Digital Transformation in Finance and Accounting Accelerated by Pandemic, ISG Reports

Finance and accounting departments globally are undergoing a digital transformation, aiming to streamline and automate processes, as highlighted in the 2023 ISG Provider Lens™ global Finance and Accounting Outsourcing (FAO) Services report. The push for digitalization was notably accelerated by the COVID-19 lockdowns, which necessitated a shift from traditional methods to accommodate remote work requirements.

The research indicates a growing reliance on external providers to assist in formulating digital strategies. Robert Stapleton, a partner at ISG, mentioned, “Organizations are creating connected finance teams with the technology to collect and analyze larger data sets for long-term decision-making.” This technological empowerment has positioned CFOs to play more strategic roles within their organizations.

The report also sheds light on the challenges businesses face due to disruptions since the pandemic, such as inflation and supply-chain issues. To navigate these challenges, many are turning to new operational methods and technologies. Notably, there’s a surge in the adoption of tools like SAP S/4HANA, generative AI, blockchain, and the metaverse. Recognizing the potential vulnerabilities of integrating these new technologies, there’s an emphasized focus on bolstering cybersecurity measures.

A significant shift in the FAO sector is the preference for outcome-based contracts, where both risks and rewards of digital transformation are shared between companies and FAO providers. Jan Erik Aase, global leader at ISG Provider Lens Research, stated, “FAO providers are becoming strategic partners that collaborate with clients in addition to delivering services.”

Furthermore, the report explores the importance of global delivery models for FAO services and emphasizes the need for clear strategies surrounding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives.

The comprehensive 2023 ISG Provider Lens™ report evaluates 28 providers across four key areas: Procure to Pay (P2P), Order to Cash (O2C), Record to Report (R2R), and Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A). Leading firms such as Accenture, Capgemini, and Cognizant have been recognized as leaders in all quadrants.

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NASDAQ Listed MIGI Boosts Bitcoin Self-Mining in July 2023 Operational Update

Mawson Infrastructure Group Inc. (NASDAQ:MIGI), a leading figure in the digital infrastructure and Bitcoin mining landscape, has unveiled its unaudited business and operational update for July 2023.

Mawson Infrastructure Group (NASDAQ: MIGI) is not just a digital infrastructure company but a beacon in the Bitcoin and crypto industry across the USA. Their model, infused with AI-driven strategies, champions the global transition to the digital economy, with a pronounced focus on efficient Bitcoin production.

The company reported a significant 23% month-on-month surge in its “Total Revenue Equivalent in BTC”, reaching a figure of 163. This showcases Mawson’s growing footprint in the Bitcoin ecosystem. As of July 31, 2023, the company’s operational capacity was approximately 96 Megawatts, supporting around 27,636 Bitcoin miners.

Rahul Mewawalla, the CEO and President of Mawson, emphasized the company’s dedication to Bitcoin and the broader crypto ecosystem. “During July, we amplified our Bitcoin self-mining capabilities, leveraging AI-driven enhancements in our hardware and miner management software analysis. Our strategic location in the PJM power market, combined with our tech-forward approach, positions us at the forefront of the Bitcoin mining industry,” he said.

July’s Bitcoin-centric results revealed:

  1. Total Revenue Equivalent in BTC: 163
  2. Total Self-Mining Bitcoin Production: 69
  3. Monthly Revenue for July 2023: Approximately $4.89M
  4. Bitcoin Self-Mining Monthly Revenue: $2.07M
  5. Hosting Co-location Monthly Revenue: $1.78M
  6. Energy Market Program Monthly Revenue: Approximately $1.04M

Mawson’s 2023 vision is deeply intertwined with the crypto world. They are exploring expansion opportunities in the crypto-friendly PJM energy markets, especially in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The company is also keen on securing strategic sites for long-term digital infrastructure capacity, ensuring a robust foundation for their Bitcoin and crypto operations.

