The Australian politician and Federal Treasurer – Josh Frydenberg – indicated that Australia would implement a “comprehensive payments and crypto-asset reform plan” next year.
The legislation is expected to enhance innovation and consumer uptake of digital technologies and place the state as one of the global cryptocurrency leaders.
What Does 2022 Hold for Australia’s Crypto Industry?
Josh Frydenberg revealed Australia’s cryptocurrency intentions during the Australian-Israel Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday (December 8). Throughout next year, local authorities will discuss potential reforms such as creating a better ecosystem for crypto traders, implementing a regulatory framework on digital asset exchanges, and launching a central bank digital currency.
The reform proposal, which is said to be the biggest in the last 25 years, assures it would enable Aussies to buy and sell bitcoin and alternative coins in a regulated environment. There will also be new rules for companies that hold cryptocurrencies on behalf of clients.
“For consumers, these changes will establish a regulatory framework to underpin their growing use of crypto assets and clarify the treatment of new payment methods,” said Frydenberg.
Speaking of imposing regulations on the local trading venues, the politician opined that this step would strengthen Australia’s financial system and improve customer protection. Specifically, Frydenberg opined that crypto exchanges should have the same regulations as banks since they hold “significant sums of peoples’ money and investments, and there needs to be accountability.”
The Federal Treasurer concluded that completing the reforms would turn Australia into a cryptocurrency hub, joining the likes of his colleague Jane Hume, who recently said crypto is “not a fad:”
“Australia has an opportunity to be among the leading countries in the world in leveraging this new technology.”
CBDC Is Also on the Horizon
Frydenberg revealed that the Australian government will launch the pilot for its central bank digital currency before the end of 2022. Not long ago, The Reserve Bank of Australia partnered with Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, the financial services company Perpetual, and ConsenSys to explore the potential use of Ethereum-based wholesale CBDC.
The collaboration vowed to develop a “proof-of-concept (POC) for the issuance of a tokenized form of CBDC that can be used by wholesale market participants for the funding, settlement, and repayment of a tokenized syndicated loan on an Ethereum-based DLT platform.”
However, supporters of the cash industry said an Australian central bank digital currency should not replace physical banknotes and coins. Jason Bryce – a spokesman for CashWelcome – said:
“Some Australians will never be able to use and access digital dollars, and they will be largely excluded.”
The central bank of Indonesia is willing to issue a digital form of its national currency as a way to “fight” private digital assets. The financial institution believes a CBDC would be more “credible” than bitcoin or the altcoins.
Indonesia and its CBDC Efforts
Bank Indonesia (BI) – the country’s central bank – displayed its intentions to launch a central bank digital currency (CBDC) earlier this year. In May, Governor Perry Warjiyo asserted that it is on its way without revealing a specific launch date.
Back then, BI noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, locals have switched from cash to digital payments. As such, a CBDC monitored and controlled by the authorities would be the best option for that monetary transition, the institution opined.
According to a recent coverage by Bloomberg, Bank Indonesia now has another reason to issue a digital rupiah: to “fight” cryptocurrencies which cause a significant impact on the nation’s financial network. Juda Agung – an Assistant Governor at the bank – added that a CBDC is a more reliable option than bitcoin, ether, and the rest of the private digital assets:
“A CBDC would be one of the tools to fight crypto. We assume that people would find CBDC more credible than crypto. CBDC would be part of an effort to address the use of crypto in financial transactions.”
In the meantime, the Indonesian government intends to create a dedicated digital asset exchange by the end of 2021 since the country has more than 7 million crypto investors, while transaction value has surpassed $30 billion. In comparison, nearly twice fewer locals invested in the space in 2020.
Crypto Is ‘Haram’ In Indonesia
A few weeks ago, the National Ulema Council (MUI) – Indonesia’s top Islamic scholar’s body – showed a highly negative stance on cryptocurrencies by declaring all operations in the industry as “haram,” or forbidden.
Asrorun Niam Soleh stated that the rejection ignites from the thesis that bitcoin and the alternative coins are riddled with “uncertainty, wagering, and harm.” Nonetheless, the MUI’s Fatwa Commission Chairman explained that digital assets can be traded as a commodity if it obeys the Shariah law and shows a “clear benefit.”
