JazzCash Launches New App for Business Owners


VEON Ltd. (NASDAQ and Euronext Amsterdam: VEON), a leading global provider of connectivity and internet services, announces that Pakistan’s pioneering digital financial services provider, JazzCash, has successfully launched a Business App for its expanding merchant base.

The JazzCash Business App aims to make digital payments more efficient and seamless for business owners, company managers and home businesses, enabling them to kickstart the digital payment acceptance process without having to go to a bank.

Whereas previously merchants were able to use the JazzCash Customer App for accepting QR transactions, sending or receiving money and paying bills, the new Business App includes advanced business-related tools.

These include the ability to generate a QR code for specific amounts in real time and to send customisable digital invoices to customers, as well as to monitor sales and transactions and to conduct salary disbursements and supplier payments with ease.

Commenting on the launch, Erwan Gelebart, CEO of JazzCash, said: “JazzCash aims to cultivate a cashless economy and is committed to introducing innovative products and services that offer faster, more transparent and secure payment solutions. We identified a need for a one-stop digital solution in the SME sector, which still lacks the tools and resources to adopt digital transformation, and created this business app to manage their financial requirements. By taking advantage of secure, real-time payments, these businesses will witness higher efficiencies and benefit from a thriving digital ecosystem.”

JazzCash has a rapidly-growing merchant base of over 100,000 registered merchants. It is committed to innovating customer-focused products and services that promote the development of Pakistan’s digital economy.

Business owners can self-onboard to the new Business App by registering themselves via a few simple steps online.


Future Fintech Announces Framework Agreement to Purchase Antminer Bitcoin Mining Machines


Future FinTech Group Inc. (NASDAQ: FTFT) (“hereinafter referred to as Future FinTech”, “FTFT” or “the Company”), a leading blockchain-based e-commerce business and a fintech service provider, announced today that on March 26, 2021, the Company signed a framework agreement (the “Frame Agreement”) with Nanjing Shunru Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. (“Nanjing Shunru”) to purchase approximately 20,000 Antminer bitcoin mining machines, which will provide a combined 200 Petahash per second (PH/s) hash rate, which accounts for about 0.12% of Bitcoin’s total hash rate capacity. Mining hash rate is an important security metric in terms of verifying bitcoin transactions; high hashing or computing processing power means greater system security for Bitcoin transactions. The Frame Agreement is non-binding except for the ‘Confidentiality and Exclusivity’ and ‘Applicable Law and Dispute Resolution’ sections of the agreement.

According to the Frame Agreement, Nanjing Shunru will provide no less than 20,000 Antminer mining machines to Future FinTech and guarantees a total Bitcoin hash rate of at least 200 PH/s for at least 180 days per year. Should the hash rate be less than 200 PH/s, Nanjing Shunru must supplement the corresponding hash rate with additional Antminer mining machines within a five-day period with no additional cost to FTFT. The mining machines will be delivered pending further due diligence on the part of the Company and a definitive agreement by the parties. The purchase price of such Antminer miner machines is RMB 50 million (approximately $7.6 million), of which RMB 10 million (approximately $1.5 million) will be paid in cash, and the remaining RMB 40 million (approximately $6.1 million) will be paid in FTFT common stock.

Mr. Shanchun Huang, Chief Executive Officer of Future FinTech, commented, “The recent sharp increase in the price of Bitcoin has provided us with the opportunity and economic incentive to develop an encrypted digital currency mining business. The signing of the mining machine acquisition frame agreement is the first step for us to move into the bitcoin mining field. We will continue to optimize the Company’s comprehensive platform in the field of cryptocurrency mining and blockchain technology services to maximize returns to our shareholders.”


Canonic of Evogene Group and Tikun Olam (Israel)-Cannbit, sign production and distribution agreements for Canonic products in Israel


Canonic Ltd., a subsidiary of Evogene Ltd. (NASDAQ: EVGN) (TASE: EVGN), focused on the development of medical cannabis products and Tikun Olam-Cannbit Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (TASE: TKUN), a leading medical cannabis company, today announced that they have entered into agreements for the production and distribution in Israel of Canonic’s medical cannabis products. Canonic’s first product is expected to be launched in Israel next year.

Based on the Israeli Medical Cannabis Agency (IMCA)1, at the end of 2020 there were approximately 80,000 active patients in Israel, which translates to approximately $260 million sales of medical cannabis products per year2.

