What Moved Global Markets
– Tensions in US politics continue to rise: while Donald Trump was delivering his State of The Union Speech last night, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped a copy of his speech seconds after the president finished delivering it. She said she had not planned it, but decided to do so after she could not find a page “that didn’t have a lie on it.”
– Coronavirus update: Thousands of passengers and crew on two cruise ships in Asian waters were placed in quarantine for China’s coronavirus on Wednesday. Airlines, carmakers and other global companies counted the cost of the fast-spreading outbreak.
– Hundreds of experts will gather in Geneva next week, on Feb. 11-12, in an attempt to find a way to fight back against the outbreak by speeding research into drugs and vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. A multinational WHO-led team would go to China “very soon”, it added. It stressed no known effective treatment existed to combat the virus, dismissing various reports of “drug breakthroughs”.
– China said another 65 people had died in the previous 24 hours, in the highest daily total yet, taking the overall toll on the mainland to 490, most in and around the locked-down central city of Wuhan.
– Nearly $700 billion was wiped off mainland Chinese stocks on Monday with many factories shut, cities cut off and travel links constricted, fuelling worries about global supply chains. Asian stocks steadied on Wednesday.
– Short-term sales of crude oil and liquefied natural gas into China almost ground to a halt this week.
What moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
– Bitcoin price on Wednesday surpassed $9,700 and therefore hit the new 2020 high.
– Binance, the second-largest crypto exchange by daily trading volume, has enabled instant purchases of four major digital currencies with the Russian ruble.
– Ripple has made a new partnership to bolster cross-border payments between the United States and Mexico. The company has partnered with International Money Express, a money remittance services firm focused on the Latin and Caribbean corridor, Ripple announced on Feb. 5. Also known as Intermex, the new financial partner of Ripple is listed on the Nasdaq stock market.
– Telegram revealed its new algorithm. A paper authored by Nikolai Durov, a Telegram co-founder, lays out the details of Telegram Open Network’s consensus mechanism, named Catchain. The proposed solution is a Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) Proof of Stake (PoS) algorithm, similar to that used by NEO or Cosmos. BFT algorithms are attempted solutions to solve the Byzantine Generals’ Problem, where actors of a particular network need to maintain its functionality even if some nodes are unreliable or malicious.
Fintech: Mode, a financial services firm backed by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, has rolled out its Bitcoin banking app on iOS devices. The British company made its app available globally, with the exception of the United States, fintech-focused media outlet Finextra reported on Feb. 4. Customers can start using the app with as much as £50 ($65) and buy Bitcoin with bank cards or through a bank transfer. The funds are further processed through digital assets custodian BitGo.
Healthtech: Facebook is looking to curb misinformation about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak by removing false claims and conspiracy theories about the disease posted on its social media platforms. In a recent blog post, the company announced that it is working with a network of third-party fact-checkers to review information. If a piece of information is rated as false, the company pledges to limit its spread on Facebook and Instagram.
AI: Research network for ethical AI just launched in the UK. The Just AI network will build on research in AI ethics, orienting it around the practical issues of social justice, distribution, and governance and design. Its aim is to connect researchers and practitioners from a range of disciplines – including philosophy, law, media and communications, human-computer interaction, ethnography, user-centred design, data science, and computer and social sciences – to identify opportunities for collaborative, interdisciplinary work. The initiative is being led by the Ada Lovelace Institute, an independent data and AI think tank, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Smart cities: A major smart cities report is now out. According to the report, the Smart Cities Market is expected to reach above US$263,495M by 2026 and is anticipated to grow a CAGR (annual growth rate) of above 18% during the forecast period 2019 to 2026.
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