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Bitcoin payment service chief executive touts e-currency as federal authorities signal openness to it

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The electronic currency known as bitcoin allows small- and medium-sized companies to reach more customers by opening new markets that were previously unreachable, the co-founder of a company that allows businesses to use bitcoins said in testimony Tuesday before two Senate subcommittees. And it appears that federal authorities are open to its development.

Tony Gallippi, the CEO of BitPay, testified before the Senate Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance and the Subcommittee on Economic Policy on "The Present and Future Impact of Virtual Currency." DSN previously reported on bitcoin, BitPay and whether the currency could catch on among pharmacy retailers.

Developed as a theory in a 2008 paper and introduced in early 2009, bitcoin has grown in popularity lately with investors, businesses and consumers. The currency works as a peer-to-peer system that allows direct payments between two parties who store their bitcoins in electronic wallets, protected by a system of cryptography, private keys and electronic signatures; like cash, they can be stolen, but unlike cash, they can’t be counterfeited. In addition, they’re virtually anonymous and have a finite supply.

But they have some unattractive qualities as well. Their anonymity makes them a popular means to buy contraband, such as illegal drugs, most infamously on the Deep website Silk Road, recently shut down by federal authorities, but soon after revived. They also are known to swing wildly in value: On Tuesday, the currency reached a value of $900 for one bitcoin before falling to $480.

"In order for bitcoin to flourish, it is imperative its susceptibility to illicit uses be addressed," one subcommittee member, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said during the hearing. Gallippi responded, "We share in the common goal, to protect the consumers from fraud, and that legitimate service providers separate the good actors from the bad."

So far, federal regulators seem to have a positive view of the currency. "There are plenty of opportunities for digital currencies to operate within existing laws and regulations," the New York Times quoted Secret Service special agent Edward Lowery as saying; the Secret Service is in charge of protecting the integrity of the dollar.

Gallippi sees bitcoin as ideal for small businesses. "Credit cards were never designed for the Internet, and credit card fees are discriminatory; the highest fees are paid by the smallest businesses," Gallippi said in his testimony. "If you are a business owner, it is your fault that you took a stolen credit card, even if the bank approved it. Bitcoin is a cheaper, faster and more secure payment system, with no discrimination against smaller businesses."

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Charmin introduces improved toilet paper

BY Ryan Chavis

CINCINNATI — Procter & Gamble brand Charmin on Wednesday announced improvements to its toilet paper. The retooled Charmin is now more flushable and is designed to help alleviate the strain on home plumbing systems, the company said.

With the holiday season right around the corner, Charmin’s product overhaul is especially timely. Roto-Rooter, a plumbing and drain service company, said that the day after Thanksgiving is the single busiest of the year for their residential plumbers. On average, they see a 47% increase in service calls when compared to an average Friday.

“Busy holiday times should be spent focused on family and friends, not worrying about what the extra house guests are doing to the pipes in your home,” Paul Abrams of Roto-Rooter said.

If customers experience clogs due to Charmin tissue, Charmin will refund the purchase price. Visit Charmin.com to learn more about the guarantee.

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Walgreens and iTriage create nationwide mobile appointment scheduling app for Healthcare Clinic

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens, located at more than 400 Walgreens stores nationwide, and iTriage, a rapidly growing consumer healthcare technology company, on Wednesday announced the launch of a nationwide mobile appointment scheduling app. The expanded free mobile service, previously piloted in Denver and Chicago, is now available to patients in Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens markets across the U.S.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to help our patients better manage their health, and by enhancing access to information and appointments iTriage furthers this goal,” Heather Helle, divisional VP for Walgreens Consumer Solutions Group said. “As Healthcare Clinic continues to expand services and serve as an entry point for many into the health care system, it’s critical to leverage the latest technology, especially mobile, as a tool to help our patients get, stay and live well.”

Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens appointment setting is available for free across all iTriage platforms and online at iTriageHealth.com. Along with booking an appointment at a Healthcare Clinic, users can identify symptoms and learn associated conditions, as well as treatments options.  

“The nationwide integration of iTriage appointment setting across Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens locations offers a simpler and comprehensive way for Walgreens shoppers and the surrounding communities to obtain care,” Peter Hudson, CEO iTriage said. “As more people look to their mobile phones for guidance on health care needs, adopting the mobile appointment setting for Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens will further empower our users to make effective and beneficial health care decisions.”

Appointment setting through iTriage is fully integrated, so patients will not simply be requesting an appointment, but actually booking one. They will receive an immediate confirmation expediting the appointment process and increasing efficiency.

 

 

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