With a population of more than 273 million, Indonesia is known as the most populated Muslim-majority nation. Having that said, the development may have a significant effect on the local cryptocurrency ecosystem.
China is leaving no stones unturned in promoting the usage of digital yuan while ensuring a crackdown on the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency industry.
According to the latest report, China is gearing up to establish a digital asset exchange in its sprawling capital of Bejing. The guidelines issued by the State Council also mentioned that Beijing will look into setting up a bourse for digital assets trading in a bid to foster financial services in the region.
Roll out of China’s e-CNY
The world is witnessing the rapid progress made by China with respect to its central bank digital currency. As a matter of fact, the cabinet had earlier requested faster trials of the digital yuan. It had even asked the banking institutions to launch e-CNY operation firms. However, no details have been disclosed regarding the planned digital asset exchange so far.
Most recently, Governor Yi Gang of the People’s Bank of China highlighted the need for the digital yuan to prevent competition with the existing banks. As such, the governor explained that e-CNY was an “M0” asset, meaning interest cannot be earned. The central bank will supervise the issuance of the digital yuan, while lower-tier financial authorities will serve as “intermediaries.”
There’s no End to China’s War on Crypto
Gou Wenjun, Director of the Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Center of the People’s Bank of China, reportedly took a fresh jab at the “virtual assets” and expressed his concerns over national currency sovereignty, anti-fraud, anti-money laundering, and anti-terrorist financing.
He said there is a need to enhance the transparency of such assets while looking into the application of regulatory sandboxes to examine their nature.
Interestingly, he also spoke about “abandoning the illusion of anarchy and decentralization” and rather endorsing technological advancement and innovation that are in line with human values, respect for ethics.
While referring to the current state of virtual currencies, non-fungible tokens [NFT], and various items in the “meta-universe” or Metaverse, the governor stated that these are “naturally isolated” from the real world. Since these aspects have a “certain degree of interoperability,” they can soon emerge as money laundering instruments for malicious entities.
According to his speech, the focus of the regulatory bodies should be around cryptocurrency crackdown. This can be achieved by monitoring crypto transactions, enhancing traceability and scene tracking systems, and strengthening data sharing and cooperation with global financial intelligence firms.
Despite the problems, Ripple has not given up on its mission to become a significant player in the global payments industry, and even though things are not going so well with the United States, one country is looking at the company as the best option to develop a domestic currency based precisely on U.S. dollars: Palau.
According to a Press Release shared by Ripple, Palau chose the XRP Ledger to create digital dollars to circulate internally in the country. The idea, Ripple explains, is to design a USD-backed stablecoin around which could be developed other services like corporate registries.
Palau is Ripple-Friendly —But Not Enought To Adopt XRP
Palau does not have a fiat currency of its own. Like El Salvador, citizens use the U.S. dollar as legal tender. However, the small island located in Oceania does not want to adopt XRP or any cryptocurrency as legal tender but hopes to issue a government-managed digital version of the U.S. dollar.
In this sense, Palau’s initiative looks more like the issuance of a stablecoin than a CBDC. And it makes a lot of sense, given that Palau does not have a Central Bank.
Palau’s president Surangel S. Whipps Jr was confident that Ripple could provide the technology necessary to develop a financial product tailored to Palau’s needs.
“As part of our commitment to lead in financial innovation and technologies, we are delighted to partner with Ripple. The first phase of the partnership will focus on a cross-border payments strategy and exploring options to create a national digital currency, providing the citizens of Palau with greater financial access.”
Ripple maintains an efficient, carbon-neutral, fast, and cost-effective blockchain network. The note shared by Ripple explains that the XRP Ledger would give Palau the ability to fully settle transactions in less than 5 seconds at a cost that doesn’t even reach a penny on the dollar per transaction.
Ripple’s Regulatory Problems
The news seems to have done little to none for the price of XRP, the native cryptocurrency of Ripple’s XRP Ledger.
Following the July 2021 surge, XRP corrected nearly 34% in a matter of 3 weeks, falling from the $1.4 mark to lows of $0.86. From there it has been trading sideways, unable to definitively break the $1.2 resistance nor the support in the $1 area.
During November 23, XRP recorded a 2.97% rise from $1.03 to $1.06. However, its current price of $1.045 represents a drop of almost 2%, again demonstrating the token’s lack of trend.
