The holiday shortened past week saw muted capital markets activity in public equity markets in Canada and the USA, on the heels of a turbulent few weeks. In Canada, Sophic Client, AnalytixInsight (ALY-TSXV, ATIXF-OTCQB) announced a transformative regulatory approval as an online financial broker by the Italian financial markets regulator. As a result, the platform will allow users to trade stocks, options, and derivatives in Italy and later in other European countries. Quisitive (QUIS-TSXV) announced a major acquisition in the financial services vertical. In the USA, we’re looking forward to Coinbase’s direct listing in mid-April. The Invesco Solar ETF (TAN-NYSE), had a strong finish to the week following Biden infrastructure plan, as did Sophic client, UGE International (UGE-TSXV, UGEIF-OTC).

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Quisitive (QUIS-TSXV) announces agreement to acquire BankCard USA.

The company has entered into a stock purchase agreement dated March 29, 2021 (the “Agreement”) to acquire BankCard USA Merchant Services, Inc. (“BankCard”) for US$100 million in cash and the issuance of 50,000,000 common shares in the capital of Quisitive (the “Transaction”). BankCard, an arm’s length party to Quisitive, is an established all-in-one merchant payment services provider with over US$3.0 billion of payment volume which increased 31% in 2020. BankCard USA has a seasoned payments industry management team, strong in-house sales team, deep risk management program and attractive recurring revenue model with card-not present volume representing approximately 70%. The acquisition of BankCard will serve as a growth catalyst for Quisitive’s LedgerPay payment processing and payments intelligence™ platform. BankCard has trailing-twelve months revenue of US$29 million and EBITDA of US$11 million as of September 30, 2020. https://bit.ly/3cLVnpS

AnalytixInsight (Sophic Client, ALY-TSXV, ATIXF-OTCQB) announces InvestoPro has received regulatory approval as online financial broker.

InvestoPro SIM (“InvestoPro”), the online financial broker of AnalytixInsight’s FinTech affiliate, MarketWall, has received regulatory approval from CONSOB (Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa), the Italian financial markets regulator. InvestoPro will allow users to trade stocks, options, and derivatives in Italy and later in other European countries. InvestoPro has been designed as a stock trading and analysis platform that offers financial analysis, news, research, and investor education content, to equip retail investors with investing tools that are unparalleled in the industry. InvestoPro is multi-device capable and available as native and progressive web applications. https://bit.ly/39FzlmZ

INX Limited closes $39.6 million subscription receipt private placement in connection with going-public transaction.

The brokered portion of the Financing was conducted through a syndicate of agents led by PI Financial Corp. and Eight Capital (together, the “Co-Lead Agents”), and including Beacon Securities Limited and Cormark Securities Inc. (together with the Co-Lead Agents, the “Agents”). Shy Datika, Co-Founder & President of INX commented, “INX breaks new ground by connecting the legacy world of equity capital markets with the innovative blockchain-based digital asset class. We are the first company to issue a Security Token through an SEC-registered public offering, and we fortify it now with further transparency and regulatory clarity with this upcoming listing. We strongly believe that digital assets are the future of equity capital markets, and aim to become the bridge between both worlds.” https://bit.ly/3widVpD

Redline (RDL-TSX) announces $14 million investment in industrial 5G development by the Government of Canada Strategic Innovation Fund (“SIF”).

“This investment will accelerate the innovative development of products and solutions for mission critical industrial networks developed in conjunction with our leading customers worldwide,”, stated Stephen Sorocky, Redline’s CEO. “We express our appreciation for the confidence shown by the Strategic Innovations Fund  in their support to creating a world leading team of highly skilled staff and increased collaboration with universities.” Under the terms of the agreement, the SIF will reimburse 40% of eligible costs incurred for specified research and development projects to be undertaken by the Company estimated to total $37 million over a period of 4 ½ years.  A maximum of $14 million is available to the Company by way of a repayable loan.  The SIF project period runs from August 2020 to April 2025. https://bit.ly/3sLNm9X

Dapper Labs raises US$305 million to expand NBA Top Shot product to other sports leagues.

