Ukraine’s CBDC, the Digital Hryvina, Will Run on Stellar’s Blockchain

Ukraine’s CBDC, the Digital Hryvina, Will Run on Stellar’s Blockchain

Besides working on a central bank digital currency, Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) will also help with the development of digital assets and regulation of stablecoins in the country.

The Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation with Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) on Dec. 28.

SDF announced on Monday, this week, that as per the memorandum they will work on the development of virtual assets in Ukraine.

In response, XLM recorded gains, going to nearly $0.17 XLM 20.28% Stellar / USD XLMUSD $ 0.19
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2 h Ukraine’s CBDC, the Digital Hryvina, Will Run on Stellar’s Blockchain 2 w Stellar Invests $3 Million in Digital Assets Settlement Network Across LATAM 3 w XLM Records Impressive Volume; Co-founder says Team Is Making Stellar ‘Useful for Real People’
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The latest efforts align with the country working on creating a legal environment for the development of digital assets in Ukraine and enhancing its status as an innovative digital country in the financial market in Eastern Europe.

“Another important aspect of this cooperation is contributing to the development of the infrastructure for a Ukrainian national digital currency,” said Oleksandr Bornyakov, Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation for IT Development.

The National Bank of Ukraine has been researching the possibility of CBDC implementation since 2017, Bornyakov said.

As per the memorandum, both will cooperate on the development of the virtual assets market in Ukraine, supporting projects related to virtual assets; implementation and regulation of stablecoin circulation in the country; and development of the digital currency of the Central Bank (CBDC) in Ukraine.

“We look forward to working with the Ministry and other stakeholders to digitize the hryvnia, to bring Stellar-based tools and services to the people and businesses of Ukraine, and to introduce new partnership opportunities in Ukraine to businesses in the Stellar ecosystem.”

Denelle Dixon CEO: Stellar Development Foundation

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Author: AnTy

China Planning to Legalize Digital Yuan; Forbids Yuan-backed Digital Tokens

China continues to lead in developing its central bank digital currency (CBDC) as it now considers giving it a legal foundation in an upcoming law revision, reported South China Morning Post.

In the past few weeks, the trial of the digital yuan in the real world took place through the giveaway of 50,000 digital “red packets”— a series of trials have been conducted in Suzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, and Xiongan — and now the central bank is also addressing all the problems that emerged in the pilot tests.

According to the media report, The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) published a draft law on Friday that would give the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) system a legal status.

For the first time, it included the digital yuan, which was also defined as part of its sovereign fiat currency.

As per the draft law, issuing yuan-backed digital tokens by any party or any plans to replace the renminbi in the market would be forbidden.

DCEP, meanwhile, will be allowed to be circulated and converted like coins and physical banknotes.

“Its centralised management will be good to fight against cryptocurrencies and global stablecoins and prevent their erosion of currency-issuance rights,” Mu Changchun, head of the central bank’s digital currency research institute, said on Sunday at the Bund Summit in Shanghai.

The central government has already made clear that DECP won’t replace cash, but there are some domestic concerns related to its convertibility, privacy, and safety. Mu touched on these potential pitfalls as he said,

“The PBOC will also face anti-counterfeit issues in the digital era, and we must lower the cost.”

He further added that the central bank would be asked: “to coordinate the construction of digital currency application scenarios for the purpose of identification.”

A digital yuan product suitable for those senior citizens that don’t use smart terminals is also in development.

As for the threat the government-led project poses to private mobile tools like WeChat Pay and Alipay, Mu said they are just electronic wallets while the DCEP is the money inside them as such “not competitors.”

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Author: AnTy

Russia’s Central Bank Joins the CBDC Bandwagon; Issues Consultative Paper on Digital Ruble Consideration

Russia’s Central Bank is the latest monetary authority to issue a CBDC consultative paper amidst the ongoing craze; the bank confirmed its interest in issuing a digital ruble, noting that it can operate alongside cash or non-cash forms of money that already exist in the country. This development comes barely a week since the BIS and 7 major central banks published a report highlighting the key principles that should guide CBDCs at least for now.

According to the consultative paper released on Oct 3, a digital ruble will require Russia’s central bank to develop advanced payment ecosystems. Consequently, the bank intends this digital asset to carry along the properties of money, given its prospective fundamentals as part of the state-backed legal tender in circulation. The paper further notes that the digital ruble will be instrumental in making payments seamless based on its underlying architecture.

In terms of a macroeconomic and political outlook, the bank also plans to curb capital outflow with its prospectus digital ruble,

“The national digital currency will also limit the risk of reallocation of funds into foreign digital currencies, contributing to macroeconomic and financial stability.”

