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How Big Tech Corporations are Profiting from the Covid-19 Pandemic

As a Global Recession looms over the Global Economy,  Tech Giants rake billions in Revenue during COVID-19 Pandemic.

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As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic painfully kills innocent individuals globally, it seems to be taking powerful blows at the global economy, knocking down start-ups without the financial wherewithal to stand against its powerful blows.

As the human toll grows, the economic damage rises. Global Economic Prospects reports: “COVID-19 has triggered the deepest global recession in decades.” According to the baseline forecast, an estimate of future demand based historical demand global GDP is expected to see a 5.2% drop in 2020. 

However, governments of  different countries are taking steps to contain the human and economic impact of COVID-19. Côte d’Ivoire, for example, declared a state of emergency after its first confirmed case was recorded on March 12 2020. Schools, nightclubs, bars, and theatres were closed. 

As the containment measures were relaxed and normal economic activities continued, the regional central bank, BCEAO (Central Bank For West African States) and  West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), according to the IMF, began a collateral framework, to help refinance 1,700 private companies. Also banks and microfinance institution customers who had trouble servicing their debts as a result of the Pandemic were given a 3 months window without the need to service their debts and without incurring any penalties.

In Ghana, the MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) provided relief funds for small  depository institutions. 

 Nigeria’s  CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria), created a N50 billion ($139 million) targeted stimulus package to support households and MSMEs impacted by the heavy blows of the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Despite these efforts, the Pandemic still plunges the global economy into a tragic recession. It becomes apparent that COVID-19 will leave lasting scars as human lives are lost, and as the globe plunges into an economic downturn. The cost of the Pandemic has been put at $2 trillion globally

As the Pandemic ripples through the USA with about 5.2 million confirmed cases (as at 12th August)  unemployment reaches an all time high. In the UK, the worst quarterly fall since Q3 of 1979, was recently recorded. 

In more vulnerable economies, the impact is bad and is bound to get worse. As Nigeria sluggishly recuperates from the 2014 oil price shock, another steep decline in oil prices undermines the little progress made in 6 years. The budget for the 2020 fiscal year was prepared with significant revenue projections of about 20%, but the realities of COVID-19 have called for a review of expected earnings. 

As the pandemic knocks out businesses and cripples industries, some businesses are, however, thriving.

Amazon, Facebook, Zoom, etc are all witnessing tremendous growth as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic

One of these businesses is Amazon. It announced a profit of $5.2 billion for the 1st quarter. Ironically, the US  announced an economic growth collapse on that same day. Macy’s and Niemen Marcus, retailers like Amazon, have laid off workers in their thousands. 

Facebook saw a 10% increase in revenue, $18.3 billion in the second quarter.  Apple surpassed Wall Street expectations with a revenue of $59.7 billion. 

Popular video conferencing app; Zoom, recorded great revenue as the customer base grew by 354%. $328.2 million was recorded as the company’s revenue in Q1 of year 2020. 

Popular content streaming service also recorded some very interesting numbers. It added 15.77 million International subscribers massively surpassing the 7.2 million predicted by Wall Street. With over 182 million subscribers worldwide, the company saw a $5.77 quarterly revenue. 

Restriction to movement has been a major reason for the huge turn overs recorded by these businesses. Internet usage increased by 70%, while streaming went up by 12%. 

People look to the internet for entertainment, connection, income generation and the likes. 

WhatsApp has seen 40% increase in usage. As ability to socialize physically reduces, these platforms provide an opportunity for humans to keep in touch. 

As the Pandemic deals severely with economies, households and small businesses, tech giants profit off our desire to remain sane through the pandemic.

Are they all Winners? 

It is not all fireworks and celebrations for every tech company. While some have been raking in big bucks because people have been stuck in their houses, others  thrive on people actually leaving their houses, and quite a few companies are in this situation.

Uber: Uber Technologies Inc., popularly known as Uber, has not been recording impressive numbers, unlike its other tech counterparts. 

The ride-hailing app has seen a major decline in active customers. Uber now has an average of 55 million customers each month since the pandemic, a massive drop from 99 million last year. 

When the lockdown was at its worst, Uber had an 80% decline in business. 3,500 employees were laid off over a “Zoom Call” by  the company as a cutting-cost measure. Though the medium of delivering such a sensitive subject has been considered callous by some, it shows how badly the Pandemic hit the company.

In spite of the fact that the company’s ride hailing business has been slow with fewer people booking rides, the company’s food delivery service recorded a boom during the pandemic. As its core business dropped, Uber concentrated on its food delivery business to alleviate the core business beatdown.