Vancouver-based blockchain startup Dapper Labs has raised US$305 million USD in financing as the company claims to see success from its NBA Top Shot product. This investment brings Dapper Labs’ total funding to date to US$357 million. The raise was led by Coatue, a global technology-focused investment manager. North of 40 additional investors participated in this round of financing, including NBA and NFL stars such as Kyle Lowry, Kevin Durant, DK Metcalf, and Stefon Diggs. Venture firms with celebrity founders such as Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, and Shawn Mendes’ AG Ventures also participated. Other strategic investors included Venrock, Version One, and Bolt Ventures. According to sources speaking with The Wall Street Journal, this funding values Dapper Labs at US$2.6 billion. Formed in February 2018, Dapper Labs was spun out of design company Axiom Zen. The company created CryptoKitties, which is a blockchain game on Ethereum developed by Axiom Zen that allows players to purchase, collect, breed, and sell virtual cats. Dapper Labs claims NBA Top Shot has achieved US$500 million in sales and registered more than 800,000 accounts since its public beta testing phase began in October. The product is based on Flow, an open-source blockchain developed by Dapper Labs and launched in 2020. Dapper Labs says Flow allows NFT marketplaces and other decentralized applications to handle demand without extremely high transaction costs or environmental concerns. https://bit.ly/2PuCtLr

Following merger with Kelowna’s Bananatag, Staffbase secures $145 million.

Germany’s Staffbase, which provides internal communications software to businesses, has raised a $145 million Series D round led by General Atlantic. The new funding follows the firm’s recent merger with Kelowna, British Columbia-based startup Bananatag. In March, Staffbase and Bananatag announced that they had merged to become a “one-stop-shop” for internal communication. The financial terms of the merger were not disclosed. In March, Staffbase merged with Bananatag, a Kelowna-based internal communications software startup. https://bit.ly/3mf7YF6

Online car retailer Clutch secures $60 million.

Toronto-based AutoTech startup Clutch has raised $60 million in financing to continue with the expansion of its online car retailer platform across Canada. The funding is comprised of $20 million in equity financing led by Caanan Partners, an early backer of Instacart and peer-to-peer carsharing Turo, and $40 million in debt from Upper90. Upper90 also participated in the equity portion of the round alongside Stephen Chau, the former head of product at Uber Eats, and previous investors BrandProject, Real Ventures, FJ Labs, and Global Founders Capital. The announcement of the Series A financing comes less than one year after Clutch raised $7 million in a seed round led by Real Ventures. https://bit.ly/3fJUnV0

Second Closet secures $20 million as it shifts focus away from self-storage towards B2B third-party logistics.

With new financing, Second Closet is shifting away from consumer self-storage to focus on fulfillment and last-mile logistics for businesses. Over the last year and a half, Second Closet has been quietly moving into the B2B space, repurposing its physical storage spaces to offer fulfillment and last-mile logistics services. As of this week, Second Closest is no longer offering self-storage to net-new customers. The round was co-led by Whitecap Venture Partners and Intact Ventures. Longtime Second Closest investors MIG, Michael Hyatt, and Cowie Capital Partners also participated in the financing. Second Closet CEO and co-founder Mark Ang called the $20 million round an extension of Second Closet’s $13 million Series A financing, which closed in 2019. https://bit.ly/3woiPkU

On-demand delivery platform Tyltgo raises $2.3 million to accelerate Ontario expansion.

Kitchener-based same-day delivery software startup Tyltgo has raised $2.3 million in seed financing, as the company looks to double the size of its team and fuel its growth in the Ontario market. The round, which Tyltgo called “oversubscribed,” was led by San Francisco-based venture capital firm TI Platform Management, Y Combinator, and angel investor Charles Songhurst. https://bit.ly/3fC1TRP

QuoteMachine raises $1 million seed round to fuel growth of customer relationship management solution.

Led by two former Lightspeed product leaders, Montréal-based retail tech startup QuoteMachine has raised $1 million in seed financing as the software company looks to help digital merchants build more sustainable relationships with their customers. The round was led by Telegraph Hill Capital (THCAP). Maple Leaf Angels’ fund MLA48 III, Real Ventures, and other individual angel investors also participated. https://bit.ly/3wpDMfp

Mogo (MOGO-TSX, MOGO-NASDAQ) launches first bitcoin cashback mortgage.