Notably, the digital ruble will be accessible to all Russian economy agents, including government agencies, businesses, financial market stakeholders, and private citizens. These digital assets will be storable on mobile devices and e-wallets, with the holders having an option to use their CBDC tokens both online and offline. The digital ruble’s main functions, as per the paper, will include a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value.

Given the ongoing CBDC momentum, Russia’s debut at the party further suggests that monetary authorities are taking more interest in the evolving digital currency space. China is currently the most progressive jurisdiction; the digital yuan pilot has been ongoing for some months with scaling recently done to prominent cities. The EU also filed for a ‘digital euro’ trademark as it gears up to join the CBDC bandwagon in preparation for the paradigm shift to digital ecosystems.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

ConsenSys to Lead Phase Two of Hong Kong and Thailand’s Cross-Border CBDC Project

ConsenSys has been awarded the contract to lead phase two of the cross-border payments ‘CBDC’ project between Hong Kong and Thailand. Dubbed project ‘Inthanon-LionRock,’ the initiative follows successful research by the central banks of both jurisdictions, which found an additional value case in building a cross-border CBDC.

According to the press release by ConsenSys, they will work alongside industry giants Forms HK and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) towards implementing the second phase. Notably, the project has been in the works since May 2019 when the Bank of Thailand (BoT) and Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) signed a memorandum of understanding to dig deeper into the value proposition CBDC’s.

With ConsenSys now in the picture, the joint CBDC between Thailand and Hong Kong will move past the research phase to a more practical era. ConsenSys has since been tasked with building a proof-of-concept (PoC) cross-border corridor to enable Hong Kong’s Lionrock and Thailand’s Inthanon networks to interact seamlessly. The press release reads,

“Using its enterprise Ethereum stack, ConsenSys will test solutions that prioritize scalability, security, and interoperability.”

This is not the first time ConsenSys works collaboratively with a particular authority towards designing and developing a CBDC. The blockchain software technology firm has, in the past, worked with the South African Reserve Bank and Monetary Authority of Singapore to create decentralized payment networks. ConsenSys Hong Kong Director, Charles d’Haussy, noted that they are thrilled to take on a new initiative in a similar line,

“ConsenSys is thrilled to lead this implementation of CBDC for cross-border payments. We are humbled to work on the development of Hong Kong’s financial infrastructure.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Bahamas Central Bank Confirms CBDC ‘Sand Dollar’ to Launch In Less Than 30 Days

The Bahamas Central Bank has confirmed that its pipeline CBDC ‘Sand dollar’ will roll out next month as anticipated. This will mark the first retail-oriented CBDC to be integrated with fundamental financial market pillars as the world gradually shifts to digital payments. According to the announcement, Bahama’s Sand dollar is ready for national release and will be scaled past the pilot regions of Abaco and Exuma as of October 20.

Notably, the Sand dollar has been in the works since 2018 and came about as one solution to onboard more of the Island’s population into a ‘bank-like’ ecosystem. The latest development, therefore, marks a significant milestone for the prospectus Bahamian digital dollar, which might ultimately boost financial inclusion. The announcement noted,

“Although average measures of financial development and access in The Bahamas are high by international standards, pockets of the population are excluded because of the remoteness of some communities outside of the cost-effective reach of physical banking services.”

Sand Dollar Stakeholders

The Central Bank of Bahama will roll out Sand dollar in collaboration with Authorized Financial Institutions (AFI’s); these include Credit Unions, Money Transmission Business (MTB), Payment Service Providers (PSPs), and Commercial banks. They will act as the intermediaries between the regulator and retail market by providing services such as digital wallets and transactional operations.

The Sand dollar gradual national release will happen in two phases, with the first one being KYC and due diligence readiness amongst the AFI’s. This will cover all account tiers, including digital wallets that will be launched as part of the Sand dollar ecosystem. The Central Bank added that it would continuously increase engagement with the private sector stakeholders.

As for the second phase, emphasis will be on government services and public utilities; this stage is expected to kick off in 2021 between the first and second quarters. Likewise, the AFI’s are also in preparation mood with three PSPs, once a commercial bank and four MTBs already authorized to operate as Sand Dollar AFI’s.

“These AFIs are enabled to offer Sand Dollar services to stakeholders either through their custom apps (after successful completion of a cybersecurity assessment) or through the generic Sand Dollar app.”

Notably, the Sand dollar network has undergone an intensive cybersecurity assessment, which is, in turn, complemented by similar testing procedures by AFI’s before being integrated with this CBDC. Also, the Sand dollar wallets are embedded with 2FA features. The Central Bank, however, highlighted that Bahamians would enjoy confidentiality but not the anonymity of fiat.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

People’s Bank of China (PBoC) Testing Digital Yuan (DCEP) for Credit Card Payments

China has been aggressively developing its central bank-issued digital currency (CBDC), popularly known as digital yuan. As per the latest reports, the People’s Bank of China is currently running a pilot project to test the use cases of its digital yuan for card payments, fees, credit card payments, and more.

