Reserve Bank of Australia Sees No Rush in Launching A CBDC; Aussie Banknotes Are Working

As other nations are rushing to launch central bank backed digital currency dubbed CBDC, Australia is not joining the bandwagon.

As per the Australian local news platforms, the Reserve Bank of Australia recent payments paper indicates that the bank is taking a cautious stand when it comes to CBDCs and privately issued stablecoins.

According to the australian central bank, there is no urgent case or need to introduce a CBDC in the country. The regulator argues that the country has an efficient, real-time payment platform which eliminates the need of a CBDC.

In addition, the regulator notes that the use of cash for transactions is decreasing in the country as Australian citizens are getting rid of banknotes just like in other countries like Sweden.

According to the central bank, despite the COVID-19 crisis in the country, the demand for cash has gone up. In this regard, RBA has committed to continue making it easy for Australians to access banknotes “for as long as Australians wish to keep using them.”

The Reserves Bank’s paper also explored the projects being carried in China, Sweden and Canada – some of the countries which have taken the CBDC initiatives proactively.

When it comes to Sweden, the RBA says that the country has witnessed a significant decrease in the use of cash for a number of years hence the need for Riksbank to come up and test the use of e-krona.

In Canada’s case, the country’s central bank has been preparing itself to provide CBDC when the opportune time comes. The Canadian central bank has envisioned two scenarios when CBDC can be beneficial – a collapse in use of fiat money for normal transactions as well as a threat to the country’s monetary policy as a result of growth and development of privately issued digital money.

The RBA’s report also touches on Facebook’s Libra stating that it still remains a dream and is following closely on whether it be granted regulatory approval to operate in various jurisdictions.

The Australian central bank also opined that the Chinese CBDC project which is at an advanced stage is largely informed by the popularity of private-sector e-money wallets like WeChat and Alipay.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

The Bahamas Central Bank to Launch Its Digital Currency, the Sand Dollar, Next Month

The Bahamas are on the verge of becoming the first nation in the world to introduce a state-backed digital currency. The Bahamas Central Bank announced that it would issue a central bank-backed cryptocurrency (CBDC) next month.

Chaozhen Chen, the Central Bank of Bahamas assistant manager in charge of eSolutions, said that the virtual currency, known as ‘Sand Dollar,’ is set to enhance financial inclusion, especially the isolated islands within the country.

Chen explained that most people on those isolated islands have no access to banking and digital payment infrastructure. Based on reasoning that the central bank came up with a customized solution that will solve the problem while allowing the country to maintain its sovereignty.

The Sand Dollar transfers will be made using a mobile-based wallet app on users’ phones which will be much easier since more than 90% of the citizens use a mobile phone.

According to the official, the central bank digital currency (CBDC) will adhere to the regulations and rules subjected to the Bahama dollar. Users will have to comply with the anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) rules when it comes to the creation of accounts for the use of the digital currency.

The new virtual dollars will be issued by demand. Chen also revealed that the CBDC would be issued along with the withdrawal of the fiat Bahamian dollars to avoid an oversupply of money in the country.

The Bahamas Central Bank first indicated the desire to introduce a digital dollar in June 2018. At that time, the regulator noted that most smaller islands had witnessed a massive downsizing and closure of commercial banks, which left them with no banking services.

The central bank started a pilot project dubbed ‘project Sand Dollar’ last year in the islands of Exuma and Abaco with a population of 7,314 and 17,224, respectively.

Chen explained that every Sand Dollar would be pegged on the Bahamian dollar pegged on the US dollar.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

FinTech Firm, Wirex, to Launch A Multi-Currency Mastercard Card With 2% Crypto-Back in Europe

Wirex, the inaugural crypto firm to become a Mastercard principal member, is set to roll on its new multi-currency card days after gaining principal membership.

The crypto payment platform is based in London and is licensed by Uk’s Financial Conduct Authority to offer crypto cards across Europe.

