Information Systems Integration – Tony Messina

Marc H Gold

Mastercard Will Now Let You Pay With Blockchain—But Not Bitcoin

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Mastercard is allowing people to send money over a blockchain instead of swiping their credit card.  They are opening this service up to certain banks and merchants as an alternative and more efficient way to pay for goods.  Mastercard now joins IBM as the first two mainstream companies to implement the use of blockchain payments.  “We are not using a cryptocurrency, and we are not introducing a new cryptocurrency, because that introduces other challenges—regulatory, legal challenges,” says Justin Pinkham, a senior vice president at Mastercard Labs, who leads the credit card company’s blockchain initiatives. “If you do a payment, then what we can do is move those funds in the way that we do today in fiat currency.”  Pinkham says, “Mastercard has one advantage that the bitcoin blockchain doesn’t have: A settlement network that includes 22,000 banks and financial institutions around the world.  IBM has announced 13 banks that it plans to include in its network.  After all, companies still predominantly rely on government-issued currency to do business, making it impractical to convert cash into cryptocurrency, or vice versa, for each blockchain payment.  Even in the bitcoin system you need a bitcoin exchange that could exchange bitcoin for euro, so it creates some complications.”

Will the fact that Mastercard has moved into this market push VISA to do the same?

Will other companies wait to see if this Blockchain is successful in this space before investing?

Will consumers embrace the use of Blockchain or will it be to difficult to get people comfortable with not having to swipe their card?



Can Blockchain Technology help replace Social Security Numbers?

As Larry Dignan stated in his article, “Social Security numbers were hatched as a way for US citizens to get benefits. Over time, these nine-digit identifiers became the primary way a person is identified. With Social Security numbers part of the haul from the Equifax data breach, it’s clear that these identifiers are a single point of failure. The Social Security number is the key to the fraud kingdom and perhaps the ultimate example of legacy infrastructure and processes.” Equifax has been in the news for all of the wrong reasons lately whether it was for the data breach itself or for how they handled the aftermath.  If one good thing could come out of this is that there will be an increase in cyber security across the board.

During his testimony in front of the US House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services the former CEO of Equinox, Richard Smith, stated that,”We should consider the creation of a public private partnership to begin a dialogue on replacing the Social Security Number as the touchstone for identity verification in this country. It is time to have identity verification procedures that match the technological age in which we live.”

Rob Joyce, special assistant to the president and White House cybersecurity coordinator responded by saying, “I feel very strongly that the Social Security number has outlived its usefulness.  Every time we use the Social Security number, you put it at risk.”

Matt Devost, Accenture security global cyber defense practice lead said,“The issue we have today is that a Social Security number is kept as a secret to authenticate access and identity,” said Devost. “We need to be moving away from that and add biometrics on top of that or the equivalent of a private wallet with blockchain.”  Most countries and governments might not be using blockchain technology for identification yet, but there are a few select countries that see blockchain as the future. Estonia, often regarded as the “Blockchain Nation”, is one example of a country that has implemented blockchain technology into its government infrastructure. It is also worth noting that Estonian eHealth authority is also using blockchain technology in order to keep the medical data of citizens secure and easily accessible.

“One of the world’s most developed digital societies” is how Estonia describes itself on its website.  Can the United States emulate Estonia’s success in securing their citizens’ identities?  Can blockchain technology help eliminate the use of Social Security Numbers?

Utilizing Virtual Reality Technology in the Military

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Virtual Reality has been one of the most rapidly growing technologies in the last few years.  Most people know about the VR headsets that are used to watch videos and for gaming.  But now VR technology is being used in even more innovative ways.  The United States Military is using VR to prepare their units for their upcoming missions.  “If I need to insert a SEAL team in Syria tomorrow night, all I need is a latitude and longitude,” David Landon, president and CEO of Systems Technology Inc., told Defense News. “So by the time they actually make the jump, they’ve already done it. There are no surprises.”   Virtual Reality is useful in training since real world situations can be played out without putting anyone in harms way.  With the help of immersive VR experiences, “we can get better training for our soldiers and we can do it more efficiently,” said LTC Michael Stinchfield of the Combined Arms Center’s Training Innovation Facility at the National Simulation Center.  The technology is being used in training recruits to accelerate there learning curve but it is also being utilized overseas before missions are executed.  Virtual Reality is going to help prepare our military members for combat and hopefully help bring more of them back home safe.  On the business side of things, any technology that benefits the military is going to be heavily invested in by defense contractors looking to gain a competitive advantage in this new technology.


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