Miami, looking to be next crypto hotspot, hosts bitcoin event

Miami, looking to be next crypto hotspot, hosts bitcoin event
A art piece titled BTC Bank Note by artist Gus GG hangs at the Bitcoin 2021 Convention in Wynwood. (AFP)
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Updated 05 June 2021

Miami, looking to be next crypto hotspot, hosts bitcoin event

Miami, looking to be next crypto hotspot, hosts bitcoin event
  • The city has a lot of political support, says Gemini’s David Abner

MIAMI: Thousands of people have descended on Miami for a massive two-day bitcoin conference that opened Friday — a sign that the US city, in the midst of a tech boom, is hoping to become the next cryptocurrency hub.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important in my lifetime to work on” than bitcoin, given the flexibility it offers, billionaire entrepreneur Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter and payments firm Square, told a crowded auditorium.

“We don’t need the financial institutions that we have today. We have one that is thriving, that is sound, that is owned by the community, that is driven by the community,” said Dorsey, one of the keynote speakers at Bitcoin 2021.

Dorsey tweeted Friday that Square was considering making a hardware wallet for safely storing bitcoin.

With 12,000 participants and all speaker sessions sold out, the Bitcoin 2021 trade show features exhibits from crypto mining companies, crypto traders and bitcoin exchange networks.

The conference was originally scheduled to take place in Los Angeles, but was moved due to tougher coronavirus restrictions in California.

The line to get into the Mana Convention Center in Miami’s trendy Wynwood neighborhood wrapped around the building. Everyone was in high spirits and there were no face masks to be seen.

Beyond Dorsey, two of the other speakers were Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, twin Harvard classmates of Mark Zuckerberg who sued him over claims he stole the idea for Facebook from them, and now run cryptocurrency exchange Gemini.

“We think bitcoin is gold 2.0,” Tyler said at a panel discussion. “When we get to Mars, what is the currency going to be in Mars? Dollars? No. Bitcoin.”

So where does Miami fit into the picture?

For David Abner, Gemini’s global head of business development, Miami is “centrally located, especially in the Americas, and there’s a lot of political support here.”

“I think they’ve spent time to understand it and think about the ramifications of bitcoin. And so they’re very supportive of the economy,” Abner said, adding that cryptocurrency could revolutionize remittances sent back to Latin America.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who opened Bitcoin 2021, has become a bit of a celebrity in tech circles, for his intense efforts to turn the Magic City into a beachfront Silicon Valley.

In February, the Republican mayor announced that the city would explore ways to do some of its financial transactions using cryptocurrency, including paying salaries to employees.

Earlier this week, venture capital firm Borderless Capital announced it was moving its headquarters from Atlanta to Miami and launching a new $25 million fund for local startups using blockchain technology.

And the mayor announced the launch of MiamiCoin, a Miami-specific cryptocurrency that will allow investors to boost the city’s coffers while making money themselves.

“This is not a moment. This is a movement,” Suarez said Friday.

Since late last year, Miami has been attracting techies away from Silicon Valley and New York for a variety of reasons — thanks to Florida’s lack of state taxes and relatively lax coronavirus precautions, along with the city’s multicultural work force and proximity to Latin America.

It’s not exactly clear how many have moved, but there are signs of growth — home prices are soaring, up nearly 35 percent in just a year, according to the Miami Association of Realtors.

But not everyone is happy. The Miami Herald warned in an editorial of the possible pitfalls of the city’s embrace of all things crypto.

“Don’t get us wrong. We hope cryptocurrency — and the flashing neon welcome mat we’ve set out for the tech industry — elevate this city to new prosperity,” the paper said.


Saudi Arabia is top oil supplier to China in 2021

Saudi Arabia is top oil supplier to China in 2021
Updated 20 sec ago

Saudi Arabia is top oil supplier to China in 2021

Saudi Arabia is top oil supplier to China in 2021

CHINA: Saudi Arabia retained its top ranking in Chinese oil supplies in 2021, with supplies up 3.1 percent over 2020, and increased its share to 17% of total Chinese imports, customs data showed.

