Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (01/22/2021)*

BIS Innovation Hub sets out annual work programme and launches Innovation Network

The Bank for International Settlements’ Innovation Hub (BISIH) set out its work program, focusing on six key areas; suptech and regtech, next-generation financial market infrastructures, central bank digital currency (CBDC), open finance, green finance, and cyber security. The CBDC theme will include a proof of concept platform using multiple wholesale CBDCs to explore the feasibility of faster and cheaper cross-border payments, and a technological research project and associated prototype(s) for tiered retail CBDC distribution architectures.

Projects are to be spread across the three existing Hub Centres and new locations coming online in 2021. Priorities to be supported by the BIS Innovation Network, a network of experts drawn from the BIS’s 63 member central banks. They are chaired by Susan Slocum (Reserve Bank of Australia, Suptech & Regtech), Siritida P Ayudhya (Bank of Thailand, Next Generation FMIs), Marius Jurgilas (Bank of Lithuania, CBDC), Aristides Andrade Cavalcante Neto (Central Bank of Brazil, Open Finance), Tomer Mizrahi (Bank of Israel, Cyber Security) and Sharon Donnery (Central Bank of Ireland, Green Finance).

Bitcoin Is No Market Hedge, JPMorgan Strategists Say

JP Morgan analysts have concluded that the mainstreaming of crypto ownership is raising correlations with cyclical assets, potentially converting them from insurance to leverage. Over shorter intra-month and intra-quarter horizons, crypto-assets continue to rank as the poorest hedge for major drawdowns in global equities, particularly relative to the fiat currencies like the dollar which they seek to displace. 

Celo to Launch A Euro (cEUR) Pegged Stablecoin In March

Celo, a decentralized financial app, is adding a new stablecoin, backed by the Euro. The Euro stablecoin will be backed by a basket of cryptocurrencies that are algorithmically adjusted to maintain a stable price. The Celo Euro is the second stablecoin to launch on the platform after the Celo Dollar (cUSD), launched in June 2020. 

Avalanche Expanding Stablecoin Diversity in DeFi Ecosystem with Upcoming Launch of e-Money’s European Stablecoins

Stablecoin issuer e-Money is launching its suite of European-currency stablecoins on Avalanche’s Contract Chain (C-Chain), including digital Euros, Swiss Francs, Norwegian Krone, Swedish Krona, and Danish Krone. They will be bought and sold through the e-Money wallet with either a credit card or bank transfer. TrueUSD (TUSD) and BiLira (TRYB) are also issued in Avalanche’s DeFi ecosystem.  

Bitcoin’s biggest mining pool may be behind the BTC price drop

According to data fetched by CryptoQuant, Bitcoin miners at Chinese mining firm F2pool started the massive sell-off that crashed the BTC/USD exchange rate by almost 20% in just less than 24 hours on January 21. Beginning January 15, outflows from F2Pool — currently the largest mining pool comprising roughly 15% of total hash rate — began to rise. By the 17th, daily outflows had reached 10,000 BTC, these continuing for three days in a row before returning closer to normal levels. 

On the other hand, Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) has seen a $1.2 billion influx of fresh funds from investors since January 15, according to its latest filing with the SEC. This is a record number for GBTC, which saw an average of $217 million raised on a weekly basis in Q4 of 2020.  

Grayscale Investments, via its “statutory trustee” Delaware Trust Company, filed for five digital asset trusts with Delaware’s corporations registry: Chainlink, Basic Attention Token, Decentraland, Livepeer and Tezos. 

And while Bitcoin has plunged by 15% on a seven-day period, dragging most of the cryptocurrency market along with it, some altcoins have survived the drop and massive price correction: Chainlink (LINK), Uniswap (UNI), and Polkadot (DOT) have recorded gains of 11%, 21%, and 20% over the same seven-day period. 

France to Shut Almost 40% of Cash-Handling Centers

The Bank of France will shut down more than a third of its cash handling centers by the end of 2022 as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerates a decline in the use of notes and coins. Operations will cease at 14 of the 37 centers that stock currency and replace damaged notes and coins. The central bank estimates the network would be 40% underused if it remained as expansive as it is now. 

Nine-in-ten of all UK in-store card payments made with contactless

The Coronavirus pandemic has cemented the role of contactless as the preferred way to pay in the UK, accounting for nine-in-ten of all eligible card transactions in 2020, according to figures from Barclaycard. In a survey of 2,000 people conducted by Which?, 34% reported being unable to pay with cash at least once when trying to buy something since March, when coronavirus restrictions were first introduced. 

Spacs/incentives: skewed dudes

Three weeks into the new year and 57 so-called “blank cheque” companies have floated on US exchanges, raising $15.7bn, according to Refinitiv.