Binance, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world, is marketing its new stablecoin Venus as an alternative to Libra that can be really friendly to governments.
The project was revealed last month, when the CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, affirmed that the company would be creating several stablecoins around the world.
Now, the company is pushing forward the narrative that its token will be just like Libra, except more government-friendly. According to Zhao, Binance does not want to dominate the market, however. The main goal is to “push adoption”, not take the whole market to itself. He even affirmed that the project might end up helping Facebook’s Libra project in the long-term scenario.
Despite all the nice words, however, it is clear that Venus wants to compete with Libra. Samuel Lim, Binance’s Chief Compliance Officer, has recently affirmed that the team is talking with central banks and regulators about the future.
Many regulators are concerned that Libra could take over national currencies, especially in countries with inflation problems. Because of this, the company is sending a message that they are not like Libra and will not take the power away from them.
Especially in developing countries, many people are worried about Libra. Some of them know that they do not have the power to block Libra if the developed countries do not do a thing about it.
Unlike Libra, which will have private parties controlling it, Venus will let the local governments determine how these tokens can work. This would give them additional protection that their competitors are not interested in giving. By catering to central banks, Binance’s Venus is cleverly carving its place in the market.
France and Germany have agreed to block Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency. In a joint statement, the two governments confirmed that no private entity can claim monetary power, which is inherent to the sovereignty of nations.
The EU is taking a tough, regulatory-laden approach to Facebook’s Libra, and is considering coming up with a common set of rules for cryptocurrencies in general. ECB board member Benoit Coeure said that when Facebook announced Libra, it was a “wake-up call” for Europe to come up with a cryptocurrency of its own.
Thomas Heilmann of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) says:
“Up to now, the economy has done a great job in countering crises and inflation with measures taken by central banks. Once a digital currency provider dominates the market, it will be quite difficult for competitors.”
The federal government can certainly envisage a state-stable cryptocurrency. It also provides for its own state block chain and a new digital corporate form for companies: The digital corporation is to facilitate start-ups in this area.
In Switzerland, Libra is applying for a payment service license, although it could face rules that typically apply to banks, regulators in the non-EU Alpine state said on Wednesday. In China, the central bank is accelerating efforts to launch the country’s digital yuan project. This move is also part of China’s plan to block Libra.
The bitcoin price has soared so far this year, climbing some 200% as expectations around Facebook’s libra, and bitcoin and cryptocurrency interest from some of the world’s biggest technology companies have driven a fresh wave of bitcoin investment.
Speaking with a French Media outletLes Echos, Bertrand Perez, the chief operating director at Libra Association, indicated that the token will be released to the market in the second half of 2020.
Perez maintained that Libra was firmly on schedule and that they have been following with keen interest on the concerns raised by the regulators and other policy makers and influencers. Perez indicated that his team was fully aware of the concerns raised about money laundering as well as funding of terrorism activities and that the association will work closely with the regulators to ensure they are fully addressed.
Libra has come under sharp criticism from regulators across the world and Perez’s interview cam just hours after French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire had stated that Libra was a threat to consumers and sovereignty of governments across the world. Le Maire has urged EU member states to take a strong stance against Libra.
However, Perez explained that Libra is not going to create fresh supplies of currency through tokenization and does not understand how the stablecoin will be a threat to smooth operations of the central banks.
Perez revealed that Libra stablecoin will be pegged to a number of international currencies such as U.S. dollar (USD), the euro (EUR), Japanese Yen (JPY), British pound (GBP) as well as the Singapore dollar (GBP). He however clarified that the stablecoin will not be tied to the Chinese Yuan.
Cointelegraph reportsthat China is in the final stages of its own digital currency that will rival the Libra. However, central bank senior officials have been lamenting on the exclusion of Yuan by Libra. TheBlock reportsthat earlier this week Virginia Senator Mark Warner cautioned that China may pressure Libra to add Yuan in the stablecoin plans. Warner urged Facebook not to give in and completely exclude Yuan from assets backing Libra.
