链闻消息，数字货币资产管理公司灰度投资（Grayscale Investment）考虑为潜在的新产品添加数字资产，纳入考量的包括 Aave (AAVE)、Basic Attention Token (BAT)、Cardano (ADA)、Chainlink (LINK)、Compound (COMP)、Cosmos (ATOM)、Decentraland (MANA)、EOS (EOS)、Filecoin (FIL)、Flow (Dapper Labs、FLOW)、Livepeer (LPT)、MakerDao (MKR)、Monero (XMR)、Numeraire (NMR)、Polkadot (DOT)、Reserve Rights (RSR)、Stacks (STX)、Sushiswap (SUSHI)、Synthetix (SNX)、Tezos (XTZ)、The Graph (GRT)、Uniswap (UNI)、Yearn Finance (YFI)。不过灰度创建结构性投资产品需要进行审查和考虑并受严格的内部控制，需要足够安全的托管安排和监管考虑的制约，因此，不能保证上述列出的资产会推出相应的投资产品。灰度投资目前为获得认证的投资者提供 8 个单一资产投资信托和 1 个多元化基金。
The notion of China racing to launch a CBDC that will end U.S. monetary supremacy doesn’t hold up if you look at the facts on the ground.
For the past several years, the trade war between China and the U.S. has been at the center of international relations, with technology playing an outsized role.
Within crypto, advancing interest in central bank digital currencies has become part of that narrative of geopolitical competition. Many have framed the development of CBDCs in China and the U.S. as a race — in which case, China is clearly closer to launch and, hence, the “winner.”
But a race to the finish is a flawed paradigm, and one to which Cointelegraph has contributed its fair share. For the moment, China is actively working to get its digital payments infrastructure out from under the overwhelming dominance of Ant Group’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay. Longstanding designs upon the U.S. dollar have faltered. The narrative of the digital yuan taking aim at the dollar has most prominently come from U.S. firms who were trying to redirect scrutiny from U.S. regulators onto a foreign threat.
The digital currency race that wasn’t
Though it dragged Alipay and WeChat Pay into the geopolitical arena, a midnight executive order from Trump banning use of all Tencent, Alibaba and Alipay apps in the U.S. was more a symbolic attack on China’s malfeasance in international trade that would also complicate Biden’s early diplomacy. Claude Barfield, who studies China trade policy for the American Enterprise Institute, said of Trump’s last-minute move: “That is not rooted in economics, that is just rooted in the last gasp of this administration to set down a record and to in some ways tie Biden’s hands.”
There is also certainly a major competition in tech between the U.S. and China. Martin Chorzempa of the Peterson Institute for International Economics told Cointelegaph:
“I’m under no illusions that the Biden administration is going to let go of the tech competition. The tariff stuff is going to phase out eventually, but my bet is that the tech competition is only going to heat up.”
For all of this hubbub, China’s payments industry has not seen the international penetration necessary to constitute the clear and present danger — which is distinct from other tech firms like Huawei. As far as payments, the firms running them are almost entirely within China’s walled garden. Despite user bases that dwarf U.S. payments apps like Apple Pay or Google Pay, both Alipay and WeChat Pay almost exclusively depend upon Chinese bank account holders for those numbers.
While a digital yuan is obviously a major priority for China, the country’s work against its domestic payments industry proves that it is looking first at home. International usage of the traditional yuan has stalled, despite a slight uptick in the composition of foreign reserve currencies, and clamping down on its internal private payments industry does not help a Chinese CBDC go international..
“Renminbi internationalization has been on the backburner for years now. It continues to be talked about but very few actual decisions have been made to make it usable,” said Chorzempa. “I’m not convinced that the PNC is going to let people use the digital renminbi outside of China.”
The tech monopolies that were
The current anti-monopoly push indeed seems pretty straightforward. Alipay and WeChat Pay control 95% of the digital payments market between the two of them. Adding to the problem is that digital payments have become the standard in China, with many merchants refusing to accept government-issued currency. It’s a problem widespread enough that the People’s Bank of China warned in December that “Renminbi (yuan) cash is the most basic means of payment. Entities or individuals cannot refuse to accept it.”
