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VST ENTERPRISES CODES A BRIGHTER ECONOMIC FUTURE FOR ZIMBABWE

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VST ENTERPRISES CODES A BRIGHTER ECONOMIC FUTURE FOR ZIMBABWE

First-of-its-kind national deployment to tackle counterfeiting, improve security and boost traceability

To support the rebuilding of the Zimbabwean economy, Manchester-based consumer technology and security company, VST Enterprises, is working with the nation’s authorities and other international partners to develop innovative new uses for its cutting-edge authentication technology, VCode®.

VCode® is a scannable technology that allows users to securely access personalised information no matter where they are, through a mobile phone or similar device. Each code is unique and matched to pre-set security parameters that can vary the level of access and information per user. The information can be set and tracked with real-time analytics in the VPlatform – a secure, cloud-based tracking portal – by the organisation. The technology can be used in a wide variety of consumer, business and government applications, providing a secure means of verifying information.

VST Enterprises has already devised a number of uses for VCode in Zimbabwe, designed to address key economic challenges, including tackling currency counterfeiting, illegal mining of minerals, counterfeit and smuggled high-value goods, and national identity card security.

Speaking about the collaboration between the Zimbabwean authorities and international partners, Louis-James Davis, founder and CEO of VST Enterprises, explained: “The new government in Zimbabwe has already made positive steps towards embarking on a new era of international cooperation in trade and other areas but, in order to achieve this goal, the nation needs to have the technological infrastructure in place to ensure traceability and prevent crimes like smuggling and counterfeiting.

“With the support of VST Enterprises and other international partners, Zimbabwe can address underlying issues in its economy and lay the foundations for a more prosperous future for its people.”

Christopher Mutsvangwa, special advisor to the President and minister of information,added: “A new day has dawned for the Zimbabwean economy. By implementing VSTE’s revolutionary technology, we’re going to put a stop to real and prevailing issues of counterfeiting and traceability in our country.

“The new partnership will do more than simply help us improve security and government oversight of the economy, we expect VSTE’s technology to have an enormous positive impact on our society and on people’s livelihoods. This is a historic moment, not just for Zimbabwe but for the whole of Africa.”

Following a successful collaboration with the UK’s National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester, VST Enterprises has developed a method to etch micron-level VCodes onto minerals. This can be used by Zimbabwean authorities to tag minerals mined in the country to optimise traceability, ensuring both that they can be correctly taxed and to help the government tackle the pressing issue of illegal mining. Furthermore, this allows consumers to check that what they are purchasing is conflict free and manage ownership of the items via the VPlatform’s ledger system.

Working with Zimbabwean authorities, VST Enterprises is also finalising plans to prevent both product counterfeiting and the smuggling of tobacco, alcohol and other high-value imports. Under the proposals, VCodes will be printed on the packaging of genuine products. When scanned, this will confirm the provenance of the item, the authenticity of the item and whether excise duty has been paid. The scanned results are protected by the VPlatform’s security parameters which contain geo-fences, user permissions and timestamps, ensuring every interaction is logged and can report any attempts to interfere with the supply chain back to the owner. With this information, retailers can be confident that the products they are stocking are genuine, and authorities can ensure that all imported goods are correctly taxed.

In addition to these important trade initiatives, VST Enterprises is supporting the Zimbabwean government in tackling the urgent issue of currency counterfeiting, working with it to create new bank notes that include an unforgeable VCode to verify their authenticity. A similar solution is being devised for a new national ID card system for the country.

To find out more about VCode, visit the VST Enterprises website: https://vstenterprises.com/.

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Britain’s Heathrow sinks to $2.8 billion loss during pandemic

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Britain's Heathrow sinks to $2.8 billion loss during pandemic 1

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Heathrow Airport plunged to a 2 billion pound ($2.8 billion) annual loss after passenger numbers collapsed to levels last seen in the 1970s during the pandemic.

Heathrow called on the government to agree a common international travel standard to allow passengers to start flying again in the summer and to provide business tax breaks for airports to help them ride out the crisis.

The airport, west of London, is hopeful that travel markets will reopen from mid-May after a government announcement on easing lockdown on Monday.

Still Britain’s biggest airport, Heathrow last year lost its title as the busiest in Europe to Paris as its flight schedules contracted more than its rival’s.

The airport said on Wednesday that during 2020 passenger numbers shrunk 73% to 22 million people, with half of those people having travelled during January and February before COVID-19 shut down global travel.

The airport sunk to a 2 billion loss before tax on revenues which were down 62% to 1.18 billion pounds, but Heathrow said it had 3.9 billion pounds of liquidity and that could keep it going until 2023.

The airport is owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, the Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp, among others.

($1 = 0.7044 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton and James Davey)

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Strong exports, construction boost German economy in fourth quarter

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Strong exports, construction boost German economy in fourth quarter 2

BERLIN (Reuters) – Bullish exports and solid construction activity helped the German economy to grow by a stronger-than-expected 0.3% in the final quarter of last year, the Federal Statistics Office said on Wednesday, revising an earlier estimate.

The office, which previously had reported a 0.1% expansion on the quarter from October to December, said it also revised upward its 2020 full-year GDP figure for Europe’s largest economy to -4.9% from -5.0%.

Adjusted for calendar effects, the economy last year shrank by 5.3%, which was a much smaller contraction than many other European countries recorded, mainly due to a strong fiscal response of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The debt-financed fiscal splurge created an overall state budget deficit of 139.6 billion euros or 4.2% of gross domestic product in 2020, the office said. This was the first deficit since 2011 and the second-highest since German reunification.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Maria Sheahan)

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UK’s Sunak could extend stamp duty holiday until June-end – The Times

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UK's Sunak could extend stamp duty holiday until June-end - The Times 3

(Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak is preparing to extend the stamp duty holiday by three months until the end of June in an attempt to boost activity in the housing market as the country emerges from lockdown, The Times reported on Wednesday.

The extension to the policy, which covers sales of properties worth up to 500,000 pounds ($708,100), could cost the government 1 billion pounds, the report https://bit.ly/3sglJoS added.

Britain raised the threshold of property tax to 500,000 pounds last July from 125,000 pounds, exempting nine of 10 people buying a main home from stamp duty. The temporary cuts are set to expire in March 2021.

Sunak will use his annual budget on March 3 to move the policy to the end of June, bringing it in line with the easing of lockdown restrictions, the newspaper said.

He will also announce plans to raise corporation tax while Treasury officials are considering a 25% tax hike.

Sunak said on Tuesday that he would set out more details of job support measures at his budget next week, after official figures showed unemployment had risen to its highest since early 2016.

($1 = 0.7061 pounds)

(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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