The amount of electricity consumed by the largest cryptocurrency networks has decreased by up to 50 per cent as the "crypto winter" continues to eat at the incomes of "miners" and financial contagion spreads further throughout the sector, media reports said.
The electricity consumption of the bitcoin network has fallen by a third from its high of June 11, down to an annualised 131 terawatt-hours a year, according to estimates from the crypto analyst Digiconomist, The Guardian reported.
That still equates to the annual consumption of Argentina, with a single conventional bitcoin transaction using the same amount of electricity that a typical US household would use over 50 days.
The decrease in electricity used for Ethereum, the "programmable money" that underpins much of the recent explosion in crypto projects, has been sharper still, down from a peak of 94TWh a year to 46TWh a year ? the annualised consumption of Qatar, The Guardian reported.
The underlying reason for the fall is the same for both currencies, however. The electricity consumption of a cryptocurrency network comes from "mining", which involves people using purpose-built computers to generate digital lottery tickets that can reward cryptocurrency payouts. The process underpins the security of the networks, but incentivises the network as a whole to waste extraordinary amounts of energy.
As the price of cryptocurrencies has fallen ? bitcoin peaked at $69,000 (56,000 pounds) earlier this year, and is now hovering at about $20,000 ? the value of the rewards to miners has dropped by the same proportion, leaving them in areas with expensive electricity or using older, inefficient mining "rigs" unable to turn a profit.
"This is literally putting them out of business, starting with the ones that operate with suboptimal equipment or under suboptimal circumstances (eg inefficient cooling)," said Alex de Vries, the Dutch economist behind Digiconomist, The Guardian reported.
Leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin dropped below $18,000 per digital coin on Sunday -- a massive over 70 per cent drop from its record high of $68,000 in November last year -- as mayhem in the crypto market continued.
Overall, the prices of top cryptocurrencies declined as much as 35 per cent last week in the wake of economic recession fears.
The global market cap of cryptocurrencies sank below $850 billion, which recently hovered over $1 trillion.
The second-largest Ethereum cryptocurrency fell below $1,000 on Sunday, down nearly 80 per cent since its all-time-high in November last year.
The latest crypto crash is happening as investors are afraid of global macroeconomic conditions and the US Federal Reserve is trying to curb rising inflation.
According to analysts, Bitcoin may hit a grim $14,000 this year.
The likely bottom range at $14,000 would represent a drop of around 80 per cent for Bitcoin from the $68,000 all-time high.
"In the next 670 days, BTC will capitulate in the next 6 months and hit cycle bottom ($14-21k), then chop around $28-40k in most of 2023 and be at $40k again by next halving," tweeted Venturefounder, a contributor at on-chain analytics platform CryptoQuant.
According to Coindesk, Bitcoin has historically experienced periods of asymptotic price run-ups followed by steep crashes, "typically played out over several months to two years".
Cryptocurrency watchers refer to these periods as "cycles".
In 2017, Bitcoin reached a then-high of $19,783 in December before falling back down to the four-digits range just one month later.
During the 2013-2014 cycle, Bitcoin reached an all-time high of $1,127 at the time, a level that the cryptocurrency successfully defended during its 2018 drawdown.
Homegrown social media company ShareChat on Thursday said it has closed a $520 million multi-tranche funding round, taking its valuation to $5 billion.
In the funding round, ShareChat raised $255 million from Google, Times Group, and existing investors, adding to the $266 million it raised earlier in December 2021 from Alkeon Capital, Temasek, HarbourVest, Moore Strategic Ventures, and India Quotient.
Since 2021, ShareChat has cumulatively raised $1.2 billion and acquired MX TakaTak.
ShareChat, which achieved unicorn status last year, has collectively raised $913 million in 2021, the highest funding among all companies that became unicorns during the year.
ShareChat (Mohalla Tech) runs India's largest short video platforms, Moj and TakaTak, besides the ShareChat app, which together cater to over 400 million users.
"Despite strong headwinds, it is reassuring to see investor confidence in ShareChat's efforts and potential to grow further. Over a year ago, we turned unicorn, and since then, we have been scaling and innovating at an exhilarating pace, further refining our offerings and expanding our operations," said Ankush Sachdeva, CEO and Co-founder, ShareChat and Moj.