Keep in mind that plenty of countries would look askance at private hands with such a chokehold on the national payments system. 95% between two private companies is unheard of in any major global economy, and it’s a 95% that is part of two massive conglomerates that independently serve as e-merchants, social networks and messengers. Whatever problems the U.S. faces with its own tech giants are even more heavily concentrated in the Chinese market.
“The Chinese financial regulators reacted just as American, Japanese or European regulators would react,” Barfield noted, referring to a similar antitrust battle in the U.S. “You have this irony where in an authoritarian regime you’re getting echoes of what you’re getting in market economies.”
The IPO offering that almost was
While 2020 saw a number of signals that the Chinese government was going to rein in monopolies that Xi Jinping had allowed to flourish for so long, it was the crackdown on Ant Group’s initial public offering that got everyone’s attention.
Scheduled for November 5, the IPO for Ant Group was supposed to issue $37 billion in equity based on a $300 billion valuation — a world record. At the time, many attributed its last-minute cancellation to Jack Ma’s criticism of China’s financial regulation at the end of October.
A Wall Street Journal investigation published last week suggests otherwise. The results claim that Ant Group had been under investigation prior to Ma’s speech for its opaque ownership. Per that report, the investment vehicles that held private equity in Ant Group stood to gain a fortune when it went public — a fortune that they would then pipeline back into the hands of the richest people in China.
Publicizing underlying beneficial ownership is a very reasonable expectation for a firm about to be let loose upon the public, even when you aren’t already concerned about its stranglehold over financial services in the world’s most populous country.
The crypto outcry that shouldn’t have been
All of which are concerns fairly localized to China. For the foreseeable future, a digital yuan is, likewise, a domestic rather than international tool. In this, the crypto community’s response to its continued development has been interesting.
But cycle back through those who have most zealously pushed that narrative. It’s largely composed of people trying to get the U.S. government to look anywhere else. It includes the usual cast of permabulls like Anthony Pompliano, but it’s also heavy on parties facing intensive scrutiny from U.S. regulators.
Mark Zuckerberg threatened Chinese dominance of international payments if Congress continued to stonewall his Libra (now Diem) stablecoin. Incidentally, Tencent said much the same thing about Libra to Chinese authorities. But the biggest culprit has been Ripple.
Almost the entire cast of Ripple’s executive board made effectively the same threat about the U.S. losing the tech cold war to China. Which, in retrospect, seems like a distraction from a firm that was pulling out all the stops to divert the attention of U.S. regulators. And hey, nationalism is a classic card to play. A trump, you might say.
The CBDC that may one day be
None of this is to say that a digital dollar or renminbi doesn’t matter. The point is that framing the competition as a race to be first is risky practice, precisely because it shuts down critical thinking about an important area and also assumes that everyone in the world is chomping at the bit to entrust all of their money to a brand-new technology.
In a January paper, Chorzempa pointed out that China’s private payments giants, which hit the market long after Apple and Google Pay, actually benefited from a second-mover advantage. They could learn from the mistakes of the original American firms. The race paradigm is just inappropriate for money, which people are most conservative about implementing changes to. Less obviously, it’s not even the main consideration when it comes to technology. Think of Skype vs. Zoom, or BlackBerry vs. IPhone.
Congressman Bill Foster spoke to Cointelegraph way back, following the Zuckerberg hearing, about the China argument, when the idea of a race was really taking hold. He said: “When you start to move into financial instruments you have to be very careful that you are not reinventing a lot of the problems that we’ve learned the hard way creep up again and again in financial services.”
Money has a weird set of priorities. Continuing to explain the pros of a digitized dollar, Foster said:
“I think that will be a competitive advantage for the United States and the free Western world, is that we have a transparent court system where you know the rules you’re playing with and you won’t have the party leaders come in and say, ‘ok, I want all your information.’”
Alongside unconsidered advantages like court transparency, it takes much more than a new technology to overthrow the leading global currency. In the U.S.’s case, it took two world wars, economic ascendancy and fears of a global takeover by Communism. As appealing as the idea of digitized bearer instruments that could even skip the hassle of international banking and settlement may be, it’s not going to happen all of a sudden.
China and the U.S. are going to continue to duke it out in the tech arena. But there is a reason people like Chairman Powell or digital dollar advocate J. Christopher Giancarlo had to decry the haste to launch. Money is not something that a government can afford to get wrong.
