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Security tokens: Heralding a New Era in Blockchain Featured

Security tokens: Heralding a New Era in Blockchain

Published in Fintech

Blockchain is evolving into a new phase of our technological society. It is growing exponentially like other life-changing technologies used to, similar to the internet. The different possible ways of making money, presenting projects and bringing new ideas to light every day is what makes the cryptocurrency world so interesting. But let’s focus on a soon very hot topic... security tokens.

Utility tokens were one of the hottest topics in the past bull-run, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and token generation events were the easiest and quickest way for a project to raise funds. Same for the investors, the returns in ICOs used to be way higher than by investing in higher market cap coins. For the next era of blockchain technology, we should prepare for something new, security tokens. Imagine a fully-regulated token that represents shares of a company.

The difference between Utility tokens and Security tokens

A utility token is the “coin” backed by a project, which is used to raise money in an ICO and should at least have some use. Usually, these are Ethereum based tokens, since this is one of the most simple ways of creating a token and programming some smart contracts on it. The actual “use” of these tokens is mostly some sort of access to a platform, or a currency to purchase a specific service.

On the other hand, security tokens or equity tokens are a regulated way of creating a token and building its own ICO. Unlike utility tokens, security tokens don’t need to have a “utility”. Their use case is that they represent a real share of the company. So this type of token is the equivalent of issuing company stock on the blockchain. Regarding the founders of a Security token based company, it won’t be that easy to raise millions anymore. The team won’t just create a website and a whitepaper to start raising money. This time the tokens and the company are regulated by the Government, which reduces the chances of a fraud. Or at least enough to get accepted by the institutional regulations. So when we talk about security tokens, that’s where the traditional stocks and the blockchain framework find their way of getting together.

Why are Security tokens so important?

Security tokens are a brand new cryptocurrency category that will likely play a major role in the space in the next years. The main idea of a security token is to remove the middleman in a transaction. This middleman is the main cause of risk, fees and delays in non-peer-to-peer transactions.

Security Tokens bring a number of improvements to traditional financial products by removing the middleman from investment transactions. The removal of middlemen leads to lower fees, faster deal execution, free market exposure, larger potential investor base, automated service functions, and lack of financial institution manipulation.

Security tokens also come with many benefits for regulators. Issuers can, for example, code lock-up periods right into the security token. This makes the violation of lock-up period times physically impossible.

The era of STOs and ETOs

As of 2019 we will start to see how STOs (Security Token Offerings) and ETOs (Equity Token Offerings) dominate the blockchain market. And since this new way of contributing to a project or asset is SEC regulated, there will be fewer worries for new people entering the market. People who used to dislike cryptocurrencies might now feel safer venturing into the space and start experimenting with the technology.

This next “boom” of new money flowing into Security Tokens, might be a little different than it happened with ICOs. There will be fewer STOs as there were ICOs, since the process of building one is way more complex. But still, there will be quite a lot of them. So more certainly, in this phase of the cryptocurrency space, there will be a couple of STOs dominating the market.

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The AI that Learned how to Cheat and Hide Data from it's Creators

Published in AIaaS

The AI that learned how to cheat and hide data from its creators

  • AI was trained to transform aerial images into street maps and then back again
  • They found that details omitted in final image reappeared when it was reverted
  • It used steganography to 'hide' data in the image and recover the original photo

New research from Stanford and Google has shown that it's possible artificial intelligence software may be getting too clever. The neural network, called CycleGAN, was trained to transform aerial images into street maps, then back into aerial images. Researchers were surprised when they discovered that details omitted in the final product reappeared when they told the AI to revert back to the original image.


Stanford and Google researchers were surprised when they discovered that details omitted in the final product reappeared when they told the AI to revert back to the original image. For example, skylights on a roof that were absent from the final product suddenly reappeared when they returned to the original image, according to TechCrunch.  

