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GDPR – What you need to know as a consumer

Overview: GDPR

Data Protection Regulation has been a sensitive topic for the past several years. Conversations on the topic have been going on since consumers realised the effects of a data breach. There have been countless data breaches in the recent past globally ranging from large-scale website security breaches to consumer privacy violations involving large companies entrusted with sensitive consumer data. As consumers continue to learn about the implications of their data falling into the hands of “the wrong people”, data protection regulation will continue to be a hot topic.

The United States has lead in data protection regulation with most states now having regulation on data breaches. Almost all states have laws on one or more forms of consumer data protection. Europe has had data protection regulation covering its residents for over two decades now. However, most of these regulations are outdated.

The world has experienced massive technological changes. These changes informed the European Union’s decision to refresh its former regulation dubbed Data Protection Directive with more robust regulation i.e., the GDPR. Here’s more on what the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) entails for consumers.

What is GDPR?

The GDPR is an update to former EU regulation on consumer data after considering the latest technological changes and new consumer data threats posed by e- commerce, online advertising and general growth in data-driven marketing. The new law focuses on achieving three primary objectives. One, to give consumers more say/control over what companies do with their personal data/how they process/store it. The new law also focuses on standardising rules for reporting data breaches in European countries. Lastly, the GDPR aims to make accountability and transparency a priority for all companies dealing or entrusted with consumer

Data.

Majority of the provisions existing in previous regulation have been restated in the general data protection regulation. However, companies face more stringent fines for non-compliance. The GDPR also makes it compulsory for companies to report any breaches to regulators as well as consumers. The new law also allows people to find out what companies they do business with or work for are doing with their personal data.

The GDPR qualifies more as an evolution of the Data Protection Directive as opposed to a revolution. The new regulation, however, introduces crucial changes and reduces country-specific laws. The GDPR is a crucial regulation considering the nature of the world today. The world has become increasingly connected boosting the volume, prevalence, and value of personal data.

Who will be affected by the GDPR?

The GDPR will start being enforced on 25th May 2018 so, being well versed about the regulation’s impact is important. The GDPR has a broad personal data scope which covers online identifiers i.e., IP addresses and social identities to typical name and contact information (work and personal information in the EU). The regulation includes anything which is traceable back to an individual. The scope aims to enforce personal data protection as a human right. GDPR protects EU residents’ data in line with today’s data protection needs.

It’s worth noting that the regulation applies to all companies operating (collecting data) globally provided they serve EU customers. Any company conducting business with EU customers must meet specific requirements including implementing specific technical and organizational measures aimed at guaranteeing personal data security.

According to GDPR guidelines, companies must review how they collect as well as store consumer data. The law requires companies to keep special types of records (i.e., consent records) as well as maintain 100% transparency on how they utilise personal data. The regulation touches on data processors and controllers.

Under the new law, EU residents have the right to question companies on any issue regarding their personal data such as how it was obtained. EU residents also have the right to opt-out of marketing campaigns and in most cases, request for their personal data to be deleted.

Preparing for GDPR

With approximately a month before the GDPR takes effect, companies must be informed and prepared. The same applies to European Union customers. Companies must review their practices ensuring they are compliant with the regulation. Information regarding the regulation is readily available on the European Commission website. [1]

Consumers also have a role to play i.e., they must familiarise themselves with the rights accorded to them by the GDPR. This is important for consumers to be able to ask questions/place consent requests on data collection activities. An informed consumer will also be able to notice data breaches faster.

It may take a while before the GDPR takes full effect, however; it is a step in the right direction since companies are more liable in case of data breaches. Companies must tread carefully when it comes to all matters relating to customer data going forward.

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Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

No. of UK Pensioners Seeking Payday Loans Has Risen by 200% in 2 Years

According to the latest statistics from payday loan company CashLady, 1.4 million Britons have joined the poorest 10% in Britain. The new shocking figures indicate a 95.2% increase (since 2015) in the number of Britons aged 65 years and above relying on loans to boost their monthly pension.

Hard-up pensioners have increased their borrowing by £157 (from; £1,478 to £1,635). The latest statistics show that this age group is now borrowing approximately £400 in payday loans (now dubbed Grey Day Loans) monthly to survive.

For the first time in Britain, charities have warned of the disproportionate number of seniors seeking financial aid for subsistence purposes. A record 1.4 million pensioners have joined the poorest 10% in Britain. Only 1 million pensioners were part of this statistic in 2015.

