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Chinese cryptocurrency start-up Bottos wants to end the monopoly tech giants like Amazon and Facebook have on data, its founder and chief executive said Wednesday.

“We’re trying to break the data monopoly situation currently,” Xin Song told CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal at the East Tech West conference held in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China.

Xin’s company makes an artificial intelligence (AI)-focused blockchain platform, which provides digital marketplaces of data and models to help train AI programs and connect them with users, as well as networks for computing power and data storage.

The firm’s boss explained that AI models can issue crypto tokens using the Bottos platform in exchange for data from entities using its data marketplace.

“Currently, almost all the big data are controlled by the industry giants, and for the small-to-medium companies it’s very difficult for them to get the data,” he said.

“But with blockchain technology… people can provide those data, and with the traceability and the transparency of the data usage in the future, people in the world and people in the blockchain community (will be) willing to contribute their individual data.”

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May’s Brexit deal under fire as legal advice stiffens opposition



On Tuesday, just hours before the start of a five-day debate in the British parliament on May’s Brexit deal, a top law official at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said Britain could pull back its formal divorce notice.

“The UK now appears to have the option of revoking unilaterally and taking a period of time of its own choosing to decide what happens next,” J.P. Morgan economist Malcolm Barr wrote in a note to clients.

He placed a 10 percent probability on a no-deal Brexit, down from 20 percent, and a 50 percent probability on an orderly Brexit, down from 60 percent. The chance of no Brexit at all doubled to 40 percent from 20 percent, in a sign of perhaps the biggest shift in perception since the 2016 vote to leave.

Britain’s pro-Brexit trade minister Liam Fox said it was now possible that Brexit would not happen. There was a real danger that parliament would try to “steal” Brexit from the British people, Fox told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.

Sterling, which has see-sawed on Brexit news since the referendum, traded well off the 17-month lows it hit on Tuesday, lifted by suggestions that Britain may opt not to leave the European Union after all.

In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 52 percent, backed Brexit while 16.1 million, or 48 percent, backed staying in the bloc.

If parliament rejects her deal, May has warned Britain could leave without a deal or that there could be no Brexit at all.

Supporters of Brexit have said that if Brexit is reversed, the United Kingdom will be thrust into a constitutional crisis as what they say the financial and political elite will have thwarted the democratic will of the people.

While May’s Conservatives and the main opposition Labour Party both say they respect the 2016 vote to leave, a growing number of backbench members of parliament say the only solution may be a new referendum giving voters an option to stay in the EU.

If the deal is voted down, some members of parliament from both main parties have said they would act to stop a Brexit with no agreement, which business chiefs and investors fear would weaken the West, spook financial markets and block trade.

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Egypt’s pound set to weaken as banks deplete their foreign currency reserves



An Egyptian youth walks past a polling station in the capital Cairo's western Giza district on March 25, 2018 ahead of the vote scheduled to begin the following day, decorated on the outside with giant privately-sponsored electoral posters depicting incumbent President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and giant pieces of cloth stacked together to show the colors of the Egyptian flag.


An Egyptian youth walks past a polling station in the capital Cairo’s western Giza district on March 25, 2018 ahead of the vote scheduled to begin the following day, decorated on the outside with giant privately-sponsored electoral posters depicting incumbent President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and giant pieces of cloth stacked together to show the colors of the Egyptian flag.

Egypt’s state banks have reportedly been propping up the Egyptian pound by selling their foreign exchange assets — a strategy that can only last a few more months, economists warn.

The pound has performed notably well compared to its other emerging market counterparts, falling only one percent against the dollar this year amid a wider EM sell-off. It has held between 17.78 and 17.98 to the dollar over the last six months, according to Reuters.

But capital flight out of Egypt has seen foreign holdings of Egyptian treasury bonds drop by $8 billion and the stock market fall by 30 percent, pressuring the currency.

Rather than intervening itself — a move that would draw swift rebuke from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which in 2016 provided the country a $12 billion loan package — the central bank has leaned on state-owned banks to sell its foreign currency assets to offset that pressure, bankers and economists say. But propping up the pound by meeting that demand for hard currency has also meant a sharp and unsustainable drop in banks’ foreign assets, according to economic consultancy Capital Economics.

“It’s difficult to know for how long this process could be sustained. At the current rate of depletion, banks would exhaust their FX assets in eight months,” the consultancy wrote in a note published Tuesday, describing Egypt’s commercial banks as having “depleted their own FX assets.”

Between April and September of this year, banks’ foreign assets nearly halved, falling from $20.61 billion in April to $12.15 billion in September, their lowest level since early 2017. Reports of state-owned banks serving as the main suppliers of foreign currency may indicate backdoor intervention by the government, analysts have said.

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Huawei blocked from providing core tech to BT’s 5G network



A BT spokesperson told CNBC over the phone that the decision was not a response to any security concerns.

However, the U.K.’s spy chief said on Monday that questions remained over Chinese firms’ access to 5G networks.

“We need to decide the extent to which we are going to be comfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies,” MI6 chief Alex Younger told students at St Andrews University in Scotland.

The U.K. – along with Canada – is one of two nations in the Five Eyes security alliance not to ban Chinese telecoms firms from their 5G rollouts.

Last week, the New Zealand government excluded Huawei as a technology vendor for its 5G network, citing a “significant network security risk.”

Fellow members Australia and the U.S. have also banned Chinese tech firms Huawei – and ZTE in the U.S. – from their 5G networks over fears it could make national infrastructure accessible to the Chinese government.

Both Huawei and ZTE have repeatedly denied these claims. Chinese smartphone manufacturers are subject to legislation that requires citizens and businesses to cooperate with Chinese intelligence authorities.

However, Huawei has previously stated that the Chinese government cannot legally compel telecoms firms to install backdoors or listening devices in other nations.

Eric Xu, one of the rotating chairmen at Huawei, told CNBC on Thursday that blocking Huawei from the 5G market could result in higher costs for both consumers and telecoms firms.

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