Cryptocurrency and Asset Protection: Why We Need Regulation

Terms like cryptocurrency and Bitcoin have become part of the common lexicon. Many online retailers accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment, and even brick-and-mortar stores and restaurants advertise that they accept cryptocurrency. But despite its widespread popularity, cryptocurrency has almost no regulation.

By its very nature, cryptocurrency can be very difficult to manage on a large scale backed by world governments. However, these guarantees of safety might be what cryptocurrency needs in order for consumers, retailers, and banks alike to trust this payment method and truly bring it into the mainstream.

“Cryptocurrency at times can seem overwhelming from a technology standpoint for a retailer,” says Tom Meehan, CFI, the retail technology editor at LP Magazine. “Like any new technology or trend, retailers must be balanced in their adoption thought process to both serve the customer and protect themselves from unnecessary risks.”

What Is the Legality of Cryptocurrency Today?
Cryptocurrency is accepted as a legal form of payment in most of the developed world, including North America, Western Europe, Australia, and much of South America. In these regions, governments often have no specific legislation regarding the trade of cryptocurrency. Very few countries have outright hostile attitudes or bans on cryptocurrency, with some countries operating in between with more legal restrictions on usage.

In 2018 the US Congress released a Joint Economic Report indicating they would move toward a more streamlined regulatory approach to cryptocurrency. However, in the absence of federal regulations on cryptocurrency, some states have taken the issue into their own hands. For example, in 2017 Washington passed a bill requiring cryptocurrency exchanges to maintain cash reserves equivalent to the transacted volume on their platforms, a move viewed as “hostile” toward cryptocurrency, particularly considering the state’s reputation for its thriving tech scene.

Today, there are a number of major retailers who currently accept Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency. These retailers include Microsoft, Overstock, Expedia, Dish, AT&T, and online retailers who use Shopify. The mobile shopping app Fold uses Bitcoin’s Lightning network so users can spend both fiat currency and Bitcoin at online and in-store retailers like Amazon, Uber, Starbucks, and Hotels.com.

“Apps like Fold will force retailers to take a hard look at when or if they should accept cryptocurrency in store or online, much like Apple Pay forced the contactless payment market in the past,” said Meehan.

The Concerns about Facebook’s Cryptocurrency, Libra
Ever since Facebook announced Libra, their own cryptocurrency, in June, it has faced a lot of criticism and opposition from financial regulators, particularly within the US and the European Union. The chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said Libra raised a host of serious concerns around “money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability.” Central bankers from Britain, France, the European Central Bank, Singapore and China have also voiced their concerns.

Unlike other cryptocurrencies, Libra is designed to be a “stablecoin,” meaning its value is based on the traditional currencies that back it. This is meant to reduce the risk of dramatic changes in value associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. However, Facebook has also faced criticism for spreading misinformation globally and not protecting its users’ data privacy, which brings their plans for Libra under even greater suspicion. What reason does Facebook have to make us believe that consumers’ personal financial information will be protected?

But the idea of a stablecoin is not to be dismissed. Some central bankers are considering using the idea to establish a cryptocurrency within a central bank. Ideally, central bank cryptocurrencies would have the convenience of digital money and would be better at monitoring for illicit transactions and money laundering. A central bank cryptocurrency would also maintain financial stability.

Cryptocurrency and Money Laundering
“Cryptocurrency acceptance is rife with issues surrounding exchange rates and potential money laundering. Most cryptocurrencies are afforded few, if any, protections against currency manipulation,” said Christian Romero, risk management advisor at Technocracy Associates, LLC. “Retailers assume significant risk when engaging in the trading of cryptocurrencies, which have no inherent value nor enjoy protections offered by traditional security markets.”

Current anti-money laundering (AML) laws require financial institutions and retailers to monitor their customer’s transactions in specific ways, such as verifying where large sums of money originated, tracking suspicious activity, and reporting cash transactions exceeding $10,000. But these regulations don’t apply to cryptocurrency, which is monitored only by its users, if it is monitored at all. Cryptocurrency is designed to be anonymous, so even if a regulatory body tracked suspicious activity, how could they link the activity to its users?

