The technology and economic determinants of cryptocurrency exchange rates: The case of Bitcoin

  

We theoretically discuss the technology

and economic determinants of the Bitcoin exchange rate We use the ARDL model with bounds test to address co-integration of a mix of stationary and non-stationary time series We find Bitcoin exchange rate relates more with economic fundamentals and less with technology factors as Bitcoin evolves We find the impact of computational capacities on Bitcoin is decreasing as technology progresses

Abstract

Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, have ignited intense discussions. Despite receiving extensive public attention, theoretical understanding is limited regarding the value of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies, as expressed in their exchange rates against traditional currencies. In this paper, we conduct a theory-driven empirical study of the Bitcoin exchange rate (against USD) determination, taking into consideration both technology and economic factors. To address co-integration in a mix of stationary and non-stationary time series, we use the autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) model with a bounds test approach in the estimation. Meanwhile, to detect potential structural changes, we estimate our empirical model on two periods separated by the closure of Mt. Gox (one of the largest Bitcoin exchange markets). According to our analysis, in the short term, the Bitcoin exchange rate adjusts to changes in economic fundamentals and market conditions. The long-term Bitcoin exchange rate is more sensitive to economic fundamentals and less sensitive to technological factors after Mt. Gox closed. We also identify a significant impact of mining technology and a decreasing significance of mining difficulty in the Bitcoin exchange price determination.

Xin Li

is an associate professor in the Department of Information Systems at the City University of Hong Kong. He received his Ph.D. in Management Information Systems from the University of Arizona. He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the Department of Automation at Tsinghua University, China. His research interests include business intelligence & knowledge discovery, social network analysis, social media, and applied econometrics. His work has appeared in the MIS Quarterly, INFORMS Journal on Computing, Journal of Management Information Systems, Decision Support Systems, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems, IEEE Intelligent Systems, among others, and in various conference proceedings.

Chong Wang

is an assistant professor in the Department of Information Systems at the City University of Hong Kong. He received his Ph.D. in Information Systems from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He received his Master's degrees from the Department of Finance at Tsinghua University, China, and his Bachelor's degree from the Department of Applied Mathematics at Peking University, China. His research focuses on understanding the social and economic impacts of information technology. His research projects cover topics in the areas of online social networks, crowdsourcing platforms, and financial information technologies. His work has appeared in the Information Systems Research, Journal of Management Information Systems, Decision Support Systems, and in various conference proceedings.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

A computer virus that exploits the same vulnerability as the global "ransomware" attack has latched on to more than 200,000 computers and begun manufacturing digital currency, experts said Tuesday. The development adds to the dangers exposed by the WannaCry ransomware and provides another piece of evidence that a North Korea-linked hacking group may be behind the attacks.

WannaCry, developed in part with hacking techniques that were either stolen or leaked from the U.S. National Security Agency, has infected more than 300,000 computers since Friday, locking up their data and demanding a ransom payment to release it. Researchers at security firm Proofpoint said the related attack, which installs a currency “miner” that generates digital cash, began infecting machines in late April or early May but had not been previously discovered because it allows computers to operate while creating the digital cash in the background.

Proofpoint executive Ryan Kalember said the authors may have earned more than $1 million, far more than has been generated by the WannaCry attack. Like WannaCry, the program attacks via a flaw in Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) Windows software. That hole has been patched in newer versions of Windows, though not all companies and individuals have installed the patches.

Digital currencies based on a technology known as blockchain operate by enabling the creation of new currency in exchange for solving complex math problems. Digital "miners" run specially configured computers to solve the problems and generate currency, whose value ultimately fluctuates according to market demand. Bitcoin is by far the largest such currency, but the new mining program is not aimed at Bitcoin. Rather it targeted a newer digital currency, called Monero, that experts say has been pursued recently by North Korean-linked hackers.

North Korea has attracted attention in the WannaCry case for a number of reasons, including the fact that early versions of the WannaCry code used some programming lines that had previously been spotted in attacks by Lazarus Group, a hacking group associated with North Korea. Security researchers and U.S. intelligence officials have cautioned that such evidence is not conclusive, and the investigation is in its early stages.In early April, security firm Kaspersky Lab said that a wing of Lazarus devoted to financial gain had installed software to mine Monero on a server in Europe.

