A Month Ago

Up to June 2019, Apple has made an EBIDTA (Earnings Before Interest Depreciation Tax and Amortization) of $76.5 billion (which has been a decline of 5.24% on the previous year) as its sales of the iconic iPhone start to face stiff competition and mobile phones reach saturation.

Indeed, according to GSM Intelligence (which monitors 1,400 telecom networks globally), there are 5.1 billion mobile subscriptions and 9.2 billion connections - yet the United Nations states the total world population is only 7.1 billion.
However, Apple is sitting on a cash pile of over $200 billion, which is equal to that of the world’s two largest hedge funds — Bridgewater Associates and AQM Capital Management — combined. Apple has 1 billion customers globally and, to date, has sold over 1.4 billion iPhone devices worldwide – giving it a huge scale and international distribution. It has also been reported by the FT that Apple has 420 million monthly subscribers  - Apple Music has overtaken Spotify, iCloud services and Apple TV (which has just had a relaunch). The subscription is going to be available for only $4.99 per month.
So, why would Apple wish to get involved in the financial services sector? Apple Pay was launched back in October 2014 and is available on 900 million iPhones worldwide, but only 43% (383 million people) are using it. However, it is currently available in 24 countries, being accessible to more potential users who follow the BNP Paribas Fortis’ alliance. Apple Card, too, has recently been launched (August 2019) and the credit card is available in a digital format, coming in as a titanium card which offers cashback of 3% if you buy Apple products. The card has built-in digital and facial recognition security and has been launched in conjunction with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard - interestingly promoting that customers’ data, in terms of their spending patterns and history, will not be stored or divulged. In a recent article from Forbes, it was calculated that if Apple were to receive just 20% of the likely revenue generated by the Apple Card then, by 2022, an additional $1.1 billion revenue could be generated for Apple. However, being in partnership with Goldman Sachs. Apple is also active in Asia  - it has been offering finance in China, teaming up with Alibaba to offer interest-free credit to buy an iPhone.
By 2022 the financial services sector is predicted to grow to $26.5 trillion (a CAGR 5.9%) and interestingly Accenture has found that, of 18-34 year old’s, “80% are interested in integrated propositions from financial providers and non-financial vendors and 87% of them state that their mobile devices are their principal device for transacting online. So, who better to turn to than a well-known global brand such as Apple?
The world economy is increasingly turning digital and mobile, which Apple (to a great extent) has enabled and encouraged with its iPhone, iPad and Mac, etc. So, it is no surprise that Apple filed a patent, back in 2009, which was granted in 2014 to use tokenisation on Apple’s devices. Was this little-known interest in tokenisation due to Jennifer Bailey, Vice President of Apple Pay, who recently told CNN “We’re watching cryptocurrency, we think it is interesting. We think it has long-term potential”.
Apple Tokens - If used by their 420 million...

Telegram, which was founded by Pavel Durov (who is reported himself to be worth over $2.4 billion) has to start trading its Gram token in the next couple of weeks.

As reported by AFP. Telegram wants to create a “standard cryptocurrency used for the regular exchange of value in the daily lives of ordinary people”.

Telegram is both Russia’s and one of Asia’s biggest social media platforms, and its app enables encrypted text messages, photos and videos, and also create "channels" for as many as 200,000 people. It also supports encrypted voice calls. It is believed that this has recently encouraged terrorists and protesters in Hong Kong to be using Telegram.

In March 2018, Telegram was responsible for the second-largest Initial Coin Offering (ICO) raising $1.7 billion, after EOS (which raised over $4 billion.) Those who managed to participate in Telegram’s ICO could potentially see their investment double, as it was reported in July this year that Gram tokens were being issued in a pre-sale at over 200% of Gram’s initial issue price. Telegram has been established as a not-for-profit organisation, using "open source" software so allowing anyone to add value to Telegram, aiming to retain independence over its operations.

More importantly, once Gram starts trading it will be used by up to 300 million people that have accounts with Telegram, substantially increasing the global users of digital currencies at a stroke. However, according to a report from the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute “there is evidence that terrorist groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are using Telegram and other social media platforms to raise cryptocurrency” The report went on to say that US congressional letters have been sent to Pavel Durov asking him to take immediate action against any documented evidence of terrorists using the Telegram platform.

Telegram is running out of time as it promised in legal documents that it would deliver Grams to investors by October 31st, 2019, or give back the money. However, given the regulatory concerns that Facebook’s Libra digital currency has provoked, it is difficult to see how Gram’s will be trading in such a short time.

As pension and mutual funds and banks are increasingly investing in Digital Assets, more independent services are going to be required to track the performance of the Digital Assets and offer research and insight into them.