Airbnb: The online marketplace for vacation homes, took some heavy blows from the pandemic. Apparently, the hit was so bad that it had to lay off employees. 

“We are collectively living through the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime, and as it began to unfold, global travel came to a standstill,” CEO Brian Chesky tells employees

Airbnb had to freeze hiring and cut executives’ salaries. The Wall Street journal reported that the company had already lost $322 million last year after ramping up spending due to 2018’s profit. 

Laid off workers received one year health care, 14 weeks of base pay, one additional week for every year they worked at Airbnb. 

Both sides to the COVID-19 Pandemic are just as brutal. Human losses are devastating, and economic losses are just as terrible. Though reports come in numbers and statistics, the pain, however, is inestimable. 

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Bolu Abiodun is a recent graduate of Theatre and Media Arts, Federal University Oye-Ekiti. A journalist with over a year's experience on the job. A former editor at American Media company Project Forward, he is a skilled content creator, social media manager and digital marketer.

Crypto Assets

Cryptographers want to take back the term “Crypto”

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When the term Crypto is employed, it’s usually in relation to bitcoin, ethereum or different cryptocurrencies. According to Merriam -Webster’s dictionary, it additionally refers to cryptography.

Cryptography is “the computerized coding and decryption of information”. Because of the meaning of the word being seized by digital currencies, cryptographers have taken to social media, created t-shirts and hoodies to state “crypto suggests that cryptography”.

Amie Stepanovich, administrator of semiconducting material Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado grad school and creator of the pro-cryptography T-shirts, spoke to the Guardian, saying:

“Crypto for many years has been used as shorthand and as a prefix for things associated with cryptography. In fact, within the term cryptocurrency, the prefix crypto refers back to cryptography.”

But in the past years, the term Crypto has now been peculiar to cryptocurrencies as a lot of companies and organizations dealing in cryptocurrency will prefer to refer to themselves as crypto companies. A typical example is Crypto.com, a website for trading and storing cryptocurrencies. 

The renaming of Los Angeles Lakers home stadium to Crypto.com Arena may be a win for cryptocurrency fans however it strikes a blow against the world’s original meaning. The name reflects the arena’s new support agreement with a Singapore-based cryptocurrency commerce platform. 

That will be excellent news for cryptocurrency fanatics – however maybe not such a lot for one more faction in the digital landscape: cryptographers.

Another fashionable term crypto is employed for is Crypto.com, that is the world’s fastest-growing cryptocurrency platform. However, Matt Blaze, a mortal and research worker of cryptography and McDevitt chair of engineering and law at Georgetown University closely-held the Crypto.com domain in 1993.

Blaze originally refused to sell the naming rights to consumers although some crypto connected domain names were being sold-out for an outsized quantity of cash.

Blaze tweeted in 2018 “I suppose career cryptocurrencies “crypto” may be a poor selection, with unhealthy consequences for each cryptography and cryptocurrencies.”

However, the name was eventually sold-out, and currently if you move to Crypto.com you’re greeted by the crypto platform’s web site and their current advert that includes Matt friend.

Stepanovich, realises that crypto is heavily related to cryptocurrencies presently, but she realises history is on the aspect of cryptographers as she said: “The study of crypto has been around forever.”

There have been global debates over both cryptography – for example, questions over whether chat services should offer “backdoors” that skirt encryption – and the regulation of cryptocurrency.

“There is a need to distinguish between those two areas to avoid absolutely foreseeable confusion,” Stepanovich said, a particular issue when it comes to “legislators and regulators who are not always subject matter experts in these areas, even if they are charged with overseeing them”.

Higgins agreed, “Crypto as shorthand for cryptography was in widespread use. you may bring up crypto even on Capitol hill and folks would comprehend what you were talking about – that actually did hold plenty of, forgive this, however currency.”

And at a time where many still aren’t positive what exactly cryptocurrency is, the confusion over the terms simply makes things muddier. 

“Strong cryptography may be a cornerstone of the manner that individuals cite privacy and security, and it’s been vulnerable for decades by governments, enforcement agencies and all varieties of unhealthy actors”, Higgins added. For its defenders, confusion over nomenclature creates one more challenge.

It will however be a long battle that places cryptographers on the losing side because the popularity of the word “crypto” with cryptocurrencies has surely eclipsed the original meaning or connection to cryptography. It will come as a consolation that cryptocurrency goes through encryption.

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Elon Musk’s Dogecoin space dream approaches realization

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Dogecoin will strive to get to a place where no other cryptocurrency has ever been, thanks to the upcoming SpaceX mission by billionaire, Elon Musk. 

