesses are looking into blockchain tech, it seems that these solutions could prove to be the holy grail of customer loyalty.

Featured Image: DepositPhotos/ sdecoret

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Tom Lee Bitcoin Price Target Changed

Last month, Bitcoin enthusiasts breathed a sigh of relief when they were informed that the Tom Lee Bitcoin price target was $25K by the end of 2018.

But a month later, now in the second half of the year, Tom Lee has changed his mind. He now expects that Bitcoin will trade a little over $20,000 by year-end.

Tom Lee Bitcoin Price Target: 20% Less Than Original

As the Bitcoin bulls and bears continue to fight, the Fundstrat co-founder has sided with both in certain instances. He admitted that Bitcoin’s trading volume has dropped. He cut his Bitcoin price target. Yet Mr. Lee made it evident Thursday that this is not something investors should fret over.

The New Tom Lee Bitcoin Price Target: July 5th, 2018

On Thursday, in an interview with CNBC, Lee said that he had cut his price target and expects to see Bitcoin at $22,000 per unit by the end of 2018. That’s 20% less than his previous $25K year-end projection.

According to Tom Lee, this is OK. He said any return nearing his $20K forecast for the coin by the end of the year would be an increase of roughly 200%.

Tom Lee Bitcoin Thoughts: Early Stages

In May, Bitcoin reached its most recent high, which was around the $9,800 price mark. Since then, BTC has lost roughly 30%.

Despite this, Tom Lee believes that Bitcoin, as well as blockchain technology, are only in the “early stages” of their transformation. He even called them a “multidecade story.”

Are Bitcoin Investors Worried?

Tom Lee appears to be undeterred. However, the new Tom Lee Bitcoin price target may have shocked a few people. Why? Because Lee has stuck by his $25K prediction through thick and thin – even when the Bitcoin price dropped during the 2018 Consensus conference.

Takeaway

Are you worried about the slash to the Tom Lee Bitcoin price target? Or, do you share his view that Bitcoin is in the early stages of transformation, and a few thousand is nothing to quibble over?

>> Malta: Parliament Approved Blockchain Regulatory Framework

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