The statistics indicate a 26% rise in the number of loans requested despite a 10% increase in monthly income for pensioners. This shows that the average pensioner is struggling to cope with the increasing cost of living. In just two years (2015 to 2017), the average loan amount requested has risen from £302 to £382.

According to the MD of CashLady Chris Hackett, the figures show there is an increasing number of seniors struggling to get by solely on their pension. According to Hackett, inflation levels are primarily to blame. Inflation has reached a historic high. Although pensions have increased, there is still a growing shortfall between the cost of living and pension income.

Personal Finance Society statistics

This new data follows a recent report released by the Personal Finance Society showing that the poorest pensioners receive 75% of their pension income from the state pension. The Personal Finance Society report shows that millions of seniors in Britain are about to become entirely reliant on the £7,000 per year basic state pension for survival. Numerous charities have come forward urging the UK government to do more to support the elderly who are struggling.

Charities’ take

According to Caroline Abrahams, Age UK Charity Director, the UK is at risk of assuming all elderly persons are living comfortably when that isn’t the case. The recent pensioner poverty statistics clearly show that elderly pensioners are at risk once again.

According to Abrahams, surviving in Britain on a low income/wages is hard enough for individuals in any age bracket but extremely stressful for older persons, especially those living on their own and struggling buy food and pay utility bills.

Abrahams believes the State Pension is more important now, more than ever as a tool for fighting against pensioner poverty. She is however of the thought that there is more help for those in dire need. For instance, elderly pensioners can claim benefits they are entitled to. This can make a great difference according to Abrahams given the fact that a record £3.8 billion in benefits goes unclaimed by elderly people every year in Britain. Before seeking alternative income such as taking out payday loans to pay for utility bills or buy essential goods and services, elderly pensioners are advised to exhaust their cash benefits.

Age UK is one of UK’s top charities which helps elderly pensioners get unclaimed benefits. Before pensioners become so desperate to the extent of seeking help to pay for essentials and insolvency costs, they should consider contacting charities like Age UK.

Turn2Us is another charity that offers similar help. The national organisation helps the needy/poor access charitable grants and welfare benefits among other types of financial help. A statement from Turn2Us shows that there is an increasing number of female pensioners seeking Turn2Us’ help.

Many pensioners in the UK don’t get the government assistance they are entitled to like Winter Fuel Payment and Pension Credit. This is because many people have been able to live all their lives without needing these benefits before so they only naturally consider credit which is readily available whenever they need help.

In an interview with The Mirror, Pritie Billimoria, Head of Communications at Turn2Us stated that; most people who have been comfortable most of their lives risk being financially week after retirement. According to Billimoria, struggling financially when you are older can be very distressing which is why elderly pensioners need all the support they are entitled to.

Age UK offers FREE financial advice and help to elderly persons with financial problems. Contact 0800 169 6565. Website: www.ageuk.org.uk.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

The FCA Poised to Protect UK Consumers from High-Cost Credit

Since 2017, the FCA has been demonstrating an urgency to come up with new rules aimed at protecting Britons from high-cost credit. According to the latest reports from the regulator, UK borrowers could soon have better laws protecting them from doorstep lenders as well as household appliance rental companies. According to a statement released by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) on 31st January 2018, the regulator has concluded a review of the financial market. The review which has been ongoing since July 2017 shows an urgent need for intervention.

The FCA has promised to intervene although it will take actions that don’t compromise access to credit to individuals who can afford repayments. The regulator is planning to publish proposals and conclusions in Spring.

The Regulator’s take

According to Christopher Woolard, Executive Director for Strategy & Competition at the FCA, the regulator must address the variety and availability of credit. The regulator also needs to find ways in which the credit market works better for consumers.

Besides proposing new rules/laws where there is clear evidence of consumer exploitation, the FCA is also looking at solutions revolving around alternatives to high cost loans.

The FCA has identified specific consumer segments that are most vulnerable. One such segment is the rent-to-own consumer segment. The FCA’s analysis finds this particular segment extremely vulnerable given the outstanding debt of this segment doubled in the recent past from November 2014 to November 2016 (£2,000 to £4,300 respectively). Customers most affected are those who pay for household goods such as television sets and fridges over time.