The coming year will be about capitalising on the scale and building robust revenue models, he added.
The ShareChat app, over the years, has grown to be India's largest content ecosystem.
In 2020, it launched 'Audio Chatrooms' as a feature. Today, it has become one of India's largest voice-based live hangouts, with 2 billion minutes of audio streamed every month.
Since its launch in July 2020, Moj has grown to become India's favourite short video app with over 3X daily active users and 2X daily time spent per user compared to its nearest domestic competitor.
Recently, ShareChat announced a strategic merger with MXTakaTak, bolstering its short video ecosystem to 300 million MAUs and 100 million creators.
India's newest airline Akasa Air took delivery of its much anticipated first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in Seattle, the airline said in a statement on Thursday.
With a strong commitment to democratise the skies, the airlines' total order of 72 aircraft includes an initial delivery of 18 aircraft by March 2023, followed by delivery of the remaining 54 aircraft over the course of the next four years.
The 737 MAX family delivers superior efficiency, flexibility and reliability while reducing fuel use and carbon emissions.
Providing the lowest seat-mile costs for a single-aisle airplane as well as high dispatch reliability and an enhanced passenger experience, the 737 MAX will be one of the key factors in ensuring that Akasa Air has a competitive edge in its home market.
"This is indeed a symbolic milestone in the journey of Akasa Air, bringing us one step closer to the process of obtaining our Air Operator's Permit (AOP) and leading to our commercial launch. While we are extremely happy with this achievement, we want to keep ourselves focussed on the task of delivering on our vision to transform India's air transportation ecosystems support the nation's economic growth engine and help fellow Indians chase their dreams," said Vinay Dube, Founder, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Akasa Air.
"We are honored to deliver the first 737 MAX to Akasa Air, India's newest airline focused on making air travel inclusive and affordable for all," said Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO.
"Flying an advanced, environmentally progressive 737 MAX fleet with greater fuel efficiency and lower operating costs will enable Akasa Air to profitably serve the Indian market while passing those savings on to its passengers."
Akasa Air takes delivery of first of its 72 aircraft from Boeing.(photo:@Boeing/Twitter)
As mayhem continues across the crypto market, be it cryptocurrencies or Blockchain-based Decentralised finance (DeFi), there has also been a massive 88 per cent drop in Google searches for "buying NFTs", a new report said on Tuesday.
The term "buy NFT" has dropped down to a score of 12 on a scale of 100 at the beginning of June, representing an 88 per cent drop from its peak score of 100 that was recorded in January, reports niche news publisher Bankless Times.
Similarly, the term "sell NFT" saw a 86 per cent decline in its search interest score from 52 which was recorded at the start of 2022, to a score of 7 in June, the report noted.
"People are losing their trust in cryptos in general. The recent Terra crisis showed how people could lose money in just a few days. That said, given the volatility of NFTs, people are being extra cautious," said Aliasgar Merchant, a developer relations engineer at Ignite (formerly Tendermint).
"Just following the trend like investing in an NFT because everyone is doing so will cause more harm than good in the long run," Merchant added.
The search interest for buying NFTs (non-fungible tokens) dropped consistently since the start of this year, signalling a period of consolidation for the best-performing digital asset class over the past 12 months.
According to a report by DappRadar, the NFT market generated $3.7 billion in terms of trading volumes in May, 20 per cent down from that registered in the previous month.
According to experts, an increasing number of fake profiles, Discord scams, phishing frauds, pump and dump routines, and rug pulls are coming to the fore in the NFT markets.
However, certain NFT categories like arts and entertainment have bucked the trend and witnessed a resumption in NFT search interest since mid-May.
In what could dampen the mood of crypto lovers, sales of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have fallen a massive 92 per cent since September last year, according to data from popular website NonFungible.
The sale of NFTs fell to a daily average of about 19,000 last month, a 92 per cent decline from a peak of about 225,000 in September, reports Wall Street Journal, citing the data.
According to the report, the number of active wallets in the NFT market fell 88 per cent to about 14,000 in the first week of May from a high of 119,000 in November.
Many NFT owners now find their investments significantly less than when they bought those pieces of art.