Ethereum protocols account for over a third of Grayscale’s assets under consideration for listing as exchange-traded products.
Want to buy decentralized finance exposure from your stockbroker? Grayscale may be on the cusp of making it a reality.
In a press release today, the issuer of popular exchange-traded products such as Bitcoin (BTC)-backed Grayscale Bitcoin Trust announced a list of new assets under consideration — and over a third come from Ethereum’s DeFi ecosystem.
Aave, Compound’s COMP, MakerDAO’s MKR, Reserve Rights (RSR), SushiSwap’s SUSHI, Synthetix Network Token (SNX), Uniswap’s UNI and Yearn.finance’s YFI joined increasingly popular layer-one chain assets such as Polkadot’s DOT, Cosmos’ ATOM and Cardano’s ADA on the list — a sign that the “great repricing” may be picking up steam.
“We’re eager to expand our product offerings to better serve our investors,” said Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnenshein in the release. “The digital currency universe is constantly evolving and we seek to identify bold, interesting, and innovative opportunities that satisfy our investors’ demand for differentiated exposure to this burgeoning asset class.”
The announcement also noted that considerations such as “sufficiently secure custody arrangements, and regulatory considerations” will be factors in deciding which assets will go to market as exchange-tradable products — factors that could potentially slow DeFi’s debut on the stock market compared with some of the layer-one blockchains and other projects listed.
Grayscale has previously been criticized for its asset choices, including Bitcoin Cash (BCH), a fork of Bitcoin, and Ripple’s XRP. Last month, Grayscale filed for trusts for many of the assets listed, but made the selections official today.
The selections the investment manager made come with particular heft, given the importance of products like Grayscale Bitcoin Trust and Grayscale Ethereum Trust to institutional and retail investors. Grayscale’s products are often the preferred choice for large buyers seeking crypto exposure via traditional investment rails, and the “investment premium” for their products — the price per share versus the price of the underlying assets — is closely watched.
Besides securing approval from Swiss regulators, Diem seems likely to face opposition from government regulators in many countries.
Back in June 2019, social media giant Facebook released the details for a much-talked-about digital currency platform dubbed “Libra.” These days, Libra is known as Diem, with the project undergoing a significant rebranding in a bid to smoothen regulatory wrinkles.
A year and a half later, the Diem Association has yet to launch a digital token with regulatory approval from Swiss authorities yet to materialize. Even if Switzerland’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or FINMA, does grant a payment license to the digital currency project, Diem will be debuting its offerings to a global landscape that is significantly more fractured in terms of digital currency regulations than was the case 18 months ago.
Stablecoin regulations seem to be the focus of attention for governments in major economic blocs including the United States and the eurozone. China continues to accelerate the pace of its nation digital yuan project, and despite initial assertions to the contrary, authorities in Beijing appear to have a more domestic agenda for the e-yuan.
Major crypto markets in terms of trading volume like India and Nigeria are becoming increasingly anti-privately-issued digital currencies. In effect, if Diem were to launch today, that would be four prominent digital currency transaction theatres where the legality of the project’s “coin” would be tenuous at best.
When will Diem launch?
In November 2020, the Diem Association announced plans for a limited launch of its project with a U.S.-dollar-pegged digital token. Far from the ambitious plans of a “Facebook coin” backed by a basket of fiat currencies that heralded the debut announcement back in 2019, this new USD stablecoin was a consequence of the successive rebranding attempts necessitated by the vociferous pushback among global financial regulators.
January came and went, and now February is almost over, but no sign of the Diem USD stablecoin. The Swiss FINMA has not approved Diem’s payment system license yet but recent developments in the country around crypto and blockchain regulations likely put Diem’s application in good stead.
Switzerland has established itself as a crypto-friendly nation, allowing the digital asset space to flourish within its borders. Earlier in February, Phase one of the country’s blockchain law focusing on company reforms went into effect. Meanwhile, the second part of the new legal framework, which creates regulatory clarity for trading crypto securities, will become law later in the year.
Plans for the Diem launch received another boost with the announcement of the partnership between crypto security outfit Fireblocks and First Digital Asset Group — a payment provider on the Diem platform. As part of the collaboration, both companies have created a secure wallet allowing financial institutions to process transactions on the Diem network.