The FCA is also concerned with customers who use overdraft facilities. The regulator is concerned about the high fees associated with unarranged overdrafts especially in comparison to the amount lent. The FCA is seeking more data from lenders who offer doorstep loans (loans offered in people’s homes).

According to the latest statistics, 700,000 Britons took out home-collected credit loans in 2016. The same statistics show that 1.6 million Britons had outstanding home-collected loans by the end of 2016 which translates to a record $1.1 billion pounds.

Doorstep loans aside, the FCA is also concerned about catalogue credit particularly, the complexity of fees/charges structure as well as the variety of repayment options available. Catalogue credit is offered to people buying things from catalogues on credit.

FCA efforts

Back in 2015, the FCA introduces a cap on the amount of interest charged on payday loans. The move has had a positive impact on the payday loan industry. Payday loan borrowers no longer have to pay more than the loan amount total in fees/charges. The cap has been deemed effective in getting rid of unscrupulous lenders who were thriving in a poorly regulated environment. Borrowers can now rest assured they won’t be exploited when taking payday loans which are supposed to assist in times of emergency and not act as a gateway to debt. The payday loan cap was introduced after widespread complaints and criticism from legislators, the clergy and public on the high interest charged on payday loans taken by the most vulnerable customers.

Protecting yourself from high cost loans

Although the FCA has done a lot, more needs to be done. The FCA will review the current payday loan cap in 2020. In the meantime, you need to protect yourself from high cost loan segments that are yet to be regulated adequately. Here are some tips to consider.

  1. Shop around: Although most people who consider taking out short term loans are usually in financial distress, it is advisable to shop around just to make sure you are getting fair terms. Shopping for loans in the UK is easy today. You can use loan comparison websites to find suitable and affordable loans fast and easy.
  1. Start an emergency fund: The main reason why people turn to lending institutions when in distress is because they don’t have their own funds to use in emergency situations. An emergency fund will reduce your overreliance on short term loans which will in turn reduce your exposure to high cost credit risks.
  1. Borrow from reputable lenders only: Lastly, borrowing from licensed and regulated lenders only can shield you from unfair fees and charges. The short-term lender you choose should be regulated by the appropriate body such as the FCA. You should also check online reviews to see what existing customers are saying about a lender before you take out any loan.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

UK Gambling Regulator Warning on Gamblers’ ”VIP status”

The Gambling Commission has issued a stern warning to online bookmakers on upgrading gamblers to the highest gambling status i.e. VIP status. According to the regulator, online bookmakers must carry out extensive affordability checks before upgrading their customers to VIP status.

Gamblers who are deemed VIP enjoy benefits such as free bets, bonus schemes and special offers when they bet with larger stakes. The gambling regulator warning comes in the wake of numerous complaints about gambling companies tempting problem gamblers to gamble recklessly.

According to information obtained by BBC via the Radio 4 ”You and Yours” program, gambling addicts are encouraged to gamble away their winnings after being given VIP status. Many addicts have been on record on BBC about their increasing gambling debts after gaining VIP status.

One such gambler, Joe, was on record recently accusing Vernons.com of encouraging him to gamble away his winnings. Joe, who is currently suffering from depression, won £60,000 on betting website www.vernons.com. Instead of getting an instant payout, the company delayed paying his winnings while purporting to verify his account. Meanwhile, Joe was made a VIP member on the site.

Joe believes Vernons encouraged him to gamble away his winnings by sending him betting prompts after making him a VIP member. Joe confesses to visiting the Vernons site over 100 times a day and placing bets at 3.00am sometimes on league matches he knew nothing about. In his correspondence with BBC, Joe admits to feeling out of control with everything.

After winning £60,000, Joe lost everything and ended up accumulating £30,000 in debt. Vernons.com has since paid off all his debt after his story was aired by ”You and Yours”. According to Betsson Group (the company that owns Vernons.com), Joe’s case predated the company’s acquisition of Vernons.com. The company, however, settled Joe’s gambling debts but failed to discuss the specifics of his case.

VIP status

Gambling companies usually offer VIP membership to players who gamble large amounts of money. VIP members get perks such as a VIP manager who manage their accounts. VIP membership also comes with benefits such as free tickets to concerts and football matches.

Joe isn’t the only problem gambler who has been on record. Another gambler, James, developed a gambling problem after Bookmaker 888Sport gave him VIP membership one year after opening his account. James is currently in debt after his gambling behavior spiraled out of control. James ended up £40,000 in debt after taking out payday loans to fuel his gambling habit.

