- Chinese Regulators Target Bitcoin to Curb Capital Outflow
China’s central bank stepped up supervision of bitcoin trading as it escalates a battle to curb capital outflows and stabilize the yuan. The move sent the virtual currency into a tailspin Wednesday.
In separate statements, the Shanghai and Beijing branches of the People’s Bank of China said they conducted spot inspections of the major exchanges of bitcoin, which many analysts have said has been used by investors to move money out of the country as the yuan falls in value.
Following the PBOC’s announcements, bitcoin dropped more than 13% against the dollar on the day. The virtual currency surged last year, and the major exchanges have claimed that China accounted for more than 90% of its global trading.
Representatives at the bitcoin exchanges cited by the regulator—BTCC, Huobi and OKCoin—didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The inspections came after warnings by the central bank last week about the risks associated with bitcoin trading and come as Chinese authorities are ramping up efforts to police the movement of capital offshore and ease pressure on the yuan. Latest official data shows that China’s foreign-exchange reserves fell to the lowest in nearly six years last month, to $3.011 trillion, highlighting accelerated outflows and the central bank’s intensified spending to defend the local currency.
In recent months, Beijing has tightened capital controls, making it more difficult for companies to invest overseas and for individuals to convert their yuan funds into foreign currencies. With bitcoin trading increasingly popular among Chinese investors, regulators are trying to close what analysts say is a channel that could contribute to more outflows.
Over the past few years, China has become a hub for bitcoin. Three of the largest exchanges are located in the country, which is also home to the largest “miners”—businesses that process transactions and maintain the network in return for newly minted bitcoin.
Two trends are driving bitcoin in China. One is its usefulness in getting money out of the country. Traders buy bitcoins on a Chinese exchange using yuan and then sell it on a foreign exchange using dollars. The other is simply speculation by active Chinese traders.
According to the PBOC’s statements, the purpose of the inspections was to look into possible market manipulation, money laundering, unauthorized financing, currency conversion and other issues.
Last Friday, the central bank’s Shanghai branch said it had met with executives of BTCC, one of the exchanges, warning them about potential risks in its operations and urging it to comply with rules and regulations. The central bank didn’t elaborate.
“BTCC regularly meets with the People’s Bank of China and we work closely with them to ensure that we are operating in accordance with the laws and regulations of China,” the exchange said in a statement on its website Friday.
MainOne, West Africa’s Leading Carrier-neutral Data Center Provider to Unveil Data Center in Appolonia City, Accra
MainOne, the leading provider of connectivity, cloud and data center solutions in West Africa is set to launch the Appolonia Data Center of its subsidiary, MDXi.
The new facility which is located 20 kilometers from the center of Accra, Ghana will expand MainOne’s already robust infrastructure and service profile in West Africa. It was built to cater to the increasing demand for colocation and interconnection services by multinationals and businesses seeking shared services for their ICT resources in a world-class facility.
Speaking on the upcoming launch, Gbenga Adegbiji, Chief Operating Officer, MDXi stated that “Appolonia Data Center is a state of the art facility that is being built to the highest standards required for todays digital infrastructure and consistent with the MainOne brand. With the assurance of high quality of service designed to meet business requirements for digital colocation and cloud infrastructure, the Appolonia (Accra) Data Centre will provide a highly secured,resilient and scalable solution for our customers’’. Adegbiji further said “the operations of the Uptime Tier III certified Appolonia data center will be based on the global MDXI Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) which have been proven with 100% facility uptime of the Lekki Data Centre since its launch in 2015.”
Set for launch in June 2021, the 100-rack Appolonia Data Center offers customers the opportunity to host infrastructure in a facility guaranteed to provide high levels of availability and rich connectivity with a global network of customers, partners and suppliers thus ensuring 24×7 online delivery of services to businesses.
“We established this Data Center in Ghana to bring the highly sought services which MainOne is known for closer to institutions in the country,” Emmanuel Kwarteng, Country Manager, MainOne Ghana noted. “We are confident that the Data Center will not only deliver state-of-the-art services, but also create jobs and ultimately contribute to the economic growth of Ghana.” All data center staff are directly employed by the company and are trained on the latest technology deployed to keep the data center running smoothly. There are staff dedicated to monitoring all critical systems in the data center to ensure that proactive actions are taken to guarantee availability on 24X7X365 basis.
The Appolonia Data Center has also been fitted with high-definition CCTV motion detection cameras, laser-based perimeter intrusion detection systems, and three levels of security barriers before access to computer rooms. Access to the data center is restricted to pre-authorized individuals with identification only and there is an access management system to record access history for audit purposes.
