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Outlook Ties Coronavirus to Gig Economy, Digital Currency Surge

A clear endpoint seems not to be in sight for the growing new coronavirus outbreak thus raising suggestions that COVID-19 can be transformative for the future with a global impact on the conventional way day-to-day work is carried out.

Its spread has affected several industries globally with the oil and gas sector being the latest addition as global demand for the commodity thins. Oil prices plummeted around 30% on Monday March 9 as Saudi Arabia triggered a price war by slashing its official selling prices and set plans for a dramatic increase in crude production next month. Efforts to curtail the coronavirus outbreak form a major contributing factor to the oil demand growth cutdown with the likes of China, for instance, as the world’s second-largest economy, cutting down on its import shipments of oil.

The drop in oil prices correlates with the sharp drop in the value of the entire cryptocurrency market on Monday with CNBC reporting it fell by over $26 billion. Stock markets in Japan and Hong Kong fell sharply too while the same is expected in the U.S. European shares fall 6% at the open and Italian stocks, the European country with over 360 COVID-19 deaths presently, fail to trade. The year is still in its first quarter and the impact of COVID-19 has hurt and could still hurt thee global economy more – not just for this year but throughout the decade and even beyond – if not contained quickly.

Developing trend shows though that more individuals and corporate bodies have been adjusting their work pattern since the virus’ spread intensified. Just like the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak helped birth China’s nascent e-commerce sector which made the likes of Alibaba flourish globally, working remotely (including companies videoconferencing and individuals participating in the gig economy) has taken a new meaning.

From Microsoft to Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon, more global companies are joining the wagon to encourage many employees to work from home reduce the need for on-site staffing. The demand for gig delivery services seems to be growing too going by a report by top U.S. technology company that operates a same-day grocery delivery and pick-up service Instacart. It says its sales were 10 times higher recently and 20 times higher in states like California and Washington, where the largest numbers of coronavirus cases have been reported in the U.S.

“The trend is more and more people are willing to work at home and also almost every business has this [type of] workforce,” Zoom Video Communications CEO Eric Yuan told CNBC, bullish of the company’s growth prospects beyond the impact of the coronavirus on work forces and expecting that video conferencing will become a $43 billion total addressable market in the coming years.

One of the implications of this development for the blockchain and crypto industry – which is likely to be sustained even after the coronavirus could have been eliminated – is increased interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain wallets. It’s logical for workers in a surging gig economy to seek an easy-to-use payment method for their remote jobs including across borders. The continuous grappling with the COVID-19 outbreak can help make a strong case for digital currency to allow remote workers get their payments and transactions processed and stored on electronic devices like a smartphone.

The argument for digital currency upsurge is strengthened by the recent decry of paper money as transmitting the virus thus necessitating cash quarantine alongside humans. It is also supported by the view that blockchain already gained widespread acceptance, countries like China working on a digital Yuan (the U.S. considering its development options too and the likes of Facebook continues to revise its approach to own a stablecoin. It could be recalled that before the COVID-19 outbreak, Germany’s top bank, Deutsche Bank has projected a possible surge in blockchain-based digital currency wallets to about 200 mln in coming years.

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