According to James, 888Sport had a reward scheme for its VIP clients that would see him earn £500 for every £20,000 spent. James confesses to feeling very exclusive as a VIP to the extent of gambling irresponsibly. Although James alludes to feeling ”encouraged” to gamble, 888Sport has been on record stating that they enquired on his spending on multiple occasions. According to a 888Sport spokesman, James confirmed he was comfortable with his bets and activity levels multiple times.

James confesses to lying about his comfort levels because he feared 888Sport might close his account.

Gambling commission stance

According to the Gambling Commission, online gambling firms aren’t doing enough to stop irresponsible gambling habits among their customers. According to Sarah Gardner, Executive Director of the Gambling Commission, gambling operators are capable of doing more to protect customers given the fact that they collect a lot of customer data such as; failed deposits and cancelled withdrawals. Gardner believes operators have a responsibility to use such information to protect customers as opposed to merely facilitating their gambling.

Fines

The Gambling Commission is taking a tough stand on operators who may have violated the commission’s guidelines in the past. Such companies may face penalties in the future. According to a recent statement by the commission, safeguarding consumers isn’t optional. The commission also stressed the fact that VIP programs must not come at the risk of causing gambling-related harm.

Other developments

The Gambling Commission isn’t the only body taking a tough stand on gambling operators. The CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) has announced tougher restrictions on gambling ads which offer free bonuses and urge gamblers to bet during live events. These measures have been announced to protect vulnerable gamblers.

The new measures will take effect on 2nd April 2018. According to the committee, ads which encourage repetitive play or create an unnecessary sense of urgency i.e., those with ”bet now” messages will be restricted.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

Payday Loan Company ”Rapped” by Advertising Watchdog

Payday loan company Allay Claims Ltd which operates as CheckMyPaydayLoan.com was just recently reprimanded by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) for launching a radio advertisement that exaggerated the speed and ease of claiming with the company.

Allay Claims Ltd had previously contested the complaint, but the ASA declined their request and warned them against using the advertisement in its current form. The advertising watchdog upheld the complaint stating that the ad was indeed misleading.

The CheckMyPaydayLoan.com ad made repeated claims on how simple it was for customers to claim compensation after facing difficulties when making payday loan repayments. The ad stated that Check My Payday Loan offers claims which are hassle-free, with no obligation checks.

The ad went further to state that customers just need to have grounds for a case; the company will do the rest. Customers simply needed to text claims and let CheckMyPaydayLoan.com handle the matter. What’s more; the ad created a sense of urgency by including the words; ”what are you waiting for?”

Complaint

Advertising watchdog ASA received a complaint when a complainant discovered there were more requirements for launching a claim i.e., providing bank statements among other similar/supporting documentation.

In defense, CheckMyPaydayLoan.com’s broadcaster (acting on behalf of the lender) responded by stating that the additional information would be supplied to claimants after they sent a text. The broadcaster defended the ad by saying it clearly stated that a claimant must meet a specific criteria before their case was taken forward. The simple task of sending a text was meant to assess a claimant’s ground for launching a claim.

According to the adjudication, the ASA stated that most borrowers don’t know the process of launching claims for compensation against payday loan or short term loan lenders. The adjudication went further to state that it was accurate to conclude that people wouldn’t expect to do anything more after launching a claim via text given the ad’s wording. This decision was reached after considering CheckMyPaydayLoan.com’s defense of not stating the seemingly ”obvious”. According to the ASA, CheckMyPaydayLoan.com was found guilty of exaggerating the speed and ease of launching claims with them.

Main reasons behind the verdict

According to the ASA, the ad was deemed misleading because the process required claimants to offer more information than expected before a claim would be processed which was contrary to the ad claims of simply sending a text and letting CheckMyPaydayLoan.com handle the rest. According to the advertising watchdog, the ad didn’t create an accurate expectation of the entire claimant process i.e., on the need for more detailed examinations of bank statements and loan agreements of the claimant as well as a claimant’s correspondence with lenders.

Typical clams must follow a process requiring a claimant to offer more information. For a claim to be successful, a lender must also be found to have lent irresponsibly based on a claimant’s financial circumstances. Such a process requires a thorough examination of a claimant’s loan agreements, bank statements, and correspondence with their lender. The process can’t, therefore, be fast and easy according to the ASA which is why the watchdog declared the ad, misleading.