A new campaign to mine the same currency, using the same Windows weakness as WannaCry, could be coincidence, or it could suggest that North Korea was responsible for both the ransomware and the currency mining. Kalember said he believes the similarities in the European case, WannaCry and the miner were "more than coincidence." "It's a really strong overlap," he said. "It's not like you see Monero miners all over the world." The North Korean mission to the United Nations could not be reached for comment, while the FBI declined to comment. (Fixes spelling of digital currency in paragraphs 11 and 14 to Monero not Moreno.)

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

  

Referred to as the 'honey badger of money'

(after a famous viral video), bitcoin enthusiasts may find this comparison particularly apt of late. Since the beginning of the year, the network's value has nearly doubled – even while the community continues to be mired in debate. Market observers so far have offered a wide range of reasons for this uptick, though not all of them are good, with increasing prices causing concerns that the industry as a whole is entering a speculative bubble.

Supply and demand

Still, not everyone believes the boost is due to speculation. Redwood City Ventures founder Sean Walsh, for example, sent CoinDesk a bullet-pointed email summarizing the various global developments that could be contributing to the bitcoin price surge. He believes developments in South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China have all contributed. The price surge, according to Walsh, is simply supply and demand.

"Bitcoin is dramatically more scarce than most people realize, especially in the context of its total addressable market of nearly 3 billion internet-connected adults," he continued. Walsh framed the situation simply as one where the cryptocurrency is seeing increased demand, which looks to only increase in the future: "Once the global race to own bitcoin commences, the tiny supply of new bitcoins (just 54,000 new coins per month) will be completely overrun by demand,"

he said, adding:

“There just aren't anywhere near enough coins to go around, and pre-existing holders will grasp ever more tightly into this surging market, as perennially dictated by human nature.”

Tensions subsiding

Still, to those following day-to-day technical developments, it might seem odd that the digital currency's price has seen such an upswing amid its scaling debate and a stalled upgrade known as SegWit. Kristov Atlas, a security engineer at wallet and data firm Blockchain, for example, wasn't able to find technical reasons for the uptick in demand.

He told CoinDesk

"I don't see how the price increase could relate to tech changes; no big changes in long term projects like Lightning lately, and the block size stalemate is still status quo."

"It must be something outside bitcoin that investors have changed their minds about," he suggested. While developers, admittedly, might not be experts on economic market conditions, those that have been in the industry for a while are perhaps more aware of how technical developments could contribute to bitcoin’s price. When asked, some argued the state of the technology could have something to do with the recent increase, though, perhaps in surprising way.

For example, bitcoin’s block size debate took a weird turn a couple of months ago, when discussions about the possibility of forking bitcoin into two networks reappeared. This time around, some miners and developers suggested the idea of destroying the chain that didn't follow along with the majority of hashing power.

This has yet to happen, though, and worries about such an event happening have since died down. Some wonder if this could have given the price boost. "I think part of the rally is due to increased confidence that the risk of a contentious hard fork has all but evaporated," Reddit moderator BashCo said. Yet some expect to see a 'correction', where the price dips to a more reasonable place.

The emotion factor

The idea that raised tensions contribute to price swings fits with bitcoin developer and Nakamoto Institute director of research, Daniel Krawisz's view that the price has more to do with emotions. "The price of bitcoin never makes sense and it doesn’t have very much to do with the tech," he said. "It’s about emotion. It’s about greed." Krawisz also sees the price more aligned with bitcoin's original value proposition of giving users more control, rather than more granular tech additions or debates. “It’s not the new features of bitcoin that matter. What matters are the old features? People keep moving into bitcoin because it's a better alternative than their own national currency,”

he said, adding:

"Bitcoin doesn't really need new features, because it's already better."

