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BlackRock’s BUIDL is now the world’s largest tokenised treasury fund - Industry roundup: 6 May

BlackRock’s BUIDL becomes the world’s largest tokenized treasury fund

The BlackRock USD Institutional Digital Liquidity Fund, also known as BUIDL, surpassed Franklin Templeton's product last week to become the largest treasury fund tokenised on a blockchain. BUIDL's market capitalization has reached US$375 million, eclipsing the $368 million of Franklin OnChain U.S. Government Money Fund (BENJI), according to Dune Analytics.

BUIDL's growth has been fuelled by a $70 million inflow last week, including a substantial $50 million from real-world asset tokenisation firm Ondo Finance's OUSG token, as was reported by Cointelegraph.

Blockchain-based tokenisation of real-world assets, including treasuries, stocks, and real estate, has gained traction, with BlackRock CEO Larry Fink highlighting the potential to improve capital market efficiency. However, investor demand for these tokenized products remains low due to thin liquidity, as per research strategist Tom Wan.

Despite the current challenges, there’s optimism spurred by existing demand for U.S. Treasuries within the $140 billion stablecoin market, making it easier “To find end investors to switch over”, when demand picks up, observed Wan.  

Tokenized government securities currently account for 1.4% of the total assets tokenised on-chain, according to Cointelegraph. Wan anticipates a significant increase in tokenised government securities' market share, potentially reaching 10% in the future.


Ukraine's central bank unveils largest wartime currency liberalisation measures

In a significant move, Ukraine's central bank has introduced its largest wartime currency liberalisation measures, as reported by Reuters on May 3.

Effective May 4, the new provisions aim to ease restrictions for businesses, more than two years after Russia's invasion prompted the imposition of tight foreign exchange controls.

Notable changes include lifting currency restrictions on imports of goods and services, easing newly contracted external loan repayment restrictions, and facilitating foreign currency transfers from representative offices to parent companies. Additionally, businesses can repatriate "new" dividends starting May 13.

In its statement, the central bank highlighted that the currency liberalisation measures were adopted after thorough evaluation of the necessary prerequisites.

"Careful analysis confirms that the changes should not create additional risks for macro-financial stability and stability of the foreign exchange market," it said.

Reuters further reported that the Ukraine central bank governor Andriy Pyshnyi described the measures as a "very tangible step" that would provide businesses with “Opportunities to enter new markets or bring in investments.”

The liberalisation measures come as Ukraine's economy, bolstered by Western financial aid, posted 5.3% growth in 2023 and is forecast to expand by 3% this year.


Apple plans historic $110 billion share buyback amid challenging earnings report

According to a recent CNN report, Apple has announced a $110 billion share buyback, the largest in the company's history, with iPhone sales declining 10%, amid a challenging first-quarter earnings report. The drop in iPhone sales suggests weak demand for its iPhone 15 lineup, which were launched in September 2023.

The tech giant posted first-quarter revenue of $90.8 billion, down 4% year-over-year, as it continues to face growth challenges, particularly in China, amidst an uncertain economic environment, reported CNN.

However, the company saw a 4% increase in Mac sales to $7.5 billion and a services revenue of $23.9 billion, beating analyst estimates. Apple's wearables, home, and accessories category, including the new Vision Pro headset, saw revenue of $7.91 billion, slightly below expectations.

Apple's momentum in China has waned due to a combination of factors including nationalism, a struggling economy, and intensified competition, which have negatively impacted the company in recent months. However, during an earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that iPhone sales have increased in mainland China in the latest quarter.

Looking ahead, Cook teased that it will be sharing more about its vision for generative AI in the "weeks ahead," as the company aims to catch up with competitors in this emerging technology. Apple is expected to introduce AI-powered tools at its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference in June.


JP Morgan to offer faster domestic payments via Visa Direct

In a strategic move, J.P. Morgan and Visa have joined forces to provide faster domestic payments through Visa Direct. This collaboration is designed to enhance merchant experiences and empower cardholders of J.P. Morgan Payments.

“With Visa Direct’s extensive reach in the U.S., J.P. Morgan Payments will empower merchants, businesses and FinTechs to embed faster domestic payments into their solutions,” the companies said in a news release provided to PYMNTS.

Utilising the Push to Card payment rail, funds can swiftly and securely move to recipients' bank and digital accounts by leveraging debit card credentials.

According to John Skinner, co-head of treasury services at J.P. Morgan Payments, “This is an important collaboration for our clients and our business. Visa Direct’s capabilities align strategically with our commitment to delivering innovative solutions to our clients.”

“By boosting our ability to deliver faster payments, we’re streamlining payment processes, enhancing liquidity management, and providing greater convenience for our customers.”

The partnership follows J.P. Morgan’s recent announcement of a new programme for its small business clients, allowing companies to opt for real-time payments on a pay-as-one-goes continuum.


The US economy added just 175,000 jobs in April, while unemployment rose to 3.9%

Despite expectations, April witnessed a lower-than-expected increase in jobs within the US economy, accompanied by an increase in the unemployment rate, leading to hopes for potential interest rate reductions by the US Federal Reserve in the coming months.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that just 175,000 jobs had been added in April, coinciding with the unemployment rate ticking higher to 3.9%. This is against expectations that the jobless rate would hold steady at 3.8%, according to FactSet consensus estimates, fostering optimism among traders of two interest rate cuts by the end of 2024.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also released data on changes in employment over the past year. According to the numbers, employment increased in 31 states from March 2023 to March 2024 and was essentially unchanged in 19 states and the District of Columbia. The largest percentage increases occurred in Idaho (+3.7%), Nevada (+3.4%), Alaska (+3.2%), and South Carolina (+2.8%). The largest job gains from March 2023 to March 2024 occurred in Texas (+270,700), California (+217,700), Florida (+211,100), and New York (+144,400).

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