China brought in 87.58 million tonnes of crude oil from the kingdom, or an equivalence of 1.75 million barrels-per-day, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Thursday.

That compares to 84.92 million tonnes in 2020, when Saudi Arabia held 16 percent of the Chinese market.

The expanded market share by the top OPEC exporter came as it boosted sales to national refiners and bolstered by demand from private mega refiners Zhejiang Petrochemical Corp and Hengli Petrochemical.

Russia came in second, increasing the gap with Saudi Arabia, as supplies contracted 4.7 percent to 79.65 million tonnes, or 1.59 million bpd, weighed down by weaker demand from China's independent refiners.

Shipments from Iraq came in third and fell 10 percent on the year to 54.13 million tonnes. Brazil dropped to No.7 last year versus No.4 in 2020, with supplies down 28 percent to 30.28 million tonnes, also due to reduced appetite from small independent plants.

Under a broad campaign to rein in surplus refining capacity and cut carbon emissions, the Chinese government last year introduced measures such as cutting import quotas and slapping a hefty tax on imports of blending fuels.

Imports from Oman and Malaysia gained 18 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

Reuters reported shipments from Iran and Venezuela were passed on as originated from Oman and Malaysia due to U.S. sanctions.

China's customs data on Thursday showed the country brought in its first imports of Iranian crude oil in a year in December despite ongoing sanctions by the United States government.

Officially, Chinese customs data has consistently not shown any imports from Venezuela.

Thursday's data showed U.S. supplies plunged 42 percent to 11.47 million tonnes.

The table below shows import details by country, in metric tonnes. Volumes during January-December period and the percentage changes are calculated by Reuters.

Country Jan-Dec. volume Jan-Dec yr/yr %
Russia 79,654,884 -4.7
Saudi Arabia 87,576,703 3.1
Iraq 54,130,343 -10
Angola 39,163,873 -6.3
UAE 33,825,312 8.6
Oman 44,789,938 18.4

 

 

 

 


Oil prices hover around 2014 highs, supported by supply concerns

Oil prices hover around 2014 highs, supported by supply concerns
Updated 26 min 19 sec ago

Oil prices hover around 2014 highs, supported by supply concerns

Oil prices hover around 2014 highs, supported by supply concerns

SINGAPORE: Oil steadied on Thursday, clawing back losses earlier in the session, as strong demand and short-term supply disruptions continue to support prices close to their highest levels since late 2014.
Brent crude futures fell 17 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $88.27 a barrel, as of 0418 GMT, having dropped more than $1 earlier in the session. The global benchmark touched $89.17 a barrel on Wednesday, its highest since October 2014.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, to stand at $87.03 a barrel, having also shed nearly $1 earlier. WTI climbed to as much as $87.91 on Wednesday, the highest since October 2014.
"The International Energy Agency said global oil demand is on track to hit pre-pandemic levels," analysts at ANZ bank said in a note.
"Shorter-term supply disruptions are also helping tighten markets. Brent crude rallied sharply after reports a key oil pipeline running from Iraq to Turkey was knocked out by an explosion."
However, the flow of crude oil through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline has resumed, after it was halted on Tuesday due to a blast near the pipeline in the southeastern Turkish province of Kahramanmaras, officials said on Wednesday.
Supply concerns have mounted this week after Yemen's Houthi group attacked the United Arab Emirates, the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Meanwhile Russia, the world's second-largest oil producer, has built up a large troop presence near Ukraine's border, stoking fears of invasion and subsequent supply uncertainties.
Underpinning oil prices is the broad post-coronavirus pandemic recovery in demand for fuel.
OPEC officials and analysts say that an oil rally may continue in the next few months, and prices could top $100 a barrel as demand shrugs of the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
OPEC+, which groups the cartel with Russia and other producers, is struggling to hit a monthly output increase target of 400,000 barrels per day.
U.S. crude and gasoline stocks rose while distillate inventories fell last week, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Wednesday.
Crude stocks rose by 1.4 million barrels for the week ended Jan. 14. Gasoline inventories rose by 3.5 million barrels while distillate stocks fell by 1.2 million barrels, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


