Blackmoon Financial Group, a blockchain Financial Service and Fintech firm, and BLOCK 30 Financial (a wholly owned subsidiary of BLOCK 30 Labs), today announced that they have formed a global strategic partnership to create a BLOCK branded suite of Exchange Traded Index (ETX) products on the Blackmoon platform.
The new relationship between Blackmoon and BLOCK 30 will enable the two blockchain and FinTech financial services firms to work very closely together to create an ETX that tracks thirty of the top digital assets in one digital asset basket for global investors.
Introducing Blackmoon’s Exchange Traded Indexes (ETx)
“BLOCK 30 Financial is thrilled to partner with the Blackmoon team to expand our reach to global investors,” said Brian Foote, CEO of BLOCK 30 Labs + BLOCK 30 Financial. “We’ll start first with the BLOCK 30 Index ETX and move quickly across a variety of BLOCK indexes across multiple asset classes, in this unique tokenized, digital format.”
“We did 16 months of due diligence around cornerstone global partner selection for the BLOCK 30 Index ETX launch and we just came away feeling like the financial engineering and product agility at Blackmoon is literally years ahead of the traditional markets,” Foote said. “We’re honored to partner with them.”
“Blackmoon and BLOCK 30 Labs share a vision and it’s because of this that we are pleased to have discovered such an incredible organization to associate with…We are eager to release the BLOCK ETX products as soon as possible to offer this amazing investment opportunity to eligible investors globally,” said Oleg Seydak, CEO of Blackmoon
“Whether its tokenizing the Lyft IPO for investors outside of Silicon Valley or challenging the ‘yet another Mutual Fund mindset’ of Wall Street, Blackmoon is exactly where we wanted to be in terms of offering new financial products for global Millenials + Gen Z,” said Jeff Hinshaw, COO of BLOCK 30 Financial.
“57% of customers around the world are not investing in the markets right now. They’re tuning out on white collar fee loads, product redundancy and a lack of imagination in the financial markets…Blackmoon is paving a new way forward with Exchange Traded Index (ETX) products and we wanted to work with them to deliver that for millions of potential customers around the world.”
SOURCE Blackmoon and BLOCK 30
Top Companies Team Up With Federal Agencies And Nonprofit To Launch First-Of-Its-Kind Cyber Talent Initiative To Protect Against Cyberattacks
Mastercard (NYSE: MA), in collaboration with Microsoft, Workday and the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service today launched the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative – a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership to recruit the nation’s best minds to defend against global cyberattacks. The launch of this initiative serves as a call to action for leading companies, federal agencies and higher education institutions to come together and help grow the talent pipeline of cybersecurity technologists to protect the nation and support our digital economy.
With more than 313,000 cybersecurity job openings in the U.S. between September 2017 and August 2018, the talent deficit is significant and the need for a skilled workforce is steadily expanding. The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative is a new program to help reduce the critical talent gap and support the next generation of motivated, mission-driven cybersecurity leaders.
A selective cross-sector opportunity for highly qualified, recent graduates in cybersecurity-related fields, the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative helps to jumpstart careers and provide the training and experience needed to lead the nation’s cyber defense across the public and private sectors. Participants selected for the program will be guaranteed a two-year placement at a federal agency with cybersecurity opportunities. Before the conclusion of their federal service, participants will then be eligible for full-time positions with the program’s private sector partners, and once hired, will receive up to $75,000 in student loan assistance.
The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative includes an unparalleled group of private sector companies and government agencies that play a vital role in protecting the nation and digital economy.
Founding partners in the program’s inaugural year include:
Participating federal agencies include:
- Central Intelligence Agency
- Department of Defense
- Department of Energy
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Federal Election Commission
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Naval Intelligence
- Small Business Administration
“Cybersecurity is a critical issue facing our world today. It will take a true collaboration between the public and private sectors to get the right resources in place to address the threat,” said Ron Green, chief security officer, Mastercard. “We invite more corporations and government agencies to join us in this critical endeavor and give the best and brightest talent an opportunity to get a step up, enhance their skills and pave their own career paths.”