Recommendations

The ad can’t be broadcast in its original form again. According to the ASA, CheckMyPaydayLoan.com must make sure future ads don’t misleadingly exaggerate the speed and ease of processing claims with them.

In an effort to manage the situation, Allay Claims Ltd’s Director, Andie Stokoe, claimed that the radio ad was made by Capital and cleared to air by Radiocentre. He went on to state that Allay works extremely hard to ensure accurate communication between the company and its customers. In addition, Stokoe expressed his disappointment on the ASA ruling but promised to champion consumer rights address the concerns raised.

Lessons

As a payday loan borrower, the above case highlights the importance of borrowing from reputable payday loan companies which offer accurate

information. Although the best payday lenders offer fast and reliable services, they offer full disclosure on everything including; fees and procedures. You should avoid lenders that make offers which are too good to be true. Also, pay attention to the legitimacy of a lender before choosing them. All reputable payday loan companies have an FCA authorisation number. You should also consider online reviews. Reputable lenders offer exemplary services which attract numerous positive reviews.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

What’s Happening In the Cryptocurrency World: South Korea Ban & More

Cryptocurrencies have become an overnight sensation. Bitcoin almost hit $20,000 in December 2017 after opening the year (Jan 2017) at $980. The price rally caught a lot of attention in 2017 resulting in numerous ICO’s (IPOs for Cryptocurrencies). There are now 1300+ Cryptocurrencies with more being released every day. Considering Cryptocurrencies aren’t backed by tangible assets like Gold, there have been concerns that they are capable of destabilising the entire financial system. Many financial experts have been on record stating that the Cryptocurrency bubble will burst. Others had speculated government and regulator intervention despite most cryptocurrency creators saying that would be out of the question.

We can’t say the bubble has burst yet although the price of Bitcoin (the most popular cryptocurrency) has been dropping in 2018. One Bitcoin costs approximately $12,466 as of January 17th, 2017. We are also starting to see government intervention with South Korea leading the way.

Developments

On January 11th, 2018, police raided Bithumb and Coinone offices, the two largest cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea on suspicion of tax evasion. On the same day, South Korea Justice Minister Park Sang-ki made a statement implying that the government was going to ban all trading activities taking place on domestic crypto asset exchanges.

South Korea has one of the biggest Bitcoin and cryptocurrency market in Asia accounting for approximately 20% of the world’s global Bitcoin transactions. In fact, many Koreans have sizable portions of their money/savings in cryptocurrency. Furthermore, the country lacks good high-yield investment opportunities for ordinary citizens. A recent survey indicated that 30% of all salaried workers have invested in Cryptocurrencies.

News over the looming cryptocurrency ban spread like wildfire tumbling the price of Bitcoin. The price hasn’t recovered since despite reassurances from the South Korean government via a statement released on 15th January 2018 suggesting that the said cryptocurrency crackdown wasn’t imminent. The South Korean government through the Government policy Coordination office has tried to backtrack from recent comments by the Justice Minister as well as recent government action. However, many are convinced the current developments signify a looming clampdown.

This is because the government hasn’t ruled out intervention or a complete ban. The most recent statement suggests that the government is waiting to consult widely and coordinate options before arriving at a decision. As of now, the government hasn’t offered much relief to its citizens as well as many others who have invested in Bitcoin considering the effects of the remarks made by the Justice Minister on January 11th, 2018.

Furthermore, this isn’t the first time the South Korean government is displaying hostility towards Cryptocurrencies. On 28th December 2018, the government issued a warning stating that virtual currencies can’t play the role of actual currency. The warning also relayed concerns that excess volatility could cause massive losses. The latest statement suggests that some South Korean government officials and organizations don’t agree on how to handle the cryptocurrency boom. South Korea already banned ICOs in December 2017 as well as anonymous crypto trading accounts over criminal concerns. Popular exchange, Youbit, has also filed for bankruptcy after a hacking incident saw the exchange lose $35 million worth of Bitcoin.

China ban

South Korea is not the only Asian country facing a complete cryptocurrency ban. Senior government and banking officials have been on record calling for a total ban. Back in September 2017, Chinese regulators banned ICOs and introduced other stringent measures such as ordering domestic exchanges to halt all crypto-to-fiat trading services. Since then, major exchanges have shifted to over-the-counter as well as global crypto-to-crypto trading.

