How do central banks make peace with cryptocurrencies?

Wei Lin

By Wei Lin

Last week the cryptocurrency community was hit with an open plea from capital markets researcher Ben Hunt, who recommended that Bitcoiners quit trying to use blockchains for currency and, citing a relevant biblical story, "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." We disagree. After a decade of goose-chases spanning most of the Middle East, we doubt Western governments are eager to risk conflict (again) with a force they can't pinpoint and don't understand. Today, the financial minister of Malaysia showed another way forward, declaring that while cryptocurrencies are still legal in the country, new coin offerings must be approved by the country's central bank. The central bank is releasing its own political fundraising platform with a native coin called Harapan. Unlike the dubious Venezuelan Petro coin, which is "backed" by unrecovered commodities, the Harapan coin is solely used for campaign donations--a clear and reasonable use-case for a government scrip. Allowing other activities to be denominated in third-party coins is perhaps the wisest "division of labor" we've seen between soverign and third-party currencies; as a model of regulatory discretion, the Harapan platform is one to watch.

Refer to Bank Negara first before implementing cryptocurrency
"'It is not that we wish to obstruct (cryptocurrency) as we are keeping an open-mind. But it is still subject to existing laws. Do not try to do something without guidelines from Bank Negara and commit something against the law,' he said at the Dewan Rakyat today.... On Nov 13, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad said that the paperwork and presentation on the government-backed cryptocurrency, Harapan Coin, has been prepared and will soon be presented to BNM and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad."

Other news

Lawsuit Claims Bitmain Mined Bitcoin Using Customer Devices
"According to a class-action lawsuit filed in the US district court for Northern California, Bitmain has been taking advantage of its customers the past couple years in an interesting way: mining crypto for itself, using their resources, during the “initialization” process. You read that right. According to at least one Bitmain customer and bitcoin miner, who is filing a suit for damages in excess of $5 million on behalf of miners everywhere, the initial period during which a miner is in its owners’ possession is spent mining for Bitmain’s benefit."

600K Bitcoin Miners Shut Down in Last 2 Weeks, F2Pool Founder Estimates
"Stepping back, Mao said there are multiple factors that contributed to the shakeout among miners, including the recent market decline that followed the bitcoin cash hard fork on Nov. 15; an increase in electricity costs in China; and the fact that Chinese manufacturers are still racing to upgrade their products, making older machines increasingly uncompetitive."

Pay Taxes With Bitcoin? Ohio Says Sure
"Beginning this week, Ohio businesses will be able to go to the website OhioCrypto.com and register to pay everything from cigarette sales taxes to employee withholding taxes with bitcoin. Eventually, the initiative will expand to individual filers."

BSV on Binance: Customers at risk?
"My theory is that some entity held a lot of BCH on Binance pre-fork and is now in control of most of the supply. That allows them to perform a professional Pump and Dump, where they first wash trade the price up by selling BSV to themselves back and forth, at increasingly higher prices. Further motivated by coverage on social media, retail investors FOMO into the pump. At the height of the pump, the original holders distribute the coin to retail and liquidate their position."

No Refuge for Investors as 2018 Rout Sends Stocks, Bonds, Oil Lower
"Major stock benchmarks in the U.S., Europe, China and South Korea have all slid 10% or more from recent highs. Crude oil’s tumble has dragged it well into bear-market territory, emerging-market currencies have broadly fallen against the dollar, and bitcoin’s price—which had a meteoric rally last year—crashed below $5,000 last week for the first time since October 2017."

Amazon’s Great HQ2 Swindle
"Indeed, under the guise of a multi-billion dollar development contest, Amazon successfully convinced the mayors and governors of 238 North American cities and regions to voluntarily surrender a treasure trove of information ranging from future infrastructure projects to land use patterns and everything else in between—all without being charged a dime."

Princeton Web Census Data Release
"Since 2015, we have conducted a web census to study third-party online tracking. Each month, our bot visits the web’s 1 million most popular sites and records data pertaining to user privacy, including cookies, fingerprinting scripts, the effect of browser privacy tools, and the exchange of tracking data between different sites ("cookie syncing")."

Breaking into the (Digital) BitBox
"We can read the victim’s encrypted private keys from the storage using the hardware setup I described above. Then, after we factory reset the BitBox, we can set it up with our own passphrase. Finally, we can write the victim’s encrypted private keys back and we’ll have successfully changed the passphrase to one we know!
Then, we can unlock the device as per normal, except with our chosen passphrase, and steal all the funds from it!"

The FBI Created a Fake FedEx Website to Unmask a Cybercriminal
"This sort of law enforcement hacking is likely to become more common. At the end of 2016, the Justice Department amended Rule 41, one of the rules around search warrants. The change meant that US judges could sign warrants to search computers outside of their district, and in particular, if law enforcement did not know where the suspect was ultimately located—exactly the issue with these two cases."

Coordinated development could help wind farms be better neighbors
"As onshore and offshore wind energy farms have proliferated globally in recent years, new research led by the University of Colorado Boulder highlights a previously underexplored consequence: a wake effect from upwind wind farms that can reduce the energy production of their downwind neighbors."

The High Price of Traditional Cloud Storage
"Decentralized storage has the ability to empower the technology community in new ways. By creating a more affordable storage platform for companies, developers and individual users, we expect we will see many use-cases that were once deemed too expensive become a reality. Unlike centralized cloud storage providers, decentralized storage platforms don’t have to invest $600M in a new data center, pay for expensive fire suppression systems, or repave the data center parking lot. Those cost savings are passed along directly to users."

When Wall Street 'Financializes' Bitcoin, Who Benefits?
""To understand the implications of financialization for the price of bitcoin, the gold market provides some hints. Financialization of gold goes far back to the 1600s, when bankers first began to issue gold-denominated banknotes. A banknote typically promised its holder the ability to redeem one ounce of gold. Thanks to the rarity of customer redemptions, however, bankers soon discovered that they only needed to keep a fraction of that amount in reserve. Consumers were more than happy to hold these banknotes in place of coins."

Bernie Madoff Move Over: 'Stablecoins' Have You Beat
"“Here, too, the flaw in the model will be obvious to even a novice central banker. The issuer’s ability to service the bonds depends on the growth of the platform, which is not guaranteed. If the outcome becomes less certain, the price of the bonds will fall. More bonds will then have to be issued to prevent a given fall in the value of the coin, making it even harder to meet interest obligations.”"