We wish you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021. Canadian capital markets were relatively quiet this past holiday week, following a busier than usual December, we expect activity to pick up in January, with a focus on technology, which appears to have more robust activity in the past few months. As expected, heightened activity also benefited global investment banking, according to Refinitiv. In the near term, we expect headlines pertaining to NYSE – China telco delisting and Bitcoin momentum to dominate.

Canadian Technology Capital Markets & Company News

Toronto health-tech firm Think Research (THNK-TSXV) goes public as value nears $180-million. Working with more than 2,800 health-care facilities across North America, Think Research applies the artificial-intelligence technique of machine learning to clinical evidence to help health professionals figure out the best method of care for a patient. The company also works to make health data more secure and shareable among health professionals, removing barriers in slow and cumbersome processes such as referrals. Its algorithms can analyze a patient’s specific situation – factors such as symptoms, age, height and pre-existing conditions – and compare that information with mountains of data on past patients to determine the course of treatment. In doing so, Think Research hopes to ensure care is consistent, especially as patients move through health-care systems. The three-part Think Research transaction sets it up to take advantage of the explosive public interest in digital health brought on by the pandemic as it integrates HealthCare Plus into the company in its quest for better patient care. http://tgam.ca/38959QC

theScore (SCR-TSX) files preliminary base shelf prospectus. The company filed a preliminary short form base shelf prospectus with the securities regulatory authorities in each of the provinces of Canada, other than Quebec. The base shelf prospectus, when made final, will allow theScore and certain of its securityholders to qualify the distribution by way of prospectus in Canada of up to $325,000,000 of Class A Subordinate Voting Shares of the Company, debt securities, warrants, subscription receipts, units, or any combination thereof, during the 25-month period that the base shelf prospectus is effective. The specific terms of any offering under the base shelf prospectus will be established in a prospectus supplement, which will be filed with the applicable Canadian securities regulatory authorities in connection with any such offering. https://bit.ly/3rNuibB 

First site of top ten biopharma selects Kneat’s (KSI-TSXV) SaaS platform. This top ten R&D focused biopharma leader has more than 70,000 employees across multiple operations in six continents. The site’s initial focus is on Computer System Validation with Equipment, Facilities, and Utilities Validation to follow. After completing a formal evaluation, Kneat was selected as the preferred solution to deliver on the site’s e-Validation goals. In addition, a proof-of-concept trial was concluded in late 2020 at another one of this company’s sites. Stakeholders from multiple sites participated in this trial and the deployment phase will begin in early 2021. The initial order for the period to the end of December 2021 was received on December 22, 2020. On successful deployment in production, it is expected to expand to other processes and sites globally representing a significant opportunity for expansion of the Kneat software over the coming years. http://bit.ly/3pyCaLY

Global Markets: IPOs, Venture Capital, M&A

Dash to raise cash drives record US$125 billion fee haul for global banks. Investment banks across the world generated a record US$124.5 billion in fees this year as companies raced to raise cash in order to survive the pandemic. The windfall came as lenders earned high fees underwriting debt and equity offerings for clients such as aerospace group Boeing, property rental site Airbnb and telecoms group SoftBank, according to data provider Refinitiv. https://on.ft.com/2WUiar1

Two years after SAP acquisition, Qualtrics files again for IPO. Qualtrics, the cloud-based software maker that SAP acquired two years ago and announced it was spinning out in July, is seeking a valuation of more than US$10 billion in an offering led by Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase, according to a filing. The company, which sells subscription software for running customer and employee surveys, has continued to grow steadily under SAP. Its annual revenue rose 47% to US$591 million in 2019 and 32% to US$550 million for the nine months ended September 30, according to the filing. It’s hard to say how Qualtrics will fare in a public debut since the company doesn’t have many direct competitors. One rival, SurveyMonkey, has been moderately successful since its IPO in September 2018, with shares currently trading at around 108% above its IPO price. Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Utah, Qualtrics was planning to go public shortly before SAP acquired it. The company will now look to tap into investors’ healthy appetite for cloud software stocks which, before a recent pullback, had propelled companies like Zoom and Snowflake to market valuations well north of US$100 billion. http://bit.ly/3nZBWgn

