NexChangeNOW Daily Briefing – Friday Feb 28, 2020

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What Moved Global Markets
– Coronavirus update: Governments battling coronavirus epidemics from Iran to Australia shut schools, canceled big events and stocked up on medical supplies on Thursday in a race to contain the outbreak’s rapid global spread. For the first time, new infections reported around the world surpassed those in mainland China. Tokyo has halted big gatherings and sports events for two weeks, and is closing schools early for the spring break. But it still plans to go ahead with the 2020 Olympics, whose cancellation or relocation would be a massive blow for Japan.
– The coronavirus has mainly battered China, causing 78,596 cases and 2,746 deaths. But it has spread to another 44 countries with 3,246 cases and 51 deaths reported. New cases in South Korea took its total to 1,261 with 12 deaths, while Europe’s hotspot Italy had 453 infections and 12 deaths, and Iran reported 245 cases and 26 fatalities. Though meeting the dictionary definition of a pandemic – widespread contagion across a large region – the World Health Organization (WHO) has so far held back from using that term.
– Spooked by the impact on China, the heart of corporate supply chains, and the increasing effect on other countries, stocks sank deeper into the red and oil prices fell. Global markets have dropped for six straight days, wiping out more than $3.6 trillion in value. Gold prices jumped 1% on Thursday as investors piled into safe-haven assets.

Crypto Prices (from CoinMarketCap)
Bitcoin: Up 2.01% to $8,873.16
Total trading volume (24h): $42.15+ billion USD

Ethereum: Up 5.96% to $230.180
Total trading volume (24h): $23.49+ billion USD

3 biggest movers 24 hours
Biggest Mover 1: eosDAC (EOSDAC) is up 175.38% to $0.018925
Biggest Mover 2: Intelligent Investment Chain (IIC) is up 55.63% to $0.000226
Biggest Loser: Agrocoin (AGRO) is down 49.28% to $0.034687

What moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
SEC wars continue: the commission has once again rejected a bitcoin exchange-traded fund – and one of the agency’s commissioners has publicly disagreed with the move. On Wednesday, the SEC rejected the proposed rule change, as submitted by NYSE Arca, that would have allowed the listing and trade of the United States Bitcoin and Treasury Investment Trust from the New York-based firm Wilshire Phoenix. As in the past, the agency cited market manipulation fears and a lack of surveillance-sharing agreements. In her latest published dissenting statement, commissioner Hester Peirce, aka “crypto mom”, stated that “the Commission once again disapproved a proposed rule change that would give American investors access to bitcoin through a product listed and traded on a national securities exchange subject to the Commission’s regulatory framework.”
– Amusing statistics revealed by a supervisory special agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has shown that victims have paid $144.35 million in bitcoin as ransom during 2013-2019. In fact, the “vast majority” of ransomware proceeds are paid in bitcoin.
– Two of the largest bitcoin mining equipment manufacturers are in a neck-and-neck race to roll out top-of-the-line machines ahead of bitcoin’s halving event in less than three months. On Thursday, Beijing-based mining giant Bitmain launched its latest AntMiner S19 and S19 Pro models, boasting computing power as high as 110 terahashes per second (TH/s) and an energy cost of 29.5 watts per terahash (W/T). Going by the firm’s specifications, the two models would currently be the most profitable bitcoin mining devices if available, closely followed by the WhatsMiner M30S from Bitmain’s Shenzhen-based rival, MicroBT, according to a miner profitability index from f2pool. The launch comes on the back of a heated battle between Bitmain and MicroBT, which has gained a significant share of the mining equipment business after selling about 600,000 units of its M20 series in 2019, chipping away at Bitmain’s long-time market dominance.

Other Specialties
Fintech: Financial services venture capital firm Anthemis has raised $90 million for a new fund that will invest in fast-growing insurance technology startups, the company said on Thursday. The fund will focus on backing companies that are helping digitize the insurance industry and already have an established track record. Founded in 2010, Anthemis is well-known as a fintech investment firm focused on early-stage companies, having backed startups including robo-advisor Betterment and digital banks Atom and Simple. It is opting to focus on later-stage insurtech companies with the new fund because it spotted a gap in the market for this type of funding.
Healthtech: As reported, Google is intensely focusing its efforts and heavily investing in the health-tech space. More than 500 people now work at Google Health as its parent company Alphabet tries to improve search results that consumers see when they consult “Dr. Google”. The tech giant is counting on new businesses as growth slows in its core digital advertising revenues. A bet on health tech could prove very lucrative for the company, while also helping low-income communities manage their health better.  Alphabet’s CEO stated health care offers the biggest potential for the company to use AI to improve outcomes over the next 5 to ten years, according to CNBC.
AI: Applied XLabs is a new startup building tools that can automate data-gathering for journalists — and eventually, for knowledge workers in other industries. The company is emerging from Brooklyn-based Newlab, with The Boston Globe as its launch partner. It will be led by Francesco Marconi (pictured above), who was previously R&D chief at The Wall Street Journal and head of AI strategy at the Associated Press. The plan is for Applied XLabs to develop products to help newsrooms, starting with The Globe, automatically pull data and generate insights. Vinay Mehra, president of The Boston Globe, said the hope is to use AI to improve the information that Globe journalists provide to different communities.
Smart cities: Alphabet’s proposed “smart” city development in Toronto is facing fresh questions over the project’s data-gathering technology from a panel advising the Canadian government-mandated body in charge of getting it built. Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs, which is developing the proposal for the futuristic housing and community development, agreed to scale back plans after privacy experts and other town planners said the technology involved was excessively invasive. It resubmitted its proposal in November. Waterfront Toronto’s Digital Strategy Advisory Panel (DSAP), composed of experts in digital privacy and innovation, remain quite concerned about the revised plan.

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