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Binance to Remove ALCX, FOR, LOOM, NMR, PEOPLE, PUNDIX, SPELL, STORJ from BUSD Trading Pairs on August 25, 2023

On 2023-08-23, Binance, one of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges, made an official announcement regarding the removal of specific spot trading pairs. Effective from 2023-08-25 at 03:00 (UTC), the following spot pairs will no longer be available for trading on the platform: ALCX/BUSD, FOR/BUSD, LOOM/BUSD, NMR/BUSD, PEOPLE/BUSD, PUNDIX/BUSD, SPELL/BUSD, and STORJ/BUSD.

However, Binance has clarified that users can continue to trade these assets using other available trading pairs on their platform.

In addition to the removal of these spot pairs, Binance will also discontinue the Trading Bots services for these pairs. The termination will take effect at the same time as the removal of the spot pairs, i.e., 2023-08-25 at 03:00 (UTC). Binance has strongly advised its users to either update or cancel their Trading Bots associated with these pairs to prevent any potential losses.

For any discrepancies between translated versions of this announcement and the original English version, Binance has stated that the English version will take precedence.

The Binance Team expressed gratitude to its users for their continued support.

Recent Binance Removals

SOLBUSD Perpetual Contract Adjustments (August 21, 2023): Binance Futures announced the delisting of the USDⓈ-M SOLBUSD Perpetual Contract, effective from August 28, 2023, at 09:00 (UTC). Prior to this, leverage and margin tiers were adjusted on August 21, 2023, at 12:30 (UTC).

LTCBUSD and DOGEBUSD Perpetual Contracts Adjustments (August 17, 2023): Binance Futures revealed changes to the USDⓈ-M LTCBUSD and DOGEBUSD Perpetual Contracts. All positions on these contracts were set to be closed by August 24, 2023, at 09:00 (UTC), followed by delisting. Leverage and margin tiers for both contracts were adjusted on August 17, 2023, at 12:30 (UTC).

Spot Trading Pairs Removal (August 16, 2023): Binance discontinued several spot trading pairs, effective from August 18, 2023, at 03:00 (UTC). Affected pairs included CKB/BUSD, FARM/BUSD, ORN/BUSD, and others.

Margin Pairs Delisting (August 16, 2023): Binance Margin announced the delisting of several cross margin and isolated margin pairs, including EPX/BUSD, GAL/BUSD, and GMX/BUSD, effective from August 24, 2023, at 06:00 (UTC).

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Ideogram AI Secures $16.5 Million in Seed Financing Led by a16z and Index Ventures

On August 22, 2023, a new player entered the AI arena, Ideogram AI. Their primary mission revolves around harnessing the power of generative AI to amplify human creativity. The company aims to develop cutting-edge AI tools designed to make creative expression not only more accessible but also more enjoyable and efficient.

The announcement was made on their official website, where they also hinted at revealing more details about their AI product in the coming day. Those interested can stay updated by following their official Twitter handle, “@ideogram_ai”.

The brains behind Ideogram AI are no strangers to the world of AI. The founding team boasts of AI luminaries who have previously spearheaded transformative AI projects at esteemed institutions like Google Brain, UC Berkeley, CMU, and the University of Toronto. Their foundational work in AI spans a wide range, including “Denoising Diffusion Models”, “Imagen” which is Google’s text-to-image system, “WaveGrad” for speech synthesis, “neural speech recognition”, and “neural machine translation”, among others.

In terms of financial backing, Ideogram AI has successfully raised “$16.5 million in seed financing”. This funding round witnessed participation from leading venture capital firms such as “a16z” and “Index Ventures”. Additionally, several other investors and industry stalwarts like Ryan Dahl, Raquel Urtasun, Jeff Dean, and Andrej Karpathy, to name a few, also contributed to the round.

Ideogram AI is currently on the lookout for talent, with several open positions in engineering, research, design, and operation, all based in Toronto.

This announcement and the subsequent tweet from their official Twitter account garnered significant attention, with over 6,000 views within a short span.

With such a strong foundation and clear vision, the AI community eagerly awaits the innovations Ideogram AI will bring to the table.