In June, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money laundering watchdog, told countries they needed to tighten oversight of cryptocurrency exchanges to stop digital coins from being used to launder cash. In the first global attempt to regulate the growing cryptocurrency sector, FATF will compel countries to register and supervise cryptocurrency-related firms like exchanges and custodians, which will “have to carry out detailed checks on customers and report suspicious transactions.”

This requirement is a lot like the AML laws that mandate banks to fill out a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) for any transaction that does not make sense to a financial institution, is unusual for the customer, or seems to be done only to hide a separate transaction. Most AML laws rely on financial institutions to do their due diligence to create a constituent practice of reporting suspicious activity, and it looks like that approach will translate to cryptocurrency regulation as well.

How Can Regulations Change the Market?
One of the main appeals of cryptocurrency is that it is decentralized and not regulated by any governments or institutions—its integrity is maintained by its users. So it’s likely that when governments begin mandating regulations for cryptocurrency, a lot of users will be unhappy with this change. In the short term, this could lead to a decrease in the trading value of cryptocurrency.

However, the long-term benefits could outweigh these downsides. If done properly, regulations can address common concerns from consumers and businesses alike by stabilizing the market and ensuring the security of cryptocurrency transactions. A safer market will lead to more public confidence, more people investing in cryptocurrency, and stable growth in value.

Stabilizing regulations could also help banks and retailers alike feel more comfortable accepting cryptocurrency. For example, although gold has value, you can’t bring it to a bank and exchange it for cash or use it to make a purchase in a store. Regulations can help establish cryptocurrency as a legitimate currency, which would be a huge step toward mainstream adoption.

Another way cryptocurrency regulation can come about is through the widespread adoption of industry best practices. Rather than government regulation, banks and payment processors can agree on a set of best practices to create enough regulation for retailers. For example, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) mandates how organizations process payments from credit cards. However, the PCI DSS is upheld by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, a private organization, not a government agency. The PCI DSS has operated smoothly for 15 years, under the cooperation of multiple credit card companies, and serves as a good framework for how cryptocurrency best practices can move forward.

Today, retailers are challenged with balancing customer service and needs with regulatory concerns about fraud, just like with the growth of other digital payments in the past two decades. With these regulations in place, banks and retailers can focus on helping consumers. For example, regulations can help retailers log transactions, so if a customer wants to return an item, they can look up the sale and find the transaction. The way cryptocurrency is set up now would make that impossible, which doesn’t exactly encourage retailers or consumers to want to use cryptocurrency.

The biggest issue is that the lack of cryptocurrency regulation invites criminal activity. Cryptocurrency isn’t inherently bad; it was designed to preserve anonymity, not to help criminals. But without any regulations, criminals can abuse cryptocurrency to facilitate illegal transactions for drugs, weapons, or anything they don’t want to be traced back to them.

The difference between maintaining individuals’ privacy and stopping criminal activity is a very fine line. At the very least, cryptocurrency regulation would discourage criminals from using it and lend cryptocurrency more legitimacy in the mainstream financial market. But at worst, it could defeat cryptocurrency’s very purpose of protecting user privacy.

In the end, if cryptocurrency is going to join the ranks of cash, checks, credit cards, and other accepted methods of payment, there need to be at least some regulations, so consumers, retailers, and banks feel confident knowing their transactions are protected.

How to Train Retail Employees to Spot Counterfeit Money

Today there is a lot of counterfeit detection technology available, from UV light counterfeit detection lamps to more affordable counterfeit money pens. But there are a lot of ways you can tell if a bill is authentic or fake, and they are so easy that you can train all your store associates how to detect counterfeit money.

Color Matching and Blurring

Counterfeits don’t have access to the high-tech printers used in the U.S. Treasury to print authentic bills. If you see blurry seals or shades of green that don’t quite match, it’s likely the bill is counterfeit.

Watermark

One of the most well-known security features of an authentic banknote is its watermark. Many of the new bills use a watermark that is actually a replica of the face on the bill. On other banknotes, it is just an oval spot. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking at a bill’s watermark:

  • The watermark should only be visible when you hold the bill up to the light.
  • The watermark should be on the right side of the bill.
  • If the watermark is a face, it should exactly match the face on the bill. Sometimes counterfeits bleach lower bills and reprint them with higher values, in which case the face wouldn’t match the watermark.
  • If there is no watermark or the watermark is visible without being held up to the light, the bill is most likely a counterfeit.