NYSE to delist Chinese telco giants on U.S. executive order. The New York Stock Exchange said it will delist three Chinese corporations to comply with a U.S. executive order that imposed restrictions on companies identified as affiliated with the Chinese military. China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Corp Ltd., China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. will be suspended from trading between Jan. 7 and Jan. 11, and proceedings to delist them have started, according to a statement by the exchange. In response, China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Jan. 2 that the country will adopt necessary actions to protect the rights of Chinese companies and hopes the two countries can work together to create a fair, predicable environment for businesses and investors. Quantitative hedge fund managers including Renaissance Technologies LLC, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP and Two Sigma Investments LP were among the largest holders in these U.S. listings but the stakes they held at the end of September were small, 13F filings show. The three Chinese companies have separate listings in Hong Kong. All generate the entirety of their revenue in China and have no meaningful presence in the U.S. except for their listings there. Their shares are also thinly traded on the New York Stock Exchange compared to their primary listings in Hong Kong, making this NYSE delisting more of a symbolic blow amid heightened geopolitical friction between the U.S. and China. http://bloom.bg/38VSUWU

Chinese regulators probe Ant Group’s equity investments. Chinese regulators are reviewing equity investments held by Ant Group Co Ltd in dozens of companies, three people with knowledge of the matter said, intensifying a crackdown on billionaire Jack Ma’s financial technology empire. Regulators are considering whether to instruct Ant to divest some of its investments, mainly in technology and fintech start-ups, if they violate any rules such as creating unfair competition in the market, one of the three sources said. Any enforced divestments would deprive the group of potentially lucrative investments, compounding existing regulatory pressure to revamp its business structure and put up more capital for its key consumer lending business. Divestments would also significantly scale back Ant’s influence over the country’s fast-growing fintech industry, where it has sought synergies with its existing businesses via several investments in recent years. Ant has already started to tap prospective buyers including private equity firms for its holdings in more than a dozen of portfolio firms, including domestic bike-sharing start-up Hellobike, another of the sources said. http://reut.rs/2KGlDHb

Ant considers holding company with regulation similar to bank, sources say. The operations that Ant is looking to fold into the holding company include wealth management services, consumer lending, insurance, payments and MYbank, an online lender in which Ant is the largest shareholder, the people said. Under the financial holding company structure, Ant’s businesses would likely be subject to more capital restrictions, potentially curbing its ability to lend more and expand at the pace of the last few years. Chinese regulators also told Ant to devise a plan to overhaul its business, the latest in a series of steps to rein in Ma’s online finance empire. While it stopped short of directly asking for a breakup of the company, the central bank stressed Ant needed to “understand the necessity of overhauling its business” and come up with a timetable as soon as possible. “Its growth would slow a lot,” said Francis Chan, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst in Hong Kong. The valuation of the non-payment businesses, including wealth management and consumer lending, could be slashed by as much as 75%, he said. Ant was last month poised for a public listing that would have valued it at more than US$300 billion, before regulators intervened and scuttled the IPO. http://bloom.bg/2KZ1wUi

Intel soars 8% after activist hedge fund Third Point urges chipmaker to explore strategic alternatives. Intel surged as much as 8% on Tuesday after activist hedge fund Third Point sent a letter to the chipmaker urging it to explore strategic alternatives, according to Reuters. Third Point, run by billionaire investor Daniel Loeb, has amassed a nearly US$1 billion stake in Intel, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter. According to the letter, which was reviewed by Reuters, Third Point is calling for immediate action from Intel Chairman Omar Ishrak to boost the company’s position as a major provider of processor chips for PCs and data centers. In recent years, Intel has been losing market share to Advanced Micro Devices, and has lost key customers like Apple as companies develop their own chips in house and outsource the manufacturing to East Asia. http://bit.ly/2Jw0YVD