'CycleGAN learns to "hide" information about a source image into the images it generates in a nearly imperceptible, high-frequency signal,' the study states. 'This trick ensures that the generator can recover the original sample and thus satisfy the cyclic consistency requirement, while the generated image remains realistic.'

What ended up happening is that the AI figured out how to replicate details in a map by picking up on the subtle changes in color that the human eye can't detect, but that the computer can pick up on, TechCrunch noted. In effect, it didn't learn how to create a copy of the map from scratch, it just replicated the features of the original into the noise patterns of the other. 

For example, skylights on a roof that were absent from the aerial reconstruction suddenly reappeared when they returned to the original image, or the aerial photograph labeled (a)

Researchers found the AI figured out how to replicate details in a map by picking up on the subtle changes in color that the human eye can't detect, but that the computer can pick up on. The researchers say the AI ended up being a 'master of steganography,' or the practice of encoding data in images. CycleGAN was able to pick up information from the original source map and then encode it in the reconstructed image. By doing that, it enables the AI to be able to recover the original image with precise accuracy. However, it means that the AI was using steganography to avoid actually learning how to perform the requested task in order to speed up the process, TechCrunch noted.


AI systems rely on artificial neural networks (ANNs), which try to simulate the way the brain works in order to learn. ANNs can be trained to recognise patterns in information - including speech, text data, or visual images - and are the basis for a large number of the developments in AI over recent years.

Conventional AI uses input to 'teach' an algorithm about a particular subject by feeding it massive amounts of information.

AI systems rely on artificial neural networks (ANNs), which try to simulate the way the brain works in order to learn. ANNs can be trained to recognise patterns in information - including speech, text data, or visual images. Practical applications include Google's language translation services, Facebook's facial recognition software and Snapchat's image altering live filters. The process of inputting this data can be extremely time consuming, and is limited to one type of knowledge. 

A new breed of ANNs called Adversarial Neural Networks pits the wits of two AI bots against each other, which allows them to learn from each other. This approach is designed to speed up the process of learning, as well as refining the output created by AI systems. 

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Everything you've Always Wanted to know about Fintech in 5 Minutes

Published in Fintech

The financial technology (Fintech) industry is thriving globally and received over $31 billion in investment during the course of 2017.

According to EY’s Fintech Adoption Index, a third of consumers worldwide are using two or more Fintech services, with 84 percent of customers saying they are aware of Fintech (up 22 percent from the previous year). But users are often unaware that the financial services applications they use count as “Fintech”, or may not know what exactly Fintech and its accompanying jargon means.

In this article we'll explain all the crucial terminology you need to know to understand the sector.


Financial technology is broadly defined as any technological innovation in financial services. Those actively engaged within the industry develop new technologies to disrupt traditional financial markets.
Various start-ups have been involved in the process of creating these new technologies, but many of the world’s top banks including HSBC and Credit Suisse have been actively developing their own Fintech ideas as well.
Fintech companies utilize technology as widely available as payment apps to more complex software applications such as artificial intelligence and big data.



A cryptocurrency is a decentralized digital currency which uses encryption - the process of converting data into code - to generate units of currency and validate transactions independent of a central bank or government.

Bitcoin and Ether are the most common form of digital currencies. But there are other forms of virtual cash, such as Litecoin, Ripple and Dash (i.e. “Digital Cash”).



‘Bitcoin’ – a term we’re more used to hearing even in mainstream finance – was the first and one of the most prominent cryptocurrencies used by traders in the world of Fintech.

It all began when an unknown person(s), under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, designed Bitcoin as a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment network without the need for governance by any central authority. In an introductory white paper introducing the virtual currency, Nakamoto defined Bitcoin as: “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash (which) would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.”



Blockchain is a form of distributed ledger technology (DLT). This means that it maintains records of all cryptocurrency transactions on a distributed network of computers, but has no central ledger.

It secures the data through encrypted ‘blocks’. Various blockchain experts believe the technology can provide transparency for a multitude of different industries, not just the financial services.

The original blockchain network was created by Bitcoin-founder Nakamoto to serve as the public ledger for all Bitcoin transactions.