Responding to Cointelegraph, a spokesperson for FINMA declined to comment on the status of Diem’s application but confirmed that the licensing process was still ongoing. The Diem Association did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comments on the matter.
According to Jackson Mueller, head of policy and government relations at blockchain compliance and financial markets infrastructure outfit Securrency, a Diem launch in Q1 2021 appears unlikely. In a conversation with Cointelegraph, Mueller remarked:
“Several representatives of the Diem Association have made it clear that a rollout will not happen until they meet regulatory expectations and requirements, and it is unclear, at this time, whether and to what extent the Association is close to achieving this.”
Private stablecoins in the cross-hairs of regulators
The Diem announcement back in the Summer of 2019 seemed to spur financial regulators across the world to scrutinize stablecoins. The likely network effect of a digital currency enjoying such benefits of Facebook’s 2.8 billion users seemed to spur intense discussions among national and international regulatory agencies.
According to Mueller, government scrutiny surrounding privately issued stablecoins has increased: “The conclusions and follow-on outcomes from these efforts are unclear, at present, which, I imagine, adds further challenges to the rollout of Diem in the first quarter.”
Apart from the series of congressional hearings that took place in 2019 after the Diem announcement, some congresspeople are pushing for stricter stablecoin regulations. The measures, if passed, would force private stablecoin issuers to comply with banking standards.
Intergovernmental bodies, such as the G-7 and the G-20, have also expressed their concerns about stablecoins, with Diem often being singled-out. These bodies have issued numerous papers and research studies highlighting the potential for private stablecoins to disrupt legacy financial systems.
The European Central Bank recently asked European Union lawmakers for veto powers concerning stablecoins in the eurozone. If granted, the ECB would have the final say on stablecoin regulations with its pronouncement enforceable across the European Union. Indeed, the ECB laid down the crux of its reservations with stablecoins especially those not issued by recognized financial institutions, stating:
“The additional requirements laid down in the proposed regulation for significant stablecoin issuers are therefore welcome. Having said that, these additional requirements may not be sufficient to address growing risks where stablecoins become widely used as a means of payment or a store of value in multiple jurisdictions across the Union.”
Furthermore, ECB President Christine Lagarde is a noted critic of stablecoins and cryptocurrencies in general. Thus, it’s likely that the ECB having veto powers on stablecoin regulations would mean strict compliance mandates for issuers in the eurozone.
Officials in Germany are also among one of the more vocal opponents of Diem in the eurozone. While the country is by no means anti-crypto, Germany’s finance minister, Olaf Scholz, has stated on numerous occasions that the country’s government will oppose Diem’s operation in Germany.
According to Ran Goldi, CEO of First Digital Assets Group, much of the negative sentiments espoused by European regulators stem from a lack of understanding of the Diem model. “I think the ECB is still looking at Diem as a new currency instead of a representation of existing money (as in, they think this is still Libra, a basket of currencies),” Goldi told Cointelegraph, adding: “They should take the time to learn more and perhaps realize there is no threat to their economy.”
CBDC: Central banks answer to Diem and private stablecoins?
Apart from the threat of decidedly onerous regulatory measures, several governments have also begun exploring the creation of their own central bank digital currencies. These sovereign digital currency projects seem to be the response of central banks to the perceived threat of privately issued stablecoins.
Seeing as digitization appears to be the next phase in the evolution of money, legacy finance figures, such as Agustín Carstens, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, have argued for central banks playing a key role in the pivot to digital currencies.
According to a recent BIS survey, about 86% of major central banks are studying CBDCs. China’s e-yuan project is currently undergoing several testing protocols, with banks in the country helping to bootstrap adoption by creating hardware wallets for the digital currency/electronic payment.
There also seems to be a significant level of international collaboration surrounding CBDCs. Recently, the central banks of China, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and the Monetary Authority of Hong Kong inked a partnership to create a cross-border CBDC. These international collaborative projects appear to be geared toward establishing protocols for interoperability among national CBDC projects.
In India, the country’s central bank has confirmed that it is actively developing a digital rupee. According to a recent statement by Shaktikanta Das, governor of the Reserve Bank of India, the RBI is “very much in the [CBDC] game” and wants to follow China’s footsteps in creating a digital companion to its national currency.