Many crypto skeptics in China have argued that the current measures aren’t enough given crypto trading services are still available for residents. China is a perfect example of how a cryptocurrency trading ban can fail. As soon as the Chinese authorities pounced on domestic exchanges to stop trading, most relocated overseas. Traders resorted to using trading applications such as telegram to trade directly or over-the-counter without an intermediary.

Reports indicate that Chinese authorities and senior banking officials such as Pan Gongsheng, China’s Central Bank Vice Governor are working on a framework that will allow local and central authorities to investigate as well as block all domestic and foreign platforms that support cryptocurrency trading.

It is however clear that a complete ban on cryptocurrency anywhere in the world will be easier said than done. Cryptocurrencies are designed to be free of centralized authority. Their decentralized nature is the main reason why they have become popular globally. Majority of the global population has lost trust in Fiat currency given its obvious shortfalls such as susceptibility to manipulation.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

Banks Issuing Debt at Fastest Rate in 8 Years While Household Debts Soars

According to the latest Bank of England data, net new issuance of commercial paper and bonds stood at £17.5 billion in November 2017. This statistic shows that November 2017 was the busiest month for UK businesses and banks since October 2009.

Debt markets have been growing at the fastest rate in eight years, and what’s more, bankers expect the trend to continue in 2018. From January to November 2017, UK businesses and banks raised a net £50 billion which was the yearly level since September 2010.

According to Davis Marks, a debt capital banker at JPMorgan, UK banks are expected to be more active in capital markets this year (2018) than they were in 2017. UK banks must, however, refinance existing debt as well as build additional capital to meet the 2022 regulatory requirement deadline.

Labour analysts have been on record warning over rising household debt. According to John McDonnell, the level of unsecured borrowing in Britain may hit record levels very soon. According to remarks he made in December 2017, McDonnell stresses a need for more decisive action from the government in 2018 regarding debt since the UK has already seen a debt crisis with payday loans where payday loan companies were making astronomical profits from people’s financial problems.

Analysts have predicted that the level of unsecured loans per household in the UK will exceed £15,000 in 2018 and could easily surpass £19,000 by 2022 if adequate action isn’t taken.

Million of Britons starting 2018 in debt

The latest National Debtline statistics indicate that 7.9 million Britons are likely to start 2018 with debt accumulated during the Christmas season. The debt advice charity estimates a record 16% of Britons will face difficulties meeting their financial obligations in January 2018 compared to 11% last year. This statistics clearly shows that people will be worse off this year than last year, but all is not lost.

The FCA has new rules in place that require UK lenders to prompt borrowers to repay debt faster. Lenders are also obligated to intervene early in cases of repayment difficulties. For instance, they can cancel interest and/or waive charges accumulated on short-term debt like credit card loans for customers who are in debt persistently.

Quick measures/steps to get out of debt in 2018

In case you are already in debt in January 2018, there are some measures you can take by yourself to repay the debt before more is done by the government and regulators to deal with the increasing rate of household debt. It doesn’t really matter if you took out a short term loan such as a payday loan that you didn’t need. It’s time to take action.

Step 1: List all your debt

If you have more than one loan to repay, you should start by listing all your debt. It may appear obvious; however, most people who take many short-term loans don’t know how many loans they service in a month among other important details such as interest amount and additional fees. A simple exercise such as listing current loans can help you assess affordability accurately preventing you from taking up more loans.

Step 2: Repay the most costly loans first

Step 1 should help you identify expensive debt. Repay such debt first to reduce the total time you take repaying especially if you make more than minimum repayments. Observing this step will also help you reduce the total charges incurred.

Step 3: Halt savings/investments for a while

It’s always prudent to save and invest after getting rid of debt especially if it is short-term debt which accumulates hefty charges in fees and interest. Instead of saving and investing every month, as usual, use the money to offset your debt. However, don’t forget to continue saving/investing once you are debt-free.

Step 4: Consider debt management strategies

If you accumulated a lot of debt during the festive season that may not be repayable easily/faster/comfortably using your monthly savings, you can consider consolidating the debt which is simply; combining many debts into one manageable debt. Many lenders offer this option. You can also visit a financial professional to advise you accordingly given debt consolidation has some risks that must be understood beforehand to avoid more debt problems.

