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Coindirect aims to disrupt the crypto peer-to-peer marketplace ecosystem

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EY acquires new cryptocurrency technology

South African-operated cryptocurrency exchange, Coindirect, has today announced its plans to revolutionise the cryptocurrency ecosystem and accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrency with the “other” 1.3-billion, in an unnoticed African market.

Previously, holders of ETH, USDT, XRP, LTC, DASH and BCH were faced with extra fees to convert these coins to BTC, before being able to access local buyers through BTC marketplaces.

Coindirect is disrupting this paradigm with its integrated offering that provides traders with a global peer-to-peer marketplace that allows traders to sell ETH, USDT, XRP, LTC, DASH, BCH and BTC direct to local buyers, without having to convert the underlying crypto-asset prior to trading.

Coupled with this, is Coindirect’s 0% fees model for both buyers and sellers in their peer-to-peer marketplace. These disruptive advancements give crypto traders the ability to trade more than BTC, at lower costs, creating a healthy environment for sellers, agents and vendors across the 25 countries that Coindirect operates in.

High conversion and transaction fees, as well as the instability of certain African fiat currencies, are major contributing factors to Africa’s common problem of remittance where widespread poverty is present. Coindirect aims to fill the gap with its goal to support Africa’s financial ecosystem and other emerging markets by removing the volatility of fiat currencies.

Unlike many other platforms which only offer peer-to-peer for BTC, Coindirect allows traders of multiple digital currencies in countries like United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya Ghana and many more to sell their coins directly to buyers in their country.

Changes to the crypto landscape

Whilst many independent platforms offer the functionality utilised by Coindirect, none provide a four-pronged, end-to-end offering for crypto traders. Coindirect provides a fully integrated offering under one brand that enables users full control over their coins; including:

  1. A peer-to-peer marketplace and allows buyers and sellers to trade multiple coins;
  2. A wallet that supports the conversion of over 40 coins and altcoins;
  3. An exchange that includes BTC, USDT and local ZAR pairs;
  4. A comprehensive API that allows complete integration into the wallet, exchange or peer-to-peer marketplace.

Coindirect’s Chief Operating Officer, Attila Bernariusz, comments: “What exclusively differentiates Coindirect from its competitors is its end-to-end integrated offering. The South African-operated platform gives sellers the capability to buy, sell, send, receive more than just BTC to local buyers using local payment methods.”

“There is an exciting opportunity to put an open access, secure and private decentralised financial system in the hands of emerging African economies. We believe that cryptocurrency has the potential to revolutionise the way African’s bank, and the launch of our integrated offering is our first step in doing so,” says Chief Product Officer at Coindirect, Stephen Young.

Coindirect is now live in 25 countries, with plans to launch additional markets. Coindirect supports Bitcoin and over 40 other altcoins, and charges 0% fees when buying or selling through its peer-to-peer marketplace.

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Hong Kong dropped from Economic Freedom Index as policies ‘controlled from Beijing’

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Hong Kong dropped from Economic Freedom Index as policies 'controlled from Beijing' 1

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong has been excluded from the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom because its economic policies are controlled from Beijing, the Washington-based think tank said, removing Hong Kong from a list it topped for 25 years up to 2019.

The title of the world’s freest economy for 2021 was retained by Singapore for the second year, the Heritage Foundation said, with Hong Kong’s investment freedom hurt by political and social unrest dating back to 2019.

In the 2021 index published on Thursday, the foundation said Hong Kong and Macau, both special administrative regions of China, were no longer included because even though citizens enjoy more economic freedom than the average resident of China, “developments in recent years have demonstrated unambiguously that those policies are ultimately controlled from Beijing”.

Developments in Hong Kong or Macau that are relevant to economic freedom would be considered in the context of China’s evaluation in the index, it added. China slipped to 107 from 103, among the list of 178 countries.

The U.S. suspended Hong Kong’s preferential tariff rates for exports to the country last year in response to China’s imposition of a national security law on the former British colony, saying it undermined the city’s high autonomy.

Critics of the law say it is aimed at crushing dissent, while authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong say it was necessary to restore stability after anti-government and anti-China unrest.

Earlier this week, London-based non-governmental organisation Hong Kong Watch said in a report that “red capital” – money originating from mainland China – had fundamentally shaped Hong Kong’s politics, media and the city’s status as a business hub.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Kenneth Maxwell)

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Health policies a shot in the arm for west European insurers hit by COVID-19

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Health policies a shot in the arm for west European insurers hit by COVID-19 2

By Inti Landauro and Sergio Goncalves

MADRID (Reuters) – When six-year-old Ainara Fuertes was in pain with an ear infection late last year, her parents wanted to take her to an emergency room at their local public hospital in the Madrid suburb of Valdeolmos-Alalpardo.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the hospital was only seeing non-COVID patients two days a week, so they had to make do with a remote consultation.

