Afternoon Coffee: Tesla, China invest in cryptocurrencies; Scanmarket acquires MIA Data for spend analytics; Coupa’s Business Spend Index shows positive sentiment

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Cryptocurrencies are having a moment this week after Tesla and China each announced new investments in digital currencies, according to CNBC.

Tesla's SEC filing on Monday showed that it bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin, for “more flexibility to further diversify and maximize returns on our cash,” CNBC said. It also said it will start accepting payments in bitcoin for its products, making Tesla the first automaker to do so.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was credited for raising the price of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin after tweeting about them on social media. Two weeks ago, Musk added the hashtag #bitcoin to his Twitter bio, a move that increased the price of cryptocurrencies by as much as 20%, the article said.

Meanwhile, China’s capital city will hand out about $1.5 million in a limited trial of the central bank’s digital currency. In the trial, Beijing said it will select 50,000 people from a pool of applicants to receive 200 yuan, about $30, in the digital currency. They can spend money at designated offline locations or on parts of e-commerce site JD.com during this week's Lunar New Year holiday, the article said.

The People’s Bank of China has worked to develop a digital currency for some time. It will work in a similar way to transactions through existing payment apps, CNBC said. Unlike more well-known digital currencies such as bitcoin, the one under development in China is controlled by a single power rather than a decentralized system managed by users around the world.

The US dollar slipped a bit more, which it has been doing since Friday because of concerns about a slow recovery from the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reports.

Scanmarket acquires MIA Data to focus on spend analytics technology

Scanmarket, a source-to-contract solution provider, announced last month the acquisition of MIA Data, an analytics technology company that specializes in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

In a press release announcing the acquisition, Scanmarket said it is working to evolve its company with additional analytics capabilities, which MIA Data can play an integral role in.

The AI capabilities will be applied to Scanmarket’s Spend Analytics software. The two technologies will be fully integrated to allow for a seamless workflow process between modules and tasks ensuring a transparent spend management solution. Analytics will add a new level of visibility into the spend under management system, which will allow customers a chance to better understand and communicate optimization.

“The evolution towards artificial intelligence and machine learning within the procurement industry marks a next step in the journey to digitalize procurement, creating a best-in-class solution for resolving the pain of tedious data gathering and insights,” Betina Nygaard, CEO of Scanmarket, said in the press release.

Coupa’s Business Spend Index shows sentiment improved 2.9% in Q1 2021

Coupa shared findings from its Business Spend Index (BSI) Q1 2021 Outlook on Tuesday, indicating that business spend sentiment improved 2.9% but is below trend.

The Coupa BSI Outlook analyzes business spend decisions for customers across Coupa’s platform and can serve as an early indicator of macroeconomic health for the next three to six months, according to a press release announcing the findings. Coupa’s BSI showed gradual improvement in business spend sentiment for the third consecutive quarter.

Data from the last quarter show the following year-over-year (YoY) changes:

  • 11.5% increase in business spend on technology, including hardware, software or services
  • 22.8% increase for contingent workforce spend
  • 12.3% increase in business spending for shipping and freight

Data suggests that recovery of business spend sentiment is underway following a sharp decline in Q2 2020 from the Covid-19 disruption. However, businesses remain cautious about the global economic outlook, the article said.

"While the Coupa BSI Q1 2021 Outlook shows modest improvement overall, a return to trend is unlikely until the number of new Covid cases reported daily has been significantly reduced," Jeff Collins, chief economist at Coupa, said in the press release. "Although government action to combat the economic consequences of the pandemic has likely mitigated the depth of the downturn, we do not expect the US economy to return to 'normal' levels of output or employment in the next three to six months."

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