It’s been an interesting week to say the least. We’re waiting for Vladimir Putin to decide whether or not he wants to plunge the world into war by continuing his half-banked invasion into the Ukraine, while Russian citizens make a run on the banks thanks to sanctions. Everyone I’ve talked to is wondering how much longer the Russian people are going to take getting their asses handed to them economically before they decide enough is enough, and the biggest improvement would be removal of the bear-rider from office.
Hard to tell.
Regardless, here’s what happened in tech while Putin decided whether or not he wanted to end the world this week.
Powerband Solutions picks up more debt
Powerband Solutions (PBX.V) offers a cloud-based used-car platform that cuts out the middleman—meaning it does the transactions between customers, dealers, financial types and manufacturers making it easy to buy, sell, trade, finance and lease new and used, EV and internal combustion vehicles from your phone, PC, tablet, etc.
They’ve recently received a letter of intent from a Canadian financial institution to provide financing through a line of credit and term loan facility. It would be a commitment of $4 million and anticipated to carry a blended capital cost of 10% with no equity dilution.
It comes with a 12 months interest-only period and 36 month principle amortization period after that.
“After a long journey of evaluating financing alternatives, we have selected a lender that provides a flexible, non-dilutive solution to our shareholders. We are a step closer to securing a bridge to profitability and excited to work towards finalizing an agreement in the coming weeks,” said Kelly Jennings, founder and CEO of Powerband.
Debt is rarely an improvement but they’ve got to find a source of capital somehow, and at least it’s not dilutive.
Vitalhub’s inks licensing deal to bring patient flow efficiency to North Cumbria
Vitalhub (VHI.V) is a longstanding former client of ours here at Equity Guru and periodically we like to check in and see how they’re doing. As it turns out, their improvements have been considerable in every way since we were writing about them from 2017 to maybe 2019. They’ve hopped the pond and are now working in Europe, and have expanded their product base from their blockchain-based TREAT system to include solutions for electronic health record (EHR), case management, care co-ordination, patient flow and operational visibility, and DOCit mobile apps.
Their latest deal involves the North Cumbria Integrated NHS Foundation Trust and a contract to digitize its patient data collection processes and find efficiencies in its patient consultation services processes. The trust is responsible for over 70 services over 15 sites, which represents a population of over 500,000 patients and 6,500 staff.
This is multi-year licensing deal came about because the trust was looking for ways to provide improvements to patient flow management, which is perfect for Vitalhub, because that’s their specialty. Or at least one of them.
Vitalhub’s raison d’etre is to provide technology to health providers, including hospitals, regional health authorities, mental health, long-term care, etc. Their various solutions perform for different segments of the healthcare system, including electronic health record, case management, care co-ordination, patient flow and operational visibility.
“This sale provides further demonstration of Vitalhub’s strong penetration across the National Health Services landscape in the United Kingdom, and beyond. With each new sale and customer relationship, we aim to continue to provide best in class health IT leadership, streamlining processes and improving operational efficiency across health systems,” said Dan Matlow, chief executive officer of Vitalhub.
UK Regulator Doesn’t Do Its Homework
It’s starting to happen.
Governments around the world are circling the wagons around cryptocurrency and its providers. The SEC got on Coinbase’s (COIN.Q) case not too long ago for their since scrapped Coinbase Lend product, and that was the first domino to fall. Now it’s come around to Globalblock (BLOK.V) and more specifically the Globalblock UK subsidiary.
The company issued an application to register their crypto asset business with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK in according with their Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds Regulations from 2017 on June 30, 2020, and have been operating under the transitional providers set aside while they waited their answer. The temporary registration regime is set to expire by the end of the month.
Now after 20 months of dragging their heels and providing limited feedback, the FCA sent a warning notice suggesting it’s likely going to refuse the application on grounds that they don’t think the company is going to make good on their promises with Anti-Money Laundering grounds.
We’re going to see a lot of this in the coming months. The UK took almost two years to get their collective thumbs out of their collective asses and figure out what to do, and then after a jaunty sip of tea and a bit of spice, decided to decline.
That’s kind of the problem, though, with centralized companies operating in the cryptocurrency space. If you have a head office you’re a target.
