Kazakhstan Set to Launch National Cryptocurrency Backed by Fiat

Kazakhstan Set to Launch National Cryptocurrency Backed by FiatKazakhstan’s Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) and Exante have announced a partnership regarding the development of a national cryptocurrency. The Kazakhstan government intends to launch a state-issued cryptocurrency that is backed by fiat.

Also Read: Kazakhstan Seeks to Become Regional Hub for Cryptocurrency IndustryKazakhstan Set to Launch National Cryptocurrency Backed by Fiat

The AIFC has announced a partnership with Exante, in which the company’s ‘Stasis’ platform will be used as the foundation for Kazakhstan’s national cryptocurrency. Exante is a Malta-based investment company that that was founded in 2011.

The governor of the AIFC, Kairat Kelimbetov, has expressed the institution’s belief that “blockchain and cryptocurrencies are entering the mainstream of today’s economic reality.” Kelimbetov emphasized the AIFC’s desire to become an international frontrunner in the development and adoption of distributed ledger technology. “Astana’s leading financial regulators have already commenced their work and are laying the foundation for Kazakhstan’s fintech-ecosystem. We believe that the AIFC can become an international hub for blockchain operations and the development of the digital assets market is our key priority in the near future,” he stated.

Kazakhstan Will Host an Upcoming Expo for Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Technologies

Kazakhstan Set to Launch National Cryptocurrency Backed by Fiat

Kelimbetov recently discussed an upcoming expo that the AIFC hopes will bolster international perceptions of the fintech and distributed ledger technology industries in Kazakhstan. As reported by local media, the AIFC governor stated “we assume that the territory of the expo will become a kind of crypto valley or crypto harbor. The whole world is very interested in this. Some central banks are supporting this direction, others are looking [at cryptocurrencies] closely.”

During the discussions, Kelimbetov emphasized the AIFC’s desire to balance the fostering of innovation and adoption of cryptocurrency technology with the ensuring of financial stability. “The United States and Singapore want to equate the activities of crypto-economic with ordinary activities in the financial sphere. In Switzerland, this direction is strongly encouraged and Japan supports some cryptocurrencies as a means of payment. We want to say that in this direction AIFC will be on the ‘edge’ concerning understanding the processes that are taking place. But on the other hand, we are responsible for issues of financial stability and regulation of certain financial institutions.”

Kazakhstan Is Working to Develop Its Emerging Fintech Sector

Kazakhstan Set to Launch National Cryptocurrency Backed by Fiat

Kelimbetov stated that “the head of state has instructed making AIFC a leading expert center in the development of new financial technologies.” In order to achieve such, the AIFC is expected to soon “join a consortium of international hi-tech hubs which include leading global banks which are currently searching for appropriate solutions, including national and regional cryptocurrencies and in the field of blockchain technologies.”

Earlier this month, the AIFC signed a memorandum of cooperation with Microsoft for the establishment of the country’s Blockchain Innovation Centre – which is intended to foster innovation within the distributed ledger technology start-up space. In July, the AIFC announced that it would work in partnership with Deloitte and Waves to develop a permissive regulatory apparatus for cryptocurrency, blockchain, and fintech businesses.

Do you think that Kazakhstan will become a competitive force within the international blockchain and cryptocurrency arenas? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Which Business Phone System is Best for Your Business?

Good communication is essential in any business. From Slack to Basecamp to Trello, there are hundreds of apps to help your business break down communication barriers and operate more efficiently. In an age where there’s an app for everything, how necessary is a traditional phone system?

Communicating with customers and clients requires businesses to have some type of phone system. Depending on your business’s needs, there are many different options for purchasing and installing a phone system.

Overall, only relying on mobile phone plans for your business may not be the best approach – a professional, well-run business needs certain features like an automated receptionist or voicemail to present a good company image and connect customers with whom they are trying to reach.

Luckily, there are several different types of phone systems that prove effective for all businesses, from those with many workers in the field to those operating largely from one location.

Editor’s Note: Looking for a phone system for your business? If you’re looking for information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:


Phone system types

Landline: This is a traditional phone system where you plug the phone into the wall and work with a local phone company. Landlines rely on physical wire connections monitored and run by regional phone companies. This means that opting for a landline will guarantee a reliable connection, but there may be fewer features compared internet-based phone systems.

