The amazing accomplishments I described in my last edition seem a distant memory with what has been a horrific week around the globe. According to the W.H.O. Sunday, 7th June saw the highest number of deaths recorded with the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic shifting to Latin America, Brazil being ravaged the most it seems.
Meanwhile #BlackLivesMatter mass protests have erupted all around the world putting safety at odds with such an important message. Inevitably pent up frustration and testosterone charged during lockdown have fuelled appalling behaviour on all sides. With all of this going on, this week sees major online virtual conferences taking place CogX, AIBC Summit Asia and 1Society.org – central to discussion will be certainly be how Ai, Blockchain, Crypto, DLT and IoT can all play their part in the recovery and also how the industry can address equality, diversity and inclusion.
Equality, diversity, inclusion…That’s what we all want, right?
Seeking to understand more about the world turbulence in the context of a pandemic, brutal deaths and the protests I turned to someone who might be able to help me and others navigate the plethora of outpourings on social media and the like. My dear friend, Dr Maxine Room CBE has worked as a CEO/Principal in further education across the UK. Recognised for leadership in equality, diversity and inclusion. She believes education is the key. She has personal experience of #blacklivesmatter. She is a black woman of mixed race, sometimes treated differently because of skin colour.
Some of what she has to say may be painful and uncomfortable to hear. ‘Racism is a clear and present danger so do not minimise or trivialise it with the #alllivesmatter, of course they do. However let’s educate ourselves to understand, recognise and value difference.’ Whether working in crypto, blockchain, DLT or any industry ‘all of us’ can do better in the equality stakes. The All of Us platform (https://allofus.social) she helped develop was borne of a desire to help organisations address their interest and obligations to diversity and inclusion. She finished saying “Silence is not an option, interventions are a necessity. Equality is being invited to the dance, inclusion is being asked to dance”.
Bitcoin (BTC) retreated below the US$10,000 and at the time of writing, is trading at US$9,723.66 / GB£8,075.56; Ethereum (ETH) is at US$243.74 / GB£192.84; Ripple (XRP) is at US$0.2027 / GB£0.1596; Binance (BNB) is at US$17.33 / GB£13.74 and Cardano (ADA) is up 52% at US$0.08508 / GB£0.06722. Overall Market Cap is pretty much unchanged at US$276.25bn / GB£218.28bn (data source: www.CryptoCompare.com)
City AM’s Crypto Insider
Exciting news from my old friend Steve Kelso, Head of Markets at ITI Capital who previously built Galaxy Digital’s European business. We had caught up in January in Davos at the WEF where he shared that he was working on something new. And five months later he hasn’t disappointed, having rejoined former colleagues at ITI Capital as Head of Markets. We caught up on the phone yesterday where he and his colleague Rafael Zanatta, Director of Prime Brokerage, briefed me about the launch of the world’s first centrally cleared bitcoin exchange traded product to be listed on Deutche Börse next week.
As shareholders in ETC Group, ITI are Authorised Participants for the launch product BTCetc which gives investors exposure to Bitcoin through your traditional brokerage account. Approved by Bafin, the German Financial Regulator, it goes live next week on the 17th June. Steve and Rafael explained that in their view “we hope by bringing Bitcoin into a regulated environment that this will become the main place for Bitcoin price discovery rather than unregulated exchanges.”
As mentioned in my introduction the Cog X conference opted to go online rather than cancel, opening yesterday with 88,554 Session Attendees for a total session count of 1,212 – truly astonishing numbers. Earlier today Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the UK, took part in a Fireside Chat as Executive Chairman of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change with Jaqueline de Rojas CBE, President of techUK.