This helps to explain the rise in institutional focused crypto-indices and services such as Armun’s Crypto Basket Index, Bletchley Indices, Byte Tree, Crypto20 and Vision Hill Crypto Active Indices. While some of the traditional services providers are active in this sector, e.g. Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index and Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Cryptocurrency Data Feed, one suspects we will see organizations such as Bloomberg and Reuters beginning to acquire these specialist Crypto-service providers. We have already seen some acquisitions, such as Coinmetrics buying Bletchley in June 2019, but no doubt there will be more as the Crypto-service providers enhance the analysis and monitoring services they offer. Given the historical misdemeanours, with scams and down-right fraudulent activities previously being prevalent in the asset management industry, we have seen a growing complex and expensive culture of regulation and compliance being imposed. Having third parties (such as trustees for funds) is now a pre-requisite in many jurisdictions but, for a third party such as a trustee to be effective, it often needs access to independent data and statistics to compare managers’ performance and risk metrics against market norms. Therefore, we are likely to see a growing demand for organizations offering products and services to help ensure that Digital Asset managers are doing what they claim to be offering to their investors.

Portugal has just announced that trading and investing in Cryptocurrencies will be free of all taxes whether, as Coinrivet says, this “simply a marketing stunt to increase crypto trades to tax them in the future, or if the Portuguese Tax Authority is trying to attract new businesses?”

However, other jurisdictions are also taxing those involved with Digital Assets less aggressively.

  •          Germany - has exempted bitcoin transactions from VAT and there is no capital gains tax on Digital Assets, such as Bitcoin, provided they are held for more than one year.
  •         Singapore - citizens who hold Cryptocurrencies for long-term investment purposes are not subject to capital gains tax.
  •          Channel Islands (Jersey/Guernsey) - like Singapore, they do not levy capital gains tax on their citizens.
  •          Malta - long-held Cryptocurrencies are not taxed. However, if you make Cryptocurrency trades within a day, it is considered similar to day-trading in stocks and is treated and taxed as income.
  •          Malaysia - there is no capital gains tax in Malaysia.
  •          Belarus - March 2018, a new law legalized Cryptocurrency activities in Belarus and made them exempt.
  •          Switzerland - the tax treatment of Cryptocurrencies is interesting, with mining income typically declared as self-employment income (and taxed through income tax). The professional trading of Cryptocurrencies is subject to business tax. However, if you are qualified as somebody who invests and trades for their account, Cryptocurrency gains are treated as tax-exempt capital gains.

While there has been some difference of opinion in different jurisdictions regarding the tax of Cryptocurrencies, many argued they were utility tokens similar to air miles, Nectar points etc. Digital Assets that are backed by real assets such as equities, bonds and property are more likely to be treated in the same way as their traditional incarnations.


There has been a lot of discussion about how Blockchain technology can be used in the recruitment sector.

One obvious way is creating an accessible, but immutable, record of academic qualifications. Several colleges and universities around the world have started to use Blockchain technology to create a database of graduates’ academic credentials. For example, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)  all of MIT’s graduates will receive digital copies of their degrees, and for the students/undergraduates there, they will be able to download an app called Blockcerts Wallet, enabling them to get a verifiable, tamper-proof version of their qualifications.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, the government has created a Blockchain-powered platform to hold a record of degrees from most of Singapore’s education organisations.

Kelly (which traces its roots back to 1946 in the USA) and is one of the world’s oldest recruitment agencies, has just entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Moonlighting, which itself was founded in 2014 in the USA. Moonlighting is an on-line platform aimed at freelance workers and currently has over 750,000 CVs/resumes. It is the intention that these will be entered on to Moonlighting’s  Blockchain Profile Management System (BPMS). Relevant employment data such as reviews, referrals and recommendations as well as verifications of third-party licenses, qualifications and certifications will all be held on BPMS.

A survey carried out by Kelly found that almost a third of the respondents believe Blockchain Technology will change the recruitment marketplace completely in the next three years. Furthermore, 41% of the companies confirmed they are looking forward to using this new service from Kelly and Moonlighting. John Healy, from Kelly, recently told Forbes that “people in the working world are now seeking mobile technology, ‘self-service’ and the ‘platform economy’, as opposed to conventional hiring methods of the past”.

Using Blockchain Technology is not all plain sailing, as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe means people must be able to have their personal information changed or deleted. Alongside this, the USA the Fair Credit Reporting Act means people have rights about how they are personally presented to companies when being considered for a job. Blockchain Technology potentially prevents people from removing information, such as a job they had in high school, which may not be relevant now.

However, with the existence of nearly 40,000 recruitments firms in the UK alone, recruitment firms and employers are looking to see how such technology like Blockchain can help find the best possible talent, in what is increasingly becoming a global and on-line digital market place.