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September 1, 2015- In This Issue:

 

  

USAA: Bitcoin and Blockchain Are FinTech Game-Changers
Vic Pascucci is quick to use the phrase "game changer" when talking about bitcoin and blockchain technology.

The current USAA head of corporate development and board member at its portfolio startups including Saffron, ID.me and Automatic Labs says he hasn't seen many technologies that meet this description during his nearly 20 years in the VC sector.

Bitcoin and the blockchain, in his opinion, are very different than other areas of interest for the insurance, investing and banking firm, founded in 1922.

"I've been working in technology since the early 1990s, I never thought I'd see something as big as the Internet," Pascucci, who has been with USAA since he joined as legal counsel for its technology team in 2006, said in interview.

However, he suggested he may be more optimistic about the technology's future than the US military-focused financial firm, which generated $24bn in revenue in 2014 and manages $26.7bn in net worth for its members.


Revolutionary Coop Promotes Bitcoin To Promote Social Change, Will Take Center Stage At London Art Fair

The Moniker Art Fair has teamed with Fork The Banks, a revolutionary cooperative of artists and techies, in promoting bitcoin, according to artdaily.com. The Moniker Art Fair will return to London's Old Truman Brewery Oct. 15 to 18, 2015 and will be the first international art fair to accept bitcoin payments.

Fork The Banks, based in London, uses the bitcoin "B" in its "FTB" logo. Its motto is "99 Artists. 99 Musicians. 1 Currency." Its website page features a picture of recent Greek street protests. Its YouTube video claims it seeks to unite artists and computer scientists looking to change status quo and it identifies bitcoin as its currency.

Art Fair: Progressive Force For Change

The Moniker Art Fair, now in its sixth year, views its collaboration with Fork The Banks as a way to strengthen its reputation as a progressive fair seeking social change. Fork The Bank's "Renaissance is Now" installation focuses on global connectivity, decentralization and collaborative assumption. The "Renaissance is Now" installation will take center stage across a 50-foot wall and will convey a sense of hope in progressive social change.

CardCash Adds Bitcoin Payments for Gift Cards at Thousands of US Retail Stores
CardCash, an American online company that buys and sells discounted gift cards from thousands of national retailers, has begun to accept bitcoin payments. CardCash joins companies like Gyft and Fold that provide ways for Bitcoin users to interact with the massive gift card industry.

"We saw that bitcoin was getting a lot of traction and growing in legitimacy," CardCash CEO Elliot Bohm said in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, "but it was slow in getting acceptance in popular brands." He pointed out that while consumers could use bitcoin to shop at Overstock and Dell, they couldn't spend their bitcoin at Macy's, for example.

"We can easily be the bridge," said Bohm. "People can use bitcoin and save money at the same time."

Canadian Pension Fund's Venture Arm Exploring Bitcoin Investments
The venture arm of a major Canadian pension fund is reportedly looking at making investments in bitcoin and blockchain startups.

The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, or OMERS, is one of Canada's largest municipal pension funds. The fund's venture arm, OMERS Ventures, recently disclosed in a recent interview with Canadian business publication TechVibes that it was exploring the use of proceeds from a recently closed $260m CAD fund to make investments in the bitcoin space.

The fund has also drawn support from the Bank of Montreal and Cisco Investments.

Managing director Jim Orlando said during the interview:

"Cybersecurity is another area we have been looking at, specifically in FinTech as Sid mentioned, and in particular what bitcoin and block chain capability bring in terms of differentiated opportunities. We hope to find a couple of investments for Fund II related to bitcoin and the block chain, and the security side of that whole paradigm."

Barclays Becomes First Big U.K. Bank To Accept Bitcoin
Barclays has been working to understand the benefits and risks of the cryptocurrency this year by working with bitcoin startups and researchers to determine if and how digital currencies can fit within the traditional finance sector. The bank has praised blockchain, the ledger-like technology that powers bitcoin, as an innovative system that may significantly benefit traditional banking.

Bitcoin Donations

Barclays' decision to help charities accept bitcoin donations marks another step forward for the UK, which has been working to make London a hub for bitcoin development. The region already has a prominent place in the financial world, but lawmakers and banking officials are hoping to create an environment that promotes the expansion of bitcoin.

Charities Benefit From Bitcoin

Charities have been a good starting point for bitcoin adoption, as there are several benefits to accepting digital currency donations. For one, transaction costs are lower, and often nonexistent for non-profits, meaning that more of the donated money makes its way to the intended charity. By accepting bitcoin, charities also appeal to a larger audience and could draw in funding from people who otherwise may not have donated.