Cryptocurrency first for watch firm
AWELSH watch seller says it has become the first company in the world to use a form of payment technology which allows customers to purchase goods with cryptocurrency.
Family-owned business Watches of Wales, founded by Paul Hornblow, is a leading name in buying and selling luxury watches both in Wales and around the globe.
Wales sporting stars Aaron Ramsey, George North and Brett Johns and Hollywood actors are among the famous people to have used the Cardiff-based specialist.
Partly in response to the Covid-19 pandemic but also due to a desire to move with the times, Watches of Wales says it has become the first company on the Shopify platform to use the Utrust payment technology which allows customers to purchase goods with cryptocurrency.
Watches of Wales’ technology partner Reach Studios were instrumental in helping integrating the solution with Shaun Preece who has been with Watches of Wales from day one.
It means Hornblow’s company is leading the way both in Wales and the world by accepting cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum as payment method.
“We are a proud Welsh company and equally proud of the fact we are the first company not only in Wales, but the world, to use this form of cryptocurrency payment,” said Mr Hornblow, 48.
“We have been focused on providing customers with a VIP experience since we started this business over seven years ago.
“What better way to start accepting digital currencies than with a customised experience created by the best in the business?
“As a company we want to move with the times. We have a client base from around the world who are already flocking to digital currencies.
“The price of Bitcoin has risen by 500% in the last year. At the moment, it is trading at roughly £40,000 and you’ve seen huge companies such as Tesla already accept it as payment.
“This is the future for online retailers, especially after a year when many companies have had to close down their high street stores and move online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We were already looking into the cryptocurrency market before Covid struck, but it has certainly speeded up our move into this area.
“We have already had customers paying for our products with cryptocurrency which shows we are right to head in this direction. I can only see it growing in the next few years.”
Watches of Wales says it is the first company on the planet to benefit.
Mr Hornblow added: “Over 100 million people worldwide are using digital currencies. The value of Bitcoin has risen by more than 90% since January alone.
“Our system makes it very, very simple to pay online using cryptocurrency and we are offering anyone who buys one of our products through Utrust a free WOLF cub watch winder.
“We truly believe this is the start of what will be an exciting period for our business and that other companies in Wales will follow us in joining the cryptocurrency market.”
Based in the capital’s Morgan Arcade, Watches of Wales was founded by Mr Hornblow in 2013 and has an annual turnover of just under £7m.
They specialise in the buying and selling of the world’s finest watches and stock brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet,
Omega, Panerai and Cartier.
Utrust chief executive Sanja Kon said: “We are entering a huge market like Shopify and we are doing it with a new programme that adds value for merchants and for customers.
“Our first merchant to deploy this solution, Watches of Wales, is a perfect example of how we can help any kind of business, regardless of their specificity.”
THE Prison Service has denied claims that an inmate at a Welsh prison was attacked after raising concerns over the treatment of Welshspeakers.
The allegations were brought to light this week by North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd, who said the alleged assault occurred after the prisoner’s complaints appeared in the media.
Speaking in the Senedd, the Plaid Cymru politician said it showed Welshspeakers at Wrexham’s HMP Berwyn on the town’s industrial estate were being “treated as second-class citizens”.
However, a spokesman for HM Prison Service said there was “absolutely no truth” to the accusations.
The claims were made after a report was published last year highlighting complaints that inmates had been threatened with sanctions for speaking Welsh.
The Independent Monitoring Board’s annual review also detailed reports that guards could not understand Welsh-speakers.
Raising the matter with First Minister Mark Drakeford, Mr Gruffydd said: “You will be aware that Berwyn prison has been harshly criticised by the independent monitoring board last year for failing to provide for Welsh-speaking prisoners, and had denied certain rights to those prisoners because they were Welsh speaking.
“Six months later, the prison has confirmed, in correspondence with me, that they don’t even know how many of their own staff are able to communicate through the medium of
Welsh, so how can they claim that they are securing the necessary provision, I’m not sure.
“There’s been a serious allegation too that one prisoner had suffered an attack because of the coverage given to his case in the media in relation to the Welsh language.
“This whole situation highlights a fundamental failure in meeting the rights of Welsh-speakers.”
He added: “I would encourage you in the strongest possible terms to ensure that this situation changes. “The fundamental question is: why are we still seeing Welsh-speakers being treated as second-class citizens here in Wales?”
Mr Drakeford said Welsh Language Minister Eluned Morgan had written to the Ministry of Justice earlier this month to express concern about the monitoring board’s findings.
He also called for changes to be made to improve the situation as soon as possible.
The Welsh Labour leader said: “It is entirely unacceptable to me if people in Berwyn are not being treated according to the laws that we have in place here in Wales.
“I have seen the annual report of the Independent Monitoring Board in Berwyn, which does raise concerns about the use of the Welsh language within the prison.
“That’s why Eluned Morgan has written to the UK Government seeking assurances that the Welsh-language scheme at Berwyn is being implemented.
“I’m sure that Llyr Gruffydd will be aware that the Welsh Language Commissioner has a meeting on the 2 March with representatives of Berwyn prison to discuss this very issue.”