Color-shifting Ink

One of the first things to check to see if a bill is authentic is if the bill denomination on the bottom right-hand corner has color-shifting ink. Going back to 1996, all bills of $5 or more have this security feature. If you hold a new series bill (except for the new $5 bill) and tilt it back and forth, you can see that the numeral in the lower right-hand corner shifts from green to black or from gold to green.

Raised Printing

All authentic banknotes have raised printing, which is difficult for counterfeiters to reproduce. To detect raised printing, run your fingernail carefully down the note. You should feel some vibration on your nail from the ridges of the raised printing. If you don’t feel this texture, then you should check the bill further.

What to Do with Counterfeit Money

It is important for retailers to spot counterfeit money as early as they can because banks will not accept counterfeit bills. This means that the financial loss directly impacts the retailers. Do you know what to do with counterfeit money?

Do not directly confront the passer. Do not return the bill to the passer but instead delay them with some excuse, if possible. People who know they are using counterfeit money would rather avoid a sticky situation than push forward. It is important that you never directly accuse a customer, as there is a high change that they themselves were duped by the counterfeit bill.

Write your initials and the date in the white border area of the suspected counterfeit bill. Do not handle the counterfeit bill. Instead, place it in a plastic bag or envelope to protect it until you can get it to a law enforcement officer.

Contact your local police department or call your local Secret Service office. Did you know the Secret Service was originally founded to handle counterfeit money? You can either hand the counterfeit bill directly to an identified Secret Service Special Agent or mail it to your nearest Secret Service office.

Detect Counterfeit Money with CONTROLTEK

From cost-effective UV light counterfeit detectors to counterfeit money pens, CONTROLTEK has a solution for counterfeit detection.

How to Prevent Shoplifting False Alarms

If you are wondering how to prevent shoplifting, you have probably heard the recommendation to install a retail security system, like an EAS system, many times. An EAS system is a user-friendly and efficient way for retailers to deter thieves and reduce shrink in their stores. However, if your EAS system is alerting your staff with false alarms more often than not, this can desensitize your staff to the threat of shoplifting, making your investment in shoplifting security less effective.

Here is a list of X ways to reduce shoplifting false alarms:

Perform regular checks on your EAS system. Ideally, you should check your EAS system once a day by following the system manufacturer’s operating procedures to ensure the system is on and working properly. As part of your regular system checks, your store associates should also make sure that your magnetic detachers are working correctly and are plugged into a power source, if necessary.

Implement a “no tag” zone near your EAS pedestals. In most cases of false alarming, an EAS tag near the EAS antenna is what triggers the alarm. The “no tag” zone is about 6 feet around the EAS system. This area should be kept free of product displays and clothing racks with tagged merchandise, along with LCD screens and even decorations. Objects with metal or foil have been known to trigger an EAS alarm.

Train your staff to properly deactivate and detach EAS tags. “Tag pollution,” which occurs when EAS tags and labels are not correctly deactivated and removed after purchase, is another common cause of shoplifting false alarms. Ensure that all your store associates understand how to use a magnetic detacher to deactivate and remove an EAS tag to reduce the rate of tag pollution in your store.

Position EAS tags and labels close to the item’s barcode tag. This helps your staff deactivate labels and remove tags quickly and effectively at checkout. Just make sure that the placement of the EAS tag or label does not affect the customer’s experience of the item.

If you are still having trouble with false alarms with your EAS system, contact us today to speak to one of our retail security system experts. Even if you do not have an EAS system from CONTROLTEK, we provide maintenance and repair services for EAS systems from a wide range of manufacturers.

Best Security Cash Bags

Reusable security cash bags with locks are meant to last for a long time, so they can be a good investment for local credit unions or small businesses who do not handle large quantities of money every day but still want to secure their cash. Here is a list of the most popular reusable security cash bags and supplies:

  • Locking security bags made of canvas
  • Zipper money bags made of vinyl
  • Reusable mailing envelopes
  • Canvas bags
  • Security tapes and seals
  • Disposable ID labels and tags to manage your security cash bags

Impostor Syndrome in Forensic Interviewing

By Stefanie Hoover, CFI

Have you ever woken up and looked in the mirror and said to yourself, “I look like Keanu Reeves today?” And it’s not even young Keanu; it’s Keanu after his comeback!