Much of this hesitancy is likely due to Ripple’s regulatory problems.
Currently, the SEC has sued the company, accusing it of selling XRP as an unregistered security. Ripple is defending itself, but the case has proved to be a major blow to its reputation – and consequently that of its XRP token.
The XRP token, which once ranked in the Top 3 by market capitalization, is currently at number 7, and the token’s once-dominant fan community, the XRP Army, is now all but dead on Crypto Twitter.
Narendra Modi – the Prime Minister of India – urged democratic countries to work together and design a comprehensive regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies.
Without it, the asset class can be employed unlawfully and can even spoil the younger generations, he added.
Regulations Are Necessary
In a recent appearance at the Sydney Dialogue, India’s leader highlighted the importance of implementing regulatory policies in the digital asset industry. He opined that the process should include nations with democratic visions such as India, Australia, and others in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. They need to establish a mutual collaboration and act together.
Modi’s comments were mainly focused on bitcoin. He assumed that many criminals would continue using the primary cryptocurrency in their illicit activities without the necessary legislation. On top of it, the lack of rules can also “spoil our youth.”
“We are at a historic moment of choice whether all the wonderful powers of technology of our age will be instruments of cooperation or conflict,” India’s PM concluded in his speech.
The world’s second most populated nation is reportedly on its way to imposing such regulations by February 2022. The Indian government even started contemplating treating cryptocurrencies as an asset class.
This comes as a U-turn since earlier this year, the authorities planned to force a total ban on bitcoin and the altcoins. Furthermore, they wanted to pass a bill according to which cryptocurrency custody, mining, and trading would become a criminal act.
India May Launch Its CBDC Next Year
A coverage by Reuters revealed that the central bank digital currency of the Asian country might see the light of day in the first quarter of 2022. P. Vasudevan – Chief Manager at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) – said:
“I think somewhere it was said that at least by the first quarter of next year a pilot could be launched. So we are bullish on that.”
Earlier this year, Shaktikanta Das – Governor of the RBI – raised hopes that India could begin trials for its CBDC by the end of the ongoing year.
However, Vasudevan said that designing such a financial product is not an easy task, and there should be no hurry to launch it:
“We are on the job, and we are looking into the various issues and nuances related to CBDC. It’s not a simple thing to just say that CBDC can be a habit from tomorrow on.”
Featured Image Courtesy of PMIndia
Peru is joining the list of Latin American countries that are actively working on the development of a CBDC.
In a panel on economic institutions organized yesterday during the Annual Conference of Executives (CADE), the president of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru (BCRP), Julio Velarde, explained that the country is making progress in the creation of a digital monetary system that will make it possible to meet the challenges arising in the financial world.
Peru Wants a CBDC
According to statements posted on Twitter, the head of the Central Bank explained that the country has been able to overcome the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic, but that strategically they have felt the need to innovate in the way they handle finances.
Velarde explained that the Peruvian government is currently working on its CBDC with the support of other countries that are already more advanced in the matter. However, Valverde said that they are not yet ready to implement this type of financial solution anytime soon despite the advances.
“There are several important projects for the payment system, but it is premature. We have been working on a digital currency, we are with India, Singapore. This currency will be the one that will prevail in the future, we do not want to be left behind.”
Despite speaking of his caution, the CBDC may be closer than expected. According to statements picked up by Reuters, the country could be further ahead than other governments that already have some level of proven progress:
“We are not going to be the first, because we don’t have the resources to be first and face those risks, but we don’t want to fall behind. At least we are at the same level or perhaps even further ahead than similarly sized peers, although behind Mexico and Brazil.”
The Race for a CBDC in Latin America and the Caribbean Region
A CBDC is a version of fiat currency issued by a central bank with a non-physical digital expression. Different types of technology can be used, although the newest and most popular one is the blockchain. For example, France is already testing a CBDC with Tezos blockchain technology. In contrast, China has an almost-ready CBDC that does not use blockchain technology.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, several countries are in advanced stages of implementation or development of a CBDC. In addition to Mexico and Brazil (which promised an implementation for next year), the Bahamas already has its Sand Dollar CBDC. At the same time, DCash is already used as a common CBDC among Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Kitts, and Nevis, and Saint Lucia.