Ethereum is another type of blockchain network. It was proposed by a 19-year-old Russian-Canadian programmer, Vitalik Buterin, in 2013.

Ethereum differs to the original blockchain in that it is designed for people to build decentralized applications. These are applications which allow users to interact with each other directly rather than having to go through any middlemen, Buterin said, explaining the project in 2014.

Ether is the value token of the Ethereum blockchain. It is traded on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Disruptive innovation


Disruptive innovation happens whenever new technologies alter the way markets operate.

Though not exclusively a Fintech term, it is often used to describe events in the financial services where technological developments force financial institutions to rethink their approach to the industry.

Financial services firms engaged in Fintech can even “disrupt” themselves at times. “We continue to disrupt and challenge ourselves,” Christina Hamilton, head of partnerships and international expansion at remittance firm Western Union, told CNBC in an interview in July.



Regulatory technology (Regtech) is technology which helps firms working in the financial services industry meet financial compliance rules.

One of the main priorities of Regtech is automating and digitizing Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules which aim to reduce illegally obtained income, and Know Your Customer (KYC) processes which identify and verify the clients of financial institutions to prevent fraud.

The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority was the first governmental regulator to promote the term. Regulators like the FCA are working with Regtech firms on a range of different applications, including AI and Machine Learning, to improve the efficiency of compliance in the financial services and cut costs.



Insurtech is a subset of Fintech which relates to the use of technology to simplify and improve the efficiency of the insurance industry.

A report by consulting giant Capgemini and non-profit insurance industry body EFMA last month found that traditional insurance firms are facing increasing competitive pressure due to the emergence of a number of Insurtech start-ups.

Initial coin offering


An initial coin offering (ICO) is a crowdfunding measure for start-ups that use blockchain.

It involves the selling of a start-up’s cryptocurrency units in return for cash.

ICOs are similar to initial public offerings (IPOs), where the shares of a company are sold to investors for the first time. However ICOs differ to IPOs in that they deal with supporters of a project rather than investors, making the investment more similar to a crowdfunding experiment.

Last month China banned ICOs over concerns that the practice is not regulated and can be opened up to fraudsters.

Open banking


Open banking refers to an emerging idea in the financial services and Fintech which stipulates that banks should allow third party companies to build applications and services using the bank’s data.

It involves the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) - codes which allow different financial programs to communicate with each other - to create a connected network of financial institutions and third party providers (TPPs).

Proponents of open banking believe that an “open API ecosystem” will allow Fintech start-ups to develop new applications such as mobile apps to allow customers greater control over their bank data and financial decisions.



Robo-advisors are platforms that automate investment advice using financial algorithms.

They limit the need for human investment managers, thereby dramatically reducing the cost of managing a portfolio.



The “unbanked” or “underbanked” are those who do not have access to banks or mainstream financial services.

Various Fintech companies have developed products aimed at addressing this portion of society, providing them with digital-only solutions to open up their access to the financial services.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) estimates that there are 10 million unbanked or underbanked American households.

Financial inclusion


Financial inclusion refers to Fintech solutions that provide more affordable finance alternatives to disadvantaged and low-income people who, like the unbanked/underbanked, may have little to no access to mainstream financial services.

This is one of the most important areas for Fintech companies that operate in developing markets.

Smart contracts


Smart contracts are computer programs that automatically execute contracts between buyers and seller Smart contracts are often blockchain-based and can save huge amounts of time and costs involved in transactions which usually require a human to execute them.

In Ethereum for example, the contracts are treated as decentralized scripts stored in the blockchain network for later execution.



Accelerators, also known as “seed accelerators”, are programs enacted by financial organizations to mentor and work with Fintech start-ups.

Fintech accelerators can be either privately or publicly funded, with several programs being run by big banks, from the U.K.’s central bank, the Bank of England, to the multinational private bank Barclays.

