NexChangeNOW Daily Briefing – Friday March 20, 2020

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What Moved Global Markets

  1. Coronavirus update: Italy’s death toll has hit 3,405, meaning the country now has more reported deaths than China. The death toll in China, where the coronavirus originated in Wuhan, in Hubei province late last year, currently stands at 3,249. 
  2. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the government will issue orders on Thursday forcing Israelis to stay at home to halt the spread of the coronavirus crisis.
  3. French health authorities reported 108 new deaths from coronavirus, taking the total to 372 or an increase of almost 41%, the toll rising sharply yet again as the country was in its third day of a lockdown. The number of cases had risen to 10,995, up from 9,134 on Tuesday, which is a rise of 20% in 24 hours. The United Kingdom also reported a significant rise in death toll. The number of people in the U.K. who have died after contracting the coronavirus rose to 144, up 40% in a day, the health ministry said.
  4. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday laid out details of the Trump administration’s plan to send Americans relief money. “The first one would be $1,000 per person, $500 per child,” Mnuchin said. “So for a family of four, that’s a $3,000 payment.” Payments totaling $500 billion will be broken up into two tranches. U.S. stocks managed to post gains on Thursday after recent steep losses as policymakers around the world took further emergency actions to try to help financial markets cope with deep coronavirus-driven economic damage. The Dow Jones rose 0.95%, the S&P 500 gained 11.4 points, or 0.48%, and the Nasdaq added 2.3%.
  5. European markets closed higher, after some volatility during the session, with investors monitoring the coronavirus outbreak and digesting new policy announcements from the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England (BOE).

Crypto Prices (from CoinMarketCap)
Bitcoin: Up 13.79% to $6,015.16
Total trading volume (24h): $50.95+ billion USD

Ethereum: Up 14.60% to $132.88
Total trading volume (24h): $16.23+ billion USD

3 biggest movers 24 hours
Biggest Mover 1: Bitball Treasure (BTRS) is up 601.75% to $465.03
Biggest Mover 2: Electrum Dark (ELD) is up 340.06% to $0.035591
Biggest Loser: Storeum (STO) is down 94.81% to $1.33

What Moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)

  1. Bitcoin has surged above $6,000 for the first time since last Thursday’s global market turmoil. While the supply for the USDC stablecoin has jumped significantly since the start of the month. The market capitalization for the stablecoin has climbed by approximately $200 million since March 1, now surpassing the $600 million benchmark.
  2. CME Bitcoin Options Volume Hits Record Low, trading just three bitcoin options contracts on Tuesday, with a notional amount of 15 bitcoin. Meanwhile, Bakkt has seen no options trading activity since Feb. 27.
  3. Alpha Sigma Capital, a crypto and blockchain hedge fund co-founded by former managing director of strategy at Nasdaq Global Corporate Solutions Enzo Villani, is raising $100 million. Announcing the news on Wednesday, Villani said the fund was officially launched in early January, with a focus on investing in crypto and blockchain companies.
  4. The government of Hawaii unveiled a regulatory sandbox for digital currency firms on Tuesday. The state announced the establishment of its “Digital Currency Innovation Lab” a two-year initiative that allows digital currency issuers to do business in Hawaii without a state money transmitter license. Companies are now able to apply for the Digital Currency Innovation Lab through May 1, 2020. However, selected participants will have to demonstrate financial and technical expertise, as well as hold the necessary capital, according to the statement.

Other Specialties
Fintech: Report: Leadership in the time of coronavirus: COVID-19 response and implications for banks, by McKinsey.
Healthtech: Evidation Health, a technology company that generates insights from real-world behavioral data collected through devices, has kicked off a new effort to better understand individuals’ health behaviors and concerns throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday the company announced that it has recruited 100,258 people living in the U.S. into a longitudinal survey through the Achievement app, Evidation’s patient engagement and rewards product for health organization customers. These participants – a subsample of the app’s nearly four million users who live in all 50 states and the District of Columbia – will be regularly providing their COVID-19 perceptions, changes in their behavior and any device-tracked activity data that is synced with the app.
AI, Smart cities: Computer scientists from Loughborough University in the UK have developed a new AI system that predicts air pollution levels days in advance. The system analyzes air data through sensors installed in cities to predict the pollution levels. It could be used to help us understand the environmental factors that affect one of the most dangerous pollutants in the world: PM2.5. This tiny particle matter is less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter — about 3 percent the size of a human hair. The researchers initially focused the system on China, as 145 of 161 Chinese cities have serious air pollution problems. They trained the system on historical data about Beijing’s air pollution data, and will now test it on live data captured by sensors in Shenzhen. The system is part of a wider project exploring the use of carbon as a tradeable commodity, which could create an economic incentive for controlling emissions.

NexChangeNOW Pick of the Day
South Korea Announces $3M Grant to Support Blockchain Firms