UK hosting Africa investment summit for green transition

UK hosting Africa investment summit for green transition
Updated 20 January 2022

UK hosting Africa investment summit for green transition

UK hosting Africa investment summit for green transition
  • The conference aims to unlock millions of pounds of new investment, especially in clean energy industries in the UK and Africa
  • Britain will launch a digital tool to link African and British businesses to the UK government

LONDON: The UK is hosting an investment conference on Thursday to boost sustainable economic cooperation with African countries and to support the continent’s transition to clean growth.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will open the one-day event, which will be attended by UK and African ministers, business leaders and and heads of international organizations.
The conference, in its second edition, aims to unlock millions of pounds of new investment, especially in clean energy industries in the UK and Africa.
“Two years on from the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit, the UK’s ambition to be Africa’s investment partner of choice has never been stronger,” said Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
“This year’s conference focuses on the importance of resilient, sustainable investment to support Africa as it pivots toward a more environmentally friendly growth trajectory, and I look forward to working with leaders from the continent as they continue on this path to a greener future,” she added.
During the conference, the UK will launch a new Growth Gateway — a digital tool to link African and British businesses to UK government trade, finance, investment services and opportunities.
UK Export Finance — Britain’s export credit agency — has significantly increased support for markets in Africa in the past year from about £600 million ($817 million) in 2018-19 to more than £2.3 billion in 2020-21, supporting a range of infrastructure projects in countries from Cote d’Ivoire to Uganda, the Department for International Trade said.
Minister for Africa Vicky Ford said that the UK is “deepening its economic ties with African nations” and “there is a lot more that can be done,” adding: “Growth Gateway will make it easier than ever for African and British businesses to access the support they need to boost two-way trade and investment.”
This year’s conference also comes after Britain hosted the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26. The country is looking to build on its commitment to providing £11.6 billion of its International Climate Finance program to help developing countries tackle climate change over the next five years.
Last year’s virtual conference was attended by more than 2,800 delegates from over 40 African countries. Across the UK, 27 trade and investment deals worth £6.5 billion were announced, on top of further commitments worth £8.9 billion.


Turkey Dream Games triples in valuation after raising $255m in funding

Turkey Dream Games triples in valuation after raising $255m in funding
Updated 19 January 2022

Turkey Dream Games triples in valuation after raising $255m in funding

Turkey Dream Games triples in valuation after raising $255m in funding
  • Turkish mobile gaming start-up Dream Games raised an unprecedented $255 million in its latest Series C funding round

RIYADH: Turkish mobile gaming start-up Dream Games raised an unprecedented $255 million in its latest Series C funding round, almost tripling its valuation to $2.75 billion in six months, MAGNiTT reported.

This round of funding was led by Index Ventures, subscribed by returning investors such as Makers Fund, IVP, Kora, Balderton Capital and managed by BlackRock.

The company plans to use the funds for doubling its headcount to 200 people and launch a new game this year.

Founded in 2019, Istanbul-based Dream Games is a mobile gaming company that developed Royal Match — one of the highest grossing mobile games.


UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar top competitive economies in the Arab World: AMF

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar top competitive economies in the Arab World: AMF
Updated 19 January 2022

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar top competitive economies in the Arab World: AMF

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar top competitive economies in the Arab World: AMF
  • The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar were ranked the most competitive Arab economies

RIYADH: The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar were ranked the most competitive Arab economies for the period between 2017 until 2020, according to a report launched by the Arab Monetary Fund.

The fifth Arab economies competitiveness report showed that the UAE maintained its top ranking in the general index as it benefited from high scores in the business environment and infrastructure category as well as the organizational and government governance category.

The Kingdom ranked second after having performed well in the overall economic index, the external activities sector and the official reserves index.

Qatar followed in third place, after attaining first place in the real economy sector, the inflation index and GDP per capita index.

Four Arab nations advanced in terms of competitiveness compared to the previous period, including Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, and Mauritania.

Arab states and other non-Arab countries — such as Singapore, Malaysia, Turkey — are included also in the calculation of the index.

The report monitors the economic competitiveness of Arab countries and sheds light on the economic and political measures applied by decision makers for that purpose.