China has been at the forefront of developing a national digital currency called DCEP. The government authorized the research for the project more than five years ago, and many people were speculating for an official launch by September last year. However, digital yuan was eventually made public at the start of 2020, and the PBOC jas been testing various use case for the digital currency ever since.

The first pilot program for DCEP saw it being used as a travel subsidy for government employees in 4 cities. Later the pilot program was expanded to several universal fast food and beverage companies operating in China, which included Starbucks and McDonald’s as well.

Chinese Central Bank Tests Final Use Case for DCEP

As per a report published in the local daily 8BTC, the PBOC is currently testing digital yuans use a case in the credit card ecosystem as it could be a key to bringing in more customers. The trials in the credit card domain are also being seen as the final trial before the much anticipated public launch.

The central bank also revealed three new pilot-free trade zones (FTZ), in addition to the one already functioning in the Zhejiang province. These free trade zones are key to China’s dream of becoming a blockchain hub for enterprises.

The central bank of China also announced three large innovation trial projects, namely the National Small and Micro Enterprise Digital Credit Reporting Pilot, Digital Currency, and Financial Technology Innovation supervision.

While most of the countries have shown interest in researching and developing their own national digital currency (besides Australia), China managed to complete the research and development of its national yuan quietly and is slated to become the first country to launch its own digital currency. It is also important to note that while the national yuan project is being propagated as one of the true CBDCs, but many have warned that digital yuan would not work on a decentralized blockchain. Rather it is a sophisticated way for the government to control the flow of money outside the country.

Whether the project turns out to be what many are speculating, it would be interesting to see how digital currency is rolled out for the world’s most populated country.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Japan’s Govt. Is Strongly Considering Launching A CBDC In Cooperation With The US and Europe

Japan is increasing its efforts in developing a central bank digital currency (CBDC), reported the largest financial paper in Japan, Nikkei on Wednesday. The post further confirms that the Japanese government plans to add the development of a digital yen into its policy framework this year.

Governments and central banks are looking at digital payments and currencies more seriously in a bid to plan for future financial systems. With China and Russia leading the field of digital payments, Japan is trying to catch up on developing its own.

Lawmakers in the country have long been calling for regulations and policies to be set in developing a digital yen. Moreover, cooperation with the US and Europe is on the cards to build a local electronic payment system.

Earlier this month, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) released a technical study report on launching a digital yen but said they had no plans to launch it soon. The BoJ has had a knack for CBDCs and digital payment systems for a while now since China’s announced it’s digital yuan is nearly complete.

Other top banks in the country are also exploring the digital asset world as seen with the recent joining of three top Japanese banks – Mizuho Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) – to a crypto exchange-led study group.

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Author: Lujan Odera

CBDC’s Are the Future of Money and Payment Ecosystems: Visa’s Head of Crypto

Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) are here to stay and may set the stage for a paradigm shift to a digital economy, according to Visa’s Head of Crypto, Cuy Sheffield.

In a recent series of tweets, the Visa crypto chief highlighted that the growing interest in CBDC’s is not fading away; hence stakeholders ought to be more involved in these developments.

Sheffield went on to note that governments will play an essential role in the adoption of Bitcoin and other crypto-assets given policy implications in issues like privacy:

“As governments evaluate CBDC, the path that they decide to take will have major implications for privacy, monetary sovereignty, geopolitics, and financial inclusion, as well as the global adoption of crypto dollars and Bitcoin.”

Today, developments within the CBDC space are more advanced, compared to research papers that previously defined the industry. Sheffield emphasized that this move from occasional papers to more solid content is triggered by the growing contribution from experts, organizations, and academics.

It is unsurprising that these sentiments coincide with Visa’s growing interest in digital currencies. The payments and card service provider filed for a digital dollar patent earlier in the year. It was also initially in the Libra association before leaving alongside the likes of Mastercard and eBay.

Global CBDC Trends

The latest annual Bank of International Settlements (BIS) report also indicates a spike in CBDC interest. However, the BIS also noted that stakeholders should be more focused on policy effectiveness as opposed to trying to outdo private projects.

That said, China seems to have taken an early lead, having piloted the digital yuan back in May as it prepares to ‘wipe out’ fiat renminbi (RMB) in circulation over time.

Europe has also taken an interest in digital currency for its member states. Though it might take much longer to get a consensus, France and Italy have already signaled the willingness to participated in a digital Euro pilot. While these tech advancements are promising, scaling to more significant masses might be the challenge as per a recent insightful report by the Bank of Canada.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Central Bank Digital Currencies are a Risk to Dollar Dominance: JPMorgan Report

According to JP Morgan Chase & Co., if the idea of central bank digital currencies (CBDC) gains traction, the US can risk losing its geopolitical power.

