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Best of Tech News: January 11- 17

It has not been three weeks of 2021 yet and there are already major breakthroughs in the tech world. Start your Monday with the best of tech news, featuring the most important events that happened in the fintech, biotech, telecom, AI, and regtech world between January 11th and January 17th. What’s on the agenda this week? More information about the Covid-19 vaccine as Johnson & Johnson shows promising results and one of the most affected countries finally approves its first two jabs. Besides the vaccine, we will talk about Trump using his last days in the office to go against the Chinese giant companies, Walmart coming with a surprise announcement of getting into the Fintech startup stage, and an extraordinary start of the year for Fintech startups, and a 900% surge caused by Bitcoin surge. Here’s your best of tech news summary: 

Walmart Announces It Will Create A Fintech Startup 

On Monday of last week, Walmart came with an announcement that it plans to create a fintech startup that will be backed up by Ribbit Capital, which previously backed up Robinhood. In its press release, Walmart did not specify the details of the fintech startup. They gave a broad description of the startup’s goal of being developing financial products that can benefit both the customers and employers of the giant retailer. 

Getting Into FinTech Startup Stage Will Give Walmart New Opportunities

As reported by Investopedia, Walmart will own the majority of the startup and the board will be a mixture of Walmart’s management such as the CEO John Furner, and the CFO Brett Biggs, and industry experts. The company is also ready for partnering with other fintech or making an acquisition. 

Furner said in the press release, “For years, millions of customers have put their trust in Walmart to not only save them money when they shop with us but help them manage their financial needs, and they’ve made it clear they want more from us in the financial services arena.” 

Being backed up by Ribbit Capital will open the doors for cooperation with Credit Karma or Robinhood and significantly increase Walmart’s possibilities to get into banking, lending, insurance, and numerous other financial services. 

FinTech Startups Begins 2021 With Major Fundraising Pace 

FinTech startups have been one of the few lucky ones during the Covid-19 pandemic. The overall digitalization of everything that can be digitized and the abrupt spike in the use of digital financial services has been of huge help. The investors are betting on Fintechs and it shows based on the pace of fundraising that the fintech startups are recoding.

$1.7 Billion In Funding In One Week?

We are not even three weeks into the year and the fintech startups have already scored more than 10 deals valued at more than $100 million. To compare, in mid-January of 2020, there were only three such deals. 

The quick development of digital payments that have had exponential growth in the past year is the reason for mega investment rounds. In the second week of the year, $1.7 billion in fintech startup funding was announced, showing a very interesting beginning of the year for fintech as the world learns how to function online. 

Biotech News: J&J Covid-19 Vaccine Shows Promising Results 

On the Covid-19 vaccine front that is currently the most prominent biotech topic, the good news is coming from Johnson & Johnson. The phase 2 trial showed that their one-dose vaccine is safe and shows encouraging immune response in participants of all ages.  

The trial included 805 participants and at the end of January, it is expected that Johnson & Johnson will release the results from the phase 3 trial which included 45 000 volunteers. 

J&J Covid-19 Vaccine To Be Approved Next Month?

CNBC spoke to Dr. Paul Stoffels, the chief scientific officer at J&J and he confirmed that one shot of the vaccine is enough for “sustainable antibodies” and assured that Johnson & Johnson are confident that the phase three trial will only confirm the vaccine’s high-efficiency rate. 

When can we expect the authorization of the J&J vaccine? In the US, it could happen as early as February. J & J is expected to turn in their results to European regulators as well which could mean that we will see it authorized in the EU during early spring. The big advantage of the vaccine apart from the fact that it needs only one dose, as opposed to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines is that it can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. 

Brazil Approves Sinovac And Astra Zeneca Vaccines 

Another important January tech news on the Covid-19 front comes from Brazil, one of the most affected countries in the world. After months of devastating development of Covid-19 in Brazil, two different jabs have been approved by Anvisa, the Brazilian regulator, last week. 

Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the Chinese Sinovac are going to be distributed among all 27 states with the first person being vaccinated already last week. 

The Chinese Sinovac vaccine went through its fair share of controversies last week in Brazil. The vaccine that has shown a varying degree of efficiency across countries that performed the research, has been found to be only 50.4% effective in Brazilian clinical trials. That means that it barely passed the limit of 50% that is needed for a vaccine to be approved by regulators.  

How Effective Is The Sinovac Vaccine?

At the end of last month, the Turkish researchers found the Sinovac vaccine to be more than 91% effective, Indonesia showed it has an effectivity rate of just above 63% and in the initial trial results of the Brazilian Butantan Institute from early last week, the vaccine was concluded to have a 78% efficacy. Having said that, the researchers have reversed their decision and showed that the vaccine is much less effective with the efficacy rate barely passing 50%

The cause of the error is a miscalculation that did not include the date from very mild infections not requring any clinical assistance. Although 50% efficacy rate may raise questions about the approval, the researchers stressed that when it comes to mild cases and preventing moderate to serious cases, the Sinovac’s efficiency is much higher. 

For more tech news on Covid-19 Vaccine, see:

BREAKING: Moderna’s vaccine is 95% effective!

Breaking January Tech News: Hackers Manipulate Stolen Vaccine Documentations 

As Associated Press reports, the EU’s drug regulator has revealed on Friday that the documents related to the Covid-19 vaccine that has been a subject of a cyberattack have not only been leaked to the darknet but have also been tampered with. 

The documents obtained included private correspondence and documents regarding the evaluating of the Covid-19 vaccines. The leaks were first found at the end of December of 2020.

How have the documents been manipulated?

The agency based in the Netherlands said, “Some of the correspondence has been manipulated by the perpetrators prior to publication in a way which could undermine trust in vaccines”. It was seen that the correspondence accessed by the hackers tampered in the form of added comments by the hackers. 

While some experts believe that the intention behind the leak was causing damage to the credibility of the Covid-19 vaccine, Pfizer, and the vaccination process in Europe in general. 

The EMA has taken legal steps and an investigation regarding the cyberattack is pending. 

Telecom Tech News of January: US Blacklist Xiaomi

In the telecom tech news world, the biggest news remains the aftermath of the U.S – China Trade War and the Trump administration’s attempts to hail Chinese companies in his last days in the office. 

It was reported at the end of last week that another nine companies were added to the Department of Defense’s list of Chinese firms that allegedly have ties with the Chinese military.

One of the companies in the Chinese smartphone producer, Xiaomi. Xiaomi has benefited from Huawei being banned by the U.S, and the shares of the company have skyrocketed late last year. In the third quarter of 2020, Xiaomi officially became the 3rd largest smartphone producer, overtaking Apple. 

Xiaomi Reacts To The News

After the news of the U.S banning Xiaomi, the company released a statement in which it denies any connections to the Chinese military and claiming its products are for “civilian and commercial use”

Although Xiaomi has not revealed a detailed plan involving actions taken against the U.S, the statement said that “The Company will take the appropriate course of actions to protect the interests of the Company and its stakeholders”, as reported by the Associated Press.

Grayscale Reaches Record Levels As An Aftermath Of Bitcoin Surge

Grayscale which is the world’s largest digital currency manager has revealed at the end of last week that its assets went up by almost 1000% reaching $20.2 billion. In comparison, Grayscale started 2020 with approximately $2 billion in assets. 

The investment into Grayscale in 2020 was record-high, especially in the fourth quarter. The investor’s demand has largely surpassed any figures seen in the last 7 years. A large reason for Grayscale’s unprecedented growth is also caused by bitcoin’s development in the last months, reaching new record-high levels at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.  

A crypto expert has commented on the news saying, “The monetary and fiscal measures by governments globally served as the catalyst for the surge of interest in bitcoin, as monetary inflation became a pressing concern, institutional investors took action by allocating to bitcoin.”, as reported by Reuters 

If you want to look back at the tech news of last week, check out:


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