The company has extended its bitcoin cashback rewards program – which currently applies to the Mogo Visa Platinum Prepaid Card and digital spending account – to include MogoMortgage. Under the program, Mogo members who take out a new mortgage or refinance with Mogo can earn up to $3,100 cashback deposited in their Bitcoin and Rewards account. https://bit.ly/3mq3sUA

OSC demands crypto trading platforms bring operations into compliance with securities regulations.

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) is looking to crack down on unregistered cryptocurrency trading platforms operating in the province. On Monday, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) issued new guidance for platforms currently facilitating trading in security tokens or instruments or contracts involving crypto assets. Part of that framework was the requirement for such firms to register as an investment dealer and become a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). According to a separate announcement issued by the OSC on Monday, platform operators have three weeks to contact the OSC and discuss how they plan to bring their operations into compliance. Those that do not will face “potential regulatory action,” according to the statement. “Unregistered crypto-asset trading platforms expose Ontario investors to significant risks, including potential loss, theft and misuse of their assets. The recent explosion of unregistered platforms has magnified these risks,” said Grant Vingoe, chair and CEO at the OSC. https://bit.ly/3duVo0D

A Supreme Court ruling affirming Canada’s carbon tax opens the door for a startup explosion.

Last week the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that the national government’s plan to tax carbon emissions was legal in a decision that could have significant implications for the nation’s climate-focused startup companies. The ruling put an end to roughly two years of legal challenges and could set the stage for a boom in funding and commercial support for Canadian startup companies developing technologies to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to investors and entrepreneurs representing some of the world’s largest utilities and petrochemical companies. “The high price on carbon has the potential to make Canada a powerhouse for scaling up breakthrough decarbonization technologies and for deploying solutions like carbon capture, industrial electrification, and hydrogen electrolysis,” said one investor who works with a fund that backs startups on behalf of large energy businesses. That price is C$30 per tonne of carbon dioxide released, but is set to rise to C$170 per tonne by 2030. That figure is just a bit higher than the current prices that Californians are charged under the state’s carbon pricing plan and roughly four times the price on carbon set by the Northeastern Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. https://tcrn.ch/3ufOBP8

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

Coinbase Global, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the US, is looking to make its Nasdaq debut on April 14, having pushed it back from its initial March target date, the company confirmed.

The San Francisco-based company will disclose details, including its reference price, the day before it goes public, Bloomberg was first to report. This timing could still change, however, sources told Bloomberg.  The company, which has more than 43 million users in over 100 countries, would also represent the first major direct listing on the Nasdaq. https://bit.ly/3rS2D7Y

Online real estate brokerage Compass surges as much as 22% in public debut.

Compass stock surged as much as 22% on Thursday in its public debut. The strong first-day performance comes after the online real estate brokerage’s downsized IPO raised just US$450 million, less than half of its initial target. Compass sold 25 million shares for US$18 each in its IPO, a considerable cut after marketing 36 million shares for US$23 to US$26 each. The cut in share count and price wiped $3 billion from Compass’s previous valuation of $10 billion.Compass is run by CEO Robert Reffkin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, and has raised more than US$1.5 billion from SoftBank Vision Fund and other investors. It’s the largest independent real estate brokerage in the US, with over 19,000 agents nationwide. https://bit.ly/3ds0TgI

QuantumScape soars 19% after milestone sparks additional US$100 million investment from Volkswagen.

QuantumScape soared as much as 19% on Thursday after it met a technical milestone that triggered an additional US$100 million investment from Volkswagen. QuantumScape is developing solid-state battery technology that, if successful, would help increase the driving range and reduce the price of electric vehicles. Volkswagen had first invested in the battery startup in 2018, and will now have put a total of US$300 million in the company. The technical milestone that was achieved, according to QuantumScape, was Volkswagen successfully testing the latest generation of its solid-state battery in their German labs. https://bit.ly/2R3Yi51

Fortnite maker Epic Games targets US$1.7 billion in fundraising.

The terms value the business at about US$28 billion, people familiar with the discussions said. The company has already secured commitments of more than US$1 billion, and the final amount isn’t set, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The capital comes primarily from mutual funds and other big institutional investors, many of which are existing backers, the people said. https://bloom.bg/3sL9vWa

Bilibili drops in Hong Kong debut after tech loses shine.