Throughout the program, participants will engage with subject matter experts from the public and private sectors, build an interagency network of cybersecurity colleagues across government and attend leadership development sessions. By working for government organizations and innovative private sector companies, participants will gain an understanding of the complexity of cybersecurity challenges and develop the necessary skills needed to overcome threats to the nation’s digital infrastructure.
“The Army is pleased to join the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative and partner with top companies and universities across the country to develop cybersecurity talent and provide them with opportunities that help support our nation’s defense,” said Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner, director of headquarters Department of the Army’s Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Information Operations. “This program reflects not only our emphasis on, but also the immense value we see in public-private partnerships to collaboratively address the country’s cyberspace talent deficit.”
The federal government’s ability to deliver important services to the American people, protect privacy and safeguard classified information requires an effective and secure digital infrastructure overseen by highly skilled cybersecurity professionals. As of June 2018, only four percent of federal cybersecurity employees are under the age of 30, compared to nearly 14 percent of federal cybersecurity employees over the age of 60, according to federal workforce data.
“It is critical for our government to attract and hire highly skilled workers capable of securing federal computer networks and building defenses against the thousands of cyberattacks that occur every year,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, the organization operating the new initiative. “The federal government has fallen more and more behind in the race for cyber talent, and this program will help get it back on track.”
“The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative is an important way for the George Washington University and other top universities to help build a first-class cybersecurity workforce,” said Thomas LeBlanc, president of The George Washington University. “This program offers a unique opportunity for our students to gain invaluable leadership skills and hands-on experience in the public and private sectors, while alleviating the burden of student loan debt.”
Candidates can apply now on the website through October 18. Agencies will make offers by spring 2020 and participants will start in the summer or fall of 2020.
Visit CyberTalentInitiative.org to become a corporate sponsor.
SOURCE Partnership for Public Service
AI Lender Upstart Raises $50M and Announces New Bank Partnerships
Upstart, the leading artificial intelligence (AI) lending platform, today announced a $50M equity investment from Progressive Investment Company Inc., Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, and First National Bank of Omaha.
Upstart has raised more than $160M since inception and has more than $100M in cash and equity capital on hand. Additionally, Upstart will be the newest offering in the Progressive portfolio of Advantage Products, which are third-party products offered to meet consumers’ changing needs. Upstart loans will be available through www.progressive.com in the near future.
“We started on this journey because credit is not just a cornerstone of our economy but a fundamental ingredient in the lives of Americans,” said Dave Girouard, Upstart co-founder and CEO and former president of Google Enterprise. “For hundreds of years, credit has represented opportunity and mobility for those seeking what’s next in their lives. Whether it’s to learn a new skill, to relocate to a new city, to start a new business, or to buy a new home or car, the price of credit is the price of opportunity and mobility. It’s the price of what’s next.”
Upstart co-founder Paul Gu added, “Credit is generally overpriced and unfairly distributed, because it relies on techniques developed before the advent of modern computing. But technology and data science, in the form of AI, have the opportunity to change all of that.”
After more than $3.3B in loans originated in the last five years, Upstart has demonstrated loss rates less than half those of peer platforms for borrowers with similar FICO scores. Furthermore, a study comparing Upstart’s model to those of several large U.S. banks showed that Upstart could cut their loan losses by three-quarters or almost triple their approval rates.*
Thus far in 2019, more than 60% of Upstart originations were entirely automated and approved in real time, an unprecedented feat in installment lending. On the back of strong unit economics and exceptional credit performance, Upstart grew revenues by about 80% in 2018 and reached profitability in the second half of the year.
Upstart’s business is designed not to compete with banks but to partner with them. Upstart launched its first partnerships with Customers Bank and its BankMobile division. Today, the company announced it has signed “Powered by Upstart” partnership agreements with First National Bank of Omaha, First Federal Bank of Kansas City and Accion Chicago. With Powered by Upstart, banks and other lenders can leverage Upstart’s AI platform in the form of a white-labeled lending application to power their own lending programs. The Powered by Upstart platform allows banks and other lenders to enforce their own credit policy and lending terms while benefiting from Upstart’s patent-pending risk modeling and automation.
