Will COVID-19 Accelerate the Demise of Cash? It Puts CBDC’s into Sharper Focus: BIS Head

The outbreak of coronavirus pandemic has brought the whole world to a standstill and it has added to the misery of the financial institutions as well as governments to manage their deficits in these troubled times. While governments are on a money printing spree to get through. The ongoing crisis has also led to a rise in global discussion around Central Bank Issued CBDC’s and brought a sharper focus towards the concept.

During a webinar hosted by Accenture last week at the Reinventing Bretton Woods Committee – Chamber of Digital Commerce, the head of the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub, Benoît Cœuré primarily talked on two key areas resilience and technology. Cœuré believed these two key areas would be of great importance in the post-COVID-19 era for central banks and payment gateways

He further elaborated that the ongoing pandemic exposes the loopholes in the financial system and brought out the importance of technological advancements with time. He also believed the focus of central banks and governments should be to look for technologies that can work at arm’s length and overcome present issues of social distancing. In short, he believed that in the post-pandemic era there will be drastic changes in human behavior and consumption patterns which would have a lasting impact on how economies functioned in the pre-COVID era. He explained that there would be significant changes to the payment technology and elaborated,

“The payment industry immediately comes to mind. Payments have been at the forefront of technological change recently. A rapid shift towards digital payments can improve cost, transparency and convenience for billions of consumers. International cooperation is needed to support technological capacity in developing economies, ensure interoperability between national systems, enhance cross-border payments and remittances, and support financial inclusion – in short, to avoid spatial and social fragmentation.”

Physical Cash May Start to See a Decline in Demand

The ongoing pandemic is also going to change how people used physical cash. The head of BIS believed that it is an open question whether the present situation would lead to the demise of use of cash. But, it would surely accelerate the adoption of digital payments. He also believed that the global discussion around CBDCs would see a sharper focus and explained,

“The current discussion on central bank digital currency also comes into sharper focus. Whether COVID-19 will accelerate the demise of cash is an open question. But already, it highlights the value of having access to diverse means of payments and the need for any means of payments to be resilient against a broad range of threats.”

There has been a lot of debate about whether central banks should launch their own digital currencies and that debate has been fueled further by China who is already testing their national digital currencies in several cities.

Interestingly, China is among the most advanced nations when it comes to payment modes where almost 90% of the population is using a digital form of payment which are integrated into their daily use applications. This makes it even easier for the country to implement and issue CBDCs since they won’t have to make significant changes to their payment infrastructure. The ongoing crisis has only proved the need for such innovations and a majority of the nations are believed to spring in action once the pandemic situation is under control.

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Author: Lorraine Mburu

FBI Issues Warning to Crypto Holders About Increasing Coronavirus (COVID-19) Scams

The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has brought the whole world to a standstill, with the majority of countries worldwide placed under strict lockdown measures to contain the spread.

The crypto community remains enthusiastic, despite the ongoing crisis, with the upcoming Bitcoin Halving just a month away. However, this enthusiasm has also made them vulnerable to scams.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released a warning on Monday specifically for crypto holders, suggesting they be prepared for a surge of coronavirus-centred crypto scams in the coming weeks.

Cryptocurrencies have turned out to be a lucrative investment in the past couple of years, which has drawn the interest and investments from people of all kinds, be it institutional investors, small-time traders, young or old. This rapid rise in interest has also given way for scammers to lure many into Ponzi schemes, promising high returns in a short period of time.

However, the risk of scammers has risen significantly in these troubled times where a majority of the population are uncertain of their financial future, as most of the financial markets hit record lows and scarce investment opportunities.

The FBI believes scammers are praying on these insecurities to steal people’s hard-earned money, and launder it through the complex ecosystem of decentralized coin exchanges. While entities like Huobi have taken steps to prevent these activities, buyers beware.

FBI Believe Scammers May use Humanitarian Aid as Cover for Scams

The FBI warning noted that the scammers might use a number of methods and curtail their pitches on emotion quotient in the ongoing situation, where they might pretend to be from organizations looking for donations to help the needy.

The FBI also believes blackmail could also be a scamming avenue for making money. Where the scammers may threaten to infect the victim’s family with the Coronavirus.

The FBI has also urged people to be cautious and, use common sense and not let their emotions get better of them.

The agency has also stated that people should refrain from donating to anyone before verifying the credibility of the source, and report any suspicious website/s or person/s asking for donations.

