According to a report from Market Reports Center, the global blockchain market was valued at $708 million in 2017 and is expected to reach $60.7 billion in 2024. The demand for blockchain technology is growing rapidly as it creates new digital economic infrastructure for various industries. Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger that provides enhanced security and greater efficiency in real time digital economic process. The report indicated that blockchain technology has changed the payment system in conducting financial transactions as it creates increased speed of transactions. The blockchain also evolved the digital economy, including conducting business, delivering healthcare, shopping, enhancing education and learning. Victory Square Technologies Inc. (OTC: VSQTF), Seven Stars Cloud Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: SSC), Marathon Patent Group (NASDAQ: MARA), Acacia Research Corporation (NASDAQ: ACTG), Integrated Ventures, Inc. (OTC: INTV)
“Blockchain technology is reimagining the way the world operates,” said Stacey Soohoo, research manager of IDC’s Customer Insights and Analysis group. “From the transparency and decentralized consensus of distributed ledger technology to the security and incorruptibility ensured by cryptographic signatures and encryption, many features make blockchain an appealing solution to problems across various industries. This collaborative technology has the ability to lower the cost of trust while improving business processes, both within and between enterprises. Some would consider blockchain technology a paradigm shift in how enterprises will approach the management and processing of data in the years to come.”
Victory Square Technologies Inc. (OTC: VSQTF) also listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the Ticker (CSE: VST). Earlier this week the company announced that as a founder of Silota Research and Development, Inc. it will, “subject to all requisite regulatory approvals, obtain 12.5% of all issued and outstanding shares of the blockchain technology start-up. It will also provide a convertible note of $60,000 to mark the successful incubation of Silota and help set the stage for the launch of the Covalent Terminal, a premier data analytics suite designed to maximize transparency and accountability in cryptocurrency and token offerings.
“We are very pleased to have Silota and their remarkable blockchain technology team become a part of the Victory Square family,” said Shafin Diamond Tejani, CEO of Victory Square, which has worked with the management team of Silota to enhance their offering and put in place the requisite conditions for sustainable scaled growth.
“The Covalent Terminal is going to bring breadth and coverage of blockchain data to crypto investors, traders, and regulators akin to how information and analytics companies such as Bloomberg and Thompson Reuters bring transparency to financial markets,” added Tejani.
Silota is set to launch the first-of-its-kind Covalent Terminal, which features a wide array of modules that are tailored specifically to corporations issuing tokens and for the regulatory and compliance segments of the rapidly-growing cryptocurrency market. The founders of Silota, CEO Ganesh Swami and CTO Levi Aul have a combined expertise of 25 years building, scaling and bringing to market forward-thinking products. They previously built the first business Bitcoin exchange in Canada and co-invented the fastest algorithms for protein-simulation modeling.
“Our Silota team is thrilled that Victory Square has partnered with us to realize our vision of a decentralized future,” said Silota CEO Ganesh Swami. “Corporations with token offerings are raising tens of millions of dollars from retail investors, but unlike publicly-listed companies there are no accountability or reporting requirements. Our partnership with Victory Square and their large network will support us in becoming a major driver for the increased market efficiency that is necessary for the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies.”
Currently, Covalent Terminal is able to understand and track 70,000 smart contracts along with 500 million contract executions across seven different blockchains like Ethereum and Bitcoin.”
“For corporations, the Covalent Terminal lets them track the health metrics and user adoption of their issued tokens,” said Silota CTO Levi Aul. “For regulators, the Covalent Terminal allows them to track source of funds, disbursement of funds raised, and with the classification of security and utility tokens.”
Seven Stars Cloud Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: SSC) is aiming to become a next generation Artificial-Intelligent (AI) & Blockchain-Powered, Fintech company. By managing and providing an infrastructure and environment that facilitates the transformation of traditional financial markets such as commodities, currency and credit into the asset digitization era, SSC provides asset owners and holders a seamless method and platform for digital asset securitization and digital currency tokenization and trading. On April, 2018, the company announced a new digital asset listing and service agreements with new digital asset trading platforms, Bitlim, a new Singapore-based Blockchain Digital Asset Exchange. The agreement will allow the Company to broaden its reach and scope by partnering with a platform that can facilitate the listing, quotations, trading and settlement of SSC’s digital index products. Bitlim is a 24/7 initial issuance, secondary trading and trade matching platform that provides users liquidity, real-time market pricing, cost savings, security and transparency.
