Libra To the Rescue and Economic Intelligence Analysis about CDBC and Bandits
The Facebook project begins to score the first points in its favour after months of siege. First, two important new actors joined the club. Shopify, Canadian e-shopping platform, multinational company present in 175 countries, and Tagomi, US crypto-broker. They are not best-media names but both, in their respective sectors, are protagonists: they stand out not only for their high positioning in terms of turnover and intermediates, but also for their competitive approach based mainly on innovation.
On the strategic side, rumors indicate the possibility of abandonment, at least in the initial phase, of the original idea that saw Facebook’s cryptocurrency take shape as a basket of currencies, an aspect considered with extreme ostracism by the various authorities. The remodulation would expect a network of stablecoins individually connected to a specific different fiat currency therefore, ultimately, a PayPal network model of interconnected payments. Considering, among other things, that the Supreme Court of India has removed the ban on trading in cryptocurrencies (and considering the size of the potential market of the country) the new approach is strategically valid also to overcome the escalation of the shields in previous months. It is clear that the subsequent introduction of a basketball superstructure, accumulating all the underlying stablecoins, is an elementary exercise on the operational and algorithmic side.
On the tactical and technical side they presented the new language, Move, dedicated to Libra-based application developers. Institutionally, in mid-February, the Vice President of the European Commission, Dombrovsky, asked Libra Association to clarify the development status of the project. This in view of the need to contextualize the project within the Union’s approach to stablecoin development.
The scenario in the short to medium term continues to be what this blog advocates from the beginning: the Libra project continues and will see the light. The statement of early March by an authoritative internal source of the project was:
‘(Facebook)…remains fully commited to the project’.
The connotations that are emerging are a stretching of the timeframe, due to the institutional ostracism described in previous posts and, therefore, to the need to remodulate fundamental components of the project, as is happening.
For the digital currencies of the central banks, the atmosphere is in great fermet because, as has already been said in recent months, Libra has the merit of triggered that.
Taking a step back, before Libra, in 2015 UBS and Clearmantics initialised USC (Utility Settlement Coin), a project for an interbank settlement system based on Etherum. In five years the initiative has capitalized for money and participants: it reached $70 million in funding through the participation of 14 shareholders, all of whom are part of the elite of international trade finance. Now, through the operational reality FNALITY, the idea is proposed, in consideration of the effervescence that animates the CBDC sector, also to the various central banks, first of the South Africa one, as a partner for technical and management development, given the far-sighted experience accumulated.
Beyond the costs of disintermediation, and the fact to pursue Libra, one of the central focused points, as well expressed by the economist IMF Sonja Davidovic, is the opportunity for central banks to have a tool that can provide, all other factors equal (such as privacy for example) but surgically and in real time, answers to certain economic problems that arise and with precise control on the monetary chain. The current timing of COVID-19, and its needs, are a clear example.
In the meantime, Sweden has started the one-year test on the cryptokrona: together with the Bahamas, the Marshall Islands and Cambodia, these are the most advanced operational realities in the CBDC field, with launch scheduled for the second half of 2020. They are undoubtedly facilitated by intrinsic social and territorial factors, but this does not take anything away from the innovative foresight possessed by the thinking heads of the respective countries.
Rumors indicate that in China the epidemic has postponed the terms CBDC project and for the same reason also IRAN, a country with advanced operational prospects that recently received support for its project from Malaysia, will have to revise its plans. Russia is the centre of the complex network of countries, which are identified in the acronyms EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union) and BRICS, intending to create a multinational stablecoin to connect their respective payment systems. Switzerland is testing various technical solutions internally.
At a lower prospective level Japan, UK and EU where the action for now is at the level of opportunity debate; USA and Canada have reaffirmed, for now, their unwillingness to initialize CBDC projects.
The scenario, in this case to 5 years, foresees the ineluctability of progressive convergence to the blockchain protocol of fiat currencies.
Chipertrace has published the Q4/2019 report on crypto money laundering. Qualitatively, the headlines and their contents follow the previous quarters of the year and quantitatively there are no differential dissonances to highlight. However, the report pays attention to the fact that the monetary cryptoeconomy is increasingly permeating the traditional financial sector for obvious competitive reasons. This situation leads to two opposite consequences: first, interpenetration is rejected in advance, by the traditional sector, to eliminate the risk factor at the root. In this way, those who refuse lose business opportunities and crypto operators are forced to disguise their activities even when legitimate. The second, the business opportunity is taken but crypto-illecite anomalies are found within traditional operations. All this is due to the absence of AML specific regulations dedicated to the monetary cryptoeconomy and to the stupid stubbornness of wanting to adapt the existing one to it: in this way nothing is obtained and only the illicit is facilitated.
The way to follow is intelligence, crypto-intelligence, and the massive preventive monitoring with selective purposes for later needs: therefore, a completely different paradigm with respect to the traditional KYC, provided for by the existing AML, because the technological paradigm is different. DHS (Department of Homeland Security) USA seems to have understood something: in the 2021 budget they detailed the CIP (Cryptocurrency Intelligence Program), finalized to the identification of the independent brokers for subsequent purposes of action against the illicit.
The concept is that with 44.5 million wallets in existence and with 1 trillion USD exchanged into crypto in 2019, it is still possible to initialize a preventive accumulation of data for, subsequently, to work deep when there is information of possible/likely illicit action. The amount of big-data in question is negligible compared to the amount accumulated to date (and constantly growing) for national security purposes in the communications sectors. There are laws, technology and technicians to do that: what is missing are the thinking heads who understand how the AML issue, in crypto perspective, must be solved in a totally new way.
Regulation and Telegram
In addition to India mentioned earlier, Russia, despite the dynamism in the CBDC area, continues, through BoR, to express its opposition to the legalization of cryptocurrency circulation.
ESMA (European Securities and Markets Authority) has declared, in its 2020/22 strategic guidelines, the crypto-assets a ‘focus to provide a solid regulatory framework’. How? It is unknown.
On the sidelines Telegram which, although it continues the legal battle with the SEC for the theoretical sale of security without authorization (see previous posts for the story so far), published in mid-February a paper in which it explains the operation of the blockchain on which TON is based and, therefore, proceeds with the project.