According to the production agreement, Tikun Olam Production (Israel) will produce Canonic’s medical cannabis products at its factory complying with IMC-GMP standards using Canonic’s raw materials, under the Canonic brand. The agreement is not exclusive for either party and consideration paid will be based on the scope of production and related services provided. The agreement is for a period of two years or the production of products from 700kg of raw material, whatever is the earliest.

According to the distribution agreement, Tikun Olam Supply and Distribution (Israel) will distribute in Israel Canonic’s medical cannabis products, through its distribution channels, on a consignment basis to its or other licensed pharmacies, under the Canonic brand. The initial term of the agreement is 18 months. Consideration to be paid by Canonic will be based on a percentage of sales and for related services.

As previously disclosed, Canonic’s strategy is to establish a value chain from genomics to end- product, with cultivation, production and distribution to be performed by established sub-contractors. Tikun Olam-Cannbit is a well-recognized, leading producer, and distributor of medical cannabis in the Israeli market. With these new agreements, Canonic looks forward to benefiting from Tikun Olam-Cannbit’s capabilities and proven expertise as its first products are introduced to the market next year.

Mr. Avinoam Sapir, CEO of Tikun Olam–Cannbit Pharmaceuticals, stated: “This is another step that increases the scope of activity in our state-of-the-art production plant, which combines advanced mechanization and technologies with the vast experience and unique knowledge we gained over the years to create medical cannabis products with very high therapeutic efficacy. We are proud to partner with Canonic. These agreements align with our strategy of increasing the revenue stream from providing production services from manufacturing, laboratory tests, transportation, and more.”

Dr. Arnon Heyman, CEO of Canonic, stated: “We look forward to partnering with Tikun Olam-Cannbit, a leading Israeli medical cannabis company. Signing our first production and distribution agreements with Tikun Olam-Cannbit, an established producer and distributor in the Israeli market is expected to support the successful launch of Canonic’s first products in 2022.”


2020 Year in Review: CVCA Venture Capital Canadian Market Overview: VC Investment in 2020 closes at CAD $4.4B – Lower than 2019 but the Second Highest on Record


The Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) today released its newly redesigned year-end report focused on Canadian venture capital. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, VC investment in 2020 was the second-highest level of annual VC investment based on existing CVCA records, with CAD $4.4B across 509 deals, second only to 2019. Total dollars invested in 2020 was higher than the five-year average ($3.8B and 517 deals in 2015-2019) with a lower number of deals.

The momentum of VC-backed exits is on track relative to previous years, with a total of 38 exits in 2020, which is only slightly below the 5-year average of 40 exits. BC-based biotech company Abcellera was the largest exit in 2020, listing on NASDAQ with a market cap of $6.7B, making it the largest exit on record. Also notable is the Newfoundland-based fintech company Verafin acquisition by Nasdaq Inc. which was announced in Q4 2020 for $3.49B CAD.

“The second half of 2020 has demonstrated a real resiliency in the venture capital market,” said Kim Furlong, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association. “The long-term health of the Canadian innovation ecosystem, including venture investment, is critical as we continue to navigate the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is imperative that we continue to grow the capital available to Canadian entrepreneurs. Venture capital is vital to Canada’s economic recovery and future growth.”

Information communications technology (ICT) companies received the majority (55%) of total VC dollars invested in 2020 (CAD $2.4B over 284 deals) while life science companies received 26% of dollars invested (CAD $1.1B over 89 deals) and clean tech companies received 2% (CAD $101M over 22 deals)

In partnership with Prospect, the CVCA is pleased to include employment numbers once again for VC-backed companies in Canada. A total of 26,277 people were employed by VC-backed companies as of Q4 2020. These employment numbers represent only those positions in VC-backed companies that received VC funding as of Q4 2020. Prospect is a free and fully aggregated talent network built by-and-for the Canadian tech startup ecosystem.


Broadridge Expands European Fund Regulatory Reporting Capability, Launches Portfolio Transaction Cost Calculation Service


Global Fintech leader  Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: BR) announces the expansion of its European fund regulatory reporting solution with the integration of transaction cost calculation services from financial products, trading and market-making services provider Virtu Financial (NASDAQ: VIRT). The Broadridge and Virtu offering will provide a more efficient and comprehensive solution for asset managers to disclose transaction costs as they fulfil MiFID II and PRIIPs fund reporting requirements

Since MiFID II and PRIIPs regulations began in January 2018, asset managers have been required to disclose portfolio transaction costs for their funds. This information is intended to provide investors with an understanding of the costs incurred that are attributable to the buying and selling of securities within a fund.