Maybe you don’t have a Keanu moment. Maybe it’s someone or something else like Hootie from Hootie & the Blowfish, or just a blowfish. Whatever or whoever it is you see in the mirror, we can all be hard on ourselves at times. I’m not sure why these feelings come and go. Maybe it’s a bad night’s sleep or worry over a work project or stress in general, but we all have good days and bad days.

Some days you are on fire, some days you have to “fake it ‘till you make it.” At several points in my career when I was doing employee interviews every day, there were times when I had an overwhelming feeling that I should run screaming for the hills; there was no desire, no want, no internal push to talk to one more employee. I was at the top of my game, but I would have this feeling that I wasn’t really that good and that this was going to be that interview where everyone—my boss, HR, my coworkers, and especially the subject—were going to find out that I really sucked! I was a fraud!

If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably experienced impostor syndrome, or a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. According to the Harvard Business Review, impostors suffer from “chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.” Highly successful people often suffer from impostor syndrome, so it’s even more common than you might think.

We’ve all heard about performers who have incredible stage fright, and it always sounds like BS because they can stand in front of thousands of people and pull it together. How do they get through it? How can they be scared to death on the inside and exude confidence on the outside?

From my limited Googling, I found that they practice their trade over and over until they can do it in their sleep and run on autopilot when the fear starts to come over them. They have preshow rituals that help them to calm down and focus on the task at hand. They have totems to comfort them during the performance so when they start to feel the doubt closing in, they can focus on that totem instead. It might be a bedazzled microphone or a lucky rabbit’s foot or a special person on the side of the stage—whatever it is, they associate comfort and confidence with that totem.

I don’t think what those performers and I experience is uncommon. In talking to colleagues, many of us have these moments of impostor syndrome. Speaking at meetings, giving speeches or presentations, and doing interviews can all cause anxiety and bring out insecurities. Sometimes it hits me when I’m getting ready in the morning to go to a meeting. These moments drive my husband nuts. He’ll walk into the room and see I have on a third or fourth outfit, and he’ll just sigh heavily and walk out. I’ll try on multiple outfits or spend too much time with my hair and makeup because my need to look confident outweighs my actual confidence level. I get to the point where I compromise with myself and say, “This is going to have to be good enough today.”

So, knowing how I am, as I’ve lived with myself for a while and have a pretty good idea of how I operate, what do I do to get through my Keanu moments? Here’s a list of tips I’ve found personally useful.

Prepare the night before. If I have a big meeting or presentation, I have my clothes picked out the night before. I may even try them on ahead of time to see how I’m feeling about the outfit. Sounds crazy but again, through years of research, I’ve found myself rejecting perfectly good outfits from the night before because I didn’t try them on and finalize the outfit in my head.

Do some breathing exercises. Before the presentation, I go to the restroom and take a few deep breaths or find a quiet hallway or sit in my car and just breathe.

Exercise helps. When I’m working out, I feel more confident in general and this carries over into my job. Exercise helps me work out some of my stress and feel relaxed afterwards.

Practice. Practice. Practice. Before walking into an interview, I rehearse the WZ method and introductory statement until I know it backwards and forwards. The chances of me forgetting anything are slim if I have the method down pat. Confidence booster!

Visualize. I think about what ifs ahead of the interview and practice my response. I rehearse my soft accusation and practice my response if I get a denial. Basically, the entire interview is mapped out in my head, just in case I start to panic during the actual conversation.

Bring comfort items. For me, it used to be my leather-bound WZ folder. When I would feel my confidence level dipping, I could look over at my binder and remind myself that I had all the training and tools that I needed to be successful and think, “You got this!” Now when I’m in a business meeting, it’s my favorite briefcase or even a pen I love.

Ask for advice. It’s OK to admit you’re nervous and seek advice or input from others. Back in the day, I would call Wayne before every interview and get his advice. He offered help in my WZ class, but I had no idea that very few people actually took him up on it! He was a great calming influence and would talk me through the possible scenarios during the interview.