The other aspect about landline phones is that the telecommunications industry is slowly moving away from this technology. While landlines provide a strong connection and reliable service, it is not an aspect of the industry that is expanding. VoIP phone systems also generally offer more feature options compared to landlines.

One more thing to note about landline systems is that they often require private branch exchange, or PBX, hardware at your business’s location to provide features like call transferring. This can make landline plans more expensive than internet alternatives, like virtual phone systems or VoIPs.

Voice over internet protocol (VoIP): This technology pairs your phone system with your internet connection. Essentially, VoIP systems connect you with other users via your internet service provider. This can be good or bad depending on how reliable your internet connection is for your business.

There are a lot of advantages to using a VoIP system. VoIPs offer a ton of features, from automated voicemail boxes to conference calling. This technology features a multitude of different features that could be beneficial to your business. The system does not require a PBX and instead harnesses the power of the internet to enact a lot of the features that at one time required the expensive hardware. Because of this, VoIP plans can be less expensive than landline options depending on how many users you are looking to add to your system.

This technology has come a long way, rivaling landlines in quality and reliability. It’s cheaper and offers more features, making it the most popular choice for businesses. VoIP systems also work with computers, and some integrate with other programs. The quality of the calls depends on your bandwidth, so you should have excellent internet service before choosing this option.

If you select VoIP, you must decide if you want the system hosted at your business or in the cloud. Hosting it at your business is also known as establishing an on-premises VoIP system. This involves purchasing or renting expensive software outright and then paying a monthly fee as well.

In addition to hosting the equipment, you and your business are responsible for maintaining it. This can add to the overall cost, but it can make sense for some businesses that want to be responsible for their own service should it go down. In cloud-based VoIP systems, any problems with the service are handled directly by the provider.

Cloud-based systems require no maintenance or hardware. Instead, all the technical services are handled directly by the service provider. This service option is often structured on how many users are needed for the system. Overall, it is often significantly cheaper than premise-based VoIP systems because you won’t have to buy additional hardware.

Virtual phone system: Virtual phone systems can be a great option for businesses with a lot of employees working in many different locations. Virtual systems are not a full-fledged phone system. Instead, it helps provide different features for your business while still operating on your mobile or home phone network.

This can also be a great option for small businesses looking to create a professional image without investing in a VoIP or landline system.

What to look for

Price: Landline systems cost around $60 to $80 per line per month. AT&T offers a plan for about $63 per month for 1,400 minutes of local calling and unlimited long-distance calling, but this does not include PBX hardware, which could run the cost up significantly more. This also doesn’t include the price of the physical phones you will be using.  

Cloud-based VoIP runs $15 to $50 per user monthly. These prices vary depending on service provider, the number of features you wish to include and the number of users on your account. On-premises VoIP systems cost a one-time fee of $500 to $1,250 per user, plus an installation fee that can be thousands of dollars.

In addition to the service, you may need to purchase phones. Some providers include basic phones with the service. If not, desktop phones cost $50 to $500 each, while conference phones range from $500 to $1,000.

Virtual phone systems can range from $10 to over $50 per month depending on what features you want to include in your plan. Two examples of virtual phone companies are Grasshopper and Phone.com.

Reliability: Regardless of what type of system you get, make sure you choose one that is the most reliable and best fit for your business. Consider uptime, the number of data centers and redundancy, how many call carriers the provider works with, and how it ensures you don’t lose service (or, in an emergency, get service back quickly). Reliability is the most important aspect of your phone service provider.

Security: If your business needs maximum security or would like to customize its own security, a premises-based VoIP or landline system are both good options. If you’re establishing a cloud-based network, look for data encryption during transmission as well as at the physical security of the data centers.

Mobility: For virtual systems, the mobility aspect will be inherent. But for VoIPs, ask about mobile options. For example, some providers have mobile apps that let the user make calls on their smartphone through the service. This allows you to use “softphones.” (More on that later.)

Support: If you don’t have an IT staff, then 24/7 support is a must. Also, look at how many ways there are to contact support and how quickly you can expect a response. User reviews can alert you to the most common complaints.