Though, perhaps echoing other developer's sentiments about a reduction in fear, Krawisz went on to argue that the increase in demand probably has to do with bitcoin's apparent stability, since it’s been around for a long time compared with many cryptocurrencies. "It's the same reason that people always get into bitcoin now as ever," he concluded.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Zebpay,
India's domestic Bitcoin Exchange, reaches 500,000 downloads mark

  

MUMBAI: Zebpay,

India's largest Bitcoin exchange announced on Wednesday that it has achieved five lakh downloads. With over 500,000 downloads, Zebpay has become India's largest Bitcoin exchange and is adding more than 2500 users every day.

This tremendous growth indicates the growing acceptance of Bitcoins as one of the most popular emerging asset class.
The company said it launched operations in 2015 to simplify bitcoin trade along with providing a seamless experience to the Indian audience. Claiming that the country was atonhe cusp of a new financial revolution, the company's co-founder and chief operating officer Sandeep Goenka said customers are opening up to non-traditional investments measures and it is targeting to take the total downloads to over 1 million by September 2017.

The company statement said that it has already raised $1 million in a round of funding in last January. "Any user, holder, investor or trader dealing with virtual currencies is doing it at their own risk," the RBI had cautioned on its website in February this year. RBI has been repeatedly flagging concerns on virtual currencies like Bitcoins, stating that they pose potential financial, legal, customer protection and security-related risks.

Latest Comment

Govt. should declare bitcoin illegal and punish anyone transaction with it.Yxorp Revres I believe its potential is being overstated. We can see that in these types of solutions for virtual currency, there is no central bank or monetary authority," then deputy governor R Gandhi had said on March 2 this year. "Value seems to be a matter of speculation. Legal status is definitely not there. While this is a purported objective of a VC, it puts a natural limit for its progression. And finally, the usage of VCs for illicit and illegal activities has been reported as uncomfortably large," Gandhi had said.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

The Intersection of Social Media
and the Blockchain

  

Every major social media platform has offered users

a way to communicate with others and earn social currency, such as followers, traffic to their content, likes and retweets. Now, a new breed of social media networks has emerged – one that uses blockchain technology to build platforms enabling users to control their data and escape the censorship imposed by the likes of Facebook and Twitter. In addition, these new social networks reward users with cryptocurrency.

One such new social media platform is Steemit , which runs on top of a decentralized network known as Steem. Steemit rewards users with its own cryptocurrency in addition to social currency. Much like Reddit and Facebook, Steemit uses its incentives to encourage users to post, share and react to content. When someone likes or upvotes a post, it becomes more visible on the site. Steemit rewards the original poster with Steem digital currency that can be exchanged for real cash via Bitcoin or reinvested into "Steam Power," a token that represents how much influence a person has on the Steemit platform.

So, the more Steem Power people have, the more their upvotes will count. Steem Power also allows users to earn additional Steem Power and Steem Dollars from the platform. Put simply, "Steem is a blockchain database that supports community building and social interaction with cryptocurrency rewards," according to the company. Last year, Steem issued a $1.3 million payout to Steemit users. Half was distributed in Steem Dollars, each worth about $1, and a half in Steem Power.

"Because it's based entirely on a blockchain, Steemit shows what social media can look like without censorship," said Steemit CEO Ned Scott at the time. "Everything we see on Steemit.com comes from the open source Steem blockchain, so the entire network is replicable on any front-end application." Another example of a decentralized social network based on the blockchain protocol is AKASHA, which uses the Ethereum blockchain to store user-created content.

AKASHA lets users publish, share and vote for entries, much like Medium and other modern publishing platforms. The difference, though, is that user content is published over Ethereum's decentralized network rather than on the company's servers. The votes are bundled with Ethereum microtransactions, so users can earn some Ethereum if their content is good and other users vote for it. It is "in a way, mining with your mind ." In the second and third quarters of this year, the company expects to open source the code powering AKASHA and run a community breakathon to find and fix the bugs that might have slipped by during development. The AKASHA team is aiming to launch the Ethereum main network in the fourth quarter of this year.

