currency-china

China’s Digital Currency to Launch Soon

The central bank of China is reportedly ready to launch its state-backed digital currency and once launched, it will be initially issued to seven institutions over the next months. According Paul Schulte, an independent researcher and formers employee of one of the institutions, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, 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. There are also reports that there is an eighth institution that will receive the central bank’s currency when it finally launches.

While the institutions have not officially released any information pertaining to the plans for the digital currency, the country’s government has previously confirmed that the technology that will be powering the currency has been ready since 2018 and it could launch as soon as November 11.

Once it is launched, the institutions that will be issued with the digital currency will be responsible for dispersing it to China’s 1.3 billion citizens as well as to people doing business using China’s fiat currency. Furthermore, the Chinese central bank has hopes that the currency will eventually be availed to users in other parts of the world through relationships with corresponding banks in those jurisdictions – the United State is one of the prime candidates for these plans.

Why Is China Launching Its Own Digital Currency?

China has one of the biggest informal or black economies on the planet and this makes the collection of taxes very difficult.

“The major business for most underground banks is now contra payments, leading to huge capital outflows and great damage to society. It’s the major target of our crackdown,” reveals a recent notice issued by China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) believes that the introduction of a state-backed digital currency will help it take back control of certain aspects of the economy and crack-down on the black economy. The currency is intended to offer “controllable privacy” which will allow users to transact without having to give away personal information. To achieve this, the currency will be “loosely coupled’ with an account. However, for the sake of mitigating against tax evasion and other illegal activities, the People’s Bank of China will be able to view the transactions.

“…there will be variable transaction fees, as well as daily and annual transaction limits to give the central bank more tools to control the velocity of money and its supply when interest rates cease to be a viable channel for intervention,” the Vice Governor of the bank said.

Lowering the cost of transactions is another aspect that the bank hopes to achieve in its bid to make financial services more widely available. Needless to say, this will be a huge development for the country since a significant portion of the population is unbanked.

libra

Facebook’s Libra and the Future of Digital Currencies

A few weeks ago, Facebook Inc. announced it plans to launch Libra, a blockchain-based payment system that the company has described as a new “global currency”. This term may seem very familiar and this is because it has been thrown around especially when describing other digital currencies. However, unlike most, if not all other cryptocurrencies, Libra is actually backed by real assets and is pegged to stable government securities.

As a matter of fact, the project has already partnered with several corporate partners who include global financial companies such as PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and Coinbase among others – each of these companies has contributed at least $10 million for the initiative and Facebook plans to partner with as many as 100 companies and accumulate $1 billion in assets by the time Libra goes live in the first half of 2020.

The Goal

Needless to say, Facebook’s announcement was not like any other digital currency unveiling. This was not just another blockchain and there is a very good reason why. So, unlike other digital currency offerings, Facebook’s new venture aims to bank the unbanked population (1.7 billion people) and this is what makes it such a big deal.

Obviously, providing financial services to such as a scale using relatively new financial technology is definitely no easy task but this is where Facebook’s resources and the members of the Libra Association come in. Putting those into consideration, it is pretty clear that the project was well thought out which is expected of any company that hopes to break the ground on new and innovative ideas.

How It Works

Libra is expected to allow people to purchase goods and services as well as send me to others with almost no fees. Users will also be able to use pseudonyms to buy or cash out their Libra on a number of online platforms or at exchange points such as grocery stores. They will also be able to spend the currency using third-party wallets or Facebook’s Calibra wallet that will be offered using a standalone app and will also be built into WhatsApp and Messenger.

Fortunately, the digital currency and platform offer some form of decentralization since Facebook will not have full control of Libra – just like the other members of the Libra Association such as Uber and Visa, the behemoth tech company will only get a single vote in the governance of the new currency. The Libra association as a whole will be tasked with promoting the open-source Libra Blockchain as well as the currency’s developer platform with its own Move programming language.

Moreover, Calibra, a subsidiary company, is also being launched by Facebook and it will be tasked with handling crypto dealings and protecting the users especially from targeted advertising. To achieve this, the company will ensure that the users’ real identities are not tied to their publicly visible  Libra transactions.

Crypto-Gambling

Can Crypto Replace Credit Cards for UK Online Gambling?

The UK Gambling Commission, in March 2018, announced that it was mulling over a possible ban on the use of credit cards on online gambling sites. This consideration came up following the commission’s report on responsible gambling measures where it was found that the availability of credit card payment options at online casinos was a viable cause of harmful gambling tendencies among a considerably large number of people.

According to the commission’s report, approximately 10 to 20 percent of all the deposits that were made to online gambling sites in the country were made using credit cards. In essence, this implies that close to a fifth of all the online gambling that was carried out in the United Kingdom was facilitated by borrowed money. This even becomes a much bigger problem when we factor in the fact that most, if not all, of the involved credit card companies treat these transactions in the same exact way that they treat cash advances – that is, they do not come with an interest-free period, may entail exorbitantly higher interest rates and often incur varying amounts of handling fees. Combined, these are the ultimate ingredients for problem gambling and never-ending financial woes for given groups of people – problem gamblers.

The UK Gambling Commission has taken a more proactive approach in the way it handles its activities of late and thus if things keep going the way they are, it is possible that it will indeed proceed to regulate a credit card ban of some kind.

What Next?

Naturally, if it so happens that the use of credit cards for making online casino payments is banned, both the consumers and operators will need to find viable alternatives. Some of the ones that have already been floated around include e-wallets and bank transfers both of which are actually quite reasonable. However, by far the most revolutionary and perhaps the most appealing is blockchain technology and the associated digital currencies.

Needless to say, cryptocurrencies have grown immensely popular over the past few years and within that time a number of online gambling sites have adopted their use in a number of different ways. This implies that there is already a sense of direction and thus it should not be so hard to have digital currencies completely replace credit cards as a payment option on online gambling websites.

There are a number of advantages that a crypto-powered gambling service would have but it is important to note that there will equally be a unique set of challenges. Still, with the looming ban on credit card use on online gambling websites, it will definitely be a great time to advance the agenda for mainstream adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.