Features will vary based on the type of phone system you decide on. Some companies vary their features based on what type of plan you purchase. Most phone systems come with a basic feature set, then charge for additional features, either through a high-tier plan or add-on charges. Features include the following:

  • Automated attendant
  • Call monitoring
  • Call queues
  • Conference calling
  • Directory assistance
  • Extension dialing
  • Integrations with programs like Outlook and Salesforce
  • Interactive voice response
  • Missed call notifications
  • Ring groups
  • Toll-free or local number
  • Video chat
  • Voicemail
  • Call recording
  • Call reports
  • Call routing/forwarding
  • Voicemail transcription
  • Voicemail-to-email
  • Voicemail-to-text
  • Internet faxing
  • Interoffice instant messaging
  • Call transferring
  • Call forwarding

Of all the systems listed, the VoIP phone systems will likely offer the widest range of features for a more affordable price compared to a landline system.

Differences between hardphones and softphones

One feature that service providers are offering is the ability to turn other devices into what are known as softphones. These devices aren’t phones but can access the features of your phone system. Some VoIP providers offer voicemail to your smartphone as text messages or directly to your email inbox. This effectively turns your computer into a phone.

Hardphones are the physical phones that you and your colleagues will use in the office. When choosing a phone system, it’s important to consider if you want features that allow you to access important aspects of your plan like voicemail. Using softphones can increase efficiency or productivity depending on what works best for you and your business.

Bottom line

As with choosing anything for your business, it’s important to assess your needs before diving into a new product. For phone systems, determining your budget, how many users will be included and how flexible you want your service to be is a good baseline for determining which system will work best for you.

How to Design Attention-Grabbing Infographics

A good infographic can be like a syringe, injecting an idea, message or product directly into the mind of your audience. But if you don’t have a background in design, your infographics may stray into a vague, murky mess. These tips can help you create an effective infographic that will not only communicate your ideas but also keep your audience focused and engaged.

Importance of infographics

Visuals keep us engaged. Don’t believe us? Start by viewing this infographic from NeoMan Studios about how our brains react to infographics. It says 50 percent of our brains are involved with visual processing and we can get a sense of an image in less than a tenth of a second. Also, we comprehend visual-based directions up to 323 percent better than text-based directions.

As a business owner, this means you can directly engage with your consumer or client base. You can communicate with your employees and advertise your products with visual aspects that will relay your message quickly and cause you to be remembered by your target audience.

Best design practices

If you have a good idea for a fresh, effective infographic for your business, it can be difficult to understand where to begin. But armed with a little knowledge, you can do it yourself. 

Keep it simple

The KISS method (keep it simple, stupid) definitely applies to infographics. It’s a medium – it should be viewed as something used to communicate an idea; it is not the focal point of your project. Treat your infographics with simplicity. Otherwise, you may drown your audience in excessive amounts of data.

Jasmine Bou-Nassif, a designer for Stark/Raving Branding + Advertising, said that when she creates infographics, she makes sure to keep things simple by sticking to a few bedrock design concepts. “The key to creating a great infographic is to have a clear system,” she said. “Always identify your audience and break down what you are trying to explain.”

Create a narrative

Effective infographics follow a logical progression that is like a story. A narrative can draw a reader in and keep them engaged. Daniel Davidson, founder of Dan Design Co. said that an audience wants an infographic to be a guide from point A to point B. “You can put in the hours, recruit the best designer, have the best data that no one else has, but if you don’t communicate your message clearly, your infographic is going to be a bust,” Davidson said. “Jumping around between data points, tips and other isolated pieces of content leaves the viewer with a jumbled mess they’re not sure how to fit together. A great infographic just clicks for the viewer.”

A major point of creating an infographic that “just clicks” is guiding the viewer to a conclusion. Brad Shaw, president and CEO of Dallas Web Design Inc. said that keeping this narrative moving is also essential. “Forget cramming a ton of data, focus on creating a visual story. All stories have a beginning, middle, and end. Infographics should as well,” Shaw said. “At the beginning of the infographic, present the problem, then back it up with data or stats, end with a clear, simple conclusion.”

Make it interactive

Another way to keep readers focused and engaged is by creating one that requires interaction from the viewer. This rule is for online infographics only. Creating interaction could mean revealing certain information, prompting the reader to click through to another page or prompting the reader to use their mouse to “erase” an object and find information.

Note: Making your infographic interactive can prove difficult if you have no design experience and no experience using Adobe Creative Suite. In this instance, it may be a good idea to hire someone to help you build your infographic. If that isn’t an option, there are several online resources listed below.

For Bou-Nassif, creating an interactive infographic requires planning and attention to detail. “If creating an interactive infographic, leave enough time to create all of the links and buttons. Map out what each button or link should do before making it interactive. I like to use InDesign to make an interactive PDF. I start by laying everything out then I add in the interactivity.” 

