How COVID Transformed The $70 Trillion Stock Market

In just a few months, COVID-19 has upended the world as we know it.

Since the outbreak, over 141,000 U.S. citizens have lost their lives to the virus, while over three million have contracted it. And despite constant study by the world’s foremost researchers and health experts, still, no one has yet been able to determine how contagious it is… exactly how it spreads… or what the long-term health impacts are. And scientists have so far been unable to create a vaccine.

And while lockdown restrictions are being slowly lifted across the country, the numbers continue to be cause for serious alarm…

Meanwhile, the economy has been in a tailspin—both nationwide and globally. Governments and central banks have implemented unprecedented stimulus measures and are discussing more.

And businesses have been scrambling to stay afloat and adjust to the new world order… all while delivering messages of support to the community. Companies nationwide have implemented measures to support their employees and their clients—from discounted products and services to flexible work hours to stringent health and safety measures.

Presently, folks in the health and pharmaceutical space are actively researching and developing treatments and potential vaccines for the virus. In fact, nine pharma companies are currently racing to be the first to a COVID-19 vaccine.

But the real heroes of the COVID-19 crisis could come out of the technology space, as organizations are using their resources to focus on tracking and helping prevent the future spread of the virus...

Take, for instance, Facedrive (TSXV:FD; OTC:FDVRF), which recently developed a special app to help trace and track positive COVID-19 patients in order to curb the spread.

And this is no gimmick—in fact, the technology has already received an important endorsement.

Just last week, the Ministry of Ontario, Canada voiced booming support for the technology, saying it could be pivotal for the government’s own COVID alert systems.

A simple idea with lifesaving implications…

You know those apps you use to find your friends, locate your runaway pets, or even connect with nearby romantic matches?

Imagine being able to use that same kind of tech to identify whether you’ve been exposed COVID-19.

That’s exactly what sustainable technology company Facedrive (TSXV:FD; OTC:FDVRF) has done with its TraceSCAN contact-tracing app.

The TraceSCAN app’s premise is brilliant in its simplicity:

Developed in partnership with the University of Waterloo, TraceSCAN uses Bluetooth technology to track contact between its users, in order to identify who may have been exposed to positive COVID-19 cases within its member base. Any user who is identified receives an immediate notification so they can take steps to isolate and/or seek treatment right away.

But the company didn’t stop there… It also developed inexpensive Bluetooth wearables in an effort to make the technology as accessible as possible. The Bluetooth devices give users access to the app and allow them to check vital signs… But perhaps most impressively, they come equipped with machine learning algorithms, with the goal of forecasting and preventing future outbreaks.

The Ministry of Ontario specifically noted in its announcement that the integration of wearables could be incredibly useful in workplaces where mobile accessibility is limited (think everywhere from healthcare facilities to construction sites to sporting venues).

Ontario is a top-ten economy in North America and boasts a population of some 14 million citizens; with the Ministry’s support, the company could well see widespread adoption across the province.

This isn’t the first major endorsement the tech has received: Back in May, the Labourers' International Union of North America (LiUNA) said it planned to adopt the TraceSCAN app in an effort to protect its 130,000 members from the spread of COVID-19.

Beyond these organizations, there’s a huge addressable market in need of products and services such as these—even just within the company’s home country.

There are some 31.7 million mobile subscribers in Canada. The country’s population is over 37.5 million. Simple math tells us that nearly 6 million Canadians don’t carry a mobile phone. When you consider senior citizens and low-income individuals are most likely to fall in this category—and many of these individuals are at greater risk for serious COVID-19 complications—accessibility to Bluetooth technology could literally save lives.

By the way, this isn’t the only virus-fighting effort the company has made—it’s been on the frontlines since the pandemic started, with initiatives from offering discounted rides to healthcare workers... to contactless delivery of medical supplies… to a virtual “hackathon” to globally crowdsource new ideas on combating the virus.

And that’s outside all its other initiatives...

A millennial-driven megatrend… with a COVID-19 catalyst

The face of investing has changed. No longer are people purely interested in locking in the highest returns and beating benchmarks. These days, they care much more than before about making sure their money has a positive impact on the world, through investments that tackle issues like climate change, human rights, and legislation they believe in.

In fact, this type of investing has become so prevalent that it has its own moniker: Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing.

One major factor shaping this trend: There’s a new average investor in town.