The new multi-currency Wirex Card will be backed by Mastercard and will be connected to 19 crypto as well as fiat currency accounts found in the Wirex app. The firm is however yet to issue the release date.

In efforts to boost the utilization of crypto in everyday payments, the firm is also enhancing its existing cryptoback rewards program that has so far been rewarding crypto users with upto 1.5% back in Bitcoin for every in-store transaction.

Going forward, crypto users will enjoy a 2% cryptoback for both in-store and online transactions. In addition, users will get up to 6% rewards on their native Wirex Token balance per year.

Before releasing the Mastercard backed crypto card, Wirex is also set to release various new features taking advantage of the recent partnership with LHV, a payments solution firm.

Within the European Economic Area, the new features which are now live come with support for five fresh currencies consisting of Hungarian forint, Czech Koruna, Romanian leu, Croatian kuna and Polish złoty.

Wirex has in the recent past enjoyed an increase in support with the platform revealing that it has more than three million users in the start of the year. According to the firm’s CEO, the firm has seen adoption especially among mainstream users that are not usually hardcore crypto worshippers or enthusiasts.

Wirex platform allows users from about 130 nations to use their crypto as well as fiat money via an existing dedicated Visa card as well as mobile app.

Recently, there have been positive signs of integration between plastic money and crypto as both Visa and Mastercard have enhanced their efforts to form working relationships with various established crypt-based companies.

Coinbase card was the inaugural crypto card to be issued in the United States and is backed by both Mastercard and Visa.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Gene Simmons of KISS is into Bitcoin & Crypto

Rock star Gene Simmons seems to be endorsing bitcoin.

The frontman of the legendary band KISS, Simmons responded to crypto exchange Gemini co-founder Cameron Winklevoss’ tweet where he talks about buying crypto. Winklevoss said,

“It’s easier to buy Bitcoin and Ether if you are already in the old system. If you don’t have a bank account, it’s hard to get funds into crypto. We need to change this.”

“I will. I am,” responded Simmons.

The musician who also has other titles; singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, author, and actor to his name didn’t elaborate on it despite several attempts by the crypto community.

Per Simmons’s previous comment about bitcoin, he is surely into digital assets.

“I am interested in Bitcoin, but only as a piece of the [investment] puzzle,” he said in an interview in late 2017 with The Street.

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Author: AnTy

Libra Association Hires Former HSBC Europe Managing Director, James Emmett

In an announcement on Thursday, Libra Association announced James Emmett, former European head at HSBC as the new managing director of its subsidiary, Libra Networks LLC. Emmett will start his role at the digital stablecoin firm on October 1.

According to the statement, James Emmett is a well-experienced financial services leader in “business, strategy, technology, and operations” having worked 25 years at the global financial institution. Emmett becomes the second high-profile manager from HSBC to join Libra, after Stuart Levey joined as the CEO of the Libra Association earlier this year.

Speaking on Emmett’s appointment, Levey showed his excitement saying the new appointee’s “leadership will help make Libra’s vision a reality.”

Emmett’s 25 years at HSBC saw him take on a number of roles including chief executive of HSBC Bank PLC and Europe. In his capacity as the chief executive of HSBC PLC, Emmet was responsible for the bank’s wholesale and retail operations across Continental Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Bermuda. Emmett has also acted in the position of COO of HSBC overseeing overseas technology operations. Passionate in the opportunities that digital currencies offer the current financial services, Emmett said,

“I am delighted to be joining Libra Networks with a mission to enhance financial innovation and inclusion and to deliver the operationalization of the network.”

With global regulators on Libra’s neck as the Association plans to launch its stablecoin, Libra is moving to employ more legal experts to smooth the relationship with global regulators. Shortly after appointment of Stuart Levey and CEO of Libra Association, Libra appointed Ex-Goldman Sachs Executive, Sterling Daines as its global compliance lead and Stevan Bunnel, former Homeland Security general counsel to replace Robert Werner as Libra’s general counsel.

