NexChangeNOW Daily Briefing – Friday Dec 06, 2019

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What Moved Global Markets
– Saudi Arabian Oil Company, or Saudi Aramco, priced its IPO at 32 riyals ($8.53) per share — the top of its indicative range — which puts the company on track to raise $25.6 billion. The state-owned company’s public debut will become the largest on record, topping the $25 billion Alibaba raised when it went public in September of 2014. Meanwhile, the global oil-producing giant OPEC is considering a deeper cut to its oil production. OPEC major meeting is now being held in Vienna, Austria.
– France is experiencing one of its biggest strikes in decades as public sector workers protest against changes to the pension system. The main impact of the strike is being felt on the transport networks and schools. The French national rail company, SNCF, cancelled 90% of its trains on Thursday; the Parisian metro closed 11 out of its 16 lines; and the Eurostar is operating with a reduced timetable. France’s education ministry expects 55% of its teaching staff to go on strike nationwide. There are also about 250 official demonstrations scheduled across the country. According to the French newspaper, Le Monde, more than 180 000 people are taking to the streets in 30 different parts of France.
– President Macron is pushing for a single, points-based system. At the moment, there are 42 different pension plans that vary according to profession and region, meaning some workers are entitled to a full pension before the general minimum retirement age of 62. The new system would mean that pensioners that contributed the same amount would have equal rights.

Crypto Prices (from CoinMarketCap)
Bitcoin: Up 2.69% to $7.453.12
Total trading volume (24h): $18.67+ billion USD

Ethereum: Up 2.18% to $149.26
Total trading volume (24h): $6.69+ billion USD

3 biggest movers 24 hours
Biggest Mover 1: En-Tan-Mo (ETM) is up 181.24% to $0.037172
Biggest Mover 2: GoldenPyrex (GPYX) is up 134.50% to $0.053054
Biggest Loser: Project WITH (WIKEN) is down 36.22% to $0.001393

What moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
The European Central Bank (ECB) is willing to develop its own digital currency if the private sector fails to make cross-border payments faster and cheaper. A central bank digital currency could “guarantee that all users have, in principle, access to a cheap and easy means of payment,” said the ECB. Just yesterday, the central bank of France said it will test its digital currency early next year. 
– Nearly 70 crypto-focused hedge funds that largely cater to institutional investors, such as pension funds and family offices, have closed this year.
– The number of new funds launched this year is also less than half the number of launches in 2018, according to U.S.-based Crypto Fund Research, as reported by Bloomberg Wednesday. Region-wise, North America led the number of crypto fund closures this year at 28, followed by Europe (23), Asia-Pacific (14) and others (3).
– Russian mining and smelting giant Nornickel has commenced testing its digital platform for metals trading, Bloomberg reported on Dec. 5 Specifically, the platform is designed to enable clients to purchase digital tokens backed by metals and then trade them for physical supplies.

Other Specialties
Fintech: The U.S. Justice and Treasury departments took action Thursday against a Russian hacking group known as “Evil Corp.”, ( “run by a group of individuals based in Moscow, Russia, who have years of experience and well-developed, trusted relationships with each other,” according to a Treasury Department press release.) which stole “at least” $100 million from banks using malicious software that swiped banking credentials, according to a joint press release. In all, the action targets 17 individuals associated with the organization, including Evil Corp.’s leader, Maksim Yakubets. The State Department has offered a $5 million reward for information on Yakubets.
Healthtech: The US Department of Agriculture announced new grant investments for infrastructure aimed at expanding education and healthcare access among rural US residents. The full bundle consists of 133 grants totalling $42.5 million, and are spread across 37 states and two US territories. Roughly half of these grants are being allotted for telemedicine-focused projects.
Al: MIT creates Dubbed ADEPT, the AI system that is able to, like a human being, understand some laws of physics intuitively. It can look at an object in a video, predict how it should act based on what it knows of the laws of physics and then register surprise if what it was looking at subsequently vanishes or teleports. The team behind ADEPT say their model will allow other researchers to create smarter AIs in the future, as well give us a better understanding of how infants understand the world around them.
Smart cities: Ford is shutting down its current GoRide Health non-emergency medical transportation service ( a program to provide customers with non-emergency trips to medical appointments.) Although the service will end in the five cities where it operated, a new GoRide Health pilot program will emerge in select cities where Ford intends to launch autonomous vehicles.

NexChangeNOW Pick of the Day
China’s Hainan Province Unveils $142M Blockchain Fund