El Salvador has no CBDC, but there are rumors that politicians close to President Bukele are working on a proposal – in addition to the fact that Bitcoin is legal tender. Similarly, Venezuela has the digital Bolivar in addition to its official cryptocurrency, the Petro.
So Peru has to work hard to catch up if it is true that it does not want to be left behind.
Jon Cunliffe – Deputy Governor at the Bank of England – recently asserted that the risks cryptocurrencies pose to the financial sector are drawing closer. He urged regulators to take action before such an economic threat can manifest in traditional markets.
Crypto Threatening The Financial Industry?
The governor aired his thoughts in conversation with BBC’s Today Programme on Monday. He feared that the volatility of cryptocurrency markets could start to spill over into traditional financial markets. He claimed that this risk is “getting closer” and encouraged regulators to “think very hard” about the possibility.
“My judgment is they’re not, at the moment, a financial stability risk, but they are growing very fast, and they’re becoming integrated more into what I might call the traditional financial system,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Cunliffe has presented this case. Last month, he argued that crypto markets are now large enough to send shocks throughout the rest of the financial system in the event of a collapse. Indeed, the industry has grown larger than ever, having recently touched a $3 trillion market cap.
The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority is yet to introduce sufficient consumer protections around cryptocurrencies. That includes regulation covering crypto ads, such as the Floki Inu banners that started appearing on London public transport last month. However, there are apparent actions undertaken in this regard as local authorities recently banned such ads.
That said, the governor is less concerned about private company-issued cryptocurrencies, such as Meta (formerly Facebook)’s Diem. Given that they haven’t reached mass adoption, regulatory action in that area is not urgent.
Prospects Of A CBDC For Britons
Instead of opting for cryptocurrencies, the Bank of England has been consulting an array of experts on the development of a CBDC – nicknamed “Britcoin.” However, such a product wouldn’t be launched until at least 2025, according to policymakers. The bank will hold a consultation on the project in 2022, followed by a technical explanation of its architecture.
Cunliffe said the CBDC would be fully regulated and tethered to the sterling to decrease volatility, which he called “the safest form of money.”
Fabio Panetta – Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank – revealed that the digital version of the euro might become a legal tender inside the European zone.
Digital Euro ‘Should Not Be Taken for Granted’
As Bloomberg reported, the Italian economist and member at the ECB – Fabio Panetta – hinted about the initiative during a panel discussion in Helsinki, Finland. He asserted that if the European Central Bank proceeds with its efforts of launching a digital currency, the new form of money will have all chances to become legal tender inside the borders of the EU.
Panetta added that the authorities will thoroughly examine the endeavor in the next two years. Nonetheless, the Italian opined that achieving such a move “should not be taken for granted,” and the financial institution must be extra cautious.
Last week, he opposed the argument that the digital euro will be “redundant” amid other alternative currencies as the ECB will aim to make its CBDC cost-effective and guarantee its usability. The latter is vital as it could provide for more widespread adoption among the general population. The Italian economist added that the central bank digital currency will be “attractive enough” to capture society’s attention.
During the event, Elvira Nabiullina – the head of the Bank of Russia – agreed with Panetta about how a central bank digital currency should look like.
A few months ago, she opined that CBDCs, working under government control, will represent the future of the financial network. On the other hand, she is a fierce critic of private digital assets, which in her opinion, are highly volatile, and investors could lose “colossal sums” if they deal with them.
Digital Euro Could Be Greener Than Bitcoin
Earlier this year, the European Central Bank highlighted its plans to launch an investigation phase of a digital euro project that will go on for 24 months. Within the testing period, the ECB’s research department will “aim to address key issues regarding design and distribution” as the digital version of the euro “must be able to meet the needs of Europeans.”
In addition, the CBDC should “prevent illicit activities and avoid any undesirable impact on financial stability and monetary policy.” Christine Lagarde – President of the European Central Bank – said the financial product should be “the safest form of money.”
Last but not least, the ECB promised that the digital euro’s energy consumption would be “negligible” compared to bitcoin’s. It is worth mentioning, though, that central bank digital currencies and the primary cryptocurrency are significantly different assets.
A CBDC is a digital version of a nation’s fiat currency where the Central Bank is still in complete control. It lacks any sort of decentralization as there is a single authority that’s shaping the monetary policy and regulation.