Lastly, don’t get into debt again. If you must take a payday loan or any other type of short term loan, use the loan amount for the intended purposes. Loans should never be misused. Never take loans simply because they are available. You should also take a loan you can afford comfortably.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

Russia to Legalise Crypto Trading on Approved Exchanges

Back in October 2017, Russia moved to ban cryptocurrency trading by blocking access to cryptocurrency exchange websites. The move followed comments by Sergei Shvetsov, Russia’s first Central Bank Deputy Governor terming cryptocurrency exchanges as dubious.

The ban came after China’s assault on Cryptocurrencies. China banned Initial Coin Offers popularly known as ICOs in September 2017. ICOs are fundraising schemes for Cryptocurrencies (similar to IPOs for stocks).

Russia has held a long-standing position of treating non-state money as ”illegal” but was warming up to Cryptocurrencies before the abrupt assault on cryptocurrency exchange websites. The October 2017 actions were influenced by the Finance Ministry’s statement in September 2017 stating Cryptocurrencies would face regulation like securities but exchanges would have to go.

New draft bill

Since October 2017, Russia seems to have softened its stand on Cryptocurrencies A draft bill has been proposed to legalise cryptocurrency trading on approved exchanges. According to the Deputy Finance Minister, Alexei Moiseev, the finance ministry supports the proposed bill.

The Ministry of Finance has developed a list of approved trading platforms following the presentation of the draft bill on 28th December 2017. Russia now wants to support cryptocurrency trading on official exchanges after taking a firm stand against exchanges back in October. According to Moiseev, Russia, through the finance ministry wants to set some limits. Moiseev supports Cryptocurrency trading on official exchanges and states that the new bill is meant to make the cryptocurrency landscape more stable in Russia.

The proposed legislation has been termed refreshing given Russia’s attitude towards crypto regulation which was somewhat foreboding just recently. In August 2017, Moiseev claimed it was impossible to prove that Cryptocurrencies weren’t pyramid schemes and the Russian government was going to do whatever was necessary to allow qualified investors only in the crypto space.

Background of the draft bill

The current draft bill was initially conceptualized in April 2017 when the Russian government originally decided that it was important to regulate cryptocurrency by law. The first draft was to be reviewed in six months. According to Elina Sidorenko, Moscow State of IR (International Relations) professor who was among the group responsible for drafting the new cryptocurrency regulation, the bill was delayed for several reasons the most notable being conflicting ideas on the purpose/s the new laws should serve.

According to lawmakers like Anatoly Aksakov, the proposed bill could have been signed before January 2018. However, there was yet another delay. The Kremlin published five official orders regulating some aspects of cryptocurrency in October 2017. Lawmakers finally met on 28th December to discuss the draft bill. According to the latest media reports from TASS and RIA, Aksakov claims the latest draft on allowing crypto trading on approved exchanges will most likely be signed into law before March 2018.

Aksakov supports the slow action of the Russian government claiming it is better for the government to act slowly than hastily. Aksakov claims that the government must consider the people who buy Cryptocurrencies and end up being deceived. Such people must be given a chance to trade cryptocurrency legally with all the government protection possible.

On 11th January 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin went on record stating that the Russian government must be responsible for any difficulty the Russian people get into if the proposed cryptocurrency regulation isn’t enough. This statement alluded to the fact that Putin supports a ”slow but sure process”. It, therefore, won’t be a surprise if the current bill takes longer than expected to become law.

Although Russia’s change of heart on Cryptocurrencies has been welcomed by many, some skeptics claim the government wants to centralize Cryptocurrencies by imposing certain exchanges on the public. This in itself defies the whole idea behind Cryptocurrencies. The main reason why people choose Cryptocurrencies over state-issued currency (FIAT currency) is simple; a single entity can’t manipulate cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrencies also offer unmatched anonymity allowing holders to transact undetected. This has obvious tax benefits. Many argue that trading on government-approved exchanges will eliminate anonymity benefits and expose crypto users in Russia to the problems that have been affecting government-issued currency for decades. Furthermore, there is no clear framework on how exchanges will be approved i.e., regulatory requirements and if those regulations will be fair.

Those supporting government intervention claim it will reduce instances of rogue exchanges out to steal virtual currency, but it is impossible to ignore the centralisation issue.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.