Blockchain startup Synereo is also creating a decentralized, next-generation social networking and content delivery platform. Recently, Synereo released Qrator, a tool that lets users monetize original content, get rewarded for sharing quality content with others and also discover the best content on the internet. Qrator is the first step toward Synereo's vision of a freer and fairer internet. The app will give users a look into the "Attention Economy" that puts creators and curators on top of the internet's "monetary food chain."

With Qrator, the company is looking to develop a cross-platform social graph, laying the groundwork for a fully-decentralized social content app based on blockchain and distributed storage technologies that will be built on the Qrator foundation later this year. Even as the world of social media is constantly evolving, blockchain technology is changing the world around us. Not just when it comes to financial transactions, but also by introducing decentralization that encourages free speech while doing away with the restrictions imposed by the social media giants.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

 

 

Blockchain Incubator Boost VC Goes Straight For Tokens, Appeals For Investment Projects

  

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain incubator Boost

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain incubator Boost VC has announced it is to invest directly into tokens in the future. In a blog post on Monday, co-founder Brayton Williams said that in light of the success of the startup’s investment in Blockchain platform Aragon, it is now looking for new targets to foster. Aragon, an Ethereum-based decentralized corporate management platform, is due to begin the ICO for its ANT token on Wednesday. “Although the excitement around tokens and cryptocurrencies is at an all time high, we know this is going to take time,”

Williams wrote.

“We are in it for the long haul and feel privileged to be able to continue supporting the best entrepreneurs and developers in blockchain.”

The reshaping calls for prospective startups to join Boost in order to build out the project in the increasingly fervent altcoin project investment market. Among what Williams describes as Boost’s “special interests” are contributions to the decentralized Internet, something is written about by Fred Ehrsam of Coinbase, which received early funding from Williams’ fellow co-founder Adam Draper. Also desirable are tools for running DAOs and “stable coins” along with governance models, all of which have attracted their share of (mostly Ethereum-based) startup projects over the past year.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Ways to Boost Your Social Media Creativity Game

You don't have to be Tinder to light a fire under your customer base, with word-of-mouth marketing tactics.
4 Ways to Boost Your Social Media Creativity Game

Leave it to a dating app to demonstrate the instant success

a creative social media marketing approach can bring to a new business. Tinder — the location-based dating service that facilitates matchups between interested parties — used a tactic best described as word-of-mouth advertising in a digital format To successfully launch its app.

In a recent podcast, Tinder co-founder and CEO Sean Rad revealed that the company grew by 50 percent the day after it tested 500 individuals a link to its app. That tactic and other word-of-mouth campaigns grew Tinder's customer base from 20,000 to 500,000 users in less than a month. Clearly, entrepreneurs hoping to quickly reach and grow their own customer bases must embrace social media in all its forms. Social media's free word-of-mouth nature can attract and engage potential customers at a stage in the company's development when advertising budgets are often tight and expenses must be carefully monitored. When building a new business, attracting customers is imperative — and social media is a leading pathway to gathering and retaining loyal consumers.

Reach out and touch your customers.

Consumers love to be engaged, equipped and empowered, Kimberly Whitler, a marketing professor at the University of Virginia, has said. This makes them feel important, as though they have a vested interest in the company. Consumers crave two-way interactions and are flattered to offer reviews of a company's products or services. Why should this matter to a small entrepreneur? Because every customer reached is a potential repeat customer who will tell others about a positive experience. When a startup adopts social media marketing tactics that truly engage its customers, the benefits are plentiful: The company likely will grow its customer base while spending less money on marketing, leaving more funds available to invest in higher salaries for employees and other areas of the business.

Social media marketing done right also helps businesses stay top of mind among their followers. Consumers will recall engaging content, helpful advice or a humorous post. According to MarketingLand, consumers don't want to be lectured or bombarded with ads. Good vibes toward the company result in trust, long-term loyalty, and a positive bottom line.Nielsen reports that 92 percent of global consumers identify earned media as their favorite form of advertising, primarily in the form of recommendations from friends and acquaintances. Those customers trust companies that connect with them in genuine, captivating ways; and they want to establish relationships with them.

