Chinese Central Bank Calls Bitcoin an ‘Investment Alternative’
China may be softening its tone on cryptoassets, almost four years after it exacted a crackdown on bitcoin (BTC), altcoins and crypto exchanges, with encouraging remarks from Li Bo, the new deputy governor of the central People’s Bank of China (PBoC).
Li Bo was quoted by multiple media outlets, including CNBC and the South China Morning Post as making remarks about BTC, stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) at the Boao Forum for Asia, which was held in Hainan, China, on Sunday.
The deputy governor, who worked at the PBoC for 14 years prior to taking on the role of vice mayor of Chongqing in 2018, was appointed to his new post at the central bank last week. In his first major speech in his new post, he stated,
“We regard bitcoin and stablecoin as crypto assets. ... These are investment alternatives. They are not currencies per se. … The main role we see for cryptoassets going forward, ... is as an investment alternative.”
“Many countries, including China, are still looking into crypto and thinking about what kind of regulatory requirements are required. Maybe these will be minimal, but we need to have some kind of regulatory requirement to prevent ... speculation with these assets that create any serious financial stability risks.”
The comments will raise eyebrows both domestically and abroad. Bitcoin’s popularity is still sky-high in China, despite the fact that many traders struggle to access markets. Regardless, over-the-counter trading interesr remains sky high, and the Chinese authorities have been keen to point out in the past that they never actually banned the token.
Li Bo also spoke in detail about the PBoC’s digital yuan plans, and reaffirmed the central bank’s intention to ensure the token is up and running in time for the 2022 Winter Olympics – to be held in Beijing in February.
“For the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, we were trying to make the digital yuan available not only to domestic users, but also to international athletes and spectators.”
The PBoC earlier this month announced that more regions – including Shanghai – had been added to the digital currency’s pilot.
But the deputy governor downplayed assertions that the digital yuan was being rolled out as part of a wider plan to purge the USD from its economy and those of its trading partners.
“Our goal is not to replace the USD or any other international currency. Our goal is to allow the market to choose and to facilitate international trade and investment.”
The former Governor of the PBoC, Zhou Xiaochuan, speaking at the same event, did hint however that the digital yuan was being developed with an eye on the international stage.
“Our focus ... is that we want to establish a very solid domestic digital yuan first, and build up a healthy ecosystem, at the same time working with our international partners. Hopefully, in the long term, we’ll have a cross-border solution as well.”
But he also added: “We must respect the monetary sovereignty of other countries’ central banks. Using digital technology can greatly improve convenience, but it is not a way to dominate the world with a single currency.”
Li again refused to put a timeline on a full national rollout, claiming that a number of technological issues still had to be resolved prior to launch.
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This was very busy week in crypto: one day before the Coinbase direct listing, BTC and ETH hit their new all-time highs, and dogecoin led the market, soon landing on the 8th spot by market capitalization, while many industry insiders saw the listing as a bullish event for the crypto space and for DeFi. Over 1,700 employees have been given 100 shares, and then the exchange finally went public, and on to test various crypto narratives. As Ethereum ran into issues in Berlin, Ethereum fees dropped with some analysts pointing to bots as a cause, and BNB rallied, but several other CEX coins jumped even more, and then BNB dropped. Luno reached 7m users, saying it's on track to hit 1bn by 2030, and Kakao reportedly owns “around” 23% of Dunamu. Meanwhile, as Bitcoin Taproot nears, some privacy concerns are raised.
And then – Turkey banned crypto payments! While that's been developing, the SEC's 'Crypto Mom' updated her token safe harbor proposal, an attorney indicated that a settlement is the most likely outcome in the Ripple vs. SEC case, and then XRP doubled as Ripple’s bosses scored another legal victory, while USD 620m worth of XRP traders' overleveraged positions were liquidated in two days. Also, COPA is filing a lawsuit against Craig Wright over his copyright claims to the Bitcoin whitepaper. The US IRS said that bitcoin cash received from the Bitcoin hard fork in 2017 is taxable gross income, and a South Korean city is set to go to war with tax evaders, with crypto seizures on the table, while some exchanges are delaying withdrawal requests. HSBC banned the InvestDirect users from purchasing MicroStrategy stock, and the Moscow Stock Exchange teamed up with banking and card payment processing firms to co-create a “blockchain operator”.
The New York Stock Exchange surprised the Cryptoverse a bit when they decided to launch the NYSE First Trade NFTs on Crypto.org Chain, and as the NFT gravy train may be running out of steam, GameStop may take the NFT plunge, while BTC and NFT adoption was on the menu for America’s Time magazine.
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Dogecoin Flips XRP, Ethereum, and Bitcoin (On Google)
The world's most famous meme coin, dogecoin (DOGE), moved pass the biggest coins in the world on Google Trends, and flipped two major altcoins to move deeper into the top 10 list.