While there is no clarity on why the agency suddenly issued such a specific warning, it seems there have been many COVID-19-themed scams in the past couple of weeks, prompting the authorities to issue the warning.

In one instance, scammers managed to collect $2 million from PPE seekers in Asia. A few scammers in the UK and USA were found sending malicious texts which drew attention from financial regulators.

A Chainalysis report has revealed that the ongoing pandemic has brought down funding of these scams by one third. This, however, hasn’t discouraged scammers from trying to phish people as their number of attempts have remained constant.

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Author: James W

PayPal Officially Bows Out From Facebook’s Libra Crypto Coin Project

The Libra Association and the whole existence of Facebook’s Libra project took a pretty strong hit today. PayPal has just officially withdrawn from the Libra Association. We reported earlier today that PayPal was thinking about leaving due to regulatory backlash and it seems that it finally happened.

Now, a spokesperson from PayPal affirmed that the company made the decision to stop participating in the project and to focus on its own project instead of democratizing finances on its platform.

According to the official statement, PayPal is still “supportive” of the Libra’s aspirations and it still believes in the potential of Facebook, but the partnership is no longer a reality. The Libra Association confirmed that PayPal indeed left the team after the announcement.

When the Libra project was first announced, several companies were eager to be a part of the project. However, the regulatory backlash was almost instantaneous and regulators and policymakers from several countries affirmed that they would ban the asset. Others, such as the U. S., did not look so eager to ban it, but they were also unconvinced about the potential versus the risks.

Now, on October 14, the launch partners of the Libra Association are going to join to formally sign an agreement. It seems that PayPal backed down before this final moment.

Dante Disparte, from the Libra Association, affirmed that the goal of the technology is to create a modern and secure payment network with low friction that could enable millions of people to participate in the financial world.

At the moment, there are no reports of other companies that are about to drop out as well, but this may happen yet.

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Author: Krystle M

Russian Bill Divides Crypto Into 3 Types; Technical Tokens, Virtual Assets, and Digital Financial

The world as a whole is slowly starting to accept Cryptocurrencies and, to a further extent, blockchains into their day-to-day functionality.

While countries like Uganda warns against the use of things like Bitcoin, Russia has set out to divide cryptocurrencies into three legal categories. They are thus legitimizing it within the country’s borders.

While not the first to do something like this, the country’s decision is still something of significant note. 

The Three Categories

Alexei Moiseev explained that the three proposed categories for cryptocurrencies are as follows:

  • Technical Tokens: Utility tokens used for the critical functioning of a network. Ethereum would most likely fall into this category.
  • Virtual Assets: Assets used to transact value. Things like Bitcoin and Litecoin could very likely be classified as this, considering their prolific use as a payment medium. Russia’s Western counterparts, the US, has classified these things as commodities.
  • Digital Financial Assets: These could easily be considered securities. Usually, tokens sold during an ICO, these assets have dividends and openly market themselves as a way to make money.

Official Legislation Possibly in November

More than likely, this new way to categorize cryptocurrencies will be officially proposed during the State Duma. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has requested that the bill, dubbed Federal Law No. 419059-7, be adopted at the start of November.

Taking steps, Albeit Slowly

Russia, like many other countries, has concerns that fully legalizing cryptocurrencies within their country would make their own currency, the Russian ruble, obsolete. Russia’s Central Bank and its Ministry of Finance have said they don’t want these cryptocurrencies “unfairly” competing with the ruble.

Even so, Medvedev has taken to the press to say that cryptocurrency-related debit cars are wholly legal within the country. The significant factor of what is legal and what isn’t in terms of cryptocurrencies is the fact of whether or not it can first be linked to the ruble. This is in a bid to keep the ruble relevant as the world goes forward.

Regardless, this new bill will establish rights to cryptocurrency holders, making them able to rely on the government’s support if and when something unexpected (and legal) happens. Digital rights are classified as assets within Russian law and fall under the remit of civil law.

These laws group smart contracts with other, more conventional automatic systems banks use to get their payments for bills. However, there is no precedence within Russia’s legal system. For all of these laws to be enacted, it must first be written down within the country’s civil code. Then, and only then, will these laws be applicable?

The Possible Future of Currencies

Many countries have expressed their lack of tolerance for cryptocurrencies, usually for fear of what it will do to their own if it’s legalised within their borders. France and Germany have taken a stance against Libra, Facebook’s upcoming stablecoin. On the other side, Switzerland is supporting it, albeit if it remains within the country’s financial law.

