What Moved Global Markets
– Coronavirus update: People across China trickled back work on Monday after an extended Lunar New Year holiday as the government eased restrictions imposed to counter the coronavirus, but the World Health Organization said the number of cases outside China could be just “the tip of the iceberg”. A growing number of countries around the world are evacuating or planning to evacuate diplomatic staff and citizens from parts of China hit by the new coronavirus. China’s Foreign Ministry said that 27 foreigners in the country have been confirmed infected with the new coronavirus as of Monday morning, and two had died. An American died on Feb. 6 and a Japanese died on Feb. 8.
– Britain said on Monday the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had doubled to eight as the government declared the virus a serious and imminent threat, giving it additional powers to isolate those suspected of being infected.
– The virus already hit Canadian oil sector: Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Monday that prices for crude – one of Canada’s major exports – had dipped by 15% on lower demand since the outbreak started in China.
– However, U.S. stocks rose and the Nasdaq hit a record high on Monday, as a recent set of strong domestic economic data and largely upbeat fourth-quarter earnings tempered worries about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on global growth.
– In China, more than 300 companies are seeking bank loans totalling at least 57.4 billion yuan ($8.2 billion) to help to soften the impact of the outbreak.
What moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
– Leading stablecoin operator Tether launched its U.S. dollar-backed stablecoin USDT on the Algorand proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain. In a press release on Feb. 10, Tether announced that USDT on Algorand will feature confirmation times as low as four seconds and transaction fees of a fraction of a percent.
– U.S.-based crypto custodian BitGo, which claims to have over $2 billion in clients’ assets, has expanded its operations to Europe. The firm has opened two new units in Switzerland and Germany, according to an announcement Monday. The Swiss entity, BitGo GmbH, is regulated by the country’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), while the German entity, BitGo Deutschland GmbH, will apply for a license when the application window opens in November 2020, per the announcement.
– A senior lawmaker from Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has said that the country should create its own digital yen within the next 2-3 years. “The sooner the better. We’ll draft proposals to be included in government’s policy guidelines, and hopefully make it happen in two-to-three years,” Kozo Yamamoto told Reuters on Monday. The lawmaker’s remarks highlight the pressure Japan feels against China’s progress on digital currency.
Fintech: The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has suggested a plan to bring stricter anti-money laundering (AML) rules for crypto transactions. Per a proposal announced Friday, crypto transactions of over 1,000 Swiss francs (~$1,025) will require client identification as opposed to the current limit of 5,000 francs (~$5,120). FINMA said the new limit has been considered due to “heightened” money-laundering risks in the crypto space. The proposal will also bring the new threshold in line with the “international standards” approved in mid-2019, said FINMA, indicating the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) directive from last June.
Healthtech: A report into the use of artificial intelligence by the U.K. ‘s public sector has warned that the government is failing to be open about automated decision-making technologies which have the potential to significantly impact citizens’ lives. Ministers have been especially bullish on injecting new technologies into the delivery of taxpayer-funded healthcare — with health minister Matt Hancock setting out a tech-fueled vision of “preventative, predictive and personalised care” in 2018, calling for a root and branch digital transformation of the National Health Service (NHS) to support piping patient data to a new generation of “healthtech” apps and services.
AI: A new artificial intelligence (AI) has allowed researchers at UCL and Babylon Health, for the first time, to demonstrate a useful and reliable way of sifting through masses of correlating data to spot when correlation means causation. By fusing old, overlapping and incomplete datasets this new method, inspired by quantum cryptography, paves the way for researchers to glean the results of medical trials that would otherwise be too expensive, difficult or unethical to run. The research is being published at the peer-reviewed Association for Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) conference in New York. Dr Saurabh Johri, Chief Science Officer at Babylon, said: “Until now, we have been limited to piecing together answers from studies that needed to capture all the data really neatly. But when we’ve seen a correlation between obesity and low vitamin D in one study, and obesity and heart failure in another, we have not been able to say whether vitamin D has a causal role in heart failure without doing another, hugely expensive clinical trial. Now we can put the pieces of the jigsaw together.”
Smart cities: The state of New York on Monday sued President Donald Trump’s administration to void a policy barring thousands of New Yorkers from enrolling in federal programs that help travellers speed through airport security lines and borders, in a dispute over immigration policy. The lawsuit followed a decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security last week to bar New Yorkers from joining or renewing their participation in so-called Trusted Traveler programs. These include Global Entry as well as three other programs that allow faster travel between the United States, Canada and Mexico. New York, which is governed by Democrats, has described the Republican administration’s actions as political retaliation.
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