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Why Cybersecurity is More Important than Ever Before

Published in Security

The threat of cybercrime to businesses is rising fast. According to one estimate, by McAfee, the damages associated with cybercrime now stands at over $400 billion, up from $250 billion two years ago, with the costs incurred by UK business also running in the billions. In a bid to stave off e-criminals, organisations are increasingly investing in ramping up their digital frontiers and security protocols, however, many are still put off by the costs, or by the bewildering range of tools and services available. The following is a list of reasons why investing in cybersecurity is a sensible decision to make.

1. Rising cost of security breaches

The fact is that cyberattacks can be extremely expensive for businesses to endure. Recent statistics have suggested that the average cost of a data breach at a larger UK firm is £20,000. But this actually underestimates the real expense of an attack against a company. It is not just the financial damage suffered by the business or the cost of remediation; a data breach can also inflict untold reputational damage.

Suffering a cyberattack can cause customers to lose trust in a business and spend their money elsewhere. Additionally, having a reputation for poor security can also lead to a failure to win new contracts.

2. Increasingly sophisticated and organised hackers

Almost every business has a website and externally exposed systems that could provide criminals with entry points into internal networks. Hackers have a lot to gain from successful data breaches, and there are countless examples of well-funded and coordinated cyber-attacks against some of the largest companies in the UK. Ironically, even Deloitte, the globe’s largest cybersecurity consultant, was itself rocked by an attack in October last year.

With highly sophisticated attacks now commonplace, businesses need to assume that they will be breached at some point and implement controls that help them to detect and respond to malicious activity before it causes damage and disruption.

Why Cybersecurity is More Important than Ever Before

3. Widely available hacking tools

While well-funded and highly skilled hackers pose a significant risk to your business, the wide availability of hacking tools and programmes on the internet also means there is also a growing threat from less skilled individuals. The commercialisation of cybercrime has made it easy for anyone to obtain the resources they need to launch damaging attacks, such as ransomware and cryptomining.

4. A proliferation of IoT devices

More smart devices than ever are connected to the internet. These are known as Internet of Things, or IoT, devices and are increasingly common in homes and offices. On the surface, these devices can simplify and speed up tasks, as well as offer greater levels of control and accessibility. There proliferation, however, presents a problem.

If not managed properly, each IoT device that is connected to the internet could provide cyber criminals with a way into a business. IT services giant Cisco estimates there will be 27.1 billion connected devices globally by 2021 – so this problem will only worsen with time. With use of IoT devices potentially introducing a wide range of security weaknesses, it is wise to conduct regular vulnerability assessments to help identify and address risks presented by these assets.

5. Tighter regulations

It is not just criminal attacks that mean businesses need to be more invested in cyber security than ever before. The introduction of regulations such as the GDPR means that organisations need to take security more seriously than ever, or face heavy fines.

The GDPR has been introduced by the EU to force organisations into to taking better care of the personal data they hold. Among the requirements of the GDPR is the need for organisations to implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to protect personal data, regularly review controls, plus detect, investigate and report breaches.

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Why Your Business Needs to Embrace AI if You Don’t Want to Be Left Behind

Published in AIaaS

The machines are taking over, it’s true. But you don’t have to run and hide just yet. At the moment, artificial intelligence is still run and managed by humans. And billions of us all over the world use it every day of our working lives.

You may be a business owner who has heard of AI and its benefits for business use. But like 45% of US respondents surveyed for Computer Weekly, you may not feel ready to embrace machine intelligence within your current business infrastructure.

The purpose of this article is to explore the relationship that your business needs to have with AI. Among the issues we consider are: your business goals, the price of AI, how it can help your business get ahead of your competition, and security.

You have a unique set of business goals

The first thing that you should consider is where AI fits into your company’s unique business goals, as for each goal there will be a range of different AI enhancement options.