The Libra project was revealed in mid-June and the crypto’s goal is to serve the unbanked as well as enhance low cost funds transfer in the world.
A recently discovered vulnerability on the open-source protocol of Facebook’sLibra was just fixed. The vulnerability was originally discovered by OpenZeppelin, a third-party audit company that is focused on crypto products.
The developers of the company have found some vulnerabilities in the scripting language created by Facebook, which is called Move. According to the company, the vulnerabilities were pretty severe and could lead to huge problems if the code went online before they were addressed.
OpenZeppelin’s CEO Demian Brener affirmed that one of the vulnerabilities allowed hackers to use smart contracts disguised as inline comments and they could use it to steal money. Fortunately, the issues have been patched as soon as possible, so these flaws will never actually see the light of day.
The auditor company was originally created back in 2015 and it has worked with several high-profile initiatives so far, including organizations such as the Ethereum Foundation, Coinbase, and the Brave browser.
The Move script was mostly devised by the developers of Calibra, the company created by Facebook to handle the project. They have defined the most important features of the technology, but since the code is open, anyone can give their opinions on what works or not.
According to Brener, audits are becoming more important to the industry each day. Crypto projects are getting considerably bigger as time passes, so more third-party audits are needed for them to work well, as no team can completely audit them alone.
Libra has a very complex system, just like many other recent tokens. These products will be used to manage a lot of money, so making sure that they work well is needed.
While the whole work is looking at Facebook’s new project Libra, Facebook is looking at Sub-Saharan Africa. According to a recent job opening, the company is looking for a policy expert in Africa that could ensure that payments are made in the countries of the continent using WhatsApp. While the job posting does not mention Libra, it is expected that the job will have some relation to it.
Libra will let Facebook allow crypto transfers using WhatsApp, so it is likely that the company will be used for this. The company declined to talk about the subject when reached out by media outlets. The position is for Johannesburg, in South Africa.
WhatsApp was originally acquired back in 2014 by Facebook and it is the most popular messaging app in the continent. Mobile ways to use money are very popular there, so it can surely be a fertile ground for Facebook.
At the moment, Facebook is struggling to have the Libra token approved in the U. S. and Europe and some countries such as India and China will probably ban it, so looking at Africa is far from a bad idea. If the deal goes sour there, at least the company knows that it can have a pretty active market in a continent where the legislation may not be so harsh with the initiative.
Right now, Facebook is filling in several positions for people to work towards creating its cryptocurrency. The launch is expected to happen in 2020, so the social media giant is making a huge effort to create a strong product and to convince regulators to let the launch happen.
Libra to serve as a cautionary tale for Binance’s Venus
The exchange is planning to launch an independent association in charge of stablecoin project
Instead of Western companies, Venus’ geographic scope aligns with Beijing’s infrastructure initiative
Last week, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced its upcoming project, Venus.
With that the Mata-based crypto platform became the latest one to join the list of companies coming up with their stablecoin after Facebook’s Libra.
Libra, however, does not paint a picture of confidence as, since its announcement two months back, regulators have shot criticism at the project.
From Bank of England Governor to Federal Reserve Chairman, ECB President, US Treasury Secretary, and other authorities, all have raised concerns including privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, and financial stability.
Facebook has now hired a lobbying firm to help with the regulators. However, Binance has learned from this push back and as such will take a different approach.
“If we want to launch Venus in a country, we’ll make sure it complies with the regulations,” the exchange’s co-founder He Yi told Bloomberg. For this project, Binance drew inspiration from Libra in many ways but resistance from the government will serve as a cautionary tale for the firm.
Binance announced that it is looking for partners to create the stablecoin that will be pegged against a basket of government-issued currencies.
Just like Facebook’s Libra Association for its cryptocurrency, the exchange is also planning to form an independent association in charge of Venus. But the company, He said, will take a “more conservative approach” to push through the project, with a focus on regulatory compliance instead of technological developments.