Marathon Patent Group (NASDAQ: MARA) is an IP licensing company. Following the acquisition of GBV, the combined company will focus on the development of GBV’s new business involving the blockchain ecosystem and generation of digital assets. GBV is focused on mining digital assets and intends to add specialized computer equipment and plans to expand its activities to mine new digital assets. Earlier this year, the company announced that it has entered into a purchase agreement to acquire four patents related to the transmission and exchange of cryptocurrencies between buyers and sellers. On November 2, 2017, Marathon announced that it has entered into a definitive purchase agreement to acquire 100% ownership of Global Bit Ventures Inc. (“GBV”), a digital asset technology company that mines cryptocurrencies.
Acacia Research Corporation (NASDAQ: ACTG) announced earlier in February that it has entered into a Joint Venture and Services Agreement with Bitzumi, Inc, a company developing macro opportunities in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries, including a next generation decentralized exchange. Scot Cohen, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Bitzumi stated, “Acacia has been a leader in the patent space for over the past decade creating one of the largest independent patent portfolios through representation of individual and corporate patent partners. Acacia has secured licensing revenue exceeding a billion dollars from licenses with many of the largest companies in the world. Partnering with Acacia in the blockchain IP space will allow us to take an early lead and build Bitzumi’s IP position in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries.”
Integrated Ventures, Inc. (OTCQB: INTV), the technology holdings company with focus on cryptocurrency mining, equipment manufacturing and blockchain development reported on May 15th, Q3 financial results for the period, ended March 31, 2018. Steve Rubakh, CEO of Integrated Ventures, Inc, comments: “We are very pleased with financial progress made for past 6 months. The results for Q3/2018, feature a debt free Balance Sheet, anchored by $1,139,138 (up from $296,280) in mining equipment assets and cash position of $151,951 (up from $31,082). Revenues for Q3, came in the lower range, due to the weakness in digital currency markets, however the Company took advantage of market conditions and acquired additional mining equipment at discounted pricing. We expect cryptocurrency markets to recover in next 45 days, just in time as our PA and NJ locations will become fully operational. Our goal is to have over 820 assorted rigs connected and generating revenues by June 15, 2018.”
U.S. oil industry lobby weighs support of carbon pricing – source
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The American Petroleum Institute (API) is weighing endorsing a price on carbon emissions, a major shift after long resisting mandatory government climate policies, a source familiar with the decision making said.
The API, the main U.S. oil industry lobby group that includes most of the world’s biggest oil companies, is considering carbon pricing “among other policy solutions to reduce emissions and reach the ambitions of the Paris Agreement,” the source said, confirming a report about the policy shift by the Wall Street Journal.
The group is confronting its previous resistance to regulatory action on climate change amid a shift in industry strategy on the issue and the new U.S. presidency.
European member Total quit the group because of disagreements over API’s climate policies and support for easing drilling regulations and the Biden administration is pursuing a policy agenda that would shift the United States from fossil fuels.
A draft statement of the policy shift reviewed by the Wall Street Journal said the group does not endorse a specific carbon pricing tool such as a tax on carbon emissions or emissions trading scheme. The source said, however, that the group’s State of American Energy report released in January was supportive of a market-based carbon pricing policy.
The API did not comment on whether or when the group would formally endorse a price on carbon but said it has been working for nearly a year on an industry-wide response to climate change.
“Our efforts are focused on supporting a new U.S. contribution to the global Paris agreement,” said API spokeswoman Megan Bloomgren.
Within API, there has been a widening rift between Europe’s top energy companies https://www.reuters.com/article/us-total-api/frances-total-quits-top-u-s-oil-lobby-in-climate-split-idUSKBN29K1LM, which over the past year accelerated plans to cut emissions and build large renewable energy businesses, and their U.S. rivals Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp that have resisted growing investor pressure to diversify.
Other major industry groups like the U.S Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-business-carbonpricing/u-s-ceo-group-says-it-supports-carbon-pricing-to-fight-climate-change-idUSKBN2672W4, which includes Chevron, over the last year have endorsed market-based carbon pricing.
Chevron said it has engaged those groups and API “to support well-designed carbon pricing.”
“We support economy-wide carbon pricing as the primary policy tool to address climate change, applied across the broadest possible area to maximize environmental and economic efficiency and effectiveness,” Chevron spokesman Sean Comey said in an e-mailed statement.
BP and Shell declined to comment.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Christian Schmollinger)
Australian economy storms ahead as COVID recovery turns ‘V-shaped’
By Swati Pandey
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s economy expanded at a much faster-than-expected pace in the final quarter of last year and all signs are that 2021 has started on a firm footing too helped by massive monetary and fiscal stimulus.