Amazon will acquire Wondery, the startup behind popular podcasts like ‘Dr. Death’ and ‘Dirty John,’ in a deal reportedly worth US$300 million. Just months after launching podcasts on its Amazon Music platform, Amazon announced on Wednesday that it will acquire the podcast startup Wondery. “Together with Wondery, we hope to accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts by bringing creators, hosts, and immersive experiences to even more listeners across the globe, just as we do with music,” Amazon said in the press release announcing the acquisition. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but reports from early December pointed to a US$300 to US$400 million price tag. https://bit.ly/354Ux3f

Emerging Technologies

Adidas is developing plant-based leather that will be used to make shoes, its latest sustainability initiative after producing 15 million pairs of recycled plastic sneakers in 2020. The athletic-wear company announced on Monday that it’s working on a new material, a plant-based leather that will be used to make shoes. The leather alternative is made from mycelium, which is part of a fungus. Adidas said it is working on the plant-based leather with partners, but did not announce when shoes made with the material would join its lineup. The company began offering a vegan version of one of its most popular shoes, the Stan Smith, in 2020, and has committed to banning fur from its products. The new material is one of several sustainability initiatives for Adidas, which has stated a goal to end plastic waste. Adidas revealed that in 2020, it produced 15 million pairs of shoes made from recycled plastic waste and said its goal is to produce 17 million pairs next year. http://bit.ly/3aWdNE2

China’s Yahua agrees five-year deal to supply lithium to Tesla. China’s Sichuan Yahua Industrial Group Co Ltd said on Tuesday it had signed a deal to supply battery-grade lithium hydroxide to U.S. electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla Inc for the next five years. Yahua, which is based in southwest China’s Sichuan province, put the total value of the contract, signed by its wholly-owned subsidiary Yaan Lithium, at US$630-US$880 million over 2021-25, a Shenzhen Stock Exchange filing showed. The company’s shares rose the maximum 10% on Wednesday to 19.95 yuan (US$3.05), as investors cheered a major client win for Yahua, and are up almost 157% year-to-date. It already sources lithium – an ingredient in EV batteries – from China’s Ganfeng Lithium, one of the world’s top lithium producers. The Yahua deal underscores Tesla’s “huge demand” for battery-grade lithium hydroxide, “particularly in view of the ramp-up of Model Y production” in Shanghai, the Daiwa analysts wrote in a note. “We expect Ganfeng will continue to be the major if not largest lithium hydroxide supplier of Tesla on the back of this strong demand.” http://reut.rs/38N0oeH

Kuo: Apple car still in early stages, unlikely to launch until 2025-2027 at earliest. Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Apple is targeting 2024 for production of its long-rumored electric vehicle with “next level” battery technology, but Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that a launch is unlikely until 2025-2027 at the earliest. In a research note, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said that Apple Car specifications have yet to be finalized, adding that he would not be surprised if the vehicle’s launch timeframe is pushed out even farther to 2028 or later: We predicted in a previous report that Apple will launch Apple Car in 2023–2025 […] However, our latest survey indicates that the current development schedule of Apple Car is not clear, and if development starts this year and everything goes well, it will be launched in 2025–2027 at the earliest. Due to changes in the EV/self-driving market and Apple’s high-quality standards, we would not be surprised if Apple Car’s launch schedule is postponed to 2028 or later. Kuo said the market is “overly bullish” about the Apple Car’s launch schedule, and he has advised investors to avoid buying Apple Car-related stocks at this time. http://bit.ly/3o2re99