Notably, Venus will focus on partnering with companies and governments in non-Western companies. The “belt and Road Version of Libra” has its geographic scope roughly align with Beijing’s infrastructure initiative.
China, meanwhile, is ready to launch its central bank digital currency (DC/EP) after five years of research.
“So far regulators around the world can’t gauge precisely the potential risks stable coins will bring to their financial systems, and that’s why they are very careful about Libra-like currencies,” said Hu Tao, founder of Beijing-based crypto researcher TokenInsight. “In theory, Binance will face the same challenges as Facebook.”
At the time of Venus reveal, unlike other times, Binance released two separate announcements and in the Chinese statement, it advises the government to launch a regulatory sandbox that allows private firms to issue their own stablecoins.
“It’s better to embrace the change rather than missing the opportunity,” read the statement.
As for the launch, currently there is no time but in the next few months, more details including partnerships are expected to be released, He said.
Facebook is trying to approve its new Libra projects at all costs. Now, the social media giant has started to hire several lobbying firms to influence U. S. lawmakers to approve its newest token Libra.
FS Vector was the latest of the advisory companies hired by Facebook. The company will lobby with the Congress for the approval of the token and John Collins, who was the former head of policy of Coinbase, will be the one leading the Facebook account.
Before working on Coinbase, Collins was a part of the U. S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security, so he probably has some important contacts in Washington, something that Facebook would certainly use.
This comes at a time in which Facebook is striving to appease regulators and lawmakers. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, for instance, has recently talked with the Libra Association and affirmed that she was still unconvinced about the plans of the social media giant for its token. This opinion is shared by many regulators around the world.
In order to clear the air and get some allies, Facebook has started its hiring spree. Several lobbying firms were hired before FS Vector entered the team. According to reports from the news site Politico, Facebook had spent at least $7.5 million with companies such as Cypress Group and the Sternhell Group before this month.
Other companies that were also hired by the company include Off Hill Strategies and two law firms, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and Davis Polk. Now, we have to wait and see if all this effort will pay off or not.
By now, most people have already realized what a powerful asset Facebook’s Libra coin will be in case it is ever allowed to exist. Because of this, a Taiwanese crypto company called Maicoin has decided to try for a membership at the Libra Association, which will be the validator for Libra.
According to the local media outlets, Maicoin wants to work on the development of the upcoming Libra stablecoin and to operate its own Libra node.
The CEO of the company, Alex Liu, has affirmed that he is confident on Maicoin’s chances. According to him, the company has already reached Facebook and it has argued that the team has the expertise to be a part of the team and that it has over 20 million users.
Another reason for the partnership to be approved is that Maicoin would not need any special permissions to be a part of the project, as it already has everything that it needs.
Facebook is certainly looking at Asian markets for the launch of its token, so more partnerships with local companies would certainly be important. China will certainly not allow Libra and India is very likely to ban the token, too, so looking for strategic partnerships in smaller countries seems like a good idea.
At the moment, Facebook is on its mission to receive permission to launch Libra. The company has been facing several issues in the European Union and the United States. In both places, regulators and lawmakers are pretty scared of how Facebook handles the security of its customers’ data and about the monopoly potential of the project.
Libra, the cryptocurrency project headed by Facebook and the Libra Association, is getting heat from several privacy and data protection regulators around the world. According to recent reports made by The Block Crypto, regulators from countries such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and the European Union are all concerned about Libra and its possible effects.
These regulators believe that Facebook has obviously failed to answer their concerns about how it handled data privacy in the past. With the advent of Libra, things are bound to take a turn for the worse.
The company has plans for rapid implementation of the product, but it does not seem to have a great plan on how to keep the information from the clients private. The Libra Association and Calibra will become custodians of the personal information of several people after the product goes live, so these issues need to be addressed before the official launch.
In order to stop the issue before it exists, the authorities have urged the Libra Association and its Facebook relatives to detail more about how the information will be kept.
Not all regulators are necessarily anti-Libra, but the security breaches that it may cause are basically unanimous for the regulators: they want a solid plan or Libra will face even more heat before its launch (if the launch indeed happens).