Adding Virtu’s portfolio transaction cost calculation capabilities to Broadridge’s existing MiFID and PRIIPs reporting solutions will address a number of the challenges that asset managers face, including collating arrival price data for their funds in an efficient and effective manner. Based on extensive testing and portfolio modeling, Broadridge anticipates it can improve the coverage of transaction cost data points by over 50% for clients.

“The enhanced portfolio transaction cost calculation service will be of real benefit for our clients who have been searching for a solution to help them more efficiently calculate and disclose transaction costs,” said Paul Poletti-Gadd, Chief Solutions Officer at Broadridge Fund Communication Solutions. “This partnership with Virtu will provide clients with multiple benefits, including a reduction in time and resources for the asset managers internally, improved coverage levels for their funds and more support in meeting their regulatory requirements. For our clients, there is a further advantage in that this enhanced data set can then be utilised across the full range of our fund reporting solutions.”

“We are delighted to have joined forces with Broadridge Fund Communication Solutions to support asset managers with their fund reporting,” said Kevin O’Connor, Global Head of Analytics at Virtu Financial. “We are one of the early innovators and a current market leader in transaction cost analysis and are able to support Broadridge clients not only with their future portfolio transaction costs but also with historical calculations.”

Broadridge Fund Communication Solutions provides a comprehensive digital platform and has a proven track record of supporting the life cycle of fund data, documents and regulatory reporting for the global asset management industry. The team manages and distributes data for over 1,000 global fund groups and supports over 200 million fund data requests each year, in over 35 languages.


Marriott International Pilots AI Solutions to Streamline Hotel Design Process for Future Properties in Asia-Pacific


Marriott International Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is reinventing how hotels in its Select Service brand portfolio are designed and constructed using a suite of proprietary solution. A first to be piloted in Asia Pacific, Marriott’s end-to-end, one-stop solution is part of the latest design package that includes the use of artificial intelligence leveraging the Building Information Modeling (BIM) platform. With Marriott International offering this latest solution, the design process for owners will be more efficient with increased speed-to-market while at the same time maintaining cost control.

“Marriott International’s new end-to-end design solutions are a world-first in our industry, and we are excited to offer this to our owners in the Asia Pacific region. The current solutions package will offer greater cost efficiency, consistent quality and faster delivery times for each new Marriott International property being designed from the ground up,” said Michael Wang, Senior Continent Head, Global Design, Asia Pacific.

Streamlining the design process

Leveraging the Building Information Modeling (BIM) platform, the newly introduced suite of solutions provides an intelligent Cloud and 3D reference throughout the life cycle of a project, from early planning through design development to construction and operations. BIM prototypes can create an entire virtual hotel in days, instead of the months normally required. The flexibility of BIM means Marriott International’s rigorous design guidelines are built right into the platform. Customizations to guest rooms such as room size and furniture layouts are easily editable, with the rest of the design process automatically recalibrated to incorporate any type of changes, greatly improving coordination and workflow amongst the many stakeholders involved in the design process. With this, Marriott is offering a one-stop solution so that owners can have increased confidence that Marriott brand style guides and specifications are maintained throughout the entire process.

“The implementation of AI technology is once again demonstrating our ongoing commitment to assist and support our business partners in delivering value and speed to market,” said Ron Harrison, Global Design Officer, Marriott International. “It delivers value to owners while upholding quality, and represents a core part of our larger technology strategy within Marriott’s global design process.”

Enhanced owner experiences with high-resolution, ‘fly-through’ 3D tours

Using BIM technology and prototyping, high-resolution 3D Virtual Reality environments can be created faster than any other technology currently available. Another attractive advantage of using BIM technology — an elevated experience, with virtual ‘fly-through’ tours of the proposed hotel, with visualizations of every design element shown in detail. This allows hotel owners to view in real time their entire hotel without having to wait for manual design renderings or construction.

One of the fastest-growing segments in Marriott’s brand portfolio, the seven Select Service Brands offer travelers the quality of international brand names at moderate price points. These innovative, trailblazing brands are characterized by their affordability and signature fuss-free service. Select Service brands comprise Fairfield by MarriottCourtyard by MarriottFour Points by SheratonAloftMoxyElement and AC Hotels. In 2020 alone, more than 50% of new hotel deals signed were in the select service brand category, underscoring the strong demand from owners for this segment that caters to mid-market consumers. The introduction of Marriott’s latest proprietary solution is expected to continue to drive interest for this brand category given shorter design project cycles.