Bilibili Inc. fell on its debut in Hong Kong, becoming the latest U.S.-traded Chinese firm to disappoint on its homecoming during a global sell-off in the country’s technology shares. Shares of the fast-growing video streaming service closed 1% lower on Monday, paring losses of nearly 7%. Bilibili’s US$2.6 billion listing comes after a string of block trades rattled U.S. markets and American regulators last week revived concerns over potential delistings by implementing a law requiring stricter audit inspections. Its disappointing debut also follows Baidu Inc., which last week closed unchanged on its first day of trading in Hong Kong and has since dropped 19%. https://bloom.bg/3sOtl2u

Didi’s autonomous driving unit plans to raise US$500 million.

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing’s autonomous driving subsidiary is planning to raise as much as US$500 million at a valuation of about US$6 billion, Bloomberg reported. The move comes as bankers and investors expect Didi, one of the world’s most highly valued venture-backed startups worth US$62 billion, to go public later this year. Ahead of the highly anticipated IPO, Didi is redoubling its efforts in new businesses such as autonomous driving. The new fundraising would enable the Didi unit to speed up its vehicle production and to invest more in technologies such as artificial intelligence chips, Bloomberg reported. Developing self-driving cars is a costly business. Didi spun off its autonomous driving unit in 2019 to raise money from outside investors specifically for that business. The unit last year raised US$500 million in a funding round led by SoftBank, and then it raised another US$300 million in January in a round led by IDG. By contrast, Uber last year sold its autonomous driving unit to self-driving car startup Aurora. https://bit.ly/3dD9xJp

ByteDance valued at US$250 billion in private trades.

Shares of ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese parent of hit video app TikTok, are trading at a valuation of more than US$250 billion in the secondary market, according to people familiar with the matter. The Beijing-based startup’s value has surged in recent weeks as investors gain confidence in the business and founder Zhang Yiming weighs options for an initial public offering, said the people, asking not to be named because the transactions are private. ByteDance was valued at US$140 billion during its last fundraising, according to CB Insights. The company’s shares traded at a roughly US$200 billion valuation in private transactions just a month ago, one of the people said. At US$250 billion, ByteDance would be more valuable than Exxon Mobil Corp. or Coca-Cola Co. https://bloom.bg/2PvQpEX

US iPhone users spent an average of US$138 on apps in 2020, will grow to US$180 in 2021.

U.S. consumers spent an average of US$138 on iPhone apps last year, an increase of 38% year over year, largely driven by the pandemic impacts, according to new data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower. Throughout 2020, consumers turned to iPhone apps for work, school, entertainment, shopping and more, driving per-user spending to a new record and the greatest annual growth since 2016, when it had then popped by 42% year over year. Sensor Tower tells TechCrunch it expects the trend of increased consumer spend to continue in 2021, when it projects consumer spend per active iPhone in the U.S. to reach an average of US$180. This will again be tied, at least in part, to the lift caused by the pandemic — and, particularly, the lift in pandemic-fueled spending on mobile games. https://tcrn.ch/31XziPb

Emerging Technologies

Microsoft wins U.S. Army contract for augmented-reality headsets, worth up to US$21.9 billion over 10 years.

The Pentagon announced that Microsoft has won a contract to build more than 120,000 custom HoloLens augmented-reality headsets for the U.S. Army. The contract could be worth up to US$21.88 billion over 10 years, a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC on Wednesday. Microsoft shares moved higher following the announcement. The stock was up 1.7% to US$235.77 per share at the end of Wednesday’s trading session. It follows a US$480 million contract Microsoft received to give the Army prototypes of the Integrated Visual Augmented System, or IVAS, in 2018. The new deal will involve providing production versions. https://cnb.cx/3rSUCjm

Snap planning ‘more advanced’ AR Spectacles targeting developers and creators.