This is to ensure you are bringing the relevant qualities AI offers to the areas of your business that will benefit from the technology. For instance, you may want to consider updating your operations to:

 1. Increase customer service capabilities

AI chatbots can help homepage visitors complete transactions without having to speak to a real-life person. You can also use AI to collect customer service feedback and improve your team’s productivity. AI-led customer service tools can even make it possible for customers to track their deliveries or raise query tickets, without human intervention. Self-service technologies like order tracking take some of the responsibility for mundane tasks away from your staff.

 2. Reduce inefficiencies in your supply chain

AI in your supply chain means that your solutions and frameworks will be constantly improving themselves and developing over time. The best way to use AI is to enable autonomous action – like having AI-assisted machines monitor POS data and make predictions about future purchase habits and consumption trends. This kind of real-time data could have a major positive kickback from a scalability and roll-out perspective.

 3. Get better ROI from your marketing campaigns

You may have  have poured lots of time and money into marketing campaigns, yet you still can’t seem to garner a regular stream of audience interaction. If this is so you may want to consider how AI can help you.

AI bots are able to draw from a deeper range of source data than traditional marketing research techniques. This allows you to be more refined in your method of targeting your customers and increase the engagement and response levels you see from your campaigns  – David Steinberg, the co-founder and CEO of Zeta Global, has claimed that marketing campaigns that incorporate AI have an ROI that is up to 1600% higher than those which do not.

You can find AI at every price point

You don’t have to shell out on Amazon warehouse style robotic systems to reap the full benefits of AI within your business.

Why Your Business Needs to Embrace AI if You Don’t Want to Be Left Behind

In many instances, just ensuring that you incorporate the basic AI technology that is relevant to your business and industry will be enough to help you stay in the loop.

For ecommerce brands, the shopping cart service you choose will be vital to scaling your brand’s growth. Make an online store with access to a continually developing list of AI functionality, such as marketing coaching tips.

You can also access higher-priced AI tools such as beacon technology for brick and mortar retail outlets. These tools help brands create immersive advertising campaigns that send connected mobile users push notifications with incentivizing offers.

The options and scale with which a brand can utilize AI can be staggering and awe-inspiring. While this may seem daunting, it is important for you to remember that, whatever your budget is, you must make sure that you get to grips with AI.

AI can help you develop unique ideas to beat the competition

AI-assisted tools are helping retail brands stay ahead of the competition by ensuring that their stores look lovely at all times. Shelfie cameras attached to shop shelving provide live feedback data to staff’s mobiles. Here, they can be notified when an item is missing or misplaced within the store.

The addition of RFID tags can also be used within retail to create a unique and immersive shopping experiences. Burberry, for instance, offers shoppers a ‘magic mirror’ that will recommend clothing to customers in fitting rooms.

Further, IBM created E.L.F for Mall of America in the run-up to Christmas 2016. By logging in through Facebook Messenger, mobile users in the mall could access ELF’s services, offering suggestions for customers searching for gifts for their loved ones.

AI will be at the forefront of security

As internet payment and technologies expand and increase, so will the need for tighter security against data breaches. Analyzing and protecting your customer’s data is an integral part of building trust as a business. AI can help your business track buying behavior and alert you to any areas of unusual activity within your business operations.

Using deep learning and NLP Processing such as Aphelion's Singularity, AI is becoming all the more sophisticated in recognizing and alerting to possible cyber threats. While this is, of course, very useful to your business, you will also need to make sure that investigations into threats are lead by your data team.

This is to ensure that there is accountability for your AI, so that you are certain it is accurately recording threats. In addition to this, having your data team overseeing the process means they can draw lessons from the threats your AI notes, meaning that you can continue to improve the range and level of security offered by your business

However, without AI intervention, in the years to come it may become harder to stay on top of the hundreds of ‘strikes’ that may befall your company’s systems daily.

So, there you have the reasons why your company needs to embrace AI to stay ahead of the game. You can start off small and gradually scale up your AI offerings to build a highly efficient network of systems.

The future is bright for AI, so make sure you invest if you don’t want to be left behind. To discuss and explore the possibilities how AI could benefit your business Contact Aphelion.


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