“Marriott’s proprietary BIM design package is well underway,” said Ralph Frehner, Vice President, Design Development Operations Asia Pacific, Marriott International. “To date, BIM design solutions for our Moxy brand for guestrooms and public spaces including kitchen are 100% completed and ready to be leveraged for owners. Our Courtyard and Fairfield BIM solutions for rooms are more than 70% ready, and we expect the gradual finalization of other Select Service brands’ solutions across 2021.”

SOURCE Marriott International Inc.


TD Holdings, Inc. Obtains Dangerous Chemicals Business License in China to Speed Up the Strategic Application of IoTs Technology in the Chemical Energy Field


TD Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: GLG) (the “Company”), a commodities trading service provider in China, today announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Hainan Jianchi Import and Export Co., Ltd. has been granted the Dangerous Chemicals Business License by The State Administration of Work Safety of China. Such license will accelerate the Company’s strategic expansion of its business in the energy commodities field.

The license covers the handling of hazardous chemicals and energy products such as petroleum, chemical, fuel, etc. With this license, the Company is now qualified to provide commodity services to clients in the chemical and energy sectors.

Ms. Ouyang Renmei, CEO of TD Holdings Inc., said: “Our goal is to become a leading commodity platform service powered by blockchain technology. Our expansion into the field of the hazardous chemicals and energy products sector is part of our long-term growth strategy. The letter of intent previously announced by the Company to purchase eight registered blockchain software is part of our strategy to speed up the application of blockchain technology. We strive to promote the application of blockchain technology in our commodities platform as well as our digital iCloud warehouses in order to provide more efficient and convenient commodity trading and supply chain solutions to our clients. We anticipate that our e-commerce platform will continue to add more categories of commodities and apply blockchain technology to provide high quality services for global commodity trading.”


Gridsum Holding Inc. Announces Shareholders’ Approval of Merger Agreement


Gridsum Holding Inc. (“Gridsum” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ:GSUM), a leading provider of cloud-based big-data analytics and artificial intelligence (“AI”) solutions in China, today announced that at an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders held today, the Company’s shareholders voted in favor of, among other things, the proposal to authorize and approve (i) the previously announced agreement and plan of merger, dated as of September 30, 2020 (the “Merger Agreement”), by the Company, Gridsum Corporation (“Parent”), and Gridsum Growth Inc. (“Merger Sub”), pursuant to which Merger Sub will merge with and into the Company, with the Company continuing as the surviving company and becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Parent (the “Merger”), (ii) the plan of merger required to be filed with the Registrar of Companies of the Cayman Islands (the “Plan of Merger”), and (iii) the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement and the Plan of Merger, including the Merger.

Approximately 98% of the Company’s total outstanding Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares, per value US$ 0.001 per share (each, a “Class A Share” and “Class B Share,” respectively), including Class B Shares represented by the Company’s American depositary shares (the “ADSs”), attended the extraordinary general meeting by proxy or in person. Each shareholder has ten votes for each Class A Share held, or one vote for each Class B Share held. These shares represented approximately 99% of the total outstanding votes represented by the Company’s total ordinary shares outstanding as of the close of business in the Cayman Islands on the share record date of February 8, 2021. The Merger Agreement, the Plan of Merger and the transactions contemplated thereby, including the Merger, were approved by over 99% of the total votes cast at the extraordinary general meeting.

Completion of the Merger is subject to the satisfaction or waiver of the closing conditions set forth in the Merger Agreement. The Company will work with the other parties to the Merger Agreement towards satisfying the closing conditions and complete the Merger in a timely manner. If and when the Merger is completed, the Company will become a private company and its ADSs will no longer be listed or traded on any stock exchange, and the Company’s ADS program will be terminated.


TD Holdings Inc. Enters into Letter of Intent to Acquire Digital Cloud Warehouse Software Copyrights in Commodity Storage


TD Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: GLG) (the “Company”), a commodities trading service provider in China, today announced that its subsidiary Tongdow (Hainan) Digital Technology Co., Ltd. (“Tongdow Hainan”) has entered into a letter of intent with Yunfeihu IoT Co. Ltd. (“Yunfeihu”) and Tongdow E-commerce Group Co., Ltd. (“Tongdow E-commerce”) on February 5, 2021 to acquire eight software copyrights for commodities storage in digital cloud warehouse.