Facebook is now preparing by… hiring lobbyists. Susan Zook, a former aide of Mike Crapo, was hired by the company recently in order to protect its interests. Unfortunately, it simply does not look like Facebook has a great plan for handling the private information or the company would simply present it instead of hiring more lobbyists.
[Author Alert] The author’s opinions above are solely based on their own self-conducted research. Assume any and all authors are using, holding, trading and/or buying cryptoassets mentioned as a portion of his or her financial portfolio. Use information at your own risk, do you own research, never invest more than you are willing to lose.
Day 2 of Libra hearing – House Financial Serices Committee unanimously against Libra launch
Research explores potential catalyst for unprecedented Bitcoin demand
No, India has NOT banned Bitcoin just yet. Supreme court further delays hearing
Will BitMEX get rekt? CFTC probes whether exchange is illegally servicing American traders
“Unstoppable Force” Bitcoin Shines Through Like a Beacon of Hope At Grim Libra Hearing
We covered day 1 of the two-day Libra hearing at the Senate Banking Committee in last week’s digest and besides lack of trust in Facebook, the refrain for the day, ad nauseam, was money laundering and financing of terrorist activities. It was pretty prosaic scare-mongering without too much substance. Calibra’s CEO David Marcus being largely unforthcoming certainly didn’t help matters.
On day 2 of the hearing in front of the House Financial Services Committee (FSC), it wasn’t just Marcus who testified but also a panel of blockchain experts, presumably to better inform the committee to pose more pertinent questions.
* FSC Chairwoman Maxine Waters set the tone for the day’s proceedings by highlighting the systemic risk posed by government currencies backed Libra tokens and recommending that Facebook walk back on Libra plans, “Facebook’s plan to back Libra with government currencies and securities by holding them in the so-called Libra reserve to be governed by Facebook and its partners would shift government assets on such a massive scale without proper oversight, threatening to concentrate government influence in the hands of few elites.”
* North Carolina Congressman and FSC ranking member Patrick McHenry eloquently stressed the importance of embracing innovation, while stopping short of endorsing Facebook’s inclination and competency to lead innovation, “Whether Facebook is involved or not, digital currencies are here and blockchain is real. The world that the author of Bitcoin’s whitepaper Satoshi Nakamoto envisioned and others are building is an unstoppable force. Governments cannot stop this innovation.”
* McHenry also asked a very fundamental question which could have important implications on how Libra is regulated, “What is a Libra? Is it a security, a commodity..?” To which Marcus responded by characterizing Libra as a payment tool similar to Venmo and PayPal, “Libra would be a reserve-backed digital currency. We don’t believe it is a security but based on current US laws, it could be a commodity but we see it as a payment tool.”
* Asked whether the decision to domicile the project in Switzerland was to evade US regulations, Marcus said,
“The decision to locate in Switzerland was not an attempt to evade regulation or responsibility in the US. We thought a global, digitally native currency used by people around the world would benefit from being headquartered in an international place that is the home to many international organizations.”
* Georgia Congressman David Scott perceptively highlighted the contradiction of Facebook’s express mission statement to bank the unbanked and unequivocal regulatory compliance, pointing out that the reason most people are unbanked is because they do not have government identification that is required to open a bank account and registering for Facebook’s Calibra wallet would require fulfilling the same criteria.
* On the subject of censorship, Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy asked Marcus who could use Calibra and Libra, to which Marcus responded, “Anyone that can open an account, goes through KYC, in countries where we can operate.” Duffy then held up a $20 bill to illustrate his point, “This $20 bill doesn’t discriminate on anything you can be a murderer say horrible things, you can say great things. This $20 bill can be used by every single person that possesses it. With regard to your network, can Milos Yianopolous and Louis Farrakhan use Libra?”
* Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez brought up the important issue of antitrust,
“Facebook is a publishing platform, an advertising network, a surveillance corporation, a content distributor and now it wants to establish a currency and act through its wallet as at minimum a payment processor. Why should these activities be consolidated under one corporation?”