“Assets traded on crypto rails are on all counts inherently relective of a higher standard than traditional finance. Not only are transactions eminently more traceable, but they are also subject to rules that are defined and verified by cryptographic processes and therefore resistant to human operational failings. Globalblock U.K. has engineered FCA compliance into its DNA. Our processes are identical to those that a traditional FCA regulated business would incorporate, save for the fact that the superior features of blockchain technology enhance our controls and procedures to the higher standard of crypto,” said Rufus Round, CEO.
One of the things Round said in the quote is one of the reasons why I don’t think the UK regulators (and likely our regulators won’t either) don’t understand crypto. It’s arguably more reliable, more transparent, and more easily traceable than any other financial instrument.
Just like China is learning right now blockchain is a totalitarian government’s wet dream and an absolute nightmare for anyone and everyone else. But they’re worried that it might end up in the hands of criminals?
Any criminal dumb enough to transact in Bitcoin deserves to get caught.
Granted, this circling of the wagons could be an attempt to push existing established cryptocurrencies down while they prepare to launch their own central bank digital currency, which if you ask me, represents a significant improvement in the odds that we’re all enslaved by 2030.
BTCS Adds Polkadot to its Growing Blockchain Infrastructure Operations
BTCS (BTCS.Q) added a significant improvement to their blockchain infrastructure operations by onboarding Polkadot this week. Polkadot is the 11th largest cryptocurrency by market cap. It’s fast, scalable and decentralized, and its claim to fame is that allows data flows across blockchain systems.
Alright, more specifically it hosts bridges that allow its network to interact with other blockchains, allowing for tokens to be shipped across multiple networks without the need for a central exchange. It’s a multichain network, which means it can process many transactions on several parallel blockchains. In comparison, Bitcoin operates in isolation and can only process one transaction at a time. Polkadot’s processing power helps it scale up to 1,000 transactions a second.
The company has approximately 38,372 DOT staked presently at roughly $620,000 from which they get yearly rewards called an annual percentage yield. One of DOTs innovations is its consensus mechanism, which is a riff on the Proof of Stake core mechanism they called Nominated Proof of Stake (NPoS). Basically, each validator is nominated by those staking on the network, instead of he who stakes the most coins wins, as per typical staking.
LastKnown.com Taps Celebrity Improvement to Help NFT Drop
Next up in the room for improvement train we have Blockchain Foundry (BCFN.C) and their subsidiary, LastKnown.
LastKnown banked big that their support of Andrew Skuja’s Babylon Misfits NFTs would draw enough interest and make enough cash at their drop. Unfortunately, some NFT drops work better than others.
Their general lack of press buzz owing to a mix of Skuja’s status as an unknown and their lack of adequate advertorial outreach basically sank their battleship, and now they have been forced to reach deep into their pocket of goodies and pull out some variety of saving grace.
In this case, they pulled out Nashville-based, three time Grammy Award-winning reggae artist Gramps Morgan to help promote the public sale presently going on at LastKnown.com.
Morgan apparently liked what he saw, or maybe just liked the idea of another source of income for showing up and occasionally saying nice things, these things are hazy, but he agreed to be an ambassador and consultant and bring his massive social media following and awareness to the connection.
“This whole [LastKnown] thing with the Misfits is really cool. When I first saw it, I had to reach out to SkooJAH myself for a collaboration. I totally want to help spread the word about the Babylon Misfits NFT Collection. I love the whole universe he created there. This drop is so totally unique and masterfully crafted, and there’s only a few of them left so I hope people get in,” said Morgan.
I have no idea who any of these people are but whatever works, I guess.
In the past weeks we’ve written about Datametrex AI (DM.V) and their Medi-Call subscription app that connects patients with doctors, and now they’re starting their beta testing with a group of doctors and users in Ontario and Quebec.
The resting will give the company the data they need to make the necessary tweaks and changes to ensure the best experience for both doctors and clients. The beta will also help DM prepare for the actual launch of the app while getting quality assurance feedback. Which is what a good beta test is supposed to do.