It is no longer news that Elon Musk’s rocket company is harnessing the knowledge of Blockchain startups ZenX Labs and Unizen coupled with energy tech firm, Geometric Energy Corporation (GEC) to prepare for the launch of the Doge-1 satellite into space.

Elon Musk previously stated that the tab for the space mission is being paid for in Dogecoin and that SpaceX would launch the Doge-1 satellite to the Moon in 2022, making it the first cryptocurrency to literally go into space. 

SpaceX and GEC will also look to explore and highlight the role of decentralized finance (DeFi), in space exploration.

In a statement released by Tom Ochinero, SpaceX Vice President of Commercial Sales, he stated;

“This mission will demonstrate the application of cryptocurrency beyond Earth orbit and set the foundation for interplanetary commerce. We’re excited to launch DOGE-1 to the Moon!”

Doge-1 Mission

Unizen, a smart exchange ecosystem for digital assets, unveiled several moving parts of the operation. GEC is focused on building and launching Doge-1, the maiden “crypto founded space mission to the Moon.” ZenX Labs is providing support around scaling, DeFi infrastructure and compliance.

The DeFi component involves the dynamic multi-asset staking (DMAS) of Unizen ($ZCX), a smart CeDeFi ecosystem, and rewards including XI Protocol tokens ($XI), according to the announcement.

The three companies are gearing up to launch the CubeSat and the satellite into lunar orbit making it possible for spatial results to be obtained from sensors and cameras. The mission is not expected to launch until March 2022. 

Doge Price

Although the Blockchain space trip is nearing its actualization, this has done little to lift the mood in the crypto market as majority of the top 10 coins are currently trading in the red, including Dogecoin. 

Hopefully when SpaceX’s Doge-1 takes off, presumably in the coming months, it could be a catalyst for gains. Musk’s influence is enough to move the markets, and the satellite mission thrusts Dogecoin into uncharted territory for cryptocurrencies.

Virgin Galactic, the space company founded by fellow billionaire Richard Branson, has signed up about 700 people for its upcoming space mission. They are hoping to sell enough tickets for 1,000 people to be on the spaceflight.

Possible Effect

The big question has always been if Doge will ever get to $1. Doge is a lot closer to $1 today than it was at the start of the year. Doge currently stands at $0.26 so if it’s to reach $1 milestone, then it must get a 284.6% rise. 

Although that seems unlikely, the latest development of Doge-1 and the impending space travel might make it possible. 

This would see the cryptocurrency market cap get to $131 billion, comfortably making it the third-largest coin, eclipsing the likes of binance coin, solana and tether.

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Market Watch

India to ban crypto for payments, As China continues to ramp up crypto mining holdouts

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India would be banning cryptocurrencies as a method of payment but would regulate its use as an asset according to a report by the Economic Times. A legislative bill on crypto regulation is planned to be presented in the winter session of parliament. According to reports, the details of this bill are still being finalized. In the bill, authorities also plan on banning “active solicitation” from crypto firms which includes exchanges and platforms.

The current plan is a deviation from the government’s earlier plans to outrightly ban cryptocurrencies in the country. The Reserve Bank of India had in April 2018, banned regulated entities, financial institutions, from dealing in cryptocurrencies and providing services for facilitating any person or entity in dealing with cryptocurrencies. That, however, was overruled by the Supreme Court in March 2020 with the Court stating that while unregulated, cryptocurrencies were not illegal in India.

With the currently proposed legislation, the government seems to want to take a middle road on its stance with cryptocurrencies. The bill is also expected to address taxation aspects of the market. As for a regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) seems to be a likely candidate although according to the Economic Times, that is yet to be finalized.

Meanwhile, still on the continent of Asia, China is ramping up and tightening its control of crypto mining. The spokesperson for China’s National Development and Reform Commission, Meng Wei stated this during a press conference on Tuesday. She said the NDRC would be launching a “full scale” clamp down on any mining holdouts still left in the country.

This comes on the heels of China’s outright ban on crypto mining which took China’s global share of mining operations essentially offline overnight. Miners in China had moved their equipment and operations to neighboring Kazakhstan, Europe and the U.S. The Chinese government’s criticism of the mining industry has been attributed to it’s enormous energy use and environmental impact which threatens to jeopardize the nation’s goal of carbon net zero by 2060.

In apparent response to the news, a selloff was induced and the price of Bitcoin fell by about 7% to $60,889 while Ether slid by about 8% to $4,297.

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