* Facebook’s recent $5 billion FTC fine for breach of privacy was brought up by Rep. Madelaine Dean,
“Could you be specific as to the wrong-doing that generated a $5 billion fine? It’s tough to trust when the collection, storage and misuse of the information of your customers generated a $5 billion fine.”
* The quote of the day came from Coinshares’ Meltem Demirors’ prepared testimony, which deftly delineated the fundamental differences between Bitcoin and Libra,
“Bitcoin is three things – it’s a technology, a network and a cryptocurrency. Bitcoin’s network is not regulated, is permissionless and decentralized. Like the Internet, Bitcoin could be considered a public good. However the companies providing services on top of the Bitcoin network are centralized and regulated. We’re now seeing countless imitators, which borrow some features of but are decidedly not cryptocurrencies. Libra is not a cryptocurrency. It cannot and should not be compared to Bitcoin.”
The hearing was severely hampered by Marcus’s taciturn disposition, obviously under instructions not to commit too strongly on any future plans on regulatory compliance or developmental roadmap. However, the hearing served to spotlight the brilliance of Bitcoin and it seems now that US lawmakers are getting their head around to the idea that Bitcoin is inevitable, whether they like it or not.
Congress doesn’t trust or believe in Libra. What about the public? Market intelligence platform CivicScience carried out a survey of 1799 US adults, which was published on Monday, and found that only 5% of responders had any interest in Libra.
In another curious development, Despite Facebook’s claims that their 27 partners had fully committed to the project, Visa CEO, Alfred Kelly played down their involvement on Wednesday, stating that the agreement with Facebook was non-binding, “So we have signed a nonbinding letter of intent to join Libra. We’re one of – I think it is 27 companies that have expressed that interest. So, no one has yet officially joined.”
Retail Demand For Bitcoin Sees Exponential Growth In Hyperinflationary Economies
Compared to late 2017 levels, retail interest in Bitcoin in leading economies has been rather modest despite a fourfold price appreciation this year. That is not to say there isn’t a great deal of retail interest, it’s just not coming from more stable economies.
Research findings of Digital Assets Data, a Fintech data provider, have revealed that although Bitcoin remains a speculative asset in relatively stable economies, retail demand for Bitcoin in hyperinflationary economies keeps soaring to new highs as the currency is being used as a legitimate store of value in these countries, a mantle traditionally held by gold.
This was happening in 2018 even as Bitcoin’s price kept tumbling, according to Mike Alfred, co-founder of Digital Assets Data,
“We found that in developing countries and places where monetary policy and banks are less stable, bitcoin trading volume continued to rise even as the bitcoin price was falling.”
Although leading economies like the US, UK and the EU manage their economies better, that’s not saying much. As evidenced a decade ago, continually stimulating economic ‘growth’ by cutting lending rates comes at the ultimate price of a recession.
In the US, the current federal funds rate – interest banks charge each other to lend money – is 2.25-2.5%. Under pressure from the US president, the Federal Reserve is expected to further lower this rate. This negatively impacts savings and leads to systemic overlending.
Another key factor which portends imminent recession is the yield curve inversion – which hasn’t occurred since 2007 and is considered a bad omen for the economy. Yield curve plots yields on government bonds from shortest maturity to highest. In a healthy market environment, long-term bonds have higher yields than short-term bonds.
When this inverts and short-term bonds have higher yield, it indicates that people are uncertain that growth is here to stay. Yield curve inversion is a major reason for pessimism from economists despite the Dow average scaling unprecedented highs this month.
It stands to reason that in the event of a recession, as widely expected, we may come to see Bitcoin’s ascendency to SoV status in larger economies.
Indian Government Panel Recommends Ban On Bitcoin Because It’s A ‘private’ Cryptocurrency
It’s the year 2019 and the Bitcoin network has been around for ten years. The economic affairs secretary of the sixth largest economy, Subhash Chandra Garg, in the world has proposed a ban on Bitcoin because he thinks it’s a private cryptocurrency. Someone needs to go back to the ISI in Delhi to get up to speed on current economic affairs.
