Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (12/01/2020)

Libra Rebrands to ‘Diem’ in Anticipation of 2021 Launch

The Libra Association is changing its name to Diem to denote “a new day” for the project, as it gears up for the potential 2021 launch of a single, dollar-pegged stablecoin. The organization also finalized its leadership team, which includes Dahlia Malkhi as chief technology officer, Christy Clark as chief of staff, Steve Bunnell as chief legal officer and Kiran Raj as executive vice president for growth and innovation and deputy general counsel. Diem also recommitted to not proceeding until it has received regulatory approval, including a payment systems license for the operational subsidiary from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).  

Ethereum 2.0 Goes Live With Launch of Beacon Chain

The genesis block of the Ethereum 2.0 beacon chain went live on December 1. The repeatedly delayed scalability and security Ethereum upgrade suffered no hiccups and immediately reached the required stake participation rate to finalize the blockchain. The biggest change is the introduction of a proof-of-stake consensus to the network, which has previously been purely based on proof-of-work consensus. The next step is creating shard chains, ideally in 2021, which theoretically allow the blockchain to handle many more transactions per second than proof-of-work Ethereum, which often struggles with congestion. 

Signs of Institutional Investors

Coinmetrics analysis seems to confirm that bitcoin’s upward price movements since late October have mostly happened during US market hours, when the traditional equity markets were open. This potentially suggests that price rises are being driven by a new wave of institutional buyers who are active during the day and relatively inactive on nights and weekends. The Thanksgiving weekend down spike seems consistent with this story. Prices plummeted on the night of Wednesday the 25th and over Thanksgiving (potentially related to a large CME bitcoin futures gap to close the month) and then bounced back again on Monday, November 30th once markets re-opened. 

Shaping the future – Challenges in the European payments market

Dr Jens Weidmann, President of the Deutsche Bundesbank: “The Eurosystem has not yet decided whether to introduce a digital euro or not. And even if we were to opt for CBDC, its careful introduction would be an immense logistical and technical endeavour and, therefore, would be bound to take time… Some important issues… still require further analysis. Athorough understanding of the effects and trade-offs of CBDC is imperative for us before we can weigh up the arguments and draw firm conclusions.” 

Cash in the time of Covid

In the United Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic the way people use cash has changed, with less being used for transactions. However, the total value of banknotes in circulation has increased as people appear to choose to hold more cash. These trends have persisted for a number of years, but have been magnified by the pandemic. People seem to be holding more cash for contingency reasons, in line with cash’s established role as an emergency means of payment. Also, cash use — particularly in non-retail environments — may have recovered as lockdown measures eased and economic activity picked up, but cash is taking longer to be deposited. 

South Korea to delay new tax regime on cryptocurrencies until 2022

South Korea will enforce a 20% tax on gains from crypto trading activities that exceed a $2,000 threshold starting from January 2022. It was originally going to come into force in October 2021 but was extended due to concerns raised by local industry players for not having enough time to build a proper tax reporting infrastructure. 

Philippine central bank approves digital banking framework

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas approved rules allowing the creation and licensing of digital banks as a new bank category that is separate and distinct from the existing bank classifications.