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Author: Lujan Odera

AVA Labs to Launch Its Avalanche (AVAX) Blockchain Mainnet On September 21st

  • AVA Labs announces the launch of its mainnet Avalanche blockchain will take place on September 21.
  • The mainnet aims to challenge Ethereum 2.0, providing lower latency and higher throughput.
  • Avalanche mainnet targets the surging world of DeFi products.

AVA Labs, a blockchain development firm, announced it would release its Avalanche blockchain mainnet on September 21. Emin Gün Sirer, the founder of AVA Labs and a computer science professor at Cornell, termed the mainnet “a new beginning for blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and decentralized applications.” Adding,

“Monday will mark the beginning of a new era for cryptocurrencies, blockchains, and decentralized applications.”

“Avalanche is the first major breakthrough in our space since Satoshi’s leap forward, and we intend to follow in their footsteps to have the same, defining impact as we stand on the cusp of a new decade.”

According to a statement from the team, Avalanche blockchain mainnet will launch this coming Monday, aiming to provide newly-bred solutions for decentralized finance (DeFi), crypto, and blockchains in general. On the launch of the mainnet, Avalanche’s native token, AVAX, will be distributed to rightful owners, Emin said.

AVAX will be distributed to the early owners of AVA, including those who participated in the private and public sales of the token, developers who were awarded grants from AVA Labs, and those who earned commissions.

Avalanche’s mainnet launch follows 16 months of intense development since the blockchain exited its stealth mode. According to the statement, Avalanche is the first-ever smart contracts platform that delivers sub-second verification and finality of transactions to challenge the upcoming Ethereum 2.0, Ethereum’s forthcoming main update.

Notwithstanding, Avalanche will also support all projects on the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and provide EVM development kits. This aims to enable “millions of independent validators to participate as full, block-producing nodes,” the statement further reads.

The launch of Avalanche also brings with it solutions to the burgeoning DeFi ecosystem that has been plagued by over-congestion and high fees on ETH. In a statement obtained by BEG, AVA Labs co-founder and chief operating officer, Kevin Sekniqi, said the development team has always looked for solutions to the DeFi ecosystem with Avalanche to solve the scalability problems.

“There’s no known limit to the number of full, block-producing validators who can participate in Avalanche consensus without losing performance. We’ve tested upwards of 2,000 of these full validating nodes without any drop-off in performance or downtime,” Kevin said.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bermuda-Based Digital Asset Bank, Jewel, Partners With Crypto Custodian Anchorage

Jewel, a proposed digital asset bank in Bermuda, has been added as one of the clients to Anchorage’s digital asset custodial services. The yet to be approved digital asset bank announced on September 16, noting that the move will be beneficial to crypto companies based on the island.

Anchorage, licensed in the U.S, significantly increases the value proposition of Jewel digital asset bank as a prospectus entity in the Bermuda crypto banking space. Jewel’s chairman and founder, Chance Barnett said,

“Our relationship with Anchorage enables us to serve our clients with the rigorous security and product standards needed for bank-level safety, service, and compliance.”

Leveraging Anchorage as its crypto custodian will help Jewel run operations smoothly; the target functions include the provision of checking accounts and other crypto banking services to firms in this niche. Consequently, Anchorage is set to play a fundamental role in the custody of digital assets entrusted to Jewel by its clients.

It is quite noteworthy that Anchorage’s custodial services are relatively liquid, given that the firm does not use cold storage. Jewel is optimistic that this position will further facilitate its product scaling to feature lending services for crypto-oriented entities. The company’s Chief Revenue Officer, Jill Richmond, added that they intend to increase operations to other jurisdictions as well,

“We are at the forefront of being able to service global markets … We have existing letters of intent at the moment with a number of the top Tier I, Tier II digital asset exchanges.”