In California, little robot cars will deliver pizza, groceries, and medicine as a paid service in 2021 for the first time. Your groceries, pizza, and medicine can now be delivered via robotic vehicles if you live in California, as Nuro received the state’s first commercial permit for autonomous delivery. San Francisco and Silicon Valley’s streets have been bustling with self-driving vehicles from an array of companies for years. But those vehicles have only been issued permits for testing on public roads. Now, the robotics-startup Nuro has an official stamp of approval to start its paid service, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. http://bit.ly/2JuYXsG

Boston Dynamics robots take over the dance floor in latest video. Boston Dynamics’ Atlas and Spot robots can do a lot of things: sprinting, gymnastic routines, parkour, backflips, open doors to let in an army of their friends, wash dishes, and (poorly) get actual jobs. But the company’s latest video adds another impressive trick to our future robotic overlords’ repertoire: busting sick dance moves. The video sees Boston Dynamics entire lineup of robots — the humanoid Atlas, the dog-shaped Spot, and the box-juggling Handle — all come together in a bopping, coordinated dance routine set to The Contours’ “Do You Love Me.” It’s not the first time Boston Dynamics has shown off its robots’ dancing skills: the company showcased a video of its Spot robot doing the Running Man to “Uptown Funk” in 2018. but the new video takes things to another level, with the Atlas robot tearing it up on the dance floor: smoothly running, jumping, shuffling, and twirling through different moves. Boston Dynamics was recently purchased by Hyundai, which bought the robotics firm from SoftBank in a US$1.1 billion deal. The company was originally founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where it became known for its dog-like quadrupedal robots (most notably, the DARPA-funded BigDog, a precursor to the company’s first commercial robot, Spot.) http://bit.ly/2WWscYy

The rise of AI in gaming. Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has begun to enter into every sector and industry and the gaming industry is no exception. AI is being used at every point in the gaming process, from targeting new potential customers to customer service responses to integration into the framework of the game itself. The future of gaming will undoubtedly involve AI, and it will allow for a more creative, immersive, and exciting gameplay experience. https://bit.ly/3n2N76L

Media, Streaming, Gaming & Sports Betting

Pandemic sees record App Store spend; iOS more than twice Android revenue. 2020 saw a record App Store spend as coronavirus lockdowns saw people forced to seek more at-home entertainment, according to analytics data. With less time spent with family, and fewer entertainment options outside the home, more time has been spent using apps. The holidays alone have seen consumers so far spend an estimated US$407 million on iOS and Android apps, some 34% up on the same period in 2019. 2020 has been a record-setting year for worldwide spending on mobile apps and games, which passed US$100 billion in a single year for the first time ever in November. This trend continued on Christmas, when consumers around the globe spent an estimated US$407.6 million across Apple’s App Store and Google Play, according to preliminary Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates. Mobile spending on Christmas comprised 4.5 percent of the month’s total spending so far, which reached approximately US$9 billion globally from December 1 to December 27. The majority of the holiday spending was on mobile games, which climbed 27 percent from US$232.4 million on Christmas 2019 to US$295.6 million this year. Outside of mobile games, TikTok was the top app in terms of consumer spending, generating US$4.7 million globally in revenue on Christmas. In the US, Roblox generated the most revenue among games, at US$6.6 million in the holiday period, while Disney+ did so in the other entertainment category, at US$2.6 million. http://bit.ly/2WYvI4x

Major streaming service subscribers are up 50% since last year, proof of how the pandemic has boosted some industries and crushed others. Some industries have been slammed this year as the pandemic brought the world to a halt. But others, like streaming services, have seen surging business. So much so that the combined number of US subscribers for the major streaming services will have increased more than 50% since this time last year, according to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis conducted with market research firms MoffettNathanson and Harris X. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven scores of people into their homes while shuttering movie theatres and other means of entertainment, like sporting events. Services that offer people physical distanced-friendly activities while stuck in their homes have prospered this year, including video conferencing tools like Zoom and streaming avenues like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney Plus. However, the growth in streaming viewers, per the report, is in part also a result of a decline in traditional cable TV subscribers. And Americans aren’t just opting for one platform over another — per the WSJ, US households subscribe to about three services on average. Based on the WSJ analysis, Netflix will retain its throne as the streaming platform with the most subscribers as 2020 wraps up. It’s worth noting that one streaming service failed to successfully take advantage of the in-demand at-home entertainment market. Quibi famously crashed and burned six months after launching during the pandemic. http://bit.ly/3aYrlPn

