What Moved Global Markets
– Global cases: More than 2,059,500
– Global deaths: At least 134,100
- The European Union (EU) has urged countries to adopt a gradual and targeted approach to lifting lockdown measures, with new cases across the continent finally slowing. Germany extended social distancing rules until at least May 3.
- Donald Trump announced that the U.S. will suspend funding to WHO while it reviews the agency’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the WHO, which is based in Geneva, had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus that likely led to a wider outbreak than otherwise would have occurred. Trump said the administration will conduct a “thorough” investigation that should last 60 to 90 days.
- In the fiscal year 2019, the U.S. provided about $237 million as well as an additional $656 million in voluntary contributions to the agency, according to a WHO spokesperson, representing about 14.67% of its total budget.
- The World Health Organization is now turning to other countries to help fill any gaps in financing its COVID-19 response work. Trump’s move already prompted condemnation from world leaders.
- The global economic downturn has been so severe that already half of the world has asked the International Monetary Fund for a bailout, the organization’s chief said.
- Stocks fell sharply Wednesday as dismal economic data and weak bank earnings fueled concerns over the coronavirus’s impact on the U.S. economy.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 530 points at the open, or 2.2%. The S&P 500 slid 2.3% while the Nasdaq Composite traded 1.9% lower.
What Moved Crypto Markets (i.e. digital assets)
- China’s national blockchain platform, the Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), is set to launch on April 25. The initiative, led by the Chinese government agency, The State Information Center, aims to help companies deploy blockchain applications faster and cheaper. The BSN can be viewed as “the internet of blockchains.”
- Investors may be accumulating bitcoin ahead of next month’s miner reward halving. The seven-day moving average of the total number of bitcoin held in exchange addresses fell to 2,214,365 on April 14 – the lowest level since last June – according to numbers from blockchain intelligence firm Glassnode.
- As of Tuesday, the average was down nearly 8 percent from a high of almost 2.5 million registered on Jan. 17, 2020. The decline in exchange balances suggests a shift to longer-term holding strategies. That’s because investors usually withdraw coins from the exchanges to hold in their personal wallets when prices are expected to rise.
- Sources told the Financial Times that Andreessen Horowitz is raising another crypto fund, reportedly targeted at $450 million.
Fintech: Financial tech companies say they are helping Americans outside the traditional banking system get their coronavirus-related stimulus money via direct deposit. E-commerce payment giant PayPal is one of several companies that is notifying customers that it offers routing and account numbers, which are needed to accept stimulus checks by direct deposit, according to a recent company press release. He added that customers who use PayPal to receive their deposit can spend their stimulus funds wherever PayPal is accepted immediately, withdraw to a bank account or hold the balance for future use.
Healthtech: The UK Space Agency will support the NHS. Satellite data and drone technology can help meet challenges such as delivering test kits, masks, gowns and goggles. An initial £2.6m is being made available to fund a number of projects to develop hi-tech solutions to these challenges, in a joint initiative with the European Space Agency (ESA) in support of NHS England.
AI: Frame AI, a New York City startup that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help companies understand their customers better across multiple channels, announced a $6.3 million Series A investment today. G20 Ventures and Greycroft led the round together. Frame AI is a tool that plugs into help desk software, call centre tooling, CRM systems and anywhere else in a company that communicates with a customer – and uses AI to analyse and improve customer experience.
Smart cities: Apple said on Tuesday it would release data that could help inform public health authorities on whether people are driving less during lockdown orders to slow the spread of coronavirus. The data is gathered by counting the number of routing requests from Apple Maps, which is installed on all iPhones, and comparing it with past usage to detect changes in the volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit around the world. The information is being updated daily and compared with a date in mid-January, before most lockdown measures were in place.
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Andreessen Horowitz Seeks to Raise $450M for New Crypto Fund