Garg leads the panel which was given a remit by the Indian government to recommend a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies so it’s hardly surprising that the panel has recommended that the Indian government ban Bitcoin.
There have been reports all week that India had already banned or is on the brink of banning Bitcoin after Tim Draper criticized Indian government for banning Bitcoin.
People behaving badly! India’s government banned Bitcoin, a currency providing great hope for prosperity in a country that desperately needs it. Shame on India leadership. Pathetic and corrupt. #India#bitcoin
An official Bitcoin ban hasn’t happened just yet. It requires the proposed bill to be introduced by the Finance Ministry before both legislative assemblies, which may not happen until December’s parliamentary session, and pass by a two-third majority in both houses. Let’s hope that not all lawmakers in India are as ignorant as Garg.
While endorsing distributed ledger technologies as a necessary innovation in delivering financial services, the panel’s proposal demonizes private cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, and urges the RBI to work towards issuing a digital rupee. The panel’s recommendations can be read in full here.
Last year, Indian government introduced legislation prohibiting banking institutions from providing financial services to cryptocurrency exchanges. There are five petitions appealing this banking restriction and the proposed draft bill to ban cryptocurrencies, which are due for hearing in India’s Supreme Court. The case was supposed to be heard this week but has been tentatively postponed to August 2.
Wrath of Roubini – CFTC opens overdue investigation of margin trading platform BitMEX
BitMEX CEO Arthur Hayes thought it would be a cool plug to have a debate with Keynesian economist and Bitcoin critic, Nouriel Roubini, at the Asia Blockchain Summit earlier this month in Taiwan. It seems he got a lot more than he bargained for out of the encounter.
Incensed at BitMEX for releasing heavily edited footage of the debate, Roubini has since been on a crusade against the exchange. On July 16, Roubini published an essay titled “The Great Crypto Heist”, in which he criticized the compliance policies of BitMEX and called on authorities to intervene.
Three days later, on July 19th, it was reported that CFTC was opening an investigation against BitMEX to find whether it had breached US laws by allowing US customers to trade on its platform.
There have been frequent rumors about all manner of malpractices by BitMEX. BitMEX even openly trades against its own users with its so-called trading desk. Most traders have tended to normalize them as par for the course in unregulated markets.
Although HDR Global Trading Limited, the parent company which operates BitMEX is registered in Seychelles, there are fears among traders now that a CFTC probe could lead to further inquest against other allegations against the exchange.
Blockchain data analytics firm, TokenAnalyst revealed on Wednesday that traders have duly withdrawn $175 million worth of Bitcoin from BitMEX between Friday and Tuesday.
Despite sinking as low as 9049 during the week, Bitcoin closed last week strongly in green by rallying towards the end of the week to close at 10600, thought to have been spurred by Bakkt launching the platform’s testing phase on July 22.
There are a few things to look for in the daily chart. A falling wedge pattern is beginning to take shape, which would be confirmed by a strong daily close above 10378 with an attendant increase in volume.
Daily RSI is holding firm above the perceived bull cycle low of 40, but it’s something to keep an eye on. A breakdown below this level has historically indicated a shift in market sentiment. Looking at the stochastic oscillator on daily, %K is shaping up to converge and crossover bullishly at the lower band.
In the monthly chart, there are two things to note. First, it illustrates the importance of RSI holding above 40 as an indicator of the bull market. Bitcoin’s monthly RSI has never dipped below the level.
Secondly, July seems likely to be the first close in red in 6 months, after 5 green closes. The last time this occurred was September 2017, which propelled Bitcoin to its all-time high within 3 months.
Leading altcoins posted modest gains against Bitcoin this week, with Ethereum clawing back slightly to 0.022 and Ripple’s XRP up to 3200 sats. Bitcoin’s dominance is at 64.5%, down 4% from last week.