NexChangeNOW Daily Briefing – Tuesday Feb 25, 2020

Listen in:

What Moved Global Markets
– Coronavirus update: Overall, China reported 409 new cases on the mainland, down from 648 a day earlier, taking the total number of infections to 77,150 cases as of Feb. 23. The death toll rose by 150 to 2,592.
– Italy, South Korea and Iran reported sharp rises in coronavirus cases on Monday, but China eased curbs as the rate of infection there slowed and a visiting World Health Organization team said a turning point had been reached in the epicentre, Wuhan. The virus has put Chinese cities into lockdown in recent weeks, disrupted air traffic to the workshop of the world and blocked global supply chains for everything from cars and car parts to smartphones. But China’s actions, especially in Wuhan, had probably prevented hundreds of thousands of cases, said the head of the WHO delegation in China, Bruce Aylward, urging the rest of the world to learn the lesson of acting fast.
– The surge of cases outside mainland China triggered sharp falls in global share markets as investors fled to safe havens. European share markets suffered their biggest slump since mid-2016, gold soared to a seven-year high, oil tumbled nearly 5% and the Korean won KRW= fell to its lowest level since August. Wall Street dived around 3% after it opened. Italian shares tumbled nearly 5%.
– One of the most affected industries is luxury fashion – a new report predicts that even the most nimble brands could be staring down the barrel of a €10 billion decline in luxury sales this year (around $10.8 billion at current exchange rates). The industry could lose €30-40 billion in sales this year as the sector’s value drops to €309 billion (around $335 billion), a five-year low. Meanwhile, challenging trading conditions could persist until next year as Chinese consumers – who since 2012 have driven 70 percent of global growth in the luxury segment – stay at home, and a slowdown is mirrored in major luxury markets like Japan.
– Warren Buffett on Monday called the coronavirus outbreak “scary stuff” but said that it was no time to sell stocks despite the threat of a pandemic.

Crypto Prices (from CoinMarketCap)
Bitcoin: Down 2.17% to $9,621.82
Total trading volume (24h): $43.81+ billion USD

Ethereum: Down 2.82% to $263.05
Total trading volume (24h): $21.49+ billion USD

3 biggest movers 24 hours
Biggest Mover 1: FortKnoxster (FKX) is up 50.27% to $0.003524
Biggest Mover 2: Omnitude (ECOM) is up 49.78% to $0.005097
Biggest Loser: StakeCubeCoin (SCC) is down 90.91% to $0.014673

What moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
– Finance ministers and central bankers from the G20 are pushing for wider adoption of standards that compel cryptocurrency exchanges to disclose user information. Following a summit in the Saudi-Arabian capital Riyadh over the weekend, representatives from G20 financial institutions pressed countries that have not done so already to align themselves with global cryptocurrency standards from the intergovernmental organization, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). “We urge countries to implement the recently adopted Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards on virtual assets and related providers,” reads a joint-communique published after the summit. Finalized in the summer, FATF’s controversial “travel rule” requires virtual asset service providers (VASPs), including wallet providers and exchanges, to share user information with one another each and every time funds are transferred. The recommendation is designed to prevent terrorists and money launderers using crypto to bypass existing controls and sanctions. In June last year, the G20 reaffirmed it would align with the new rules.
– The Bank of England’s chief cashier and director of notes, Sarah John, has said that it is “crucial” for central banks to research digital currencies before private companies dominate the space. “We need to think as an institution about how to position ourselves to make sure society still has a broad range of payments that it can use with confidence,” John told The Telegraph U.K. in an interview published Saturday. “It is absolutely right that central banks think about whether a public sector or private sector would be best to provide a digital currency going forward,” she added.
– Japan is most probably advancing the pace in this direction, as three Japanese authorities – the Ministry of Finance, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) – are said to have joined forces to promote research on digital currencies. The agencies have held several meetings to discuss the economic impacts of digital currencies, the Japan Times reported Saturday.

Other Specialties
Fintech: The U.S. may soon get its first dedicated bank for digital assets. A Wyoming corporation founded by blockchain legislative champion and Wall Street veteran Caitlin Long is preparing to apply for a special purpose depository institution (SPDI) charter with the state’s division of banking. The future bank is called Avanti, which means “forward” in Italian, and will be focused solely on providing regulated services for digital assets, Long announced Monday. The company, formed on Jan. 6, has already raised $1 million in seed funding. Avanti will provide payment, custody, securities and commodities activities for institutional customers using digital assets.
Healthtech: SoftBank on Monday led a new funding round of $165 million in California-based startup Karius. Karius, which markets a test that can quickly detect hard-to-diagnose infections through a simple taking of blood, said the funding would expand its commercial outreach and clinical research. Although relatively small by the standards of Softbank, the funding marks the latest in a list of healthcare investments that include drugmaker Roivant Sciences and Vir Biotechnology Inc, an infectious-disease focused drug developer. Karius’ test, which is already being used in more than 100 U.S. hospitals, turns liquid biopsy technology previously used chiefly to measure the progress of cancers to the detection of over 1,000 pathogens, including bacteria and fungi. Softbank also invested $100 million in New York-headquartered AI company Behavox.
AI: Britain’s most senior police officer on Monday called on the government to create a legal framework for police use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence. Speaking about live facial recognition, which police in London started using in January, London police chief Cressida Dick said that she welcomed the government’s 2019 manifesto pledge to create a legal framework for the police use of new technology like AI, biometrics and DNA.
Smart cities: Buffalo, NY is about to become “the nation’s leading intelligent smart city”. That includes city authorities’ plans to launch a public-private partnership with the SAS Institute, which will work with the city to develop an advanced software suite to analyze data the government gathers, and determine trends and other predictive tools to help shape city operations and policies. The city will also continue to install smart streetlights, collect software and hardware to deliver city services more effectively, and continue its smart sewer initiative, Brown said in his speech.

NexChangeNOW Pick of the Day
Fresh market reports to read: from fintech, AI to smart cities