HBO Max, Disney+ see bump in app downloads with film debuts. AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max streaming platform set a single-day record for downloads of its mobile app following the release of the superhero sequel “Wonder Woman 1984,” from the company’s Warner Bros. studio. An estimated 554,000 users signed up for the app from Friday to Sunday, including a record 244,000 downloads on Sunday alone, according to the market-research firm Apptopia. While mobile devices are just one entry point for customers using a streaming service, the data provides a way to measure traffic. HBO Max’s total mobile users now stand at just under 12 million, Apptopia said. Meanwhile, Walt Disney Co.’s Disney+ streaming service had about 2.3 million global installations of its mobile app over the Christmas holiday, a 28% increase from the prior weekend, according to the market-research firm Sensor Tower. The Pixar animated feature “Soul,” which was released on Disney+ on Christmas Day, took in about $7.6 million in its theatrical debut in several international markets, including China. The weekend will be closely analyzed by Hollywood executives and investors because studios decided to release two big films, “Wonder Woman” and “Soul,” on their streaming services on the same day they were released in cinemas. “Wonder Woman” took in US$16.7 million in domestic theaters over the weekend. AT&T’s WarnerMedia said nearly half of the customers who have subscribed to HBO Max directly from the company watched the film on the day of its release. http://bloom.bg/3rIY29d

Pirate site search traffic tanked following Google updates. Pirate sites lost quite a bit of traffic in 2020. A detailed analysis of the yearly trend shows that visitors from search engines dropped by roughly a third. Interestingly, it appears that Google’s algorithm updates did most of the damage. When the file-sharing boom started twenty years ago, most ‘sharing’ took place in dedicated applications such as Napster and Limewire. Unlike apps, the content on torrent sites is easy to find through search engines. This also applies to the pirate streaming sites, direct download portals, or link sites that appeared later on. This discoverability is great for site owners but copyright holders are not pleased. Over the years they have repeatedly asked search engines to ban pirate sites. While that has yet to happen globally, pirate sites have become less and less visible over the years. Google, for example, actively downranks sites for which it receives a relatively high number of takedown requests. That has hurt pirate site traffic, but this year it seems that things have gotten worse, much worse in fact. While Google hasn’t officially confirmed that algorithm updates targeted pirate sites, the data suggest that there’s a clear link. Especially when one keeps in mind that this also includes search traffic from other search engines. Whether this was intentional is another question, of course. http://bit.ly/3b1sAx7

Adtech, Privacy & Regulatory

Privacy, schmivacy: 2 in 3 Americans don’t care if their smart devices are recording them. Are the ads popping up in your smart device a little too spot on? Is it an eerie coincidence or are your smartphones and smart speakers listening in on everything you say in private? Privacy issues are a constant concern when it comes to digital technology, but a new survey finds many Americans are simply accepting they may not be alone in their own home. Researchers say two in three U.S. adults “don’t care” if their smart devices are always listening to what they say. https://bit.ly/2JyaXJX

SolarWinds hack may be much worse than originally feared. The Russia-linked SolarWinds hack which targeted US government agencies and private corporations may be even worse than officials first realized, with some 250 federal agencies and business now believed affected, the New York Times reported. Microsoft has said the hackers compromised SolarWinds’ Orion monitoring and management software, allowing them to “impersonate any of the organization’s existing users and accounts, including highly privileged accounts.” The Times reports that Russia exploited layers of the supply chain to access the agencies’ systems. The Times reports that early warning sensors that Cyber Command and the NSA placed inside foreign networks to detect potential attacks appear to have failed in this instance. In addition, it seems likely that the US government’s attention on protecting the November elections from foreign hackers may have taken resources and focus away from the software supply chain, according to the Times. And conducting the attack from within the US apparently allowed the hackers to evade detection by the Department of Homeland Security. http://bit.ly/3hEeL96