Snap is preparing a new Spectacles model, its fashion glasses to record Snaps, but with a different approach. The new Spectacles will feature displays capable of AR effects, according to a new report by the Information. The product “is not meant for the consumer market but is instead aimed at developers and creators,” according to a person familiar with plan cited in the report. Two people with direct knowledge of the device also said that the company has revived a years-long effort to build a drone. Snap could announce its new Spectacles at its annual developers’ conference to be held virtually in late May. https://bit.ly/3sLPQVS

Niantic CEO shares teaser image of AR glasses device.

“Exciting to see the progress we’re making to enable new kinds of devices that leverage our platform,” the executive noted in the text accompanying an image of eyeglasses temples sporting the Niantic name in bright orange. Niantic has been a fairly active investor in the augmented reality hardware space, so there is also the possibility that they’ve done a branding partnership with a startup on a project, but this cryptic image crop is certainly making it look like they’re showcasing a device with first-party branding. There’s also the potential that this is a product in the “smart glasses” category that doesn’t include a display but focuses on building audio or camera functionality into a pair of glasses. Niantic has previously announced that they’ve been working with Qualcomm to help define their reference design for their XR hardware platform. https://tcrn.ch/3sSbHv7

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Apple supports independent artists with new investment.

The tech giant led a US$50 million fundraising round for UnitedMasters, a three-year-old artist-services company that helps musicians distribute and market their music while allowing them to keep their copyrights. Launched in 2017 with US$70 million in Silicon Valley backing, UnitedMasters is an alternative to the traditional major label system, which typically requires artists to give up the rights to their music in exchange for an advance, distribution, marketing and promotion. Artists choose to pay a US$5 monthly subscription fee or give a 10% take to UnitedMasters, and retain ownership of their music. https://on.wsj.com/3cH5PiE

Spotify acquires live sports talk app. Spotify is jumping into the live audio business, acquiring Locker Room, an app where sports fans chat about games and sports news.

Live audio has become increasingly popular over the past few months with apps like Clubhouse gaining millions of users. And to some level it makes sense for Spotify, which paid about US$50 million for the app and its creator, to test the waters with live audio given its focus on podcasting. https://bit.ly/3dmRreq

T-Mobile cuts its own TV cord, moves to partner with YouTube TV.

T-Mobile US Inc. will shut down its TVision live-TV service and offer Google’s YouTube TV at a promotional discount, ending a three-year effort to create a disruptive alternative to cable. Customers “don’t want more streaming services — they want help buying and navigating the services that already exist,” T-Mobile Chief Executive Officer Mike Sievert wrote in a blog post Monday. https://bloom.bg/3tYrPey

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Facebook’s Giphy purchase set for in-depth U.K. antitrust probe.

Facebook Inc. will face an in-depth U.K. review of its US$400 million purchase of GIF search engine Giphy Inc. after it skipped offering concessions to address antitrust concerns. The Competition and Markets Authority said it will run a so-called second-phase investigation through to Sept. 15, according to an emailed statement Thursday. The decision comes after the watchdog warned the tie-up could harm rival social-media platforms. It’s cited concerns that the deal could allow Facebook to stifle the supply of Giphy’s library of video clips and animated videos on rival services such as Apple Inc.’s iMessage, Twitter, Signal, TikTok and others. U.K. regulators are taking a tougher stance on technology deals where giants swallow up smaller firms. CMA officials have voiced regret for waving through game-changing deals in the past, such as Facebook’s takeover of Instagram. CMA Chief Executive Officer Andrea Coscelli said in October that the largest tech companies should face scrutiny for any transaction, no matter how tiny. https://bloom.bg/3uaNz74

533 million Facebook users’ phone numbers and personal data have been leaked online.

A user in a low level hacking forum on Saturday published the phone numbers and personal data of hundreds of millions of Facebook users for free online. The exposed data includes personal information of over 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries, including over 32 million records on users in the US, 11 million on users in the UK, and 6 million on users in India. It includes their phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, bios, and — in some cases — email addresses. A Facebook spokesperson told Insider that the data was scraped due to a vulnerability that the company patched in 2019. While a couple of years old, the leaked data could provide valuable information to cybercriminals who use people’s personal information to impersonate them or scam them into handing over login credentials, according to Alon Gal, CTO of cybercrime intelligence firm Hudson Rock, who first discovered the entire trough of leaked data online on Saturday. https://bit.ly/39FRzo8

Channel Nine cyber-attack disrupts live broadcasts in Australia.