It’s an exciting thing to speculate what will happen fifty years from now. Will we still use a country’s currency, or will cryptocurrencies have taken over the world. It’s impossible to tell at this point, and we will have to wait and see

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Author: Ali Raza

RippleNet Adds Another Bank Partnership in Pakistan’s Faysal Bank Limited (FBL)

Ripple is focused on spreading its business through the whole world and the latest company to join its efforts is the Faysal Bank, the first company in Pakistan to be able to join forces with Ripple. Now, the largest private bank of the country will become a part of the famous RippleNet.

This partnership was celebrated with an official ceremony, which was held in Karachi, the capital of the country. The CIO of the bank, Dato Arif Siddiqui, has affirmed that the goal of the new deal is to provide the people of the country with ways to send money abroad efficiency and cheaply.

Faysal Bank is set to use one of the most popular solutions devised by Ripple: xCurrent. This means that the bank will not directly use the XRP tokens, only RippleNet. Ripple also has other popular solutions such as xVia and xRapid, but none of them will be used by the Pakistani bank at the moment.

Right now, Ripple has over 250 partners and it is ready to become one of the most important global networks for cross-border transfers, competing with SWIFT, the already dominating system.

In fact, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are becoming increasingly important for Ripple. The company is looking for several partnerships in the region to upgrade the quality of its business and to improve the strength of its network. This region is well-known for being wealthy because of the oil reserves, so it makes a lot of cross-border transfers.

Recently, Ripple started a partnership with another bank in the region, the National Bank of Kuwait. The bank will now use Ripple solutions for cross-border transfers as well.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

Facebook Eyes a New Blockchain Policy Expert In Africa To Enable Crypto Payments With WhatsApp

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.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz: Only A Fool Would Trust Facebook’s Libra

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Ever since Facebook launched the Libra’s white paper, the whole crypto community is been abuzz. Some are strongly criticizing the project while some see it as the future or the savior of crypto. Joseph Stiglitz, a Noble Prize winner economist, is teaming up with the people that distrust Facebook’s Libra.

According to a recent article published on MarketWatch, Stiglitz affirmed that only a fool would trust Libra. He believes that Facebook is not the kind of company that anyone should trust and that the banking sector took way longer to reach this level of distrust.

There are several problems with Facebook’s initiative. According to him, Libra could work as a shadow economy, a vehicle that could be used in illegal activities such as money laundering.

He does acknowledge that the banking currently has problems, but he affirmed that they are mostly due to the lack of competition, especially in how to make payments. This lead people to pay a lot more than they should for their transactions.

Stiglitz also noted that a possible business model for Libra could be to keep an interest paid on assets that used to be the underlying value of the stablecoin and that it makes no sense to deposit money there is there is no interest at all.

According to him, many people who are engaged in criminal activities are willing to pay a lot to avoid having their corruption detected and that governments should shut Libra down if they believe that this is the goal.

He also believes that Facebook could profit from the data of the transactions made by Libra, which is another considerably big problem in his view. Facebook has been faced with a choice between money and honoring their promises before and we all still remember that Zuckerberg picked money.

Japanese Regulators Are Afraid Of Libra

The Noble Prize winner is not alone in his crusade against Facebook’s Libra. Harukiko Kuroda, the governor of the Japanese central bank, affirmed that people need to be careful in order to increase the acceptance of such a token because it could have a negative impact on the financial stability of the country.

As the users buy Libra, the money goes to a basket of tokens, but no one knows what assets currently comprise this basket. This was, in his view, mostly done to avoid the national regulation of any country in particular. The users will not receive an interest rate on the assets, too, which means that Facebook probably will.

It seems that no one is actually very trusting that Facebook’s project will be something good for society, so we’ll possibly see a lot of controversy coming up soon.

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Author: Gabriel Machado

Bitcoin Search Interest Triples Up on Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump In 2018

There-Are-More-People-Searching-For-Bitcoin-Than-For-Kim-Kardashian-or-Trump-In-2018

Bitcoin has reached a whole new level of brand awareness last year. A new piece of research made by YouGov on behalf of Coinbase has pointed out that more people looked for Bitcoin than Kim Kardashian or Trump last year. When you remember that the U. S. had elections last year, it is quite a remarkable achievement.

The data shows that 2018 was basically the year of Bitcoin. For the first time ever, new record highs were achieved and now around 58% of the residents of the U. S. have heard of BTC at least once.