The economy accelerated 3.1% in the three months to December, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Wednesday, higher than forecasts for a 2.5% rise and follows an upwardly revised 3.4% gain in the third quarter.
Despite the best ever back-to-back quarters of growth, annual output still shrank 1.1%, underscoring the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic and suggesting policy support will still be needed for the A$2 trillion ($1.57 trillion) economy.
The Australian dollar rose about 10 pips to a day’s high of $0.7836 after the data while bond futures nudged lower with the three-year contract implying an yield of around 0.3% compared with the official cash rate of 0.1%.
“The ‘V-shaped’ nature of the recovery is everywhere to see – economic growth, the job market, retail spending and the housing market,” said Craig James, Sydney-based chief economist at CommSec.
James expects the economy to rebound 4.2% in 2021.
Data on credit and debit card spending by major banks as well as official figures on retail sales, employment and building activity point to a strong start for this year.
Marcel Thieliant, economist at Capital Economics, expects GDP growth of 4.5% in 2021, “which implies that allowing for the slump in net migration due to the closure of the border, the economy will suffer no permanent drop in output as a result of the pandemic.”
SUPPORT STILL NEEDED
Australia’s economy has performed better than its rich-world peers thanks to very low community transmission of COVID-19 together with massive and timely fiscal and monetary stimulus.
Its economic output declined 2.5% in 2020, far smaller than a 10% drop in United Kingdom, falls of 9% in Italy, 5% in Canada and more than 3% in the United States.
“Our economic recovery plan is working, and today’s national accounts is a testament to that fact,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a news conference. “The job is not done,” he added.
“There are challenges ahead. But you wouldn’t want to be in any other country but Australia as we begin 2021.”
To help blunt the economic shock from the pandemic-driven shutdowns, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) slashed interest rates three times last year to a record low 0.1% and launched an unprecedented quantitative easing programme. The government announced a wage subsidy scheme to keep people in jobs while banks deferred payments on home loans and cut borrowing rates to help boost credit growth.
On Tuesday, the RBA re-committed to keep three-year yields at 0.1% until its employment and inflation objectives are met, which policymakers don’t expect until 2024 at the earliest.
Indeed, Wednesday’s data showed there was barely any domestic-driven inflation in the economy with the biggest price rises coming from commodity exports.
The RBA has repeatedly said the unemployment rate must fall to around 4% from above 6% now to help drive wages growth above 3% and for inflation to pop back into its 2-3% target band.
“Stimulus and support measures are still very much required,” CommSec’s James said. “Spare capacity will remain in the job market for a few more years, keeping the cash rate anchored at 0.1%.”
($1 = 1.2780 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Sam Holmes)
Oil rises on demand hopes after days of sell-off
By Shu Zhang
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Wednesday, boosted by demand hopes on progress made in U.S. vaccine rollouts, while uncertainty over how much supply OPEC+ will restore to the market at its Thursday meeting and a big build in U.S. crude stocks capped gains.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 18 cents, or 0.3%, to $59.93 a barrel by 0356 GMT, recovering from three days of losses.
Brent crude futures rose 29 cents, or 0.46%, to $62.99 a barrel, up from four days of losses.
Both futures had dipped in Asia’s early morning trading.
Demand recovery hopes thanks to the rollouts of vaccine kept oil prices supported, analysts said.
The U.S. will have enough COVID-19 vaccine for every American adult by the end of May, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday after Merck & Co agreed to make rival Johnson & Johnson’s inoculation.
Meanwhile, the market’s attention is on a forthcoming Thursday meeting by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, together called OPEC+, at a time when they are generally positive on the oil market outlook compared with a year ago when they slashed supply to boost prices.
The market widely expects them to ease production cuts, which were the deepest ever, by about 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), with OPEC’s leader, Saudi Arabia, ending its voluntary production cut of 1 million bpd.
However, a JTC document, seen by Reuters, called “for cautious optimism,” citing “the underlying uncertainties in the physical markets and macro sentiment, including risks from COVID-19 mutations that are still on the rise”.
Reinforcing concerns of potential oversupply, the American Petroleum Institute industry group reported U.S. crude stocks rose by 7.4 million barrels in the week to Feb. 26, in stark contrast to analysts’ estimates for a draw of 928,000 barrels. [API/S]
“The recent selloff may help reinforce Saudi’s cautious stance and delay any production increase,” said Stephen Innes, global market strategist at Axi.
“It’s probably something that could sway the OPEC+ increase more back toward the 500,000 bpd as opposed to the 1.5 million bpd,” he said.
(Reporting by Shu Zhang and Sonali Paul; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Gerry Doyle)
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