NexChangeNOW Briefing – Monday June 29, 2020

What Moved Global Markets
Coronavirus update:
– Global cases: More than 10 million
– Global deaths: At least 500,300

  1. Global coronavirus cases exceeded 10 million on Sunday according to a Reuters tally, marking a major milestone in the spread of the respiratory disease that has so far killed almost half a million people in seven months. The figure is roughly double the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organisation.
  2. The safe-haven dollar rose on Friday, as investors grew cautious about a resurgence in U.S. coronavirus cases that has cast doubts on expectations about a V-shaped recovery for the US economy. Currencies that thrive with higher risk appetite such as the euro, sterling, as well as commodity-linked currencies like the Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian dollars struggled against the greenback.
  3. Upcoming U.S. economic data and deadlines for renewing some fiscal stimulus measures in July could prove key tests for an equities rebound that has wavered in recent weeks.
  4. Wirecard collapse:
  • On Thursday, Wirecard filed for insolvency after it emerged that almost €2bn of cash on the company’s books didn’t actually exist
  • On Friday, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority suddenly ordered the suspension of Wirecard Card Solutions Limited (WCS), a U.K. subsidiary of Wirecard which handled payment processing and issued cards for a number of banking services in the U.K. and across Europe
  • Millions of customers of those banking and payment services have seen their accounts and bank cards suspended, leaving them unable to withdraw money or access salaries paid into those accounts in some instances
  • Banking apps and payment services affected include Pockit, Curve, CardOneMoney, Payoneer and many others – click here for details of affected banking services.

Crypto Prices (from CoinMarketCap)
Bitcoin: Up 1.03% to $9,106.10
Total trading volume (24h): $14.58+ billion USD

Ethereum: Up 1.63% to $224.81
Total trading volume (24h): $6.15 billion USD

3 biggest movers 24 hours
Biggest Mover 1: Egoras (EGR) is up 208.44% to $0.000454
Biggest Mover 2: Arionum (ARO) is up 127.58% to $0.001637
Biggest Loser: AZBI CORE (AZBI) is down 70.73% to $0.000009

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

  1. After the largest options expiry in history, bitcoin ended its fifth week of bouncing around the $9,000s price range.
  2. The legal battle between Telegram and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) appears all but finished in light of a proposed final judgment by which Telegram will pay the regulator $18,500,000 in penalties related to its now-abandoned TON project. A proposed judgment dated June 11 and filed Thursday indicated that the messaging platform will have 30 days to pay the penalty. It also ruled that Telegram is liable for a disgorgement of $1.22 billion. However, the disgorgement is offset by so-called “termination amounts” in investors’ purchase agreements, meaning the platform will pay investors $1.19 billion.
  3. Telegram will have three years to pay back investors, with the possibility of an additional one-year extension.
  4. Australians lost over AU$21 million (roughly $14.5 million) last year to cryptocurrency investment scams, according to a government report. According to the report, published on Monday by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), most of the scams took the form of Ponzi schemes with no real cryptocurrency involved. Cloud mining — which involves the sale of blockchain network hashing power to would-be investors – constituted a common adaptation of this type of fraud. The losses, outlined across 1810 reports, are four times more than those reported in 2018. A number of reports were made by younger Australians between the ages of 25 to 34.

Other Specialties
Fintech: Customers of several British digital finance companies were unable to make payments or access their money on Friday after the collapse of German payments firm Wirecard caused disruption across borders. Wirecard’s implosion on Thursday, owing creditors almost $4 billion, led Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority to impose restrictions on the company’s UK unit. That, in turn, forced firms that had been relying on Wirecard services to temporarily suspend their own, leading scores of customers to complain on social media about losing access to vital services – and money.

Healthtech: As face coverings become the norm amid the coronavirus pandemic, Japanese startup Donut Robotics has developed an internet-connected “smart mask” that can transmit messages and translate from Japanese into eight other languages. The white plastic “c-mask” fits over standard face masks and connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone and tablet application that can transcribe speech into text messages, make calls, or amplify the mask wearer’s voice.

Smart Cities: BMW should shift course and establish a technology platform just for electric cars, moving away from developing cars that can be fitted with either electric or combustion engines, the head of the influential works council said. “Only with our own e-architecture can we fully exploit the advantages of an electric vehicle,” Manfred Schoch told Der Spiegel magazine.

AI: Since George Floyd’s death sparked an international movement for racial justice, the AI field and the tech industry at large have faced a reckoning about the role they have played in reinforcing structural racism. An open letter from a growing coalition of AI researchers is calling out scientific publisher Springer Nature for a conference paper it reportedly planned to include in its forthcoming book Transactions on Computational Science & Computational Intelligence. The paper, titled “A Deep Neural Network Model to Predict Criminality Using Image Processing,” presents a face recognition system purportedly capable of predicting whether someone is a criminal, according to the original press release. It was developed by researchers at Harrisburg University and was due to be presented at a forthcoming conference.

The demands: Citing the work of leading Black AI scholars, the letter debunks the scientific basis of the paper and asserts that crime-prediction technologies are racist. n response to the letter, Springer said that it would not be publishing the paper. “The paper you are referring to was submitted to a forthcoming conference for which Springer had planned to publish the proceedings,” it said. “After a thorough peer-review process the paper was rejected.”