Welcome to the first tech weekly of 2022! As everyone is getting ready to head back to offices and the tech world is about to become as busy as ever in the next couple of weeks, let us review the biggest stories from the past seven days. eToro is growing its crypto offering as it launches two new assets. ISD FENIQS launched a low-code API connection that will make developers’ life much easier. LJI Scientists’ newest progress on DNA structure can lead to quicker cancer drug development. BridgeBio’s promising heart drug showed very disappointing results in the Phase 3 trial and the company is now looking for answers. Quidel decided to acquire another test maker. Telecom giants denied the US request to delay 5G rollouts amidst aviation concerns. Investree and Netbank started collaborating on Filipino SME recovery. The UK recorded huge losses connected to cybercrime in 2021. Huawei’s revenue is expected to drop by 30% in 2021, as the company spent the year struggling with the US-imposed sanctions. YetAI is launching an innovative NFT project.
One of the most popular social investments platforms, eToro, is boosting its crypto offering with the addition of two new assets: The Sandbox and Celo. With this latest move, their crypto standing is currently at 42 assets. Sandbox combines DeFi, NFTs, and blockchain and is a virtual game set in a 3-D metaverse, where users can customize their game and assets and later monetize them as NFTs and exchange for SAND tokens. The second addition to eToro, Celo, is a DeFi platform that allows users and investors to make effortless mobile crypto transactions.
“We’re seeing huge demand for DeFi and metaverse tokens, and we’re delighted to be able to offer more of these assets to our customers,” said Doron Rosenblum, vice president of business solutions at eToro. “The addition of these new tokens to the platform demonstrates the breadth of choice available to investors in the crypto assets market today. We will continue to grow our crypto offering to enable users to diversify their portfolios with a broad range of crypto assets.”
ISD FENIQS, an IT consulting agency, started the new year with an exciting upgrade. The company launched a low-code connector on the Outsystems platform, allowing developers to integrate Nordigen’s API open banking data into applications on the Outsystems platform. The OutSystems makes developers’ jobs much easier as it provides code modules, UI components, business solutions, and connectors that reduce the amount of code the developers must write themselves.
“It was exciting to develop a connector to work with account information on Nordigen’s API, which can be used to build customer-facing products and internal IT solutions,” said Stefan Weber, senior manager at ISD FENIQS. “It has never been easier to integrate banking data into your own applications. We expect many applications will be developed by the low-code community using our connector.”
Rolands Masters, CEO of Nordigen, added: “The connector that ISD FENIQS has developed is a low-code solution that makes working with Nordigen’s open banking data easier than ever before. It makes the data more accessible and allows companies to focus on building their business rather than coding from zero.”
La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) researchers have made impressive progress on the role of the two unusual DNA structures. Their findings could be a huge help in drug development. According to the newly published study, there is a connection between the malfunction of the TET enzymes and B-cell lymphoma caused by two abnormal DNA structures, G-quadruplex and R-loop.
“These structures represent sites in the DNA that are much more fragile than other regions,” the study’s first author, Vipul Shukla, Ph.D., said in a statement. “With this study, we found that TET enzymes are perhaps related to the regulation of these structures, which could, in turn, explain one mechanism for acquisition of genomic instability in the absence of TET enzymes.”
“Follow-up studies in preclinical models could test whether a combination of G-quadruplex-stabilizing agents and [DNMT] inhibitors might synergize to delay the onset and/or progression of B-cell lymphomas and other malignancies with TET loss of function,” the study continued.
BridgeBio’s chance to enter the competitive market of rare heart conditions has just become much smaller after the company received disappointing phase 3 clinical trial results. In the latest trial, the placebo patients had better results than those who actually received the Acoramidis treatment. The patients participating in the trial were those suffering from symptomatic transthyretin (TTR) amyloid cardiomyopathy, or ATTR-CM. The results are baffling and definitely not good news for the company, as shown by the 70% loss of share value last week after the trial results were reported. Having said that, the BridgeBio noted in their statement that the secondary goals such as biomarker improvements and quality of life improvements were fulfilled.
“This result is disappointing and baffling. I am, along with many others, searching for answers regarding the [six-minute walk test],” said CEO Neil Kumar, Ph.D., in the company’s statement. He explained that the next steps for the company will be a detailed investigation on context bias, training bias, and diagnostic evaluation in order to narrow down the possibilities of failure. He also highlighted that he remains “hopeful” regarding the treatment’s benefit, as separate measures of the research proved it is “pharmacologically active and well-tolerated”
Quidel has enjoyed two years of unprecedented performance due to the high number of Covid-19 diagnostics. Now, the company is reinvesting the money by acquiring another test maker, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. By merging, the joint power will provide Quidel will over a century of diagnostics experience and innovative tests for the flu or HIV.
The deal will be completed during the first half of 2022 and is estimated at $6 billion, with almost $2 billion paid out in cash and an additional $2 billion net debt that Ortho’s currently holds.