“There is no country with more to lose from the disruptive potential of digital currency than the United States,” wrote analysts including Josh Younger, head of U.S. interest-rate derivatives strategy and Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist in a report.

“This revolves primarily around U.S. dollar hegemony. Issuing the global reserve currency and the medium of exchange for international trade in commodities, goods, and services conveys immense advantages.”

jpmorgan-cbdc
Source: Bloomberg

The Risks

Overall, the analysts found there to be reasonable reasons for central banks to introduce digital currencies. However, these CBDCs are unlikely to have the transformative impact that many have hoped.

Although JPMorgan doesn’t see the greenback getting toppled as the world’s reserve currency anytime soon, the “more fragile” aspects of dollar dominance could be at risk. These aspects include trade settlement and the SWIFT messaging system.

According to the analysts, the EU might want to reduce US’s sway over global payment systems and pointed to SWIFT suspending access for some Iranian banks in 2018 after US sanctions took force, which may have been in violation of EU laws.

To bypass US sanctions and continue trading with Tehran, the EU even established a “SWIFT alternative” called Instex.

As for their progress on CBDC, on May 11, Yves Mersch, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB and Vice-Chair of the Supervisory Board of the ECB shared they have to be “ready.”

Mersch talked about embracing the financial technological innovation which has the “potential to transform payments and money faster, and in more disruptive ways, than ever before.”

As for the US, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said earlier this year that they are looking at the issues with creating a digital dollar but not making any commitments.

An exercise in geopolitical risk management

If like Europe, other countries are also able to circumvent the dollar’s domination, it would become all the more difficult for the US to carry out its goals through sanctions and terrorist-financing enforcement, analysts said. The report reads,

“Offering a cross-border payments solution built on top of a digital dollar would, particularly if designed to be minimally disruptive to the structure of the domestic financial system, be a very modest investment to protect a key means to project power in the global economy.”

“For high-income countries and the U.S. in particular, digital currency is an exercise in geopolitical risk management.”

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Author: AnTy

China Will Dry Run Its DCEP in May By Paying State Employees With The Digital Yuan

China’s national digital currency or ‘CBDC’ or as they call it, “DC/EP” has been in development for 5 years now. And there has been plenty of speculation since the last quarter of 2019, that it will be released anytime soon.

The Chinese President’s call for accelerated adoption of blockchain technology was seen as a big hint that the national digital yuan is ready to launch. However, Chinese officials and the People’s Bank of China have denied these claims.

However, the latest buzz suggests that DCEP is finally past its development stage and is being distributed among the state officials for testing purposes.

According to a report, published in ChinSci-Tech (a board of enterprise and public companies) on April 16, the new CBDC is being tested as a Transport subsidy scheme for local government officials as well as enterprise workers.

Another official report also confirmed that AliPay, a popular mobile payment subsidiary of Alibaba along with Ant Financial, was responsible for the development of digital yuan’s hardware infrastructure including distribution and payment gateway technology.

The Payment Trials Have Begun

According to reports available in local media, the Xiangcheng District of Suzhou would see local enterprises and government officials paying 50% of their worker’s transport subsidies in the digital yuan.

All the enterprises in the Suzhou district have been requested to sign a digital currency distribution agreement with a relevant bank and subsequently install a compatible digital wallet for the workers.

A total of 4 banks have been assigned across the province to make sure the testing phase begins smoothly. The four banks include Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, the Bank of China and the China Construction Bank.

These reports also revealed that the enterprise must connect with one of the four banks to offer transport subsidies to their workers. The issuance agreement must be signed before the end of May.

The Finer Details of the DCEP

While there is no official statement or update from the government, however. The published letter in the ChinSci-Tec revealed finer details: including 5 patents by the Alipay group.

Examining these patents revealed that the new DCEP would work on a two-layer architecture and delivery system which would allow licensed third-party players to distribute the national CBDC.

By now it’s clear that Alipay would play a major role in the issuance and distribution of these digital currencies along with authorized banks.

A majority of the Chinese population won’t see a difference while using the CBDC, as the majority of the population is already using digital payments. The only difference would be the back-end and working of these CBDC as they are believed to function on top of the blockchain-based network.

It is also important to note that the network used by the government won’t be completely decentralized and has been mentioned by the senior officials of the People’s Bank of China.

Given the governance model of the Chinese government, speculations were high that the use of blockchain was just a facade and the whole idea behind a national CBDC was to have stricter monitoring of the flow of currency in the country.

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Author: James W