A cyber-attack has disrupted live broadcasts on Australia’s Channel Nine TV network, prompting concerns about the country’s vulnerability to hackers. The broadcaster said it was unable to air several shows on Sunday, including Weekend Today. Nine said it was investigating whether the hack was “criminal sabotage or the work of a foreign nation”. https://bbc.in/3w8XAU6

eCommerce

Albertsons partners with Google to bring AI and other advanced technologies to grocery customers.

Albertsons Cos. Inc. said Tuesday that, after a year of planning in partnership with Google , the two companies will launch a series of technologies to enhance the grocery shopping experience. Using artificial intelligence (AI), the companies will provide hyperlocal information about where shoppers can find and purchase products. Enhanced features will also allow shoppers to select from new options for pickup and delivery. And earlier this month, the two companies introduced the use of Business Messages for up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccines at Albertsons pharmacies. Over the past year, the use of online grocery services has soared due to the pandemic, with Google saying that U.S. searches for ordering groceries to pickup in stores soared 1,700%, and the U.S. searches for the best grocery delivery apps jumped more than 600%. Albertsons operates 20 grocery chains including the namesake, Safeway and Vons. Albertsons stock, which began trading in June 2020, has gained 17.2% over the past three months. Google shares are up 18.2%. And the S&P 500 index has gained 6.4% for the period. https://on.mktw.net/3meXHsF

Amazon explored opening discount depots in malls and parking lots.

Amazon has explored opening brick and mortar retail stores to sell discounted home goods, electronics and other small items, Bloomberg reported Thursday. The plan was conceived as a way to offload unsold inventory from nearby Amazon warehouses by offering an array of products to sale-savvy customers. According to Bloomberg, Amazon has considered opening permanent stores and temporary locations in malls and parking lots to sell the discounted products. The plans were reportedly under discussion last year, but further developments have been delayed as employees focus on maintaining day-to-day operations during the pandemic. https://bit.ly/3ulIZD6

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Visa moves to allow payment settlements using cryptocurrency.

Visa Inc said on Monday it will allow the use of the cryptocurrency USD Coin to settle transactions on its payment network, the latest sign of growing acceptance of digital currencies by the mainstream financial industry.  Visa has launched the pilot program with payment and crypto platform Crypto.com and plans to offer the option to more partners later this year, it said.  The USD Coin (USDC) is a stablecoin cryptocurrency whose value is pegged directly to the U.S. dollar. https://reut.rs/3tY35D4

PayPal launches crypto checkout service.

PayPal will announce later on Tuesday that it has started allowing U.S. consumers to use their cryptocurrency holdings to pay at millions of its online merchants globally, a move that could significantly boost use of digital assets in everyday commerce. Customers who hold bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash and litecoin in PayPal digital wallets will now be able to convert their holdings into fiat currencies at checkouts to make purchases, the company said. https://cnb.cx/3swhnup

Goldman Sachs is close to offering bitcoin and other digital assets to its wealth management clients.

Goldman Sachs is close to offering its first investment vehicles for bitcoin and other digital assets to clients of its private wealth management group, CNBC has learned exclusively. The bank aims to begin offering investments in the emerging asset class in the second quarter, according to Mary Rich, who was recently named global head of digital assets for Goldman’s private wealth management division. ″We are working closely with teams across the firm to explore ways to offer thoughtful and appropriate access to the ecosystem for private wealth clients, and that is something we expect to offer in the near term,” Rich said in an interview this week. https://cnb.cx/31CT1U6

CME Group, world’s largest derivatives marketplace, to offer micro bitcoin futures in May.

CME Group, the world’s largest derivatives marketplace, announced that it is expanding its suite of crypto offerings with micro bitcoin futures as the popular coin gains traction from both institutional to retail investors, propelling it to record highs. The micro bitcoin futures of CME, or Chicago Mercantile Exchange, will be one-tenth the size of one bitcoin and will start trading on May 3, pending regulatory review. The smaller-sized contract, which can be settled on a cash basis, will allow investors to trade bitcoin in an efficient and cost-effective way on fractional units. Other cryptocurrency exchanges that are less regulated already offer bitcoin futures. CME Group launched a bitcoin futures contract in 2017 and has seen steady market participation among institutional traders. Micro bitcoin futures will join CME Group’s other offerings, including the recently launched ether futures. https://bit.ly/31LOC17

Bakkt releases digital wallet app.

