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Alibaba, Tencent, Five Others To Receive First Chinese Government Cryptocurrency

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China’s central bank will launch a state-backed cryptocurrency and issue it to seven institutions in the coming months, according to a former employee of one of the institutions who is now an independent researcher. Paul Schulte, who worked as global head of financial strategy for China Construction Bank until 2012, says the largest bank in the world, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the second largest bank in the world, his former employer, the Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China; two of China’s largest financial technology companies, Alibaba and Tencent; and Union Pay, an association of Chinese banks, will receive the cryptocurrency.

A separate source, who’s involved in the development of the cryptocurrency, dubbed DC/EP (Digital Currency/Electronic Payments), confirmed that the seven institutions would be receiving the new asset when it launches, adding that an eighth institution could also be among the first tier of recipients. The source declined to provide the name of the additional company. Speaking under terms of anonymity, the source, who previously worked for the Chinese government, confirmed that the technology behind the cryptocurrency has been ready since last year and that the cryptocurrency could launch as soon as November 11, China’s busiest shopping day, known as Singles Day.

At the time of launch, the recipient institutions will then be responsible for dispersing the cryptocurrency to 1.3 billion Chinese citizens and others doing business in the renminbi, China’s fiat currency, according to the source. The source added that the central bank hopes the currency will eventually be made available to spenders in the United States and elsewhere through relationships with correspondent banks in the West. “That’s the plan, but that won’t happen right away,” the source said.

The plan to use a diverse set of China’s trusted intuitions to disperse the cryptocurrency is reminiscent of a number of other ideas currently percolating around the world. For instance, Facebook’s planned libra cryptocurrency will be backed by a basket of currencies issued by central banks with support from companies like Mastercard and Uber in the United States, Vodaphone in England and Mercado Pago in Argentina. And last week, Bank of England governor Mark Carney floated the idea of a new currency backed by a number of central banks to replace the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency.

What sets China’s DC/EP apart from libra and Carney’s “synthetic hegemonic currency” (SHC), according to Shulte, is that while libra is little more than early-stage computer code and the SHC doesn’t appear to have gone much further than Carney’s mind, the Chinese cryptocurrency is ready to launch. “China is barreling forward on reforms and rolling out the cryptocurrency,” says Schulte, who now runs an eponymous bank research firm. “It will be the first central bank to do so.”

At the time of publication, neither the People’s Bank of China nor any of the seven institutions mentioned by Schulte had responded to Forbes requests to confirm or deny his claim. However, the two-tiered strategy, where the central bank creates the currency and others distribute it, aligns with previously unreported statements made by Mu Changchun, deputy director of the Paying Division of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and the new head of China’s cryptocurrency research lab. In a speech on August 10 at the China Finance 40 Forum, since revised and posted on the PBOC’s WeChat channel, Mu described the central bank’s “two-tiered” system, wherein the bank would create the cryptocurrency and a small group of trusted commercial businesses would “pay the central bank 100% in full” to be allowed to distribute it.

In addition to preventing regional banks and other organizations from being disintermediated, Mu said the two-tiered system is designed to “curb” public demand for other cryptographic assets, consolidate China’s national currency sovereignty, ensure that the central bank maintains control over monetary policy affecting the currency, increase the likelihood of people using the currency, distribute the risk of having all the authority directly in the hands of the central bank and encourage competition between the organizations that receive the cryptocurrency.

“This dual delivery system is suitable for our national conditions,” said Mu. “It can not only use existing resources to mobilize the enthusiasm of commercial banks but also smoothly improve the acceptance of the digital currency.”

The composition of the organizations Schulte says will receive the DC/EP also aligns with Mu’s comments. Later in his speech, Mu added that only after the technical specifications for the DC/EP were completed in 2018 did the central bank realize the similarity between its design and that of libra, the cryptocurrency being developed by Facebook and about 30 other early-stage partners.

One key difference, according to Mu, is that while libra is being designed to handle 1,000 transactions per second, the DC/EP was designed to handle 300,000 transactions per second. For context, Mu added that during last year’s Singles Day the peak volume of all transactions in China was 92,771 transactions per second, dwarfing what the other platforms could support, but well within the DC/EP specifications. “At present, we belong to a state of horse racing,” Mu said according to the translation.