Pursuant to the letter of intent by and among Tongdow Hainan, Yunfeihu and Tongdow E-commerce, Tongdow Hainan will acquire the following eight software copyrights from Tongdow E-commerce and Yunfeihu: Smart Hardware Management Platform System 3.0, Smart Storage System Management Software, Lecheng Smart HD Video Conference System V1.0, Smart Storage APP system, Flat Panel Vehicle APP System, Smart Storage Hans-Held Device APP System, Statistical Management of Account Transfer Fees of Warehouse Orders System V3.0, and Supply Chain Finance OA System V1.0. The parties have agreed that the consideration for the transfer of the software copyrights will be based on a valuation report from an independent third-party agreed upon by all parties. Tongdow E-commerce and Yunfeihu have agreed to be bound by an exclusivity period of 6 months with Tongdow Hainan for the transfer of the eight software copyrights pursuant to the LOI.

The Company aims to empower its existing digital cloud warehouse system with these blockchain technologies to provide support for more diversified settlement channels of commodity trades such as payments by bitcoin or other encrypted currencies. Meanwhile, such blockchain as well as internet of things (IoTs) technologies shall be applied to improve the efficiency of the Company’s warehouse order tracking system in order to standardize order management to prevent fabrications and cause orders to be more easily traceable.

The innovations would ensure a detailed recording of the trading, account transfer and other information such as place of origins as well as quality control of the goods in consideration, which effectively digitalizes the entire supply chain process and creates a safe environment for inventory management and financing activities that require precise information on the production, sales and other goods-related data based on the cloud warehouse system.

Ms. Renmei Ouyang, CEO of the Company commented, “The planned acquisitions represent us stepping forward to become a commodity trading platform that is technologically supported by blockchain and IoTs. These two important technologies help verify ownership of goods and turn physical assets into highly efficient and secure digital assets.”

Completion of the transaction is subject to due diligence investigations by the relevant parties, the negotiation and execution of a definitive agreement and satisfaction of the conditions negotiated therein and of other customary closing conditions. There can be no assurance that a definitive agreement will be entered into or that the proposed transaction will be consummated. Further, readers are cautioned that those portions of the LOI that describe the proposed transaction, including the consideration to be issued therein, are non-binding.


Future FinTech Appointed Ming Yi as Chief Financial Officer


Future FinTech Group Inc. (NASDAQ: FTFT) (hereinafter referred to as “Future Fintech”, “FTFT” or “Company” ) a leading blockchain e-commerce company and a service provider for financial technology, today announced it has appointed Mr. Ming Yi as the new Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) of the Company on November 30, 2020.  Ms. Jing (Veronica) Chen resigned as CFO of the Company, effective on November 30, 2020, and she has been appointed as the vice president of the Company, in charge of its international M & A and internal control.

Mr. Yi has extensive experience in accounting, financial management and operation management. Mr. Yi has served as an independent director of Hudson Capital Inc. (Nasdaq: HUSN) since March 31, 2020.  Mr. Yi was the Chief Financial Officer of SSLJ.com Limited from July 2018 to July 2019. From June 2011 to August 2018, Mr. Yi was the Chief Financial Officer and a board member of Wave Sync Corp. (formerly known as China Bio-Energy Corp).  From September 2009 to April 2011, he served as a senior manager at Qi He Certified Public Accountants Co. Ltd. Form July 2007 to August 2010, Mr. Yi was a senior auditor at Ernst & Young.

Mr. Yi received his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from School of Business Administrations of Liaoning University in 2004 and his Master of Science degree in Accounting and Finance from Victory University, Australia in 2006. Mr. Yi is a Certified Public Accountant in Australia.

Mr. Shanchun Huang, Chief Executive Officer of the Company, said, “Mr. Yi is a highly qualified chief financial officer and he will be a strong partner for us in implementing cost reduction plans and improving operating performance. His excellent leadership and rich management experience in finance and operations are of great significance to the Company’s global strategy.”

“I am very happy to join FTFT and look forward to working closely with FTFT team,” Mr. Yi said, “As CFO, I will strive to help companies optimize cash flow, simplify financial processes, and improve business processes. In the process of the Company’s deployment into challenger bank business, we will work together to accelerate innovation drive, promote the sustainable development of the Company, and increase the Company’s long-term investment value.”