Bakkt is announcing the general availability of its digital wallet app, which is rolling out with merchant partners including Starbucks and Best Buy. During a five-month, invite-only beta run, the app racked up 500,000+ users. Bakkt bills its app as a wallet for cryptocurrencies and siloed digital assets that don’t run on a blockchain. Including the latter—loyalty points, airline miles, gift cards, in-game assets—is how the company hopes Bakkt App will stand out. Popular crypto wallets don’t typically allow users to unite crypto and non-crypto digital assets. “We want to expand access to the growing digital assets economy,” Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael, a former Citi and Chase exec, tells the Brew. His crypto-focused company is a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange, parent to the 228-year-old New York Stock Exchange. Bakkt estimates that US$1.25+ trillion is tied up in crypto, rewards, loyalty points, gaming assets, and merchant stored value (i.e. your Starbucks app). The company wants to reduce the friction of owning and using those assets by aggregating them in one place and offering more liquidity to users. You can store the assets, convert them into fiat/crypto, or send them to other users. https://bit.ly/3cN9AD3

Semiconductors

Taiwan Semiconductor sets plans for US$100 billion investment.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. plans to spend US$100 billion over the next three years to expand capacity, the company said in statements given to Bloomberg News and Reuters, following local reports. The company said the capacity is needed for 5G and high-performance computing demand. The company’s fabs have been running at over 100% over the past 12 months, the Bloomberg report said. https://on.mktw.net/2R36KS1

Arm takes aim at Intel chips in biggest tech overhaul in decade.

The Cambridge, U.K.-based company is adding capabilities to help chips handle machine learning, a powerful type of artificial intelligence software. Extra security features will lock down data and computer code more. The new blueprints should also deliver 30% performance increases over the next two generations of processors for mobile devices and data center servers, said Arm, which is being acquired by Nvidia Corp. https://bloom.bg/39q4OcD

ESG

Biden infrastructure plan proposes spending US$174 billion to boost America’s EV market.

President Joe Biden has earmarked US$174 billion from his ambitious infrastructure plan to build out domestic supply chains for electric vehicles, noting the imperative for United States automakers to “compete globally” to win a larger share of the EV market. The funds are just one part of Biden’s plan, which calls for an ambitious US$2 trillion infrastructure investment across multiple sectors. The Fact Sheet for the plan includes six references to China — one of these in reference to the size of the Chinese EV market, which is two-thirds larger than the domestic U.S. market. To ensure Americans actually purchase these domestically manufactured EVs, Biden also plans to establish sales rebates and tax incentives for the purchase of American-made EVs, though the size of the credit has not been released. Customers can already cash in a US$7,500 federal tax credit for EVs, but it is not available to automakers that have sold more than 200,000 electric cars — people looking to purchase a Tesla, for instance, would not qualify for the credit. It’s unclear whether the new tax credit would raise or abolish the sales limit for automakers. The plan also proposes using some of the funds to build a national EV charging network of 500,000 stations by 2030. https://tcrn.ch/3dvHBH5

Xiaomi says will invest up to US$10 billion in making an electric car.

Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone maker, said it will invest up to US$10 billion over the next decade to make electric vehicles, the latest Chinese tech giant to make the pivot to cars. Lei Jun, the founder of the Chinese smartphone maker, will head the new electric vehicle unit, entering a field crowded with competitors including Tesla. Xiaomi is the latest electronics maker to make the move into manufacturing cars, an unproven transition that is full of risk given the high stakes involved if a car malfunctions. Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant whose smartphone business was devasted by U.S. sanctions, is also making a push into electric vehicles, as is the smaller firm ZTE and search engine Baidu, which is also working on autonomous driving. https://bitly.is/3rJDUm5

Apple is using Tesla batteries to build a new energy storage facility for its giant solar farm in California.