Meanwhile, India’s government is reportedly close to issuing a blanket ban on cryptocurrencies, which will include stablecoins. People with knowledge of the plan have been speculating, saying that crypto owners will be given a transition period to sell their digital currency assets.
India is Asia’s third-largest economy and a potential market base for Diem payment transactions. Already, another major arena like China with its DCEP could be a difficult proposition for Diem to achieve significant adoption.
In Europe, the ECB wants stablecoin veto power but has said that any digital euro created by the central bank will be exempted from digital currency regulations enforced on other stablecoin issuers. Nigeria — Africa’s largest economy — has banned banks from servicing crypto exchanges.
Even with a license approval by FINMA, Diem might have a few regulatory hurdles to navigate seeing as major economies are not looking to allow the disintermediation of their legacy banking systems without a fight.
Traders are accustomed to slight price differences between exchanges, but is a 70% gap sustainable?
Since the start of 2021, Bitcoin (BTC) price has been chasing new highs on a weekly and daily basis. On Feb. 21, BTC reached a new all-time high at $58,300. However, an interesting phenomenon is that even with many global cryptocurrency exchanges in existence, BTC’s price can still vary greatly depending on geography.
This raises an intriguing question. How can Bitcoin price simultaneously trade at $53,047 in Malaysia, $49,727 in Singapore, $51,133 in India, and over $86,000 in Nigeria? Is the reason simply a temporary imbalance between buyers and sellers, taxes, regulations? Or is there something else at play?
As shown in the chart below, there really isn’t a set price for BTC as nearly every country has its own digital asset valuation.
At any given time, cryptocurrency prices will differ between countries, even after adjusting the currency rate. Indeed, some additional buying or selling pressure could create discrepancies, but that should not be continuous and steady.
What’s causing the huge BTC price discrepancies?
This phenomenon isn’t something new or exclusive to cryptocurrencies, however. Exxon Mobil stocks, for example, are traded in the United States, Russia, Argentina, Germany, Mexico, and Switzerland markets.
While there may be different reasons for the friction including bureaucracy and nation-specific laws, they’re basically the same asset. Nevertheless, their prices usually differ after adjusting for currency exchange rates.
Unlike stocks, however, transferring cryptocurrencies usually takes less than an hour, and it doesn’t depend on custodians and depositary receipt administrators. Therefore, bureaucracy can not be the reason for the big price differences for Bitcoin, which is borderless.
On the other hand, suppose one just bought BTC in the U.S. or Europe and is willing to sell it in Argentina to profit from the 6.5% difference. Even if there were no trading fees involved, the result would be the local currency, Argentine Pesos ARS.
Things get more complicated though, as one will need to convert this fiat money back to USD or EUR. There might be domestic restrictions, taxes, or even worse, a different currency rate for foreigners. Moreover, traditional currency remittances don’t take place on weekends and usually take one or two business days.
Not surprisingly, the countries with the highest BTC valuations consistently score low on investment and financial freedom global rankings. Barriers and taxes created by strict government controls translate into additional risks and costs for the fiat conversion and remittance. This all contributes to the premium seen versus the remaining countries.
Government action might create extreme situations
Extreme capital control situations such as the Nigeria Central Bank recently shutting down all cryptocurrency-related bank accounts could be behind the current 70% premium versus global BTC markets. But Nigeria likely has the highest premium in the world because this country, in particular, is also the leader when it comes to Bitcoin adoption, based on the latest data.
#Bitcoin Price is now $80,000 in Nigeria – a 60% premium.
That’s what happens when you try to ban something people want.
— Bitcoin Archive (@BTC_Archive) February 18, 2021
Eventually, arbitrage traders will find a solution to bypass sanctions, and the price gap should tighten. But right now, there is no effective way to “profit” from the arbitrage.
For those wondering what would cause Bitcoin to trade below most liquid markets such as the U.S., there is no definitive answer. It is most likely some regulatory hurdle for depositing fiat money on local exchanges, thus creating an imbalance favoring the sell-side.
The negative premium is less common, however, and stablecoins could be used to mitigate this effect. Meanwhile, when a hefty premium is seen in local fiat currency, it does not justify a similar price gap for dollar-denominated stablecoin trading.
Thus, such differences in pricing across various countries represent the risks, red tape, taxes, and inefficiencies of converting fiat between currencies and sending fiat money across borders.
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.