Shake up strategies to push the marketing status quo

So, how can entrepreneurs change their marketing strategies to create connections with customers and pack a more social punch? Here are four tactics to try:

Register accounts on all major platforms.

According to Hootsuite, social media can no longer be brushed aside. A business won't succeed without active accounts across several platforms. If social media's word-of-mouth power is not utilized, the chances for promoting a business are largely lost. Get started with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more to meet customers where they are. Even companies without a product to sell benefit from engaging on social media. Magic Leap, a private company that is developing a futuristic augmented/virtual reality system, has created interactive content to whet users' appetites for the impact its future product could have on their daily lives. Despite its lack of any imminent product launch announcement to date, the company has still generated about 60,000 likes on Facebook and has attracted 32,000 Twitter followers.

Harness the power of community.

Reach out to consumers — and let them reach out to you and to one another — using social media in order to successfully build community and benefit from positive word of mouth. Yelp, which publishes crowdsourced reviews of products and services, shows how powerful positive reviews can be. If a customer likes the service or food at a new restaurant in town, a good Yelp review will encourage even more customers to flock to the startup's table. Encouraging customers to leave a positively verified review, perhaps through offering a coupon or discount on future services, can help draw in new customers.

Consider for example the case of Uncle Maddio's Pizza. I came across the family-owned pizza joint while traveling with my son's baseball team. Our hungry team searched restaurant reviews on Yelp and found positive comments about Uncle Maddio's. As promised, the food was excellent, the service was top-notch and the staff was personable. Before we left, I learned that a franchise location would soon open in my hometown. The owners started a Facebook page for the new location and promoted "spirit nights" that would raise money for schools and youth organizations. Needless to say, when the new store opened, I took my family there and have returned many times to eat and to support fundraisers there. Positive online and word-of-mouth reviews have led this small business to success.

Associate with other businesses that share similar mindsets.

Strive to connect to businesses that are working toward the same type of high-quality customer experiences you are. Good business practice dictates being tied in with others that have strong search-engine rankings and website presences. Interact with them online, and share each other's content across your social platforms. Many online marketers, such as Neil Patel of Kissmetrics — whom I've turned to for advice on my SEO projects — say posts on social media accounts influence Google and Bing search rankings. Search engine rankings aim to provide users the best possible resources to help them make purchasing decisions and acquire information. These accounts can affect the business's reputation and authority just as easily as they promote the business.

Employ someone who knows how to use social media effectively.

Hire someone who thoroughly knows social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and beyond. This person should be able to moderate comments, post daily messages and answer inquiries. Give this person guidance on what your business is trying to accomplish and a list of what's acceptable to post. His or her goal should be to keep customers informed and engaged in a timely manner. A good social media team can take a business to global heights. Holly Clarke, a marketing manager at Airbnb, says the company has team members in San Francisco, France, Germany and the U.K., along with translators tailoring posts to other areas of the world. Airbnb's #NightAt and #BelongAnywhere campaigns draw in consumers from across the globe to interact with its content.

Entrepreneurs have a lot to think about when starting new businesses, but the use of social media should be a no-brainer. Creative social media marketing tactics, with an emphasis on free word-of-mouth advertising, enable a startup to quickly grow its customer base. Long-term relationships and two-way interactions with those customers will soon follow. Make sure you and your business are creating those interactions, as well.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Inbound Marketing.

Are You Maximizing The Use Of Video In Your Content Marketing Strategy?

Chief strategy officer and partner at Raindrop. We believe in the power of human connections and helping our clients build relationships. Did you know that more video content is uploaded to the internet in a single month than network television has produced in three decades? The world of content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) might be complex and constantly evolving, but one thing is certain: Video continues to be a big driver of traffic. How can you use video to strengthen your content marketing strategy and SEO?