Apple is building a huge solar battery grid in California, and per county documents spotted by the Verge, Tesla will supply the batteries. Apple announced the construction of the new solar energy storage project, called California Flats, on Wednesday. The company owns a 130 megawatt solar farm in California. It said in its blog post that the new development will allow it to store excess energy and deploy it when needed. According to Apple, it will able to store 240 megawatt-hours of energy — enough to power 7,000 homes for a day. https://bit.ly/3unw7wj

New global solar PV installations to increase 27% to record 181 GW this year: IHS Markit.

Global solar photovoltaic installations are expected to grow by 27% this year to a record 181 gigawatts (GW), led by China, the United States and India, a report by data provider IHS Markit showed on Monday. New solar PV installations were at 142 GW last year. https://reut.rs/3mcm4Hy

Total signs 1GW Iraq solar deal. French energy major Total has signed an agreement with Iraq’s Ministry of Oil to develop a host of energy projects in the country, including 1GW of solar PV.

The agreement, which builds on discussions between Total and the Iraqi government that began in October last year, has seen the two entities agree on scope of technical and commercial works which will now be presented to Iraq’s Council of Ministers for final approval. https://bit.ly/3m8mRcq

Sophic Capital Client Insights

AnalytixInsight’s (Sophic Client, ALY-TSXV, ATIXF-OTCQB) MarketWall levels the playing field for retail Investors.

Retail investors were active in the stock market during 2020 and into 2021. Governments and regulatory bodies throughout the world are concerned about whether investors have access to sufficient information to make informed investment decisions. AnalytixInsight’s  machine-driven investment research can empower retail investors to help make informed investment decisions, and online brokers are noticing. https://bit.ly/3t1jFSJ

Disclaimer

The information and recommendations made available here through our emails, newsletters, website, press releases, collectively considered as (“Material”) by Sophic Capital Inc. (“Sophic” or “Company”) is for informational purposes only and shall not be used or construed as an offer to sell or be used as a solicitation of an offer to buy any services or securities. You hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any Materials shall be at your sole risk. In particular, none of the information provided in our monthly newsletter and emails or any other Material should be viewed as an invite, and/or induce or encourage any person to make any kind of investment decision. The recommendations and information provided in our Material are not tailored to the needs of particular persons and may not be appropriate for you depending on your financial position or investment goals or needs. You should apply your own judgment in making any use of the information provided in the Company’s Material, especially as the basis for any investment decisions. Securities or other investments referred to in the Materials may not be suitable for you and you should not make any kind of investment decision in relation to them without first obtaining independent investment advice from a qualified and registered investment advisor. You further agree that neither Sophic, its employees, affiliates consultants, and/or clients will be liable for any losses or liabilities that may be occasioned as a result of the information provided in any of the Company’s Material. By accessing Sophic’s website and signing up to receive the Company’s monthly newsletter or any other Material, you accept and agree to be bound by and comply with the terms and conditions set out herein. If you do not accept and agree to the terms, you should not use the Company’s website or accept the terms and conditions associated to the newsletter signup. Sophic is not registered as an adviser under the securities legislation of any jurisdiction of Canada and provides Material on behalf of its clients pursuant to an exemption from the registration requirements that is available in respect of generic advice. In no event will Sophic be responsible or liable to you or any other party for any damages of any kind arising out of or relating to the use of, misuse of and/or inability to use the Company’s website or Material. The information is directed only at persons resident in Canada. The Company’s Material or the information provided in the Material shall not in any form constitute as an offer or solicitation to anyone in the United States of America or any jurisdiction where such offer or solicitation is not authorized or to any person to whom it is unlawful to make such a solicitation. If you choose to access Sophic’s website and/or have signed up to receive the Company’s monthly newsletter or any other Material, you acknowledge that the information in the Material is intended for use by persons resident in Canada only. Sophic is not an investment advisory, and Material provided by Sophic shall not be used to make investment decisions. Information provided in the Company’s Material is often opinionated and should be considered for information purposes only. No stock exchange anywhere has approved or disapproved of the information contained herein. There is no express or implied solicitation to buy or sell securities. Sophic and/or its principals and employees may have positions in the stocks mentioned in the Company’s Material and may trade in the stocks mentioned in the Material. Do not consider buying or selling any stock without conducting your own due diligence and/or without obtaining independent investment advice from a qualified and registered investment advisor.