The NFT market currently represents segments like collectibles, sports, entertainment, and arts.
Ratings agency Fitch Ratings has revised its outlook on India to stable from negative.
"The Outlook revision reflects our view that downside risks to medium-term growth have diminished due to India's rapid economic recovery and easing financial sector weaknesses, despite near-term headwinds from the global commodity price shock," it said in a statement on Friday.
The ratings agency expects a robust growth relative to peers to support credit metrics in line with the current rating.
It expects India's GDP to grow by 7.8 per cent in FY23.
Reportedly, the ratings agency had lowered the outlook to negative in June 2020 after the imposition of the strict nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The stringent restrictions on movement and economic activity dragged the economy into a technical recession -- two consecutive quarters of year-on-year decline in growth.
Further, in the medium-term, the agency said India's growth outlook is strong as compared to its peers and it expects growth of around 7 per cent between FY24 and FY27.
According to the Reserve Bank of India, the country's real GDP growth in FY23 is seen at 7.2 per cent, with 16.2 per cent in Q1, 6.2 per cent in Q2, 4.1 in Q3, and 4.0 in Q4, with risks broadly balanced.
In a bid to promote two-way trade with India, Iran is exploring an alternative banking mechanism within the framework of international law, its visiting Foreign Minister Dr. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Thursday. In his address at an interactive meeting organised by MVIRDC World Trade Centre, Mumbai ? an international trade promotion organisation, and the All India Association of Industries (AIAI), he said: "I had a fruitful discussion with senior ministers of the Indian government to establish such a banking mechanism."
President of WTC & AIAI Mr Vijay Kalantri strongly pitched for increasing trade and commerce between the two countries. Both the sides discussed the possibility of rupee-rial trade and agreed on a conducive legal mechanism to promote two-way commerce, he said.
Also, in his presence, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between his nation and World Trade Centre, Mumbai to promote bilateral trade and investment as also with the All India Association of Industries.
Apart from establishing a banking mechanism, the two countries have also explored the possibilities of settling trade transactions in rupee or through barter system, said the minister, who is on a three-day visit to India.
Within the framework of international law, there are existing banking mechanisms that Iran has already implemented with a dozen countries, he said.
Iran's Deputy Minister of Judiciary, Fattah Ahmadi said: "Iran is clear in its intention to support trade and investment ties with India by signing an agreement on mutual legal assistance in civil and commercial matters."
The two Iranian ministers also invited Indian companies to explore trade and investment opportunities in Iran by assuring that its government will provide a conducive business environment to protect their commercial interests.
The US has revealed its "hypocrisy" by announcing a ban on Russian oil, while continuing to purchase it in large quantities, Russia's Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has said, media reports said.
Washington claimed it had moved to restrict all imports of Russian crude oil, some petroleum products, liquefied natural gas and coal in early March as part of sanctions imposed on Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine.
"Russian oil will no longer be accepted at US ports," US President Joe Biden vowed back then. But the statement wasn't backed up by action, Volodin pointed out in a post on Telegram on Wednesday, RT reported.
The data from the US Department of Energy suggests that "oil deliveries from Russia almost doubled in March compared to February - from 2,325 to 4,218 million barrels, respectively", he wrote.
Despite the announced ban, "our country has risen from ninth to sixth place in the ranking of the largest oil suppliers to the US", he added, RT reported.
The fact that at the same time Washington had been pressuring the EU to give up on Russian oil, and succeeded in doing so, is "a clear sign of double standards", Volodin said.
"Now let the European politicians and bureaucrats explain it to their citizens, why they should tolerate 'Biden's price hike'," he wrote.
That comment was in reference to Biden's attempts to link high inflation, soaring gas and food prices with the Russian offensive in Ukraine, dubbing them as "Putin's price hike", RT reported.
A recent report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published on June 1, says that some oil companies have been supplying discounted Russian oil to the US and in this regard it specially mentions Indian companies.
Quoting data by Kpler, a commodities data analytics website, the WSJ claims that a refinery owned by Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries bought seven times more Russian crude during May compared to before the war, which is about 20 per cent of its total intake.