Bermuda’s Progressive Blockchain and Crypto Approach

While Jewel will probably be the first approved digital asset bank in Bermuda, the island has been a leader in the blockchain adoption and regulatory space. Some notable milestones include developing a blockchain identification system in collaboration with the Shyft network and Perseid. The small island is also becoming a crypto business hub with exchanges shifting operations from stiff regulatory jurisdictions like the U.S.

Interestingly, Bermuda’s government is also one of the few authorities that accept tax payments in crypto, the USDC coin, to be specific. If Jewel is given the go-ahead, the crypto payment options will probably scale based on this digital asset bank’s ability to spur integration by acting ‘as the banking bridge between digital assets and traditional fiat currency (USD) held in banking accounts.’

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Decentralized Exchange Aggregator, ParaSwap, Raises $2.7M to Streamline DeFi Token Swaps

France-based decentralized exchange aggregator, ParaSwap, raises $2.7 million in a seed funding round from some of the top investors across the crypto ecosystem. The funding is set to boost API integration and development in a bid to enhance the building of decentralized finance (DeFi) applications.

The seed funding round welcomed over 30 top firms in the crypto industry including Coingecko, a crypto data aggregator; Blockchain Capital, a crypto-related venture capital firm, Arrington’s XRP Capital and a list of top influencers in the space. Stani Kulechov, founder of DeFi platform Aave and Arthur Cheong, founder of DeFiance Capital were part of the individual investors who participated in the round.

Mounir Benchemled, founder and CEO of Paraswap stated the new funding will enable building of bridges between multiple decentralized finance applications. Additionally, Paraswap will scale its API infrastructure allowing millions of users to seamlessly integrate its aggregator. Benchemled further highlighted the need for simpler solutions for DeFi users stating:

“It is an indicator that the DeFi market needs more than simple user interfaces for swaps. It needs projects that help build solid industry standards.”

ParaSwap is a liquidity aggregator that helps users find the best token prices on order through a routing process across major DEXes such as Uniswap, Bancor, Kyber Network and 0x. Differentiating its role from 1inch.exchange, Mounir explained Paraswap as an API which is also used by the aggregator’s UI and other users “while 1inch is a UI and they have an API on the side.”

Since launch in 2019 as a DEX, ParaSwap has pivoted its business to creating APIs that provides an easy-to-use and efficient entry point for DeFi application, traders and developers.

On the seed funding round, Benchemled stated two major reasons that made investors choose ParaSwap. First, he attributed the investment to ParaSwap’s growing client base saying:

“We were also able to attract some tier 1 dapps and wallets in the ecosystem.”

Finally, with only 3 employees (increased to 10 in the past three weeks), ParaSwap has been able to deliver with very minimal resources, he stated. “ParaSwap has been a one man army most of the time and since March, we out competed most of the old and well-funded projects.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

MicroStrategy CEO: Bitcoin is the “Ultimate Inflation Hedge,” 1000x Better than Gold

Publicly traded MicroStrategy has taken a deep dive into Bitcoin, having bought a total of 38,250 BTC at a rate of $425 million and making the leading digital asset a part of their reserve, replacing cash.

This is a big conversion from MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor’s tweet about “bitcoin days are numbered. It seems like just a matter of time before it suffers the same fate as online gambling,” in 2013.

However, in a conversation with Anthony Pompliano on his podcast, Saylor shared that he is “ashamed” for tweeting what he did, which he didn’t even realize until the crypto community reminded him of when the company first announced buying $250 million worth of bitcoin. He said,

“I’m like oh my god, I literally forgot I ever said that…but I took it as kind of like, kind ribbing like I didn’t get all worked up about. I’m like you’re right, I was wrong, what an idiot I was.”

Because They’re Going to Crush Everything

During his conversation, Saylor further talked about how before agreeing on bitcoin is the right idea, “we all needed to collectively be of the opinion that we were going to be generating cash at infinitum,” for which they went on a journey through corporately over the past year.

