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The Daily Ten – Nigeria is the world’s 2nd largest Bitcoin market, Google sued by 38 states, Covid vaccine bracelets…

December 18, 2020by Steve NsonNews

The Daily Ten – Nigeria is the world’s 2nd largest Bitcoin market, Google sued by 38 states, Covid vaccine bracelets…

December 18, 2020 by Steve Nson
Friday, December 18th, 2020

The Daily Ten

1. Nigeria is now the world’s second-biggest bitcoin market after the US | Quartz

During the police brutality protests in Nigeria in October, bitcoin saved the day when the government shut out protesters from using local payment platforms for collecting donations to support it.

The young, tech-savvy protesters quickly switched to using bitcoin, and in about a week bitcoin accounted for around 40% of the nearly $400,000 raised. It was just one high-profile example of how young Nigerians increasingly use bitcoin to navigate a complicated and restrictive banking and monetary system.

In the last five years, Nigeria has traded 60,215 bitcoins, valued at more than $566 million which, apart from the US, is the largest volume worldwide on Paxful, a leading peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace. The data scraped from Coin Dance  shows from the beginning of May 2015 to the middle of November this year, bitcoin trade in Nigeria have increased yearly at least 19% in volume since 2017, and the highest volume (20,504.50) was traded in 2020.

Bitcoin trade had its highest spike of 30% this year during the national lockdown in the country and the highest volume traded during the peak of the pandemic. between January and September, Paxful was reported to record a 137% increase in new registrations in Nigeria.”

The company says Nigerians make up around a quarter of its customer base with 1.3 million registered accounts. “They mostly use the platform for peer-to-peer and arbitrage trading,” says Nena Nwachukwu, Paxful Nigeria regional manager.  “Remittances is also a popular use case.” Nwachukwu says bitcoin transfers are “much cheaper and faster than using traditional money transfer operators.”

The growing uncertainty and instability around the Nigerian naira, which has had increasingly divergent official and parallel exchange rates with the US dollar, has created an opportunity and practical use case for bitcoin trade in Nigeria. The divergent rates have long been a striking feature of Nigeria’s economy but more so in the last half decade as the country’s financial authorities have attempted to micro-manage the supply of foreign exchange and “defend” the naira.

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2. Families Flock to the Nashville Suburbs for Good Schools, Low Taxes and Some Southern Charm | WSJ

The real-estate market in Williamson County, Tenn., is booming amid coronavirus and corporate relocation and expansion

In downtown Franklin, Tenn., a giant Christmas tree and Victorian-era storefronts draw flocks of shoppers in search of very merry merchandise. This chic charm is wooing scores of new home buyers, too.

“We love the downtown,” says Daniel Piraino. “We love being outside, walking early and late and feeling secure.” He and his wife, Laura Piraino, moved from Wilmington, Del., to Franklin last year and recently paid $2.1 million for a roughly 6,000-square-foot brownstone that is located just off Main Street.

The Pirainos—he owns an aviation business and she is a pastor—bought a weekend home in 2018 after attending a fundraiser in Franklin. Mr. Piraino, 50, says he felt that God called them to move there full time, which they did last year. They sold their vacation home for $1.8 million. “We have met a lot of people since we’ve been here. We remark on how welcoming people are. Every time we turn around somebody’s trying to introduce us to someone new.”

In November, the median price for a single-family home in Franklin was $628,000, up 14.6% compared with November 2019, according to the Williamson County Association of Realtors. In nearby Brentwood, which, like Franklin, is in Williamson County, the median was $1.025 million, up about 28% from the year before. Demand has reduced inventory in both cities, which is driving up prices.

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3. Google slammed for ‘monopoly power’ in new antitrust lawsuit from 35 states | TechCrunch

Another day, another major antitrust effort seeking to dismantle the unprecedented power of the world’s biggest tech companies.

On Thursday, a group of 38 attorneys general announced a bipartisan lawsuit against Google, alleging the company has engaged in “illegal, anti-competitive conduct” to create a monopoly in search and search advertising.

“Google’s anti-competitive actions have protected its general search monopolies and excluded rivals, depriving consumers of the benefits of competitive choices, forestalling innovation, and undermining new entry or expansion,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said. “This lawsuit seeks to restore competition.”

The state of Colorado is co-leading the lawsuit with Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. New York Attorney General Letitia James called Google the “gatekeeper of the internet” and slammed the company for leveraging the personal data it collects to solidify its market dominance.

Compared to the Texas-led suit against Google announced yesterday, the second lawsuit represents a broader coalition of 35 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. The new lawsuit, embedded below, will run in parallel with the Justice Department’s own federal suit, which also alleges that the company has abused its power to create and maintain a monopoly.

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4. Two Seattle techies create bracelets to let people signal they’re vaccinated against COVID-19 | GeekWire

With a resume that includes Microsoft, Amazon and the shipping powerhouse Convoy, Seattle’s Greg Akselrod is hardwired for data. And the numbers around the support for the COVID-19 vaccine troubled him.

Multiple polls show about half of Americans are onboard for getting inoculated against the virus, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease scientist, says we need to reach a rate of 75-85% to achieve herd immunity and protect the public. Without that, people who medically cannot get the vaccine remain at risk.

“I was like, ‘Oh crap, I’ve got a metric and I need to move it,’” Akselrod said.

Given the high rates of distrust in government, Akselrod figured a better approach for boosting confidence and vaccination rates would be through grassroots social signaling — by empowering friends and family to show their support. But because no one can tell at a glance if someone is vaccinated, he wanted to make it easily visible in the way “I voted” stickers signal election participation.