Lauri Myllyvirta, an energy analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, told the WSJ that what likely happened was Reliance took on a discounted cargo of Russian crude, refined it and then sold the product on the short-term market where it found a US buyer, and it does look like there's a trade where Russian crude is refined in India and then some of it is sold to America. In addition the report also mentions ship-to-ship transfers at high seas.
WSJ also named another Indian company Nayara Energy (in which the Russian oil giant Rosneft owes major shareholding) indulging in this trade. The newspaper also claims that Reliance and Nayara, both did not respond to its request for comment.
However, commenting on ship-to-ship transfers, the oil industry analysts say that the whole trade is driven by arbitrage and it is a common practice where cargoes are diverted to the benefit of traders. As savings of even a few cents per barrel results in huge savings, given the volumes. RIL has been importing Russian oil for last three-four years as has been the Nayara, India's second private sector refinery.
Oil trade tricks
International traders have continued to keep Russian crude trade on, even after the announcement of the US-led economic sanctions against Russia, blending it with other fuels that are then refined.
Meanwhile, India has maintained trade ties with Russia through the war and has snapped up discounted crude that others have avoided. Indian imports have surged to 800,000 bpd since the conflict began compared to 30,000 bpd previously.
What perplexes one is that why the WSJ has mentioned just Indian companies in its report, as there have been reports earlier that many western nations including Germany have been buying Russian petroleum and gas even after the Russian invasion, in absence of any EU sanctions. So why does the WSJ report singles out India, for this practice? Is there a hidden motive to malign Indian government on this count, so that it starts supporting the U.S.-led sanctions against Russia?
American oil imports
The spiralling world oil prices, which stood at $110 on 1 June, are a particular concern for the US, the world's biggest oil consumer, where inflation is already running at a four-decade high.
The US imports Russian oil, but it is not highly dependent on the country for its supplies. In 2021, the US imported an average of 209,000 bpd of crude oil and 500,000 bpd of other petroleum products from Russia, according to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) association, which further says that these imports increased since 2019, after the US ban on Venezuelan oil and after Hurricane Ida disrupted oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.
This whole process also has a broader economic side effect. If the US stopped importing Russian oil, then many other countries may follow, resulting in an already very tight oil market getting much tighter, and that would drive up the price of oil, in turn driving inflation, affecting the U.S. economy badly.
The political fallout of rising oil prices for the Biden administration could be disastrous. Inflation in the US rose at an annual rate of 7.5 per cent in January 2022, as per the Bureau of Labour Statistics; the fastest pace since July 1982. This means a $276 increase in average monthly expenses for every American household, according to a recent study by Moody's Analytics.
Rising prices and other issues have already dealt a blow to President Joe Biden's approval ratings, which are in the doldrums after sinking to a record low of 33 per cent in January 2022. Further increases in inflation could affect his ratings ahead of crucial mid-term elections in November and also his bid for re-election in 2024.
In this scenario, what remains a viable and image building exercise for the US is to help rebuild the petroleum industry and basic infrastructure in Iraq, a country destroyed during its pursuit of the IS and Al Qaeda elements there during the last two decades and turning its political and economic structure to shambles. Iraq, even today remains one of the most underdeveloped oil producers in the Middle East.
Iraq's Oil Minister, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar, recently stated that the country aims to increase its crude oil production to 6 million bpd by the end of 2027.
Simon Watkins, a leading oil industry expert, in his latest book The Complete Guide To Global Oil Market Trading, opines that currently, Iraq produces around 4.1-4.2 million bpd, compared to its April OPEC quota of 4.414 million bpd, and its quota is due to increase to 4.5 million bpd in June, and it has potential to increase oil production enormously.
In addition, the US could help Iraq rebuild or expand its petroleum extraction in Zubair, Mishrif, Qarmat, ThiQar, Gharraf and Nasiriya oil fields. The revenue from these oil fields will help rebuild Iraq. A promise, which the US has made umpteen, times, but has not upheld.
If the Biden administration is really interested to control the inflation in the US and also take credit for sticking to its promises regarding rebuilding Iraq, while putting an effective ban on Russian oil reaching western nations, it could effectively achieve these objectives by pursuing a strategy whose cornerstone should be Iraq's reconstruction.
India's largest producer of aluminium Vedanta Aluminium has commissioned India's largest electric fleet of 27 forklifts, powered by lithium-ion batteries.