eCommerce

Amazon sold billions of products during holiday period; third-party sales up 50% globally. Amazon said it delivered billions of products globally this holiday season as it wraps up what is expected to be a record fourth fiscal quarter amid the ongoing pandemic. In a new blog post, the Seattle tech giant said it had a “record-breaking holiday season” with the “biggest-ever customer savings, small business growth, and community giving.” It delivered more than 1.5 billion toys, home products, beauty and personal care products, and electronics. Third-party sales on Amazon’s marketplace rose more than 50% year-over-year worldwide. The company has “absorbed” more than US$5 billion in operational costs on behalf of independent sellers this year and said previously it will postpone an annual fulfillment fee increase through June 1 due to the pandemic. Amazon said on Dec. 1 that independent businesses saw sales increase to US$4.8 billion from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, up 60% year-over-year. http://bit.ly/2WWulU6

Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

China moves closer to digital currency rollout. China’s central bank completed a second pilot of a new digital currency it hopes will be used as an alternative to China’s two largest tech giants, Alibaba and Tencent, The Wall Street Journal reported. The pilot was conducted in the Chinese city of Suzhou and involved handing out around US$3.1 million to 100,000 local residents. The digital currency, which is backed by the Chinese government, is different to the digital-payment services offered by Alibaba and Tencent as money transfers can be made without an internet connection and because there are no processing fees involved. The Chinese government hopes to encourage the use of their digital currency to gain better insight into the flow of money across its economy, the Journal reported. Although the second pilot program was successful, China’s central bank hasn’t given a timetable for a nationwide rollout. Its digital currency has been in development since 2014, the newspaper said. http://bit.ly/3rBmARr

A bitcoin ETF could finally become a reality in 2021 after an SEC filing from VanEck. A bitcoin exchange-traded fund could go live in 2021 if an application from VanEck filed this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission proves successful. A bitcoin ETF operated by VanEck would follow the path of gold-trust ETFs in that it would hold the underlying bitcoin, the filing said. The VanEck Bitcoin Trust would reflect the performance of the MVIS CryptoCompare Bitcoin Benchmark Rate. Wall Street has been attempting to launch a bitcoin ETF for years, and VanEck had its last proposal rejected in September 2019. But now, with a changing of the guard at the SEC and bitcoin’s surge to new highs – driven in part by increased adoption from institutions – the chance of approval could be higher than ever. Jay Clayton, who has opposed the launch of a bitcoin ETF during his tenure, stepped down as chairman of the SEC earlier this month. And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has not been receptive to bitcoin, is set to be replaced by Janet Yellen next month. Bitcoin is up nearly 300% year-to-date, and big-name Wall Street institutions have warmed to the cryptocurrency. MassMutual acquired US$100 million worth of bitcoins earlier this month, and high-profile investors like Paul Tudor Jones and Stanley Druckenmiller have also gotten on board with the cryptocurrency. https://bit.ly/385XqCQ

Bitcoin could quadruple in 2021 as the digital currency sees a rally similar to 2017, Fundstrat’s Tom Lee says. Following a strong 2020 that saw bitcoin march to all time highs for a gain of around 300%, 2021 could be even stronger. That’s according to Fundstrat’s Tom Lee, who said in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday that he sees bitcoin surging another 300% next year. Driving bitcoin higher would be a similar setup to what was seen in 2017: a parabolic rally. Lee tweeted that the halvening of 2020 makes this year most similar to 2016, which also experienced a halvening. A halvening in bitcoin is when the reward for miners completing problems on the bitcoin blockchain is cut in half.But if the stock market corrects next year, the positive outlook for bitcoin may deteriorate, according to Lee. “Bitcoin acts like a risk on asset, so in the years where the S&P performs the best are also the best years for bitcoin. So I think if we have a correction in stocks then bitcoin is going to fall,” Lee explained. http://bit.ly/3n5FYTr