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5. The Work-From-Home Boom Is Here to Stay. Get Ready for Pay Cuts | Bloomberg

White-collar workers are taking advantage of a newfound flexibility to leave expensive coastal cities, even as companies move to “localize” their pay.

Rachel Musiker was on maternity leave, stuck in a two-bedroom basement apartment with a newborn, when Covid-19 started spreading in New York City. Her husband, who works in the insurance industry, was still commuting on the subway, so she started making him shower before holding the baby. “It was just starting to feel unsafe to even go for walks,” Musiker says. So, on March 14, they packed a few bags and drove to Rochester, N.Y.

Musiker had loved her Brooklyn neighborhood. The rent was ridiculous, but there was a bistro a few steps from her apartment that served a fabulous brunch (if you were willing to wait for a table) and a day care a half-block away where she planned to send the baby. None of that mattered now. The day care might not even be open when she went back to work; brunch was a Before Times indulgence.

She and her husband had planned to stay with her parents for two weeks in Rochester. They ended up there for nine. Afterward they rented a house outside town on Lake Ontario, and Musiker settled back into her job as director of communications at the real estate and technology company Redfin Corp. In August the couple bought a four-bedroom, 3,400-square-foot house for $355,000.

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6. Quarantine-free travel from the U.S. to Europe shows the first, small signs of becoming reality | CNBC

New preflight testing programs are allowing a small number of Americans to have a European Christmas holiday this year after all.

On Tuesday, Delta Air Lines launched a Covid-19 testing program for customers flying from Atlanta to Amsterdam, while a second program is scheduled to start on Saturday for Delta passengers flying to Rome.

Unlike other preflight testing programs being conducted by American and United Airlines, Delta’s programs allow passengers to avoid quarantine requirements in Europe.

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7. Coinbase announces IPO in a milestone for the crypto industry | Fortune

Cryptocurrency giant Coinbase announced on Thursday that it has confidentially filed for a public offering, becoming the latest in a parade of high-profile startups to pursue an IPO in 2020.

Founded in 2012 as a simple way for consumers to purchase Bitcoin, Coinbase has since become a conglomerate of crypto-related business and the standard-bearer for an industry long regarded with suspicion by regulators and the traditional financial establishment.

Coinbase’s announcement comes at a time when both the IPO market and cryptocurrency prices are red-hot. The price of Bitcoin is currently near a record $23,500, and trading volumes are surging—a boon for firms like Coinbase, which makes the bulk of its revenue from trading commissions.

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8. Winter storm, coronavirus pandemic proves boon for on-demand snow plowing company Plowz & Mowz | Fox Business Network

The app uses route-optimization technology to track plow location

The first major winter storm of the season hit the Northeast Wednesday night into Thursday morning, driving demand for snow clearing services from on-demand companies like Plowz & Mowz.

Plowz & Mowz operates from an app in a manner similar to Uber, allowing users to alert the closest plow available, as soon as possible. Co-founder Wills Mahoney told FOX Business Network’s “After the Bell” Thursday that the process is designed to be “really simple.”

“It automatically spits out a price,” he said. “From there, it gets dispatched to our over 8,000 landscapers that we have using our app right now. And then the job gets done and you get a picture of the completed job. So it’s really, really simple.”

Now that the coronavirus pandemic has caused people to limit interaction with others, Mahoney said demand has been more intense than ever, with orders being received “every couple seconds.”

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9. The World’s CFOs Have a Dire Message for Real-Estate Investors | Bloomberg

Property investors are about to discover just how much the global fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has spread from deserted and cast-off buildings to their bottom lines.

Hundreds of corporate executives tracked in earnings calls around the world in the past five months addressed the urgency to cut real-estate costs, according to an AI model trained by Bloomberg to scour transcripts. Tactics include cutting office space, accelerating branch closures, renegotiating rents on warehouses and even shutting data centers.

In 4,767 global earnings calls between July 21 and Dec. 8, about one in eight machine-generated transcripts revealed that firms were rethinking their real estate needs, with many on track to save millions of dollars in the process.

While the pandemic has squeezed landlords and clobbered securities linked to commercial real estate, the damage to cash flows stands as the long-tail risk for investors. In an estimated $10 trillion global pool of properties held for investment purposes, the industry’s main sources of capital — pension funds and insurance firms — count on the steady income to pay for their own long-term commitments.

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10. Robinhood Pays $65 Million Fine to Settle Charges of Misleading Customers | The New York Times

Millions of investors have turned to Robinhood in recent years, lured by a sales pitch of no trading fees. The charges announced on Thursday apply to Robinhood’s disclosures from 2015 to late 2018, the regulator said.

Robinhood, a fast-growing financial app, has attracted millions of young customers in recent years by making it fun and free to trade stocks, as well as riskier investments like options and Bitcoin.

Now the same practices that drove Robinhood’s success are increasingly leading to fines, complaints and scrutiny from state and federal regulators.

On Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission said that Robinhood had misled its customers about how it was paid by Wall Street firms for passing along customer trades and that the start-up had made money at the expense of its customers. Robinhood agreed to pay a $65 million fine to settle the charges, without admitting or denying guilt.

A day earlier, the top securities regulator in Massachusetts also filed a complaint against Robinhood, accusing the start-up of riding to success by “unscrupulously” pushing unsophisticated customers into risky investments.

The settlement and complaint add to the questions facing Robinhood, which has expanded rapidly over the last few years to become one of the biggest retail brokers in the country. Founded in 2013, it upended the brokerage industry with a sales pitch of no trading fees or account minimums. That has drawn in a younger generation of investors, turning the company into a Silicon Valley darling valued at nearly $12 billion.

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