As baby boomers enter their retirement years, millennials are hitting the market. And according to Morgan Stanley, millennial investors are twice as likely than others surveyed to invest in social and environmental causes they support… with 75% of millennial respondents saying they believe their investments could directly impact climate change, and 84% saying they believe the same about alleviating poverty.

But it’s not just millennials who are turning up for ESG investments… According to the study, 75% of all investors are interested in sustainable investing, with 71% saying they believe sustainable investments could have better long-term prospects.

This might explain why the global ESG market hit a staggering $30 trillion in 2018… with some pundits predicting it could hit as high as $50 trillion over the next 20 years.

What’s more, some experts believe COVID-19 is about to fuel the fire of this already raging mega-trend.

Facedrive (TSXV:FD; OTC:FDVRF) is already emerging as a leader in the social conscientiousness revolution…

The company believes, above all else, in its mission of “putting people and the planet first.” It leads several green initiatives, supports multiple causes, and is quickly gaining a reputation as an emerging leader in the Canadian environmental, social, and governance (ESG) market.

To start, it’s the first ridesharing company that lets riders opt for eco-friendly vehicle options (electric vehicles and hybrids) and view data on the environmental impact of their rides. Also, a percentage of all the collected rideshare costs go directly to green initiatives, like planting trees. This is huge, considering the fact that research shows traditional ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft put out 69% more emissions than the transportation options they’re replacing.

Plus, unlike other rideshare companies, Facedrive works directly with communities, bringing them on as direct partners and stakeholders, rather than dodging and resisting legislation.

Meanwhile, drivers are rewarded with high payout rates (especially those who drive eco-friendly vehicles) as well as various perks and incentives (everything from ESL classes to professional development opportunities).

As ESG investing continues gaining momentum... Facedrive is likely to take home a big slice of that pie. (And that’s not including the $1.3 trillion-and-growing global transportation-as-a-service market.)

Facedive is no one-trick rideshare company. It wants to create an experience. A lifestyle.

As part of that mission, it’s expanded into several other markets, including health (as we saw with TraceSCAN), retail (selling sustainable products), and food delivery.

With its delivery service in particular, the company came out of the gate with a bang, closing a deal to acquire Foodora Canada, giving the company partnerships with over 5,500 restaurants and hundreds of thousands of active members.

This was a smart strategic move by the company—the global food delivery market surpassed $23.5 million in 2018… and is expected to grow to over $98 million by 2027.

Also, before the acquisition, Foodora was a subsidiary of global behemoth Delivery Hero—one of the only delivery companies to successfully market to its clients’ values and grow “brand love” over “brand interest”—a perfect fit for Facedrive’s person-and-planet-first mantra.

Facedrive Eats now operates out of six cities in Ontario, with an eye on expansion in the near future.

As for its growth into the retail space, Facedrive Market already has some serious name-drop-worthy partnerships, including Will Smith’s eco-friendly clothing brand, Bel Air Athletics, as well as Westbrook, Inc.—Smith's company with his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. The company also has partners in global tech titans Amazon and Telus.

And it appears even more impressive partnerships could be right around the corner…

On June 30, the company announced the official launch of its Corporate Partnership Program. Anyone paying attention would have noticed this explosive bit of news: Global e-commerce giant Amazon and Canadian Tier-1 telecoms giant Telus jumped in on Facedrive’s corporate partnership program.

That means both giants will be receiving preferred pricing on Facedrive services and that their employees have a deal to use Facedrive at a discount.

And they won’t just be using Facedrive, they’ll be helping it expand its technology infrastructure around the world as it branches out globally.

With Amazon and Telus on board, other household names are likely to follow.

The new market reality… What’s next for investors?

We’re living in a new age.

No one knows the long-term impacts COVID-19 will have on the world—either on our health or on the economy as we know it. No one knows for sure how long the stimulus measures will last—although history tells eventually what goes down (interest rates… to zero) will eventually go back up.

Meanwhile, the markets have experienced volatility unlike any we’ve seen in over a decade. Wall Street is chasing its tail. And in a world of depressing earnings and unknown long-term outlooks, it’s impossible to say how long this post-crash market rally will last.

As market focus shifts from bottom lines to global impact, initiatives that have the capacity for widespread impact are drawing investors in flocks. And with the socially conscious millennial generation launching itself into the market and 30-some-odd years from retirement, this trend isn’t likely to end any time soon.