How Blockchain Went From Bitcoin To Big Business| 37:20

The DC/EP can achieve this kind of volume only because it is not a “pure blockchain architecture,” according to Mu, and therefore it doesn’t need to wait for groups of transactions to settle in a block. Like other permissioned blockchains that not anyone can use, the DC/EP is centrally managed, in this case by the central bank, meaning the digital currency remains a liability of the bank and the debtor/creditor relationship is unchanged, according to Mu. Also, instead of using an algorithm to limit supply, like bitcoin, Mu says the PBoC itself will control supply. Crucially, Mu says, the DC/EP is being designed to replace the physical notes and coins in circulation, not the renminbi sitting in bank accounts in a digital form.

“The central bank’s digital currency can be circulated as easily as cash,” said Mu. “Which is conducive to the circulation and internationalization of the renminbi.”

Whether anyone outside China would actually use a digital renminbi for transactions in their own country is unclear. As the Bank of England governor’s comments about replacing the U.S. dollar indicate, much of the world is tired of having their financial stability tied to the United States’ monetary system. But China may not be the best alternative. Earlier this month, as part of the escalating trade war between the United States and China, U.S. President Trump accused China of being a “currency manipulator.” After China’s renminbi fell to its lowest in 11 years, hitting 6.9225 renminbi per dollar on August 5, according to a Financial Times report, it has recovered significantly, trading at 7.15 renminbi per dollar today. While China has denied the charge and called the U.S. “protectionist” in a press statement, the perception of manipulation could be harmful to broader adoption of a digital currency linked to the renminbi.

In December 2017, another country accused of devaluing its currency, Venezuela, revealed plans for its own cryptocurrency, backed by oil and called the petro. After much hullabaloo, the currency somewhat officially launched in 2018, but it isn’t available on most international exchanges because of a U.S. embargo and has been almost impossible to accurately value. Another obstacle to adoption could be uncertainty about the benefits of a technology that’s intended to replace fiat currency but is still under centralized control. While it’s obvious that any central bank wishing to more closely observe how citizens are using a cryptocurrency would prefer a transparent ledger like the bitcoin blockchain, which makes transactions easily traceable, most of the benefits to users of current blockchains, such as instant settlement and digital transactions without the need of a middleman, could be undermined by central control.

One person who’s not concerned about the obstacles to adoption of China’s cryptocurrency is Charles Liu, chairman of HAO International, a private equity firm investing over $700 million in Chinese growth companies. After largely focusing on solar, organic fertilizer, and wastewater treatment technologies since 2012, Liu says he is an angel investor in “the first blockchain company to be able to sign an official contract with the People’s Bank” of China.

Liu declined to reveal the name of the firm or its technology but lent support to Mu’s comments about the potential benefits to businesses using China’s cryptocurrency. In addition to being a more efficient way to track money laundering, bribery and other transactions, Liu says, the cryptocurrency will give banks increased confidence in the creditworthiness of borrowers, let merchants receive payments instantly and lower transaction fees. While Liu says that banks in the United States have been resistant to such improvements that eat away at their bottom line, he adds that China doesn’t have that problem, because the government owns the banks.

“What will facilitate commercial transactions and enhance efficiency, the central government decides and they go ahead and do it,” says Liu, adding that “China’s strategic plan is to integrate more closely with the rest of the world. Cryptocurrency is just one of the means to have a more internationalized renminbi. It’s all strategic. It’s all long term.”

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I report on how blockchain and cryptocurrencies are being adopted by enterprises and the broader business community. My coverage includes the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple, and extends to non-cryptocurrency applications of blockchain in finance, supply chain management, digital identity and a number of other use cases. Previously, I was a staff reporter at blockchain news site, CoinDesk, where I covered the increasing willingness of enterprises to explore how blockchain could make their work more efficient and in some cases, unnecessary. I have been covering blockchain since 2011, been published in the New Yorker, and been nationally syndicated by American City Business Journals. My work has been published in Blockchain in Financial Markets and Beyond by Risk Books and I am regularly cited in industry research reports. Since 2009 I’ve run Literary Manhattan, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to showing Manhattan’s rich literary heritage.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

China’s central bank is reportedly on the verge of launching a national digital currency. Investigative Journalist Ben Swann joins Scottie Nell Hughes to discuss the implications. He argues that at some point every country will have its own digital currency. And that there’s “nothing attractive” about such currencies as they’re no better than traditional government-backed fiat currency. #NVHughes #QuestionMore #RTAmerica Find RT America in your area: http://rt.com/where-to-watch/ Or watch us online: http://rt.com/on-air/rt-america-air/ Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTAmerica Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_America

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Facebook Defends Libra Cryptocurrency in Sometimes Hostile Senate Hearing

Ahead of the launch of its new global cryptocurrency, Facebook (FBGet Report) sent its crypto chief David Marcus to the Senate Tuesday to face questioning from the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

The mixed reaction Marcus received among senators was mostly divided along party lines, with some of the toughest questioning coming from Democratic Senators still skeptical of the company in the wake of the Russian election hacking scandal that Democrats blame for their candidate’s loss in the 2016 presidential election.

