NexChangeNOW Briefing – Monday May 25, 2020

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What Moved Global Markets
Coronavirus update:
– Global cases: More than 5.39 million
– Global deaths: At least 348,000

  1. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday reported 1,622,114 cases. First indications of the effectiveness of a potential vaccine against coronavirus may be available in the autumn, the head of the GAVI vaccine alliance told a Swiss newspaper, forecasting a long road from there to broad availability. The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 36,793.
  2. Dominic Cummings, the mastermind of Brexit, senior adviser for Boris Johnson, took a 400 km trip recently, while the PM persuaded the whole country to stay home – and this may cost a rather scandalous adviser his job.
  3. Wall Street’s week ahead: Investors are diversifying bets in the healthcare sector, as the rush to develop treatments for Covid-19 has driven up prices for some pharmaceutical stocks. A record 48% of fund managers are overweight healthcare stocks, and the S&P 500 healthcare sector is up nearly 34% since its March low. Hopes for treatment have also sparked outsize rallies in the shares of companies such as Moderna and Inovio Pharmaceuticals, up 253% and 327% since the start of the year, respectively, as of Friday’s close.
  4. Chinese President Xi Jinping said China’s annual economic growth target could have been set around 6% had the new coronavirus epidemic not happened, according to state media reports on Saturday.
  5. Chinese search engine giant Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) is considering delisting from the U.S. Nasdaq and moving to an exchange closer to home to boost its valuation amid rising tension between the United States and China over investments, three sources said.

Crypto Prices (from CoinMarketCap)
Bitcoin: Down 4.71% to $8,779.61
Total trading volume (24h): $33.66+ billion USD

Ethereum: Down 3.71% to $201.98
Total trading volume (24h): $11.91+ billion USD

3 biggest movers 24 hours
Biggest Mover 1: MEXC Token (MEXC) is up 423.25% to $0.016371
Biggest Mover 2: Airbloc (ABL) is up 95.85% to $0.006508
Biggest Loser: Volume Network (VOL) is down 54.41% to $0.006566

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

  1. Bitcoin price stays above $9K, however, analysts note that there is not enough buying pressure to push BTC/USD above $10K. 
  2. Cryptocurrency data and infrastructure startups have raised over $286M in venture funding from 2014 to 2019. 2017 saw a 1,183% increase in venture funding from the prior year. Between 2017 and 2019, the data and infrastructure sector in the cryptocurrency industry saw a 33% compound annual growth rate.
  3. The U.S. has the most to lose if central bank digital currencies (CBDC) take off, according to a new report by JPMorgan.
  4. A number of central banks, most prominently China’s, are aggressively pursuing CBDC systems. If these currencies are able to get traction, that could undermine America’s geopolitical power, argued JPMorgan analysts. The dollar is unlikely to lose its spot as the world’s reserve currency any time soon, they argued. But other aspects of the dollar’s dominance — including trade settlement and the SWIFT messaging system — are “more fragile.” “For high-income countries and the U.S. in particular, digital currency is an exercise in geopolitical risk management.”
  5. Binance is now aiming to create one of the world’s largest blockchain-based travel agencies. To that end, the exchange has essentially acquired booking platform Specifically, Travala has been merged with Binance-backed crypto-friendly flight booking portal TravelbyBit. As the first step of the merger, the two companies will cross-market their offerings, and at a later date, they aim to build an agency that would allow users to book from over 2 million hotels and 600 airlines.

Other Specialties
Fintech: Alibaba Group Holding Ltd on Friday reported forecast-beating fourth-quarter revenues and profits, as more people shopped online for essentials because of the coronavirus lockdowns. The company’s core commerce business rose nearly 19% to 93.87 billion yuan ($13.16 billion) in the quarter. Revenue at its cloud computing business rose about 58%. Alibaba CFO Maggie Wu said the results contrasted with the company’s guidance from the previous quarter when it had predicted a drop in revenue.

Healthtech: Canada will ramp up COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as it gradually lifts restrictions and is working closely with Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google on a mobile phone app to help, the prime minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.

Smart Cities: The City of Miami has partnered with shipping company DHL Express and mobility logistics hub Reef Technology to pilot four low-powered electric-assist e-cargo bikes that will be used for deliveries across the city. ​The cargo bikes will come equipped with three wheels and a cargo container. They’re capable of pulling up to 400 pounds or 60 cubic feet in volume. The bikes are anticipated to reduce 101,000 kg of CO2e annually and should help DHL achieve its short-term goal of “clean pickup and delivery solutions” for 70% of operations by 2025.

AI: Nvidia, a company that is best known for its graphics cards, also conducts some serious research into artificial intelligence. For its latest project, Nvidia researchers taught an AI system to recreate the game of Pac-Man simply by watching it being played. The AI model is simply fed visual data of the game in action along with the accompanying controller inputs and then recreates it frame by frame from this information. The resulting game is playable by humans, and Nvidia says it will be releasing it online in the near future.