A dedicated service delivery team assists customers with onboarding and ongoing service management. Remote Hands and Eyes Support services are available for customers to troubleshoot or perform various maintenance activities to ensure their equipment operates as expected while allowing our customers focus on their core business.
The Data Center will be unveiled in the coming weeks and open to multi sector businesses and industries across Ghana.
Global VC Investments in Marketplaces Nearly Triple to Historical High of $28 Billion in Q1 2021
Marketplaces are continuing to benefit from shifts born out of the pandemic and show no signs of slowing down.
According to the research data analyzed and published by Definanzas, global VC investments into marketplaces hit a new all-time high in Q1 2021. It rose almost threefold from $9.9 billion in Q1 2020 to $28 billion in Q1 2021. It is also $4 billion higher than the previous record.
Based on a Be STF projection, global marketplace sales are set to grow at a 20% CAGR between 2020 and 2025. In that period, the figure will rise from $3.5 trillion to $8.8 trillion. Their share of online sales will also grow, going from 19% to 24%.
Marketplace Unicorns’ Valuation More than Doubles to $5 Trillion
Besides the massive increase in VC funding into marketplace, unicorn valuations in the space have also surged remarkably. From $2.2 trillion in January 2019, the figure soared by 70% to $5 trillion in Q1 2021.
81 new unicorns joined the ranks in 2020, bringing the total number to 370. Among them, the top 30 marketplace unicorns account for 79% of total valuation or $3.9 trillion. That marked a $1.6 trillion increase in valuation.
According to eMarketer, eCommerce accounted for a 7.4% share of total retail sales globally in 2015. The figure rose to 13.6% in 2019, posting a huge increase to 18% by 2020. It is set to rise further to19.5% in 2021 and 21.8% by 2024.
B2C sales accounted for 53% of total B2C online sales in 2020 or $2.45 trillion. It will grow at a 14% CAGR between 2020 and 2025 to $4.723 trillion, accounting for a 61% share of the total. On the other hand, B2B sales, which had a 7% share and a $1 trillion valuation in 2020, will grow at a 32% CAGR in the same period. The remarkable growth will drive its total valuation to $4 trillion and the segment’s share to 14%.
Global Autonomous Car Market to Grow by 36% and Hit a $37B Value by 2023
Over the last five years, major carmakers, tech giants, and start-ups have invested more than $50bn into autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. Although there have been many financial, practical, and scientific challenges in developing these vehicles, the entire market continues growing, with many autonomous cars expected to be on the roads in the following years.
According to data presented by BuyShares, the global autonomous car market is expected to grow by 36% in the next two years and hit a $37bn value by 2023.
5.4 Million Cars With At least Level 3 Autonomy on the Roads by 2023
Autonomous cars use radar, lidar or GPS technology, and computer vision to sense their environment. The advanced control systems integrated into the car can interpret the sensory inputs to detect signboards or prevent collisions.
Although fully autonomous cars are unlikely to reach wide acceptance any time soon, Level 2 and Level 3 autonomous cars, which use collision detection, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control, are expected to witness rapid growth.
In 2019, the global autonomous car industry was worth $24.1bn, revealed the Research and Markets data. Last year, the market shrunk by some 3% due to the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19. In 2021, however, the market is forecast to recover and start growing, reaching over $27bn value.
Statistics also showed that in 2019, some 1.4 million vehicles with at least Level 3 autonomy were sold worldwide. This figure is set to reach 2.7 million in 2021 and continue growing to 5.4 million by 2023.
Fully autonomous cars will not reach a wide customer base unless they are completely safe from cyber-attacks. If such concerns are solved, the autonomous car market is estimated to hit 58 million sold units by 2030.
44% of Drivers Willing to Use a Fully Autonomous Car, Safety Issues the Biggest Concern
Overcoming technological hurdles is not enough for autonomous vehicles to take off. People need to feel comfortable about riding in an autonomous vehicle to use them and buy them.
The 2021 Global Automotive Mobility Study revealed customers worldwide had similar attitudes towards autonomous cars regardless of their level of automation. Around 47% of respondents were willing to use a semi-autonomous vehicle, while 44% said they would use a fully autonomous car.
Still, the biggest concern regarding these vehicles was safety. Around 61% of respondents were worried about potential safety issues due to machine error, and some 51% of them were concerned about safety issues due to human error. Liability ranked as the third major concern with a 38% share among respondents.
One-third of consumers were unsure whether the technologies necessary for autonomous vehicles are advanced enough, while 30% of them worried about data security and privacy.
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