He added: “The authorities at Berwyn prison have outlined steps that they’re taking to ensure that rights to use the Welsh language are supported, and we now need to see those steps being taken. “We don’t just want to see them on paper, but we want to see them having an impact on the lives of those in the prison.”
The Prison Service said measures had been taken to support Welsh-speaking prisoners at HMP Berwyn, including the implementation of an action plan and the appointment of a dedicated Welsh-language lead.
THE departing chief constable of Dyfed-Powys Police has said he believes the force is in “a really, really strong place” compared to when he arrived.
Mark Collins began his role in December 2016, and is stepping down after more than 30 years of police service to take up a role in the British Virgin Islands.
He reflected on the last four years at a meeting of the Dyfed-Powys police and crime panel, who thanked him for his service.
Mr Collins said his strapline from the outset as chief constable – doing things brilliantly, and getting things right first time – had remained throughout.
He said he’d wanted people to know who he was, to know his name, and for Dyfed-Powys Police to be restored to its “rightful place” in national gradings and rankings.
There had been “some steps forward and steps back” with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) inspections, but Mr Collins said he expected the current inspection’s outcome “will show tremendous progress”.
“When I took over as chief I would say the workforce was disengaged, the community was disengaged, and partnership working was almost non-existent,” said Mr Collins.
HMIC had never graded the force above “needs improvement”, he said, while accreditation body Investors in People assessed Dyfed-Powys Police as “upgradeable”.
Mr Collins added that rural sections of the community in 2016 didn’t feel they were getting a service.
He said the force now had an Investors in People gold award, rural crime teams, a restructured neighbourhood policing service, and a more engaged and satisfied workforce.
He added: “I am proud that under my leadership we have exported two chief constables and one assistant chief constable.
“I think you would agree that if I was a horse trainer, people would regard me as having a good stable.”
Mr Collins said the force had more senior female officers than previously, and that its ethnic minority recruitment was “absolutely first class”.
He said: “I believe we could be the first force in the country to be truly representative of our communities.”
He thanked the panel for supporting him in requests for additional funding, via the police precept, which had helped pay for an additional 100 officers.
An HMIC inspection in 2018 judged Dyfed-Powys Police as “good” for effectiveness and “requires improvement” in efficiency and in legitimacy.
The previous year it was judged “good” for effectiveness and legitimacy and “requires improvement” in efficiency.
A separate inspection of the force’s custody service published in 2018 said progress since the previous one in 2013 had been mixed, although most recommendations had been fully or partially achieved.
Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, who appointed Mr Collins as chief constable in 2016, said he felt there had been significant improvements in Dyfed-Powys Police and its performance. Mr Collins, he said, had done “fantastic work”.
He added: “Mark has been very visible in the force area and a visible leader.”
Panel chairman Cllr Alun Lloyd Jones thanked the departing chief constable on behalf of the panel for his work, adding that everyone he spoke to spoke very highly of him.
Mr Collins, who started as a special constable in 1987 and has a new police role in the British Virgin Islands, said he believed his replacement, Deputy Chief Constable Claire Parmenter, was the right person to take Dyfed-Powys Police to “the next level”.
A“MUCH-LOVED son and brother” died after falling from a balcony in Vietnam after suffering with severe social anxiety for some time, an inquest heard.
Gethin Roberts, 31, from Bonvilston, Vale of Glamorgan, was found unconscious on May 8, 2020, at a hotel in Da Nang city in Vietnam after spending the preceding three months travelling the country on a motorbike.
An inquest at Pontypridd Coroners’ Court yesterday heard there was no evidence of any third-party involvement in his death and it was agreed he had jumped.
Assistant coroner Rachel Knight told the hearing that a note was found in his hotel room, which he had booked for one night.
A note was also found on Mr Roberts’ phone for his family which outlined his intention and expressed his love for them.
Reading a statement following the inquest, Mr Roberts’ father, John Roberts, said: “The family are devastated to lose a much-loved son and brother.
“Despite his anxiety he had many successes through his life, including a first-class honours degree.
“Sadly mental health and suicide result in too many lives lost. We would urge anyone struggling to reach out and seek support.”
The court heard that Mr Roberts, who was born in Haverfordwest and was unemployed at the time of his death, had suffered with severe social anxiety for some time.
Coroner Ms Knight told the inquest that prior to his trip to Vietnam Mr Roberts was living in Manchester and worked as a supermarket delivery driver in the summer of 2019. While living in Manchester Mr Roberts sought help from his GP and expressed that he had been feeling anxious and had a low mood.
In a letter from his GP read to the court Mr Roberts was described as having been diagnosed with severe social anxiety and low self-esteem.
He was referred to psychiatrist Dr Howard Waring and was offered cognitive behaviour therapy in September. It was noted there were no suicidal thoughts or intention and that Mr Roberts had a supportive family.
Mr Roberts decided not to go ahead with the therapy but Dr Waring was later contacted by Mr Roberts’
father to express that his son was developing paranoia.
Mr Roberts was seen by Dr Waring again on February 12 and was advised to delay his trip in order to start treatment. He said Mr Roberts showed no intention of self-harm.
A post-mortem examination was carried out in both Vietnam and the UK and found there were no drugs in his system and a small amount of alcohol. The cause of death was multiple traumas. Ms Knight recorded a conclusion of death by suicide.
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