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Senator Mark Warren (D-VA) stated that “Facebook has a history of buying or copying competing technologies,” before demanding that Marcus assure the panel that competing digital wallets wouldn’t be hindered on WhatsApp and Messenger, two of Facebook’s most popular products.

Marcus went back and forth with Warner before assuring Warner that users would be able to send and receive non-Libra digital currencies on Facebook’s networks. But Marcus would not commit to embedding those competing currencies on its platforms.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) baldly stated that “Facebook is dangerous,” saying that the company has continued to misuse customer data while continually referring to each instance as a “learning experience.”

Brown concluded his remarks by saying that “it takes a breathtaking amount of arrogance to look at that record” and believe that the next move for the company should be to create a digital currency.

Republican Senators were more forgiving for the most part, with Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) applauding the company’s efforts to provide financial services for the under-banked.

“I want to make clear that we are only at the beginning of this journey,” Marcus said. “We expect the review of Libra to be one of the most extensive ever. Facebook will not offer the Libra currency until we have addressed the concerns and receive appropriate approvals.”

Marcus also stated the Calibra network will have the “highest standards” when it comes to privacy and that the social and financial data will be completely separated.

Users will have to provide an authentic government ID so sign up for Calibra and will not be able to register by simply using their existing Facebook profiles.

Marcus stressed Calibra’s independence from Facebook, stating that the company has taken the lead in developing the technology but that it would give up the lead once the digital currency is launched.

“We will not control Libra and will be one of over 100 participants that will govern over the currency,” Marcus said. ” We will have to gain people’s trust if we want people to use our network over the hundreds of competing companies.”

Facebook shares were up 0.18% to $204.27 on Tuesday early afternoon and are up more than 55% this year.

Facebook is a holding in Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells FB? Learn more now.

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Source: Facebook Defends Libra Cryptocurrency in Sometimes-Hostile Senate Hearing

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US Senate Confirms New CFTC Chair to Succeed ‘Crypto Dad’ Giancarlo – CoinDesk

The CFTC tapped Heath Tarbert as incoming chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), replacing current chairman and “Crypto Dad” J. Christopher Giancarlo. The announcement was made yesterday during a Senate confirmation hearing.

The CFTC is tasked with regulating derivatives, digital assets, and over-the-counter trades. The regulatory authority has taken a light-handed approach towards the cryptocurrency industry under outgoing chair Giancarlo.

“During my time of service, it has been a priority to transform the CFTC into a 21st Century regulator for today’s digital markets. With Dr. Tarbert’s confirmation, I know the agency is in safe hands to continue this transition,” said Giancarlo in a statement regarding the succession.

Prior to this designation, Tarbert served a short stint as Acting Under Secretary for International Affairs, beginning April 16, 2019. Before that Tarbert served as Assistant Secretary for International Markets for two years, to which he was confirmed by a vote of 87-8, showing a high degree of bipartisan support.

Politico previously reported Tarbert would likely succeed Giancarlo as chief derivatives regulator.

Tarbert is a member of the Financial Stability Board, the international body established after the financial crisis to monitor global markets, and serves on its steering committee, according to his Treasury Department biography.

Giancarlo has committed to stay on as chairman until July 15, 2019, as Tarbert completes his current Treasury obligations.

J. Christopher Giancarlo image via CoinDesk archives

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Source: US Senate Confirms New CFTC Chair to Succeed ‘Crypto Dad’ Giancarlo – CoinDesk

SEC sues Kik for non-compliant securities sale in its $100 million ICO

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is alleging Kik Interactive Inc. sold millions of dollars worth of unregistered securities as part of its $100 million initial coin offering. The SEC announced a lawsuit against the company today, seeking a permanent injunction, a penalty, and disgorgement with interest. 

Kik has responded in a statement, saying it expected the suit for some time and looks forward to the fight for the future of crypto.

The SEC complaint indicates Kik turned to a new type of business financed by the sale of one trillion digital tokens after it lost money on its primary product, an online messaging application. The company made the sale out of concerns it would run out of funds during 2017, the filing alleged. 