The company had $500 million in cash, and they had to decide whether to buy-back stock, buy another company, or keep it for a rainy day.

Saylor credited his friend Eric Rice, who owns bitcoin investment fund and kept on advising him on bitcoin, which the CEO kept on dismissing until “one day we’re sitting around my pool in Miami and he starts explaining it and something clicks in my head that maybe this is a pretty good idea.”

So, here they had to decide between precious metal and bitcoin after dismissing commercial real estate and equities and “I want something that can go up by a factor of 10,” Saylor said.

He compared Bitcoin to Amazon and Apple when they first came out — a good investment that has a digital dominant network and dematerialized something fundamental. So, you invest in that thing when they have a hundred billion dollar market cap because,

“When they’re ten times bigger than the next biggest thing, and they’re a hundred billion dollars, they’re probably going to crush everything.”

This is the Real Deal

Saylor, however, isn’t interested in hundreds of other cryptos available in the crypto space. Because, while it’s “great” to have all that innovation which may or may not work, an outsider needs something in which one can put in their $500 million and,

“Everybody in the community is going to spend every iota of their energy to make sure no one f’s with that network.”

Not to mention, bitcoin is the dominant crypto, and nothing comes close to it. Also, community ethos is one of the key drivers of their belief in its success.

And although BTC is volatile, what other choice does anyone have in the current environment.

“Let’s be honest there’s a negative real yield on everything else,” whether it’s gold, bond, or cash.

“Every other non-volatile asset is a negative real yield, which means that everything else is lifeblood draining out of my veins,” said Saylor, adding he would choose the asset with volatility over “non-volatile cash that bought 30 percent less in a matter of eight weeks.”

Moreover, in the next ten years, with people coming into move hundreds of millions of dollars, they will tend to damp all the volatility because it’s in their interest.

“I think people were kind of oblivious to the need to slash the role of bitcoin and the bitcoin narrative of digital gold – this is the ultimate inflation hedge,” said Saylor, who sees the digital asset as a 1000x better than the yellow metal.

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Author: AnTy

US FinCEN Set to Upgrade AML Guidelines in Wake of Evolving Illicit Financial Crimes

  • The US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to amend its anti-money laundering (AML) guidelines, ensuring that all covered financial institutions maintain an efficient AML program.
  • This includes crypto entities that run under the Money Service Business (MSB) licenses, amongst other approvals, to offer this line of service to US residents.

According to the announcement on September 17, FinCEN is seeking feedback from stakeholders affected by changes to the AML requirements. This bureau of the US Department of the Treasury has since issued 60 days for interested stakeholders to have commented on prospectus regulatory amendments.

FinCEN noted that this move is particularly important in the combat of evolving illicit financial crime and will therefore set the stage for more solid AML practices,

“The regulatory amendments under consideration are intended to modernize the regulatory regime to address the evolving threats of illicit finance, and provide financial institutions with greater flexibility in the allocation of resources, resulting in the enhanced effectiveness and efficiency of anti-money laundering programs.”

Upon implementation, the prospectus changes will affect compliance and reporting by US domiciled financial institutions. FinCEN highlighted that the amendments are expected to be detailed enough, such that there is clear clarification on risk assessment methods, coupled with the consideration of oversight requirements under the US Bank Secrecy Act and AML priorities.

Crypto Businesses Amongst the Targets!

With a decade gone by since crypto made a debut, regulators appear to be paying more attention now that the trend is no longer a hype but a threat to traditional financial ecosystems. One of the areas that have proved incredibly difficult for oversight agencies is crypto in money-laundering and terror-financing activities.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise that FinCEN is joining its counterpart agencies like the IRS, which recently issued a $625,000 bounty for anyone who would crack Monero’s anonymous ecosystem. Going forward, more financial oversight authorities are likely to take a similar route as crypto gradually goes mainstream.

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Author: Edwin Munyui