Terms related to important events such as “royal wedding” or “election results” were not able to top BTC last year.

Somewhat surprisingly, even now, Bitcoin has more searches than Kim Kardashian by 3:1. This is the person that “broke the internet”, one of the most important celebrities of the country and Bitcoin is giving it a beating. The trend continues to grow, which means that more and more people are interested in the crypto industry.

Bitcoin Continues To Be The Most Recognized Cryptocurrency

According to the study, as we affirmed, 58% of the Americans polled have heard of BTC before. Without a list, however, the number diminishes to 37%, which is still fairly high.

Unsurprisingly, most crypto holders live in rich areas which are known for being tech hubs such as California and New York. New Jersey and Washington also made the list. The people holding the largest amounts of tokens, however, can be found in Delaware, California, Nevada and then the New York state.

The survey also showed that 15% of the people interviewed were intending to buy cryptos sometime in the next six months. Most of them decided to go by the crypto route because they believe that it makes a lot more sense than investing in bonds, stocks and real estate. Real estate, in special, was described as overpriced.

Another important reason is that stocks and bonds can only be bought by accredited investors while cryptos are for everybody. This way, more people are allowed into the financial world, which is often deemed as too far from the population.

However, maybe you should not get too overexcited about how Bitcoin has become famous. Why? Because of what happened in 2017 when the crypto raised a lot in awareness for the first time.

Even the CEO of Bitwise, Hunter Horsely, has admitted that the price of BTC is growing almost too quickly and that investors should be cautious this time because the next crash might be around the corner.

If another bubble is started, it is almost certain that it will eventually burst again and we will see another bear market afterward. Because of this, it is more recommended to let the prices grow more slowly, which will not attract so much speculative investment.

Another important point to note is that YouGov only polled 2,000 people over the internet, which is not a very good number. The survey is very thin. Google searches are hard to manipulate, so they are probably spot on, but we cannot affirm the same about the rest of the survey this time.

All of Today’s Bitcoin Price Analysis, Chart Forecasts and Industry News

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Author: Gabriel Machado

Coinbase Executive Confirms Company Has No Activity Within the Decentralized Exchange Arena

Coinbase Executive Confirms Company Has No Activity Within the Decentralized Exchange Arena

As Binance, the most relevant crypto exchange in the whole world is launching its own decentralized exchange (DEX) platform, many people are currently wondering whether Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the U. S, is going to do the same.

According to a recent interview published by The Block Crypto, it seems that Coinbase is not following Binance’s move. Emilie Choi, the company’s vice president for Business, Data and International, was interviewed by the crypto media outlet and affirmed that there are no current plans to invest in this area.

During the interview, she affirmed that the company may have bought the P2P trading platform Paradex last year but that decentralized trading was simply not one of the biggest priorities that the company had at the moment.

She did confirm that the company has eyes on this specific field, but more to watch out what is currently unfolding there than to actually be able to work on it and create something right now like Binance is currently doing.

The decision is not completely surprising as Coinbase is currently targetting more high-volume investors at the moment, especially the institutional investors and the more mainstream areas of crypto trading. Binance had a completely different strategy that is more focused on retail investors, as well as decentralization.

It should be remembered, for instance, that Binance is only focused on trading crypto assets while Coinbase has plenty of fiat options and it is a far more regulated company, too. They just cater to different types of investors, in general.

Choi affirmed that Coinbase can be considered a fiat to the crypto bridge and that the rules that they use in order to keep the company working are fairly different than the ones used by the other companies at this moment. They want to be a trusted safe space for this new economy.

According to Choi, Coinbase is far more careful with what they are doing because the company is so focused on being compliant and securing the funds of the investors at all times. This clearly makes them more averse of taking risks in currently uncharted waters, but the company is eagerly looking at the scenario in order to determine where the future is.

While Binance is often at the top of the world when it comes to trading volumes, Choi affirmed that it would be a mistake to consider that Coinbase and Binance operate at basically the same sectors of the crypto world.

Why? Because they are so different. Coinbase is focused on being a fiat to crypto bridge (especially for wealthy investors) while Binance is focused on offering numerous crypto options for people who want to play in this world. These are two very different offerings.

In related news, Coinbase is currently talking with Facebook about the mysterious GlobalCoin (known as Facebook Coin and Project Libra before). At the moment, nobody is sure about the relationship of the companies.

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Author: Gabriel M