Done in partnership with Gemini Equipment and Rentals India, this feat sets the ball rolling on Vedanta Aluminium's plans to decarbonise its industrial vehicle fleet.
These electric forklifts make use of the cutting-edge system to help ensure the highest levels of safety at site, besides using Internet of Things technology to integrate the data collected by intelligent terminals and provide feed on a real-time basis.
All 27 forklifts arrived last month and are being operationalised at the company's aluminium smelter at Jharsuguda.
Some other advantages of this green fleet include a reduction in diesel consumption by more than 2.5 lakh litre annually, greenhouse gas emission savings of nearly 690 tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Further, as testimony to its endeavours towards increasing gender diversity in core manufacturing operations, the company is recruiting and training women to operate these top-of-the-line forklifts.
The company has previously hired transgender employees as forklift operators in its aluminium operations at BALCO in Chhattisgarh.
"In line with our commitment of achieving Net Zero Carbon by 2050, our partnership with GEAR to deploy one of India's largest and most technologically advanced electric forklift fleets, is a strong step in our journey of decarbonising our industrial vehicle fleet. We are also leveraging this avenue to increase women's participation in core operations by training women drivers to operate these smart forklifts," said Rahul Sharma, CEO, Aluminium Business at Vedanta.
Varun Chopra, Executive Chairman of GEAR India, said: "Vedanta Aluminium's pioneering endeavour to commission India's largest fleet of technologically advanced forklifts undoubtedly serves as an inspiration for the Indian manufacturing industry to explore emerging technology solutions for achieving their sustainable development and Net Zero goals."
Vedanta Aluminium manufactures more than half of India's total aluminium output.
Top Indian companies have shown resilience in post-pandemic business conditions and TATA Group, with its brand value up 12 per cent to $24 billion, continues to be the most valuable brand in the country, a new report showed on Wednesday.
Taj Hotels (brand value up 6 per cent to $314 million) is the strongest brand in the ranking with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 88.9 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA brand rating, according to the leading brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance.
Brands in the banking (brand value up 16 per cent), IT services (brand value up 15 per cent), and telecoms (brand value up 7 per cent) sectors in India achieve high brand value as the economy is recovering from the impact of Covid-19.
Infosys (brand value up 52 per cent to $12.8 billion) has overtaken LIC (brand value up 28 per cent to $11.1 billion) to become the second most valuable Indian brand this year.
"Infosys has shown impressive growth this year, making it the fastest-growing IT services brand globally of 2022, thanks to its commitment to clients and focus on innovation," the report mentioned.
Reliance (brand value up 5 per cent to $8.6 billion) achieved some marginal brand value growth to retain fourth position, while the State Bank of India (brand value up 29 per cent to $7.5 billion) improved one ranking position to increase from 7th to 6th.
TATA Group retains its top position "as it led by example through the Covid-19 crisis by innovating using technology to reach the masses".
"The brand strengthened its strategic business and leadership initiatives with brand building activities across the globe. The brand's growth with sustainable and inclusive actions at its core is the driving force behind brand TATA," said the report.
The pandemic and subsequent national lockdowns hit the hospitality sector the most and brands had to re-invent their strategies to remain relevant to the need of tourists.
"The hospitality industry is recovering as five-star business hotels in metropolitan cities across the country have seen occupancy reach 75 per cent to 80 per cent in the past month," the report noted.
Year 2022 is a tipping point for the Indian IT services industry - as in it, the industry crossed $200 billion in total revenue and $5 million in total workforce.
TCS (brand value up 12 per cent to $16.7 billion) and Infosys (brand value up 52 per cent to $12.8 billion) are among the top 3 most valuable brands globally at the second and third spot, respectively.
The Indian telecommunications industry is making its mark globally. India is the world's second-largest telecommunications market with a subscriber base of 1.16 billion users.
Airtel (brand value of $7.7 billion) ranks No 1 in the telecommunication sector in India with an impressive 28 per cent growth in brand value.
At the second position, Jio (brand value up 5 per cent to $5.1 billion) shows gains in growth followed by VI (brand value of $767 million) which continues to be resilient despite its numerous business challenges.