In its suit, the SEC described the floundering state of Kik’s messenger business, which it says “has never been profitable.” The agency said the ICO was viewed as a “hail Mary pass” by one of its board members to breathe new life into the business by raising new capital.

The SEC also alleges that in the securities sale, Kik marketed its “Kin” token as an investment, claiming a rising demand would drive up the value of its token and that Kik itself would work to drive up the demand by including the token on its messaging platform, among other incentives. According to the suit, Kik emphasized only a finite number of tokens would be created and rising demand for the tokens would cause their value to appreciate.

The SEC also claimed that Kik “assured” potential buyers of the token that they would be able to trade Kin on secondary trading platforms and described it as “an opportunity for both Kik and early Kin investors to ‘make a ton of money.’”

Because the Kin offering allegedly promised securities transactions, claiming the token would trade on secondary markets and yield a profit for both the company and holders, the SEC claims Kik was bound by securities laws.

“Kik told investors they could expect profits from its effort to create a digital ecosystem,” said Robert A. Cohen, Chief of the Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit in a statement. “Future profits based on the efforts of others is a hallmark of a securities offering that must comply with the federal securities laws.”

Eileen Lyon, Kik’s General Counsel argued that discussing a potential increase in the value of an asset is not necessarily equivalent to promising profits from the efforts of another, a standard of the Howey Test, which discerns if an asset is a security and therefore bound by security laws. Lyon said the SEC’s assumptions stretch the Howey test too far, and Kik does not think it will hold up in court.

However, the SEC also alleges that at the time of the sale, the infrastructure did not exist and there was nothing to purchase using the token. Since then, the token has allegedly traded at half the value public investors paid in the initial offering.

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In this way, Bither provides PoW consensus mechanism with a more efficient framework. One of the Bither’s features is the merged mining, this is a powerful incentive to draw more miners to Bither’s network. Miners would be able to mine all customized tokens located on the second layer, not just the main coin (BTR).

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Bank of England: Cryptoassets Still ‘Too Volatile,’ Not a Good Store of Value By Omar Faridi

David Ramsden, the Deputy Governor of Markets and Banking at the Bank of England (BoE), has argued that cryptocurrencies are “too volatile” to be considered a reliable store-of-value (SoV).

In a brief interview with CNBC on April 30th, 2019, Ramsden said that BoE’s officials have been keeping track of the “emerging developments and then thinking about what they mean” or how they’re relevant to our current economic system.

The Deputy Governor noted that “just over a year ago, the financial policy committee looked at cryptoassets in some detail” – as “supported by” and within the context of the latest developments in FinTech and modern banking services. He confirmed that England’s central bank still believes blockchain-based digital assets are highly volatile, based on their recent price movements.

Cryptoassets Not An Effective SoV Or MoE

Cryptoassets are also not a reliable medium-of-exchange (MoE) because the “cost of transactions” remains quite high, Ramsden claims. Because of these issues, the BoE’s management thinks cryptocurrencies don’t satisfy the basic “principles of being a currency.”

Ramsden also pointed out that “this is why” the BoE considers them to be cryptoassets, and not cryptocurrencies. Ramsden further noted that cryptoassets “did not pose a risk” to the overall stability of the much larger traditional financial system. This, as the current market capitalization of the crypto market, which presently stands at over $174 billion, is relatively small compared to the multi-trillion dollar global financial market.

BoE Continues To Monitor Crypto Markets

Despite not being able to negatively affect the traditional financial system, Ramsden said that the BoE continues to monitor cryptoassets. He revealed that the UK’s Treasury Department, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and the Cryptoassets Task Force carefully examined the crypto industry.

According to the regulators, cryptoassets that “fall within” the current regulatory framework must comply with the European nation’s existing financial policies. However, Ramsden said that UK’s financial regulators “also had to be very mindful of [digital] assets and exchanges that [may be operating] in or outside” the UK’s regulatory guidelines.

“Very Positive” About DLT

Ramsden added that the BoE and other regulatory bodies in the UK “remained very vigilant about cryptoassets.” He continued to note that the BoE is “very positive” about the distributed ledger technology (DLT) that “underlies” cryptoassets. He also noted that part of his role “in embracing FinTech across the BoE” involves looking closely at the potential benefits of blockchain tech.

He also mentioned:

We are looking at the potential of DLT … for example, in the payments space, we’re making sure that our real-time gross settlement system can interface and be interoperable with blockchain/DLT technology.

Source: CryptoGlobe

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