Bitcoin, on the other hand, is the complete opposite, which is why many believe that the emergence of a CBDC could push people towards BTC even more.
One of the largest Chinese e-commerce platforms – JD.com – has reportedly enabled its customers to use the digital yuan for payments during the shopping festival – Singles Day.
JD Embraces The Chinese CBDC
Even though China’s central bank digital currency has not officially rolled out nationwide, the local leading retail company – JD – has reportedly collaborated with China Construction Bank to become the first firm accepting it as a payment method on its platform. Clients can use the digital yuan during the Singles Day promotion period, which started on October 31st and ends today (November 11th).
JD noted that over 100,000 people had employed the CBDC so far. Still, Singles Day is today, meaning that many more customers can join. All it takes for users to take part in the promotion is to type “e-CNY” on JD’s app, and they will receive instructions on how to download China’s CBDC application and can receive 15 yuan ($2.34) to spend.
At the end of last year, the fintech affiliate of the e-commerce giant called JD Digits launched a pilot program enabling clients to purchase specific items with the digital yuan. It issued 100,000 digital cash vouchers worth 20 million yuan to encourage residents of Suzhou city in the eastern province of Jiangsu to engage with the innovative currency.
Singles Day is a Chinese unofficial holiday and shopping season that celebrates people who are not in relationships (the four “1’s” on the date 11.11. abstractly refer to this demographic group of single individuals). Paradoxically, the holiday has become one of the largest physical retail and online shopping day across the globe.
Companies like JD host the festival every year and garner billions of dollars in total sales volume on that day. So far this year, the e-commerce giant has registered $48.6 billion in sales across its platforms during the shopping event, meaning that it beat all its previous records.
140 Million Digital Yuan Wallets so Far
As CryptoPotato reported last week, the number of digital yuan wallets in China has surged to 140 million, 10 million of which are corporate accounts. This number seems impressive since it equals around 10% of the total local population.
Digital yuan transactions have also increased significantly from $5.4 billion four months ago to $9.7 billion as of early November.
Being a relatively new payment transaction method, the e-CNY could also be employed by bad actors. On that note, the Xinmi Police arrested 11 gang members after it cracked down on the nation’s first use of digital yuan in money laundering operations. The criminals have reportedly acted on behalf of an overseas fraud group hiding in Cambodia.
Featured Image Courtesy of RetailInAsia
El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin as a legal tender has spurred many debates and discussions on the potential financial ramifications. But it seems like Zimbabwe is not planning to follow in the footsteps of the central American country any time soon., despite the recent reports claiming otherwise.
CBDCs Yes, But No Bitcoin
While denying the previous report, the government has stated that the Zimbabwe dollar (ZW$) will remain the only official currency. Zimbabwe’s Minister of Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, also dismissed the claims while addressing the Cabinet meeting yesterday and was quoted saying that cryptocurrency would not be a local currency.
The information minister, however, revealed that Zimbabwe is also experimenting with digitizing its sovereign currency.
“Like most countries in the world, the Government of Zimbabwe, through its Financial Technology Group, is studying Central Banking Digital Currency as opposed to cryptocurrencies, bitcoins or any form of derivatives,”
It doesn’t come off as a surprise Zimbabwe too is keener on CBDCs, considering regulators around the world are exploring the same avenue in response to the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry. As many countries ramp up their CBDCs experiments, Africa isn’t far behind. For instance, the Bank of Ghana had recently announced the pilot of “e-cedi.” Additionally, Nigeria’s eNaira also debuted in the last week of October.
Stance On Cryptocurrency
The latest clarifications follow reports about the government considering the use of Bitcoin (BTC) as a legal payments option. It had earlier mentioned that the country’s move rose from the growing demand to harness the technology.
The report in question had also quoted Charles Wekwete – the permanent secretary of the president’s office. Wekwete had allegedly commented that the government was considering Bitcoin’s adoption with the help of private sector organizations.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube, for one, had earlier said that cryptocurrency would not be used as a currency in the country. However, the Professor is not entirely anti-crypto.
In September this year, Ncube had maintained that he was not into the idea of crypto being used as a “transaction currency” because of its high volatility. Still, he believes that there is nothing wrong with exploring the asset class to understand its viability.