Kiffmeister’s Fintech Daily Digest (05/11/2020)

Bitcoin Halving Arrives: Mining Rewards Drop for Third Time in History
Miners racing on the network to compete for freshly minted bitcoin produced the 630,000th block at 19:23 UTC on May 11, which triggered the programmed halving event, marking another milestone in the currency’s 11-year history. The first block in the new 6.25-bitcoin-per-block mining cycle was mined and relayed by China-based Antpool, the fourth-largest mining pool.

European Central Bank steps up focus on retail CBDC
The European Central Bank is stepping up its analytical investigations into the potential for creating a central-bank backed digital currency for retail customers, a move which would be “a game changer” for the banking industry, says the ECB’s Yves Mersch.

Game-Changer Retail CBDC Now European Central Bank’s Focus, Board Member Says
The ECB set up a task force earlier this year to look into what its potential CBDC could look like, and the group expects to publish a preliminary report in the coming weeks, said the ECB’s Mersch. He spoke during CoinDesk’s Consensus: Distributed conference Monday on central banks and their approach to the digital currency.

Leaders of the Digital Dollar Project Talk Privacy and the Next Century of Money
The Digital Dollar Project’s Chris Giancarlo alluded to concerns over China’s human rights abuses and its planned digital renminbi: “If the US dollar can actually offer features of privacy that other sovereign currencies might not, this would further strengthen the role of the dollar.”

Overview of Central Bank Digital Currency – State of Play
This SUERF note provides an overview of the state of play regarding the development of central bank digital currencies across the world. It describes the leading central banks current initiatives and outlines the main aims and design features of their CBDC projects.

Bitcoin stabilizes after yesterday’s flash crash—but for how long?
On May 9 the price of Bitcoin fell from around $9,800 to lows of $8,518 and Coinbase went offline as whales unloaded their Bitcoin onto the market. According to CryptoDiffer, a total of $1.22 billion was liquidated from exchanges. $368.13 million was wiped from Huobi; $284.82 million from BitMEX; $282.20 million from OKEX; $280.96 million from Binance; and $1.5 million from FTX.

The Security Trilemma and the Future of Bitcoin
This article argues that, over time, the programmed reduction of Bitcoin’s block subsidy will make it more vulnerable to 51% attacks. Once the subsidy shrinks beyond a certain point, Bitcoin will either become more centralized (i.e. rely on institutions to function), or its liquidity could dry up, or its supply needs to grow beyond the originally envisioned 21 million coins.

Why COVID-19 makes a compelling case for the wider integration of blockchain
The COVID-19 crisis has revealed a general lack of connectivity and data exchange built into our global supply chains. Future resiliency will depend on building transparent, inter-operable and connective networks. Hence, the World Economic Forum, in association with its international blockchain community, co-developed the Redesigning Trust: Blockchain Deployment Toolkit, with a supply chain focus.

JP Koning on Why Fedcoin
A CBDC could be designed so that anyone can get as much anonymous money as they want. But they’d have to pay for this privilege. One way is by charging a hourly fee, or a negative interest rate, on anonymous balances or set a large withdrawal fee, say 5% for anomymity. These revenues might be used by the government to to bolster the budgets of fraud departments, or to compensate victims of ransomware. But an anonymity tax puts regular people and criminals into the same bucket and it subtly ostracizes licit users of anonymous CBDC.

Without privacy, do we really want a digital dollar?
If governments do decide to develop a publicly-run digital alternative to existing bank-mediated payments and physical cash, then technologies pioneered in the cryptocurrency space should deliver scale and accountability while preserving much of the privacy and freedom inherent in cash transactions, privacy and freedom that are essential to a free and democratic society.

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