Ainara has since recovered, but her parents Diana and Javier decided, like hundreds of thousands of people across western Europe, to sign up for private health insurance to complement state coverage.

“The hospital we depend on is overwhelmed with COVID patients and we want to have more options,” said Diana, 40.

In Spain alone, almost 470,000 people signed up to health policies last year, a 47% increase from 2019.

In neighbouring Portugal, Pedro Leitao, 44, has taken out private health insurance for his 84-year-old mother, who suffered internal bleeding last November and was taken to a crammed non-COVID emergency room at a public hospital in Lisbon.

“Public hospitals are overcrowded … and the risk of infection in the emergency room is enormous,” he said. “I’d be irresponsible if I didn’t buy health insurance for my mother.”

Frank Calderon, head of the health division at Spain’s largest insurer Mapfre, whose policy the Fuertes family picked, said most new clients were families with small children.

“People are looking for flexibility and choice,” he said.

In France, where industry-wide data for 2020 are not available yet, the insurer AXA said last week that its revenue from health insurance rose 6%, while overall sales fell 4%.

And in Germany, the number of private health insurance policies rose 1.8% to 36 million last year, helping to boost premium income by 3.8% to 42.6 billion euros.

PANDEMIC PAIN

In fact, health insurance has been one of the few silver linings from the pandemic for Europe’s insurers.

Overall premium income has slumped along with customers’ earnings, while claims related to the pandemic, as well as a huge crop of natural disasters, have soared into the hundreds of billions of euros, with more to come.

In Portugal, total premium income fell 18.7% to 9.9 billion euros in 2020, with life insurance premiums down 50% – but health insurance income rose 8.3% to a record 949 million euros, according to the ASF insurance supervisory authority.

In Spain, health insurance premiums rose 5.1% even as overall premiums fell 8.3%, dragged down by the life, automotive and corporate sectors, the industry group UNESPA said.

“Private hospitals complement the needs of part of the population, especially in times of crisis when demand is putting great pressure on public hospitals,” said Pedro Carvalho, chief executive officer at Tranquilidade, Portugal’s second-largest insurer by premiums and a unit of Italy’s Generali. Even as the pandemic recedes thanks to vaccination, insurers see more health business coming their way, not least because public hospitals will have a huge backlog of treatments and operations that were postponed because of the pandemic.

“There is nothing to suggest that the current growth situation won’t continue, at least in the coming years,” ASF said.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and by Sergio Goncalves in Lisbon and Tom Sims in Frankfurt; editing by Andrei Khalip and Kevin Liffey)

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SpaceX Starship rocket prototype nails landing… then blows up

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SpaceX Starship rocket prototype nails landing... then blows up 3

(Reuters) – The third time appeared to be the charm for Elon Musk’s Starship rocket – until it wasn’t.

The latest heavy-duty launch vehicle prototype from SpaceX soared flawlessly into the sky in a high-altitude test blast-off on Wednesday from Boca Chica, Texas, then flew itself back to Earth to achieve the first upright landing for a Starship model.

But the triumph was short-lived. Listing slightly to one side as an automated fire-suppression system trained a stream of water on flames still burning at the base of the rocket, the spacecraft blew itself to pieces about eight minutes after touchdown.

It was the third such landing attempt to end in a fireball after an otherwise successful test flight for the Starship, being developed by SpaceX to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the moon and Mars.

For Musk, the billionaire SpaceX founder who also heads the electric carmaker Tesla Inc, the outcome was mixed news.

The Starship SN10 came far closer to achieving a safe, vertical touchdown than two previous models – SN8 in December and SN9 in February. In a tweet responding to tempered congratulations from an admirer of his work, Musk replied, “RIP SN10, honorable discharge.”

The video feed provided by SpaceX on the company’s YouTube channel cut off moments after the landing. But separate fan feeds streamed over the same social media platform showed an explosion suddenly erupting at the base of the rocket, hurling the SN10 into the air before it crashed to the ground and became engulfed in flames.

The complete Starship rocket, which will stand 394-feet (120 metres) tall when mated with its super-heavy first-stage booster, is SpaceX’s next-generation fully reusable launch vehicle – the center of Musk’s ambitions to make human space travel more affordable and routine.

A first orbital Starship flight is planned for year’s end. Musk has said he intends to fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa around the moon with the Starship in 2023.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Joe Shaw in Washington; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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