If you get stressed or if you start feeling a bout of impostor syndrome, you’re not alone. We all have coping mechanisms, we just need to try to use the healthy ones, and these are what has worked for me. I’d love to hear from others about what methods they use to calm and focus before an interview.

Next time you look in the mirror, if you see Keanu, just know it’s temporary, and there are some things you can do to “fake it ‘till you make it.” Actually, I hate that phrase because you’re not faking it. You really are good at what you do, you’re smart, you’re special, and gosh darn it, people like you!

CONTROLTEK at Americas Cash Cycle Seminar: Supporting the Future of Cash Logistics and Cryptocurrency Education

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (Nov. 7, 2019)CONTROLTEK, a leader in the cash security industry, is sponsoring the Americas Cash Cycle Seminar, the annual North American conference presented by Currency Research, in Boston from Nov. 12 to 15.

“Our mission has always been to support the cash security industry and to educate our colleagues in advancements in technology and best practices,” said Rod Diplock, chief executive officer at CONTROLTEK. “With the rapid growth of cryptocurrency and the evolution of cash tracking, we are more committed than ever to helping industry professionals with a steady transition to the future of currency.”

Tom Meehan, CFI, chief strategy officer and chief information security officer at CONTROLTEK, will also be featured on the expert panel “Cryptocurrency… The New Cash?” to discuss how digital and traditional currencies can work together.

“Cryptocurrency can seem overwhelming from a technology standpoint,” said Meehan. “Like any new technology or trend, banks and merchants must be balanced in their adoption thought process to both serve the customer and protect themselves from unnecessary risks.”

The Cash Cycle Seminar offers insights and strategies to streamline processes, learn valuable solutions and best practices, network with cash industry peers and more. It is attended by representatives of central banks, commercial banks, cash management companies and technology partners. The expert panel “Cryptocurrency… The New Cash?” will be on Nov. 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. To see the full agenda and register for the conference, visit the Americas Cash Cycle Seminar website.

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About CONTROLTEK
Since 1976 CONTROLTEK has been a global leader in tamper-evident security packaging, helping banks, armored couriers and retailers transport cash safely and securely. The company’s expanding line of inventory protection and visibility solutions also helps retailers protect their merchandise better and run their operations more efficiently. As a second-generation family owned business, with a history of stable growth and a reputation for strong customer focus, CONTROLTEK continues to deliver on its mission every single day: to provide solutions that protect and to always deliver on our promises.

Media Contact
Nathalie Schrans
Content and Social Media Manager
(908) 603-2704
Nathalie.Schrans@controltekusa.com

Why Do You Need a Fitting Room Security Solution?

For many clothing retailers, the fitting room is one of the biggest challenges in the battle against shoplifting. One of the best ways you can enhance your retail security is by adding a fitting room security solution to your arsenal.

Fitting Room Theft

A fitting room is a necessary part of any clothing retail store because it gives your customers a private space to try on clothing and decide if they want to purchase it. But the issue that comes with offering customers this privacy is that shoplifters will inevitably take advantage of it.

The best way to protect your fitting rooms is to install security solutions specifically designed for them. These solutions can detect the presence of booster bags, which is a type of bag lined with multiple layers of aluminum foil that provide electromagnetic shielding to prevent clothing security tags from being detected by the antennae of retail security systems.

Some other ways to deter theft include:

  • Fitting room attendants who count garments in and out
  • Visible security cameras and public-view monitors outside a fitting room entrance
  • Fitting rooms located in high-traffic areas
  • Chimes to alert store associates when a customer enters and exits a fitting room area

Catch Shoplifters in the Act with CONTROLTEK

CONTROLTEK’s fitting room solutions use the latest technology to help you fight fitting room theft. The ApparelGuard detects magnet detachers to catch shoplifters in the act, while the HyperGuard detects booster bags to stop shoplifters before they can make their move. Contact us today to learn more about deploying these retail security solutions in your store.

How to Use AI to Change Your Background During a Video Call

XSplit is a low-cost app that allow users using a PC or Mac to change their background while on a video call. This is a great way for remote workers and professionals that travel to still have a professional looking background. Visit their website to learn more.