“We chose to partner with Upstart because their approach to modernizing lending is well aligned with FNBO’s focus on a customer-centric experience,” said Marc Butterfield, senior vice president of enterprise digital solutions and emerging business at First National Bank of Omaha. “Upstart’s AI/ML-based pricing engine and automation will allow us to profitably serve a broader set of customers, within a great digital onboarding experience, than we could before.”
“Our mission at First Federal Bank of Kansas City is to help people build a better financial future,” said J.R. Buckner, president and CEO of First Federal Bank of Kansas City. “Fulfilling this mission means we must find innovative new ways to more effectively engage with current and prospective customers. Our partnership with Upstart is a key part of this strategy and will allow us to extend our products and services to a broader customer base that is more digitally savvy.”
“Accion Chicago’s mission is to help neighborhood entrepreneurs grow, which is why we provide our low-cost microloans to minority- and women-owned businesses who create jobs and wealth in underserved communities throughout Illinois and Indiana,” said Brad McConnell, CEO of Accion Chicago. “We believe that partnering with Upstart is the most creative, careful, and cost-effective way to lend to these inspirational small business owners that other lenders overlook.”
While personal loans are the fastest growing segment of credit, they’re far from the largest. With this equity round completed, Upstart expects to expand its AI platform to other types of credit. The company recently launched the first ever Upstart-powered credit cards with Customers Bank’s BankMobile division. Upstart partnered with BankMobile to develop two credit cards: the BankMobile Classic Mastercard and the BankMobile Rewards Mastercard, both available now via online application.
“We were excited to partner with Upstart as their vision of making credit more accessible aligns with our focus on low-cost banking services to low/middle-income Americans who have been left behind by the high-fee model of ‘traditional’ banks,” stated Luvleen Sidhu, Co-Founder, President and Chief Strategy Officer at BankMobile. “Upstart’s focus on automating the customer experience combined with their modeling capabilities further our goal of adding breadth to our growing banking products and services available to our customer base.”
Upstart CEO Dave Girouard will be on stage with Marc Butterfield, SVP from First National Bank of Omaha, at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9 at LendIt Fintech USA 2019, taking place in San Francisco, California.
Synchron Initiates First-ever Clinical Trial to Evaluate Thought-to-Text™ Brain-Computer Interface Technology in Patients with Severe Paralysis
Synchron, Inc. today announced the initiation of the first clinical trial for the Stentrode, a minimally-invasive neural interface technologybeing investigated for restoration of communication in people with severe paralysis. The trial will evaluate the safety of Thought-to-Text technology in patients, by assessing the Stentrode implant in combination with BrainOS software. The Stentrode is designed to record brain activity and stream thoughts wirelessly, and is the only investigational technology of its kind that does not require open brain surgery. BrainOS is a modular training software powered by artificial intelligence that enables patients to control assistive technologies directly through thought.
“The initiation of this trial is a milestone for the technology industry and points towards a new form of treatment for people with paralysis. There is currently no means for recovery for patients beyond the natural healing process,” said the study director and CEO of Synchron, Associate Professor Thomas Oxley, MD, PhD, and Neurointerventionalist, Department of Neurosurgery, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City. “The coupling of the Stentrode with our BrainOS technology represents a potential solution to enable people to regain control of their world: but with digital means. For people who have lost the ability to communicate, this technology could be life changing.”
The trial is a feasibility study to evaluate the safety of the Stentrode as well as to assess the stability of high-fidelity signals from the brain to external communications technologies. Synchron has received approval to recruit five patients with loss of motor function from paralysis due to a range of conditions including spinal cord injury, stroke, muscular dystrophy, or motor neuron disease (ALS).
The Stentrode system is small and flexible enough to safely pass through curving blood vessels in a procedure called cerebral angiography, eliminating the need for open brain surgery. By using blood vessels to deliver the technology to the brain, the technique may reduce risk of brain tissue rejection of the device, which has been a significant problem for other techniques.
Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated the Stentrode’s long term safety, as well ability to pick up particular electrical frequencies emitted by the brain. The technology utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that directly interface with and predict brain activity. BrainOS is a suite of stepwise modular training programs that will enable to patients to learn to control digital outputs. This digital output language forms the basis for a human API for patients to control 3rd party assistive technologies.
SOURCE Synchron, Inc.
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