Facedrive (TSXV:FD; OTC:FDVRF) is already gaining recognition across the board as an ESG leader, thanks to its unique person-and-planet first approach to every industry it touches—from eco-friendly rides to COVID-19 response. As the massive ESG trend converges with the huge ridesharing and delivery markets, the company has positioned itself to come out a beloved leader of ESG in action.

Other companies looking to capitalize on the new market reality:

Millennials are also going all-in on technology. From hardware producers like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) to social media giants like Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), millennials are putting their money in what they believe in.

Apple has made significant moves towards renewables. All of Apple’s operations run on 100% renewable energy. "We proved that 100 percent renewable is 100 percent doable. All our facilities worldwide—including Apple offices, retail stores, and data centers—are now powered entirely by clean energy. But this is just the beginning of how we’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. We’re continuing to go further than most companies in measuring our carbon footprint, including manufacturing and product use. And we’re making great progress in those areas too," CEO Tim Cook explained.

Like Apple, NVIDIA has made major progress towards a greener tomorrow. But what makes NVIDIA even more special is that it is tackling the ESG trend on all fronts. In fact, it was ranked as one of the world’s top 100 companies to work for due to its incredible working conditions, hiring practices and professional development programs. In addition to its ranking as one of the world’s top companies to work for, it was also ranked on MIT Tech Review’s 50 Smartest Companies list and the Human Rights Watch’s Corporate Equality Index.

Twitter, for its part, has gained great esteem among millennials due to its vocal stance on climate change, equality and internet safety. Twitter works with a number of non-governmental organizations to help encourage action to protect environmental conservation and promote equal opportunity, particularly in the tech, engineering, arts, mathematics, and scientific fields. The company also puts its money behind its beliefs, donating millions to organizations across the globe that are ‘fighting the good fight.’

Millennials are even getting behind the behemoths of yesteryear, such as Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B). While Berkshire Hathaway isn’t widely acknowledged as an ESG company, millennials are buying in because of its massive holdings in other Generation Y favorites such as Apple, Amazon, and Coca Cola. Not to mention, the company is helmed by investing legend Warren Buffet whose track record speaks for itself.

And of course, green energy giants cannot be ignored, either. NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) is literally building the path towards sustainability. To make matters more exciting, the company was the number one capital investor in green energy infrastructure, and the fifth largest investor across all sectors.

In addition to its already massive impact combatting the world’s looming climate crisis, it has ambitions of investing an additional $55 billion in infrastructure in the next two years in the United States. And while it helps deploy the world’s new energy reality, it has also committed to weaning itself off foreign oil. And shareholders are all in. Over the past 15 years, shareholders have seen 945% returns.

Canadian companies are diving into this new market trend, as well:

Boralex Inc. (TSX:BLX) is an ambitious Canadian renewable firm. The company’s primary energies are produced through wind, hydroelectric, thermal and solar sources and help power the homes of many people globally. Not only has it has had a great influence in the adoption of renewable electricity domestically, it’s even branching out into the United States, France and the United Kingdom.

Westport Fuel Systems (TSX:WPRT) is an energy technology provider for the vital transportation industry. It creates and distributes systems for less impactful fuels, such as natural gas. That means it has amazing potential upside, considering there are over 2.5 million natural gas vehicles worldwide.

Shaw Communications Inc (TSE:SJR.B) is taking a leadership role among Canadian telecom providers through its use of renewable energy, In fact, it is one of the biggest customers of Bullfrog Power which sources its electricity from a blend of wind energy and hydropower. It is also building its own portfolio of clean energy investments.

Shopify Inc (TSX:SH) is playing a pivotal role in the e-commerce boom. Not only does it help anyone and everyone who wants to have a try at launching their own business, it gives them the tools and resources to do so. And it’s not without its ethical grounding, either. Shopify is pushing towards sustainability in a major way. It has started its own sustainability fund, which it adds $5 million to each year to help tackle the looming climate crisis.

The Descartes Systems Group Inc. (TSX:DSG) is a Canadian multinational technology company specializing in logistics software, supply chain management software, and cloud-based services for logistics businesses. Recently, Descartes announced that it has successfully deployed its advanced capacity matching solution, Descartes MacroPoint Capacity Matching. The solution provides greater visibility and transparency within their network of carriers and brokers. This move could solidify the company as a key player in transportation logistics which is essential-and-often-overlooked in the mitigation of rising carbon emissions.

By. Imani Johnson