NexChangeNOW Briefing – Monday June 15, 2020

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What Moved Global Markets
Coronavirus update:
– Global cases: More than 7.84 million
– Global deaths: At least 431,000

  1. AstraZeneca Plc has signed a contract with European governments to supply the region with its potential vaccine against the coronavirus. The contract is for up to 400 million doses of the vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, the company said on Saturday, adding that it was looking to expand manufacturing of the vaccine, which it said it would provide for no profit during the pandemic. The vaccine is still in clinical trials. If the trial results convince regulators the vaccine is safe and effective, deliveries would be expected to start by the end of 2020. The deal is the first contract signed by Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), a group formed by France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands to secure vaccine doses for all member states as soon as possible.
  2. New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in record numbers swept through more U.S. states, including Florida and Texas. Nationally, there were over 25,000 new cases reported on Saturday, the highest tally for a Saturday since May 2. Most of the states push ahead with reopening and President Donald Trump plans an indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And while health authorities in Tulsa urge to hold off the rally, dozens of states are flaming with protests entitled with BlackLivesMatter movement. 
  3. After weeks with almost no new coronavirus infections, Beijing has recorded dozens of new cases in recent days, all linked to a major wholesale food market. The capital is taking steps to try to halt the outbreak including ramping up testing. On Sunday night Beijing ordered all companies to supervise 14-day home quarantine for employees who have visited the Xinfadi market or been in contact with anyone who has done so.
  4. U.S. stocks ended higher on Friday as bargain hunters stepped back into the market following sharp losses a day earlier, but all three major indexes suffered their biggest weekly percentage declines since March.

Crypto Prices (from CoinMarketCap)
Bitcoin: Down 1.24% to $9,351.84
Total trading volume (24h): $17.83+ billion USD

Ethereum: Down 3.20% to $231.13
Total trading volume (24h): $7.76 billion USD

3 biggest movers 24 hours
Biggest Mover 1: MorCrypto Coin (MOR) is up 1927.41% to $0.134400
Biggest Mover 2: AtromG8 (AG8) is up 299.56% to $0.066622
Biggest Loser: FuturoCoin (FTO) is down 87.30% to $0.043570

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

  1. The owner of crypto exchange CoinFlux has pleaded guilty to laundering over $1.8 million worth of Bitcoin. Vlad-Călin Nistor and 14 other defendants pled guilty for their roles in a transnational and multi-million dollar scheme to defraud U.S. residents.
  2. Singapore’s Three Arrows Capital has bought a 6.26% stake of the $3.5 billion Grayscale Investment’s Bitcoin Trust. In bitcoin terms, Three Arrows’ stake represents around 20,000 BTC of the 365,000 BTC currently held by the Grayscale fund on behalf of investors. It is a fairly large acquisition by any single investor.
  3. On Thursday last week, the US House Financial Services Committee (FSC) conducted a virtual hearing titled “Inclusive Banking During a Pandemic: Using FedAccounts and Digital Tools to Improve Delivery of Stimulus Payments”. During the panel, Christopher Giancarlo, former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), advocated for his Digital Dollar Project – as a convenient tool for getting COVID-19 stimulus funds to every U.S. resident.
  4. Over 2,000 Coca-Cola vending machines in Australia and New Zealand have started accepting bitcoin, thanks to an agreement between Coca-Cola Amatil and Centrapay. Coca-Cola Amatil is a major bottler and distributor in Asia Pacific, supporting 140 brands.

Other Specialties
Fintech: The Singapore Fintech Association (SFA) has introduced a digital self-assessment framework to improve working relationships between companies. The framework should expedite partnerships between Fintechs and traditional financial service providers, while promoting a sustainable outsourcing relationship. The SFA said it will set up the Fintech Service Provider (FSP) Compliance Readiness Framework, which should make it easier for firms to move to digital platforms. The compliance framework will come with a self-assessment toolkit that will help Fintech companies determine whether their operations comply with relevant regulatory guidelines and policies.

Healthtech: Germany’s smartphone app to trace coronavirus infections is ready to be launched this week, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Sunday. After delays to ensure the Bluetooth technology would work at the correct distance, the government says the app will be a vital tool to help avoid a second wave of infections.

AI: A team of researchers has developed an AI-powered tool that can process fuzzed-out images and transform them into clear, HD ones. Created by researchers at Duke University in the US, the tool in question generates HD images and compares their compressed avatar with the blurred shot submitted by the user. Once the right match is found, the HD version of the image is produced, showing the same (or slightly altered) face from the pixelated image but with an incredible (and somewhat creepy) level of detail.

Smart Cities: Airspace Systems, a California startup company that makes drones that can hunt down and capture other drones, on Thursday released new software for monitoring social distancing and face-mask wearing from the air. The software analyzes video streams captured by drones and can identify when people are standing close together or points where people gather in clusters. The software can detect when people are wearing masks. The system can also process video captured by ground-based cameras, and Airspace aims to sell the system to cities and police departments.