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FBI Monitors North Korea’s Lazarus Group in Major Cryptocurrency Heist

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has recently alerted cryptocurrency firms about blockchain activities linked to the theft of a significant amount of cryptocurrency. Within the past day, the FBI has monitored cryptocurrency pilfered by actors affiliated with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly known as North Korea. These actors, known as the TraderTraitor group, are also recognized as the Lazarus Group and APT38. The agency suspects that North Korea might try to liquidate the bitcoin, which is valued at over $40 million.

Through its investigation, the FBI determined that the TraderTraitor-affiliated entities transferred around 1,580 bitcoin from multiple cryptocurrency thefts. They are presently holding these funds in specific bitcoin addresses, some of which include: 

– 3LU8wRu4ZnXP4UM8Yo6kkTiGHM9BubgyiG

– 39idqitN9tYNmq3wYanwg3MitFB5TZCjWu

– 3AAUBbKJorvNhEUFhKnep9YTwmZECxE4Nk

These DPRK TraderTraitor-affiliated actors have been implicated in several notable international cryptocurrency thefts. This includes the theft of $60 million in virtual currency from Alphapo on June 22, 2023, a $37 million heist from CoinsPaid on the same date, and a staggering $100 million theft from Atomic Wallet on June 2, 2023. The FBI had previously shared details about their attacks on Harmony’s Horizon bridge and Sky Mavis’ Ronin Bridge and had issued a Cybersecurity Advisory on TraderTraitor.

The FBI advises private sector companies to scrutinize the blockchain data related to these addresses. They should remain cautious about transactions directly associated with, or originating from, these addresses. The FBI remains committed to unveiling and countering the DPRK’s engagement in illicit activities, such as cybercrime and virtual currency theft, as means to generate revenue. For those with relevant information, the FBI encourages reaching out to their local FBI field office or visiting the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at “”.

Recent Hack events related to DPRK

North Korea’s Notorious Lazarus Group: The crypto community has been on high alert due to a series of incidents that have been linked to North Korea’s notorious Lazarus Group. MistTrack, a leading crypto tracking platform, unveiled potential connections between the incidents involving CoinsPaid, AtomicWallet, and Alphapo on July 26, 2023. The Lazarus Group, also known as Hidden Cobra, is a cybercrime group believed to be based in North Korea. They have been implicated in several high-profile attacks, including the 2014 Sony Pictures hack, the 2016 Bangladesh Bank heist, and the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack.

JumpCloud’s System Breach: On July 20, 2023, JumpCloud, an American IT management company, confirmed a system breach by a North Korean government-backed hacking group. This marked a strategic shift in their operations, targeting companies that can provide access to multiple sources of digital currencies. The breach was attributed to “Labyrinth Chollima,” a notorious squad of North Korean hackers with a history of targeting cryptocurrency entities.

Atomic Wallet Heist: North Korean cybercriminals were suspected in a cryptocurrency heist involving Atomic Wallet, where a substantial $35 million was stolen. This incident saw victims appealing directly to the thieves on Twitter, hoping for some semblance of mercy. The US administration has been aware of the potential national security implications of these cybercrimes, with nearly half of North Korea’s missile program funding traced back to these activities.

Euler Finance DeFi Hack: The DeFi world witnessed a significant breach when Euler Finance became the victim of the biggest DeFi hack of 2023, with $197 million in funds stolen. Blockchain investigator Chainalysis identified that some of the stolen funds were transferred to an address linked to North Korea. This incident raised questions about the security of DeFi platforms, highlighting the need for stronger security measures.

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Financial Stability Risks from Cryptoassets in Emerging Market Economies Highlighted by BIS

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), in partnership with the Consultative Group of Directors of Financial Stability (CGDFS), unveiled a detailed report on August 22, named “Financial stability risks from crypto assets in emerging market economies.” This research, spearheaded by BIS-affiliated central banks from nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and the United States, explores the possible repercussions of cryptoassets on the financial stability of emerging market economies (EMEs).