“By bringing together Quidel’s point-of-care diagnostics with Ortho’s vast global reach, there is a substantial opportunity to capitalize on the cross-selling opportunities, move into attractive adjacent markets and accelerate innovative product expansion and the development of molecular technologies,” Ortho CEO Chris Smith said in a statement.
Interestingly, Quidel’s stock has suffered quite a bit after the acquisition was announced. Days before, the company hit their highest mark since February at $180, it tumbled down to $140 the morning after the deal was announced and continued to sink the next days. However, Quidel is highly optimistic about the acquisition, expecting to cut $90 million in overlapping costs within the next three years.
“Establishing a stronger leadership position, we expect the combined company will emerge as a global player with top-tier R&D capabilities, a more diverse product pipeline, and broader geographic footprint,” said Douglas Bryant, Quidel’s president, and CEO, who will serve as chairman and CEO of the combined company. “We are impressed by what Ortho has accomplished for patients.”
On Sunday, the telecom giants rejected a request by U.S airlines to delay the 5G rollout. U.S airlines expressed their concerns regarding the 5G wireless service potentially harming aviation. Hence, the airlines in the US asked FCC to temporarily delay the 5G rollout scheduled for this week to avoid interference with electrical systems that airplane pilots rely on. An executive from Verizon and AT&T both dismissed these concerns but pointed out they are willing to accept introducing temporary measures in the next six months in order to limit the 5G service in close proximity to some airport runways. At the same time, they pointed out delaying the rollout would damage the ‘globally competitive communications networks that are every bit as essential to our country´s economic vitality”.
‘Agreeing to your proposal would not only be an unprecedented and unwarranted circumvention of the due process and checks and balances carefully crafted in the structure of our democracy, but an irresponsible abdication of the operating control required to deploy world-class and globally competitive communications networks that are every bit as essential to our country´s economic vitality, public safety and national interests as the airline industry,’ Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon Communications, and John Stankey, CEO of AT&T wrote in a joint statement.
Investree started a collaboration with a Filipino BaaS platform NetBank in order to support the Filipino SMEs. As a part of the partnership, Netbank will be allocating funds for Investree clients, covering initiatives that are to be carried out this year.
Co-Founder and CEO of Investree Philippines, Kok Chuan Lim, comments: “Investree Philippines is very excited to have onboarded Netbank as one of our first institutional investors in the Philippines. We have been working with the team at Netbank since we obtained our license earlier this year to jointly develop services that will improve ease of use for our SME issuers and reduce credit risks for our note investors. I am confident that our partnership will further enhance the adoption of crowdfunding as a viable working capital source for our SME clients.”
Netbank Co-Founder and Head of Operations, Jaymar G. Mendoza, added, “Together with Investree, we hope to support the efforts in increasing financial inclusion within the country which is aligned with our aim which seals our partnership as well. We aim to combine both expertise and flexibility that banking and fintech has to offer to create more impact for the market. The partnership between a regulated bank and an alternative lender is very powerful wherein the Banks bring balance sheet management experience and processes and the alternative lenders bring a deep understanding of their clients.”
Recent research by the chargeback firm Payback Ltd shows the scope of cybercrime in the UK during the past year. Basing their research on the data from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), Payback’s report reveals that there have been almost 500 000 instances of fraud and cyber-crime that led to financial losses during 2021 in the UK. The average financial loss was £5,700 per case. Out of all the reported cyber frauds, 62 976 reports were made by British businesses, with a total financial loss of £736.3M. The remaining amount was reported by individuals.
A spokesperson for Payback Ltd stated: “It is difficult to see such high figures relating to the fraudulent and criminal activity taking place over the course of the year. It is imperative that the British public exercise caution when making financial transactions of any kind, and to ensure that they are confident that any transactions are done via official, safe and legal means.”
2021 has been a difficult year for Chinese telecom giants that struggled with U.S sanctions. Now, the rotating chairman of one of the main equipment giants, Huawei, said the predicted 2021 revenue maybe 30% lower than the previous year. The revenue for last year is expected to be at 634 billion yuan ($99.48 billion), according to Guo Ping’s letter to all employees that was released on Friday.
To compare, the 2020 revenue was at 891.4 billion yuan. In the latter, Guo highlights 2022 “will come with its fair share of challenges” but claims he remains satisfied with the company’s business performance during 2021.
“An unpredictable business environment, the politicization of technology, and a growing deglobalization movement all present serious challenges,” the letter reads. “We need to stick to our strategy and respond rationally to external forces that are beyond our control”.
YetAi announced it will launch the first of its kind NFT project, where all the NFTs will be generated by AI only and will be released on Solana blockchain. YetAi is known due to its NFT collection of 8.888 unique collectibles that have a total of 90 traits.
“Releasing these well-crafted, unprecedented, and super rare NFTs on Solana will provide prospective holders with fast, secure, and low gas transactions which will further spur the YetAi community to buy expeditiously,” said the official announcement, explaining the choice of blockchain. “Plans are currently underway to release a series of YetAi merchandise and other goodies for selected members. Additionally, a village is under construction on the metaverse land owned by the project.” The company did not, as of yet, specify the date of the launch.