Entitled COVID-19: Lessons for the world, Tony actually spoke a lot of sense “with this pandemic is everyone’s life has changed, your life has changed, my life has changed, we’re all living differently. So, there’s an enormous interest in, and focus on, the disease therefore it’s even more important for governments and policymakers to be taking people into their confidence in order to build confidence” which neatly enabled the conversation to flow into technology, but not before the warning that this crisis could be creating a bigger divide between the technological haves and the have nots: “of course this is this is going to be a big problem, it’s a problem I think also because as you will be exploring it (at the conference) the truth is that all of the things that were there before COVID are there during and after COVID but I think accelerated and more vivid and one of those is the use of technology. So, that was already important obviously before the COVID crisis but now it’s even more important as to how we get through it and then what we do afterwards and that digital divide between those that are familiar and can use the new technology well and those that can’t is obviously going to be a big source of difficulty”
Speaking to digital identity he said “when I look at, for example, how you restart some businesses, how you restart international travel, I think people’s disease status, for example, have they been tested? What is the result of that test? Have they had the disease? Do they have the disease? I think unless you’re able to record some of this data in a way that people can use, it’s going to be difficult to go back to anything like a near normal in things like transport. So, if you’re going to start international travel again – how do you do that, unless less people can be easily tested and have some record of that test? So, I think there’s always been a good case for introducing some form of digital ID”
I happen to agree with him on all these points and am really pleased to be aware of quality businesses in our industry such as BlockPass and BLOK BioScience (see https://www.cityam.com/the-building-blocks-of-recovery/) deeply rooted in this area of digital ID and immunity passports.
A friend of mine recently introduced me to the delightful Max Kantelia, CEO & Co-founder of Anquan Capital, who has recently moved back to London from Singapore. He is also co-founder of Zilliqa which is a high-speed and high-security scalable blockchain platform built for enterprise and next-generation applications. The company is based out of London and Singapore but is truly decentralised and global in terms of its ambitions and vision. Given that the smart contract platform drives the decentralised economy forward, the potential for its application is extensive.
In 2019, Zilliqa became the first public blockchain platform to be built on sharded architecture, with smart contracts written in the platform’s secure-by-design programming language, Scilla. While there are so many players in this industry, Zilliqa stands out because it has successfully balanced the ‘blockchain trilemma’ of scalability, security, and decentralisation.
As part of this, Zilliqa is all set to enable staking as a means to bringing greater decentralisation to the network, by opening up access to the seed nodes and making the ecosystem even more rewarding for developers, miners, and token holders. Staking will be a long-term process, providing an opportunity for more users to be involved with Zilliqa on the network level and increase its quality benchmarks even further. Ever since Zilliqa launched the open-sourced smart contract code on our testnet in April, security experts have been invited to vet the code for any issues. Zilliqa has already on-boarding operators on the testnet for additional testing, and the integration process is well underway!
Operators who wish to host a staked seed node will need to register with the Zilliqa team and deposit a certain minimum number of $ZIL into the staking smart contract. The seed node operator will then receive blockchain rewards at regular intervals according to the performance of its SSN, and in proportion to the amount of $ZIL deposited in the contract during those intervals. Staking will soon go live on the mainnet via select partners – two of whom will announce their launch dates imminently, so watch this space and I will keep you updated.
For those of you following Cardano, you’ll note that there has been positive news coming out, on an increasingly frequent basis, reflecting the hard work IOHK has been putting in on shipping Shelley (see my last edition When Moon? A momentous last week – CityAM) Aparna Jue, Product Director at IOHK explains “Decentralization is at the heart of everything we’re setting out to achieve with Cardano, so this is a huge step for us in the project. The delivery of Shelley continues to be an ongoing, collaborative process, via testnets and feedback from the Cardano community, which embodies everything we stand for. The large-scale success of the incentivized testnet demonstrated the appetite for a highly decentralized platform, with the security and throughput capability to support transactions on a global, 21st century scale.”
From today, the Shelley testnet opens up to anyone who wants to set up a Cardano stake pool, ready for staking and delegation on mainnet later this summer. Those wanting to set up a pool can find the documentation at the testnet site https://testnets.cardano.org.
Some good news from my friend Alex Fazel, Chief Partnership Officer at SwissBorg (see https://www.cityam.com/bitcoin-five-factors-one-conclusion-three-parts/) He told me that since the official launch of its Wealth app and the newest utility of the CHSB token, the SwissBorg market cap has almost tripled in the past sixty days. The company is battling to enter the top one hundred by market cap. I couldn’t help but ask why there had been such a bull run on the token. Alex claims that the fragmented crypto space needed a “Skyscanner 2.0” for crypto with a token that has real/tangible value, instant use and easy-to-use utilities. I for one, will be monitoring SwissBorg’s progress in the coming weeks and months!
James Bowater, City AM’s Crypto Insider