The report underscores the rapid evolution of digital finance and the swift growth of cryptoassets. While these assets have been promoted as low-cost payment solutions and alternatives for accessing the financial system, especially in countries with high inflation or exchange rate volatility, they have also “amplified financial risks” in less developed economies. The study specifically points out the “illusory appeal” of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as quick solutions to financial challenges in emerging markets.

Furthermore, the BIS report identifies various risks associated with cryptoassets, including market, liquidity, credit, operational, bank disintermediation, and capital flow risks. One significant concern highlighted is the potential for price volatility to propagate into market risk through direct holdings of cryptoassets by institutions or households. As the price of these assets fluctuates, holders face the risk of incurring substantial losses.

The study also touches upon the potential risks associated with Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in emerging markets. Such products can lower entry barriers for less sophisticated investors, increasing their exposure. The authors of the study caution that Bitcoin ETF investors might not own any crypto assets but could still face significant losses when Bitcoin’s price drops.

Additionally, the BIS advocates a cautious approach to crypto regulation. While some jurisdictions, like China, have opted for outright bans, others have sought to manage the industry through regulation. The BIS emphasizes the importance of not reacting in an “excessively prohibitive manner” as it could push crypto activities underground. Instead, the institution suggests a balanced approach, urging local regulators to adopt selective bans, containment, and regulation of specific crypto assets.

In conclusion, while the BIS and other reports highlight the potential risks associated with cryptoassets in EMEs, they also acknowledge the potential of the underlying technology. The challenge for regulators and policymakers will be to channel this innovation in socially useful directions while safeguarding financial stability.

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U.S. Homeowners Express Rising Financial Anxieties, According to FAR Survey

On August 22, 2023, in San Diego, Finance of America Reverse LLC (FAR), which is a key participant in the reverse mortgage business and a subsidiary of the Finance of America Companies (NYSE: FOA), released its 2023 Home Equity Punch List. This study investigates the opinions of homeowners in the United States on their home’s equity as well as their feelings towards long-term financial planning and retirement.

The study highlights that nearly 79% of homeowners remain uneasy about the U.S. economy, mirroring sentiments from 2022. Concerns about unforeseen healthcare expenses during retirement have risen, with 61% of homeowners now anxious, up from 48% last year. Furthermore, the proportion of homeowners worried about discretionary spending has jumped from 32% in 2022 to 41% this year.

The poll also revealed gender differences in terms of worries over one’s financial situation. Comparatively, just 75% of males were worried about the economy, whilst 82% of women reported feeling anxious about it. In addition, compared to males, 54% of women expressed concern over their ability to retire according to their own terms.

In spite of the heightened financial worries, the propensity among homeowners to seek home equity loans as a solution experienced only a minor increase, going from 28% in 2022 to 32% in 2023. According to the poll, a lack of product knowledge and unfamiliarity with financial goods can be contributing causes to the prevalent financial anxiety that people are experiencing.

Commenting on the findings, FOA’s Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Moschner, emphasized the persistent gap in understanding the benefits of equity-based solutions. He noted, “The economic concerns among homeowners persist… There’s a consistent lack of clarity, with many only vaguely recognizing the merits of home equity solutions and reverse mortgages.”

The survey, conducted by The Harris Poll for FAR between May 15 and May 26, 2023, involved U.S. homeowners aged 18 and above from 2011. Committed to its mission, FAR continues to empower individuals with tools to achieve financial freedom in their retirement years.

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Xiao Yi: Mastermind Behind 2021’s Biggest Bitcoin Crash Receives Life Sentence

On August 22, 2023, the Intermediate People’s Court of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, publicly pronounced the verdict on Xiao Yi, a former member of the Jiangxi Provincial Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and its vice chairman, for bribery and abuse of power.

Xiao Yi was sentenced to life imprisonment for bribery, deprived of political rights for life, and all personal assets were confiscated. For the crime of abuse of power, he was sentenced to six years in prison, but the decision was made to enforce the life sentence, stripping him of political rights for life and confiscating all personal assets. The assets and gains obtained from Xiao Yi’s bribery were legally confiscated and turned over to the national treasury.