“To get the app ready for beta testing in this short period is a milestone for the company and shows our commitment and belief in the potential of the sector. With this new application, we are looking forward to meeting the growing demand from physicians and potential patients by taking the next step to capture the full potential of Medi-Call’s services,” said Marshall Gunter, chief executive officer of Datametrex AI.
Medi-Call has invented to help doctors manage their appointments and provide faster treatment and care for patients. The launch arrives during the pandemic, when digital access to healthcare is particularly important. Now folks are turning to telehealth for basic health and mental health care needs because nobody wants to sit in a doctor’s office among sick people, where the prospect of getting COVID-19 and its myriad variants is the highest.
Here’s some stats to support this:
The American Psychiatric Association reports that 82% of Americans have used telehealth services to meet with doctors and other medical types during the pandemic. Also, 69% of respondents said they had used it through a video format, and 38% said it was over the phone.
Intellabridge launches Kash U.S.-dollar accounts
Intellabridge Technology (KASH.C) started offering U.S. dollar accounts in the United States today. They have connections to over 11,000 U.S. banks and credit unions, and hope to take advantage of decentralized markets by providing customers with access to high-yield stablecoin savings accounts.
It might be time for a refresher.
A stablecoin is a cryptocurrency with its value pegged to another commodity. Usually this is the United States dollar, and it will stay at roughly $1 dollar for one token. Sometimes this is precious metal like gold or silver, but mostly, it’s a fiat currency. We in Canada have our own. It’s called QCAD. Check it out.
The Kash product is live. Customers can connect their bank accounts and exchange for U.S. dollar stablecoins, which can be deposited into savings accounts to pull in more than 10% APY (annualized per year.)
“The arrival of Kash in the United States marks the beginning of a new milestone for the company and we’re thrilled to bring these new capabilities to our customers. We are pushing the boundaries to deliver value to customers, leading a paradigm shift in financial markets, making it easier for customers to access decentralized markets and earn stable high yield on their savings,” said John Eagleton, Kash chief executive officer.
There’s no word as to which stablecoin this might be—whether it’s USDT, USDC, Binance’s US stable, or maybe some homebrew stablecoin—but this is definitely a first.
Marathon Digital Holdings Continues to Make Money Out of Thin Air
And finally, we’ll close out this week’s roundup by giving you an update on what Marathon Digital Holdings (MARA.Q) has been doing.
Namely, they’ve been mining bitcoin and lots of it.
- Increased hash rate 1,790% during fiscal year 2021 with the total number of miners deployed increasing to 32,150 miners, which could generate approximately 3.5 EH/s, as of December 31, 2021
- As of December 31, 2021, held approximately 8,133 bitcoin, each of which had a market price of approximately $46,208; as a result, the approximate fair market value of Marathon’s bitcoin held as digital currencies was approximately $375.8 million
- As of February 28, 2022, held approximately 8,956 bitcoin, of which 4,813 are held in an investment fund of one while the other 4,143 were generated by the Company’s operations (*unaudited)
What I’m curious about, however, is how their class action lawsuit is shaping up.
The lawsuit involves MARA getting involved in a JV with Beowulf Energy about getting low-cost power to help MARA’s Bitcoin mining. After which, MARA got involved in a few different agreements with different parties to build a data centre in Hardin, Montana for 6 million shares of the company.
Here’s what I found:
“The Marathon Digital class action lawsuit alleges that, throughout the Class Period, defendants made false and misleading statements and failed to disclose that: (i) the Beowulf joint venture, as it related to the Hardin facility, implicated potential regulatory violations, including U.S. securities law violations; (ii) as a result, the Beowulf joint venture subjected Marathon Digital to a heightened risk of regulatory scrutiny; (iii) this was reasonably likely to have a material negative impact on Marathon Digital’s business and commercial prospects; and (iv) as a result, Marathon Digital’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times.”
This is definitely going to be one to watch because it could set a curious precedent for Bitcoin (and other crypto-miners) mining in the future regarding just what is acceptable behaviour vis-a-vis the regulators.
But honestly, given the tenor of the governments of the world as the regulatory crackdown on cryptocurrency, this is likely going to be a portent of things to come.