The search interest in doge has flipped that of four biggest coins in the world by market capitalization: bitcoin (BTC), ethereum (ETH), binance coin (BNB), and XRP.
But another flippening happened as well. DOGE's market capitalization surpassed litecoin (LTC)'s and uniswap (UNI)'s, pushing the two into the 9th and 10th spots, respectively - and taking the 8th for itself. Its market capitalization is now USD 32.7bn (08:57 UTC), compared with LTC's and UNI's USD 19bn. Polkadot (DOT) is on the 7th place with USD 42bn.
DOGE's price rallied recently, going up 97% in a day and 318% in a single week, hitting its all-time high of USD 0.285 today. Overall, it's up 13,163% in a year, now trading at almost USD 0.26.
It's not really clear what pushed the coin up. As for the recent news surrounding it, American brand of snack Slim Jim announced Doge Week, posting numerous DOGE-related tweets in the past days, boosting their engagement.
Furthermore, luxury nightclub E11even Miami announced that it would start accepting DOGE, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted that their store sold more than DOGE 122,000 (USD 32,000) worth of merchandise.
Meanwhile, Robinhood users seemed to have had déjà vu as the platform had announced "issues with crypto trading" due to "unprecedented demand" in the middle of DOGE rally again.
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Luno Hits the 7M Users Milestone, 'On Track' to 1B by 2030
London-headquartered crypto platform Luno said it reached 7m customers worldwide, adding a million in less than two months, with the business growing exponentially as the interest in cryptoassets grows.
Per the company, in January 2021, they recorded a 60% increase in the number of app installs compared to December. Compared to January 2020, they saw over 300% growth year-on-year.
"In 2021, we expect to continue this exponential growth, on track to reaching our goal of 1 billion customers by 2030," Marcus Swanepoel, CEO and Co-Founder of Luno, was quoted as saying in an announcement.
In September 2020, as reported, Luno was acquired by US-based major crypto company Digital Currency Group (DCG), following an initial investment in Luno back in 2014. Since the acquisition, the number of active Luno users has increased by 167%, and the number of app installs has increased by 119%.
As of January 25, the average Luno user held over USD 7,000 in their wallet, which is up 56% from December 30, 2020.
"Luno’s expansion is telling of the bigger-picture market demand for cryptocurrencies globally," the company said, "as the industry continues to prove its reputation as building a sustainable financial infrastructure."
While infrastructure in certain parts of the world could not previously support the crypto market, this has improved "substantially," Luno said, and they themselves worked on these developments, particularly in major African economies and Asia-Pacific. In 2020, the platform provided 4.7m Africans and 1.1m Asians access to the crypto markets, they claimed, growing its African customer base by 2.3m and its Asian customer base by 300,000.
Luno has offices in London, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Singapore, and customers in 40 countries. They said they've seen over 10% growth in staff numbers since March 2020.
Last year, Swanepoel told Cryptonews.com that the global economic crisis might be good for crypto as it showed the dysfunctionality of the existing system.
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Coinbase Goes Public This Week - What To Expect?
As US-based major crypto exchange Coinbase going public in two days, many industry insiders see it as a bullish event for a wider crypto space, but also one that may eventually lead more people into decentralized finance (DeFi). Meanwhile, an investment research firm placed the exchange's valuation more than 80% lower than it's expected to be.
As reported, Coinbase is set for a direct listing on Nasdaq under the symbol COIN on April 14.
Because volume and price tend to go hand-in-hand, argued Bloomberg, Coinbase’s transaction revenue, its largest segment, "could remain susceptible to cryptocurrency market gyrations." Kevin Kelly, Global Head of Macro Strategy at crypto research firm Delphi Digital, warned that Coinbase’s first week of trading could be very volatile.
"Coinbase’s stock price will provide another gauge of institutional interest and sentiment towards crypto at large. However, COIN will also be subject to market risk that may or may not impact crypto asset prices, so it won’t serve as a perfect proxy," he wrote in a report last Friday.
There is a number of potential results that industry insiders see coming out of the exchange's move to go public, but many seem to agree that, as Kadan Stadelmann, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of blockchain solutions provider Komodo (KMD), said in an emailed commentary, "Coinbase is an important gateway to getting started in the crypto sector."
Samantha Yap, Founder and CEO at PR agency specializing in crypto, blockchain, and fintech YAP Global, opined that this listing is going to further build credibility and legitimacy for the crypto markets which have already seen "huge institutional interest and flows" since the year began.
Of a similar opinion is Emiliano Grodzki, CEO of Bitcoin mining operation Bitfarms, stating that crypto is not a new thing anymore, but "the hot new asset class for equities," adding:
"The Coinbase direct listing is just the latest demonstration of an explosion in legitimacy and trust in the crypto sector as a whole, among both institutional and retail investors."