From 2008 to 2021, Xiao Yi exploited his positions, including as the Director of the Jiangxi Provincial Government Office in Beijing, Secretary of the Fuzhou Municipal Committee of Jiangxi Province, and Vice Chairman of the Jiangxi CPPCC. He provided assistance to certain units and individuals in matters such as project contracting, project development, and job promotions. He illegally accepted assets equivalent to over 125 million yuan, of which more than 57.82 million yuan was not actually obtained.

Furthermore, from 2017 to 2021, while serving as the Secretary of the Fuzhou Municipal Committee, Xiao Yi violated new development concepts and national regulations. He assisted businesses engaged in virtual currency computation production in areas like financial subsidies, fund support, and power guarantees. This resulted in significant losses to public property and the interests of the nation and its people.

The Intermediate People’s Court of Hangzhou believed that Xiao Yi’s actions constituted crimes of bribery and abuse of power. Given that part of the bribery was not successful, and Xiao Yi confessed to his crimes after being apprehended, actively returning the bribes, and the assets and gains from the bribery were all confiscated, he was given a lighter sentence according to the law.

In the backdrop, Xiao Yi’s downfall was directly linked to his introduction of the Fuzhou Chuangshi Company, which, under the guise of “big data”, was actually mining Bitcoin. Xiao Yi had numerous illegal activities throughout the process and had a unique relationship with the company’s boss, Lin Qingxing, a businessman from Fujian known for his early involvement in the cryptocurrency circle.

Many traders attribute the significant Bitcoin crash on 19 May 2021 to Xiao Yi’s case. On that day, Bitcoin plunged around 32%, marking a nearly 50% decline from its value on 8 May 2021. In response to the revelations surrounding Xiao Yi, the central bank initiated a crackdown on cryptocurrency mining on 18 May 2021, forcing many miners to relocate overseas.

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Former OpenSea Head of Product, Nathaniel Chastain, Sentenced in Pioneering NFT Insider Trading Case

Nathaniel Chastain, the former head of product at OpenSea, has been sentenced to three months in prison for his involvement in insider trading with digital assets. Chastain was responsible for selecting which NFTs would be featured prominently on OpenSea’s platform. He was convicted of “fraud and money laundering” in May, with potential penalties of up to 20 years for each charge.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI charged Chastain with generating over $50,000 in illicit profits from NFT trades. This case was highlighted as the first insider trading scheme involving digital assets. Insider trading is deemed illegal when individuals leverage non-public information for personal gain, thereby prioritizing their profits over obligations to their employer or the general public.

Legal representatives for Chastain argued that NFTs, unique digital tokens often representing ownership of digital art, are not securities. They further contended that the information Chastain used was not confidential. However, the court was not swayed by these arguments and allowed the case to proceed to trial.

Chastain’s illicit activities came to light after his departure from OpenSea in 2021. The company had asked for his resignation following an internal investigation that found he had breached his obligations to the OpenSea community. As a consequence of his conviction, Chastain forfeited his equity in OpenSea, which, according to his lawyers, was valued in the millions.

To facilitate his insider trading activities, Chastain created multiple digital wallets and OpenSea accounts. However, his actions did not go unnoticed, with the Crypto Twitter community highlighting his misconduct. Before his charges, Twitter users identified “burner” wallets linked to Chastain, where Ethereum from NFT sales was funneled back to his primary wallet.

In the evolving landscape of the crypto and digital assets market, insider trading has become a growing concern, especially given the less stringent regulations compared to traditional finance. Ishan Wahi, once a product manager at Coinbase Global, Inc., faced the consequences of such actions. On May 9, 2023, U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska sentenced him to two years in prison for leaking confidential business information about forthcoming Coinbase crypto asset listings to his brother and a friend. This privileged information allowed them to execute profitable trades before Coinbase’s official announcements. Wahi had earlier confessed to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In the aftermath, the Securities and Exchange Commission launched separate civil proceedings against him.

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Bitcoin (BTC) $ 43,284.60 2.09%
Ethereum (ETH) $ 2,251.95 0.69%
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Bitcoin Cash (BCH) $ 243.93 3.39%