Ripple plunges after Coinbase announces it will suspend XRP trading. Major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase will suspend trading for XRP in response to the SEC taking legal action against Ripple. According to a blog post published late on Monday by Coinbase chief legal officer Paul Grewal, the exchange will fully suspend XRP trading starting on Jan. 19 at 10:00 am PST. Coinbase clarified that “trading may be halted earlier as needed” to maintain the exchange’s market health metrics. In addition, the suspension will reportedly not affect Ripple-backed Flare Network’s upcoming Spark (FLR) token airdrop. https://bit.ly/38NarAe

Bitcoin miners in Nordic region get a boost from cheap power. The Nordic region once again has become a lucrative place to mine crypto-currencies, thanks to a plunge in electricity prices. The wettest weather in at least 20 years boosted production from hydro-electric plants, leaving Sweden and Norway with some of the lowest power prices in the world. The resulting glut in the most important raw material for making the virtual coins coincided with a year when the price of Bitcoin almost quadrupled. The currencies are made in giant computer farms that process complex algorithms in halls as big as airport hangars. That makes electricity one of the key inputs, with operations sometimes consuming as much power as that used by 70,000 households. The current market dynamics give big miners alternatives to places where Bitcoin are usually created such as China, Kazakhstan and Canada. Their luck follows several years of poor margins from higher electricity costs and lower prices for most virtual currencies. Many of the the miners that were attracted to the region during the last rally in 2017 have left. “The ones that stayed through the difficult period, like us, are quite happy now,” said Philip Salter, head of operations at Hong Kong-based Genesis Mining Ltd., which operates a data center in Boden, Sweden. “There were times we were not making any profit at all, but during the last year our profitability has more than tripled.” Norway had the lowest electricity prices for industrial users last year among the 30 member-nations in the International Energy Agency. It also had the lowest prices for non-households in the European Union during first half of this year, narrowly beating Iceland, another crypto-currency hot-spot. Many of the miners that left the region after the 2017-18 boom and bust could return. The November announcement of US$35 million investment from Dutch blockchain company Bitfury Holding BV to expand their Norwegian site could mark the start of a new trend. http://bloom.bg/35dojTN

If Tether falls the whole cryptocurrency market could go down with it. Tether, the biggest and the most widely used stablecoin in the market, may prove to be too big to fail. What will happen to the cryptocurrency market if Tether goes broke or gets banned by authorities? How will Tether’s problems affect the bigger market, or will they pass unnoticed as long as Bitcoin is rock solid? Tether, or USDT, was born to bring more stability to the cryptocurrency market. It is pegged to the US dollar, where one USDT represents one USD. The stablecoin is issued by Hong Kong-based homonymous company Tether, which claims to maintain reserves equal to the number of USDT in circulation. https://bit.ly/3n1G0f0

Turkey to pilot digital currency in 2021, says central bank governor. Turkey will begin piloting a previously undisclosed digital currency in the second half of 2021, the country’s chief central banker, Naci Ağbal, told members of parliament Friday. Turkish-language media widely quoted him as follows: “There is an R&D project initiated on digital money. Currently the conceptual phase of this project has been completed. We aim to start pilot tests in the second half of 2021.” https://bit.ly/2WYHXOG

Semiconductors

AI chipmaker Graphcore raises US$222 million as it takes on Nvidia. Graphcore, the UK-based maker of artificial intelligence chips, has raised US$222 million in new funding as it braces itself for tougher competition from US rival Nvidia. The latest round values Graphcore at US$2.5 billion (without including the new capital raised), up from US$1.5 billion two years ago, making it one of the UK’s most valuable private tech companies. https://on.ft.com/2KEcChS

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