Resources for nondesigners

If you have no design experience, can’t hire a designer and need to create an infographic, here is a list of online resources that you can use to construct an infographic. A lot of them are easy-to-use online design programs that feature templates to work from.


Infogram offers users a simple platform to design and create not only infographics but other charts and even interactive maps. This platform also offers easy ways to share or embed your project once it is finished. It has free as well as several premium options based on your business’s needs. The cost ranges from $19 per month to $119 per month depending on the plan.


Piktochart offers infographic, presentation and printable creations on its website. After choosing a template, users can customize data and tailor an infographic to fit their specific needs. Piktochart is available for free with two premium options. Users need to purchase the Pro plan, for $29 per month, to remove the Piktochart watermark on their projects.


Canva is a design tool that’s fully template based. In addition to infographics, you can create resumes, presentations and flyers as well. Canva’s interface is all based around dragging and dropping items, making it easy to visualize and create infographics without the hassle of advanced design knowledge. If you are interested in learning more about design, Canva offers a Design School tab on its website. Canva is also a free service, with business plans for $12.95 per month.


Visme is an online design service that offers data widgets specifically for designing infographics. This provides an easy, visual way to input data into different designs. There are a few Visme pricing plans, ranging from free to $60 per month.

Bottom line

Infographics are a vital tool for any business looking to connect and engage with an audience, whether it be customers, colleagues or clients. If you’re building an infographic, remember to keep it simple, follow a narrative, use effective data and make it interactive (if possible). For those without design experience, there are a bunch of online template-based programs that work well to create an effective infographic.

Google’s AutoML AI Clones Itself Into a Better Version

TheMerkle Google AutoML AI CloningThere is never a boring day in the world of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Google is clearly one of the companies leading the charge in this research field right now. However, even its creations may be evolving too quickly right now. It seems an AI developed in-house has successfully cloned itself and turned out to be far more competent than the human-engineered version. It’s a very interesting yet worrisome turn of events.

Google’s AI Outdoes Human Engineers

It is only normal that human-created artificial intelligence will only have a certain degree of “smartness”. After all, they are often modeled in our own image, which means an artificial intelligence can’t know everything. It is more than capable of learning as it goes, though, which is both an appealing and a troublesome trait, to say the very least. No one expects an AI to outsmart humans anytime soon, but the reality may prove to be very different in this regard.

Based on Google’s recent AutoML venture, that future may only be a few years from now. This project is designed in such a way that it can create other AIs and replicate itself. In theory, this should improve the versatility and knowledge of “future offspring” of AIs. The results were quite astonishing and quickly surpassed even the engineers’ wildest expectations, according to the IBTimes.

More specifically, the clone created by AutoML turned out to be a big success. Not only was it a clone of the original, but it also was a lot smarter. Considering that the clone outwitted its “parent”, this method of developing new artificial intelligence will be pretty interesting to keep an eye on moving forward. In fact, the offspring was faster, more efficient, and far more powerful than anything human engineers had ever cobbled together before.

To put this into perspective, the Google engineers created a test to see how well both AutoML and its offspring would behave. AutoML achieved 82% accuracy on a photographic test, which is pretty impressive. However, the AI was also asked to identify the placement of objects within every photograph. AutoML scored a 39% on this test, whereas its clone quickly improved to 43%. Given enough time, that number could easily surpass the 50% mark, by the looks of things.

Although this difference may seem minor to the untrained eye, the Google engineers were greatly impressed. After all, Google can’t build the next generation of artificial intelligence itself. However, the company’s own AI is already capable of improving its own codebase and algorithms without third-party intervention. Imagine what could be achieved when hundreds of thousands of developers put together powerful AIs and let them replicate.

Considering how AutoML is built from the ground up, it will be interesting to see what other tests Google has planned. It is evident AIs are more than capable of handling most programming work themselves right now, but they still need a “human hand” to fine-tune things. Eventually, that requirement may be removed as well, although it will take a few more years, if not decades until that actually happens.

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Minister Halligan launches Ireland’s response to Horizon 2020 work programme 2018-2020 John Halligan T.D., Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development has called on Ireland’s researchers and companies to seize the opportunities presented in the €30 billion final work programme of Horizon 2020 at the national launch in Dublin on 18th October, 2017. Horizon […]

Scientists Develop Artificial Penis That Can Help Patients With Penile Dysfunction

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