  

Leverage The World’s Second Largest Search Engine:
YouTube

YouTube is not simply a website; it is a search engine. YouTube’s user-friendliness, combined with the soaring popularity of video content, has made it the second largest search engine behind Google. With 3 billion searches per month, YouTube’s search volume is larger than that of Bing, Yahoo, AOL, and Ask.com combined. If YouTube’s user base were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. Since Google owns YouTube, video content hosted on YouTube ranks well on Google. One of the best ways to capture search traffic from YouTube is to create videos around topics people are searching for or talking about, from viral phenomena to commonly asked questions.

Drive Social Engagement

In addition to platforms such as YouTube, social networks are increasingly promoting more video content. You have likely noticed that your Facebook newsfeed is dominated by video content from friends, paid advertisers and the brands you follow. Consumers are hungry for engaging video content. It is critical that your business is creating content that users will want to view and share.Make sure your video has subtitles if you are sharing on Facebook. Users are very likely to be scrolling in an environment where they don’t want sound but may still want to watch your video. Don’t miss that opportunity to engage with them.

Showcase Video On Your Website

Video is a great way to quickly and easily explain your business’ unique value proposition and showcase your company culture. Explainer and introduction videos are really strong tools for your homepage or a “how it works” section on your website. Don’t assume that people want to read through your services or scroll through a bunch of products. Make it easier for them with video.

Email, Email, Email!

Yes, email marketing still works. You must always be providing value. Email is a terrific way to stay top-of-mind and in front of consumers because it goes directly to them. Also, consumers on your email list have likely opted-in at some point, so it is a warm audience that is ready to hear from you.

There are tools that allow you to embed video directly into email campaigns, but video can be just as effective in email if you simply tease the video in the email and push users to your website. Those who are interested will click through. The key to successful email marketing is to create content that provides value.

What Type of Content Should Your Business be Creating?

You are probably now wondering, “Okay, I know where my video content should live, but what content should I be producing?” Here are a few ideas for types of impactful video content:

  • Answer common questions. 
    This is a great tactic for SEO since searchers often search in question format. Think of the most common questions you get from potential customers and those are the same questions they are Googling.
  • Make engaging, funny videos.
     Humans love to laugh and have short attention spans. Create content that speaks to both characteristics!
  • Show how your brand works in behind-the-scenes videos. 
    People want to know how your brand works and what makes you great.
  • Review products or services. 
    Share your expertise with the world by providing reviews on products/services related to your industry.
  • Create tutorials or explanation videos. 
    The internet is a wealth of knowledge and consumers are using it to research and learn. Capture some of this opportunity by creating relevant tutorials or tips videos for your audience.
  • Go live on social media platforms, such as Facebook Live. 
    Social platforms are always looking for ways to generate engagement and what better way than live video and interactions? Facebook and other networks are really pushing their live offerings and placing priority on these in their ranking algorithms. Take advantage of the extra traffic potential while it lasts. Be thoughtful with your content. Viewers may not want to watch you playing video games, but streaming your upcoming panel discussion, an inside look at the new office or anything that consumers may find interesting/relevant can drive real engagement in social.
  • Hold webinars or presentations. 
    Consumers are hungry for knowledge and love hearing from industry experts. Give them what they want.

Quality Is In The Content

One of the concerns clients have about creating video content is that the production quality will reflect poorly on their brand. Luckily, a content marketing plan should consist of a variety of video content and not all has to be national TV spot quality. As internet video is being consumed in record volume daily, production is becoming more affordable. The quality that people really care about is the content itself — are you providing them with a video that is helpful, useful, enlightening, applicable, entertaining or amusing? Achieve any combination of these qualities and you can expect success with your video marketing. Video can change the face of your content strategy and bring you closer to your audience. Make sure as you are planning out your next marketing roadmap that video has a prominent place in your content marketing strategy in order to capitalize on the benefits of YouTube, social networks and general consumer interest in video.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Inbound Marketing.

PBOC Researcher:
Can Cryptocurrency & Central Banks Coexist?

 

Yao Qian works in the technology department of People's Bank of China, the country's central bank and financial market regulator. Qian discusses the relationship between digital currencies and bank accounts, proposing a design concept where bank accounts and digital currency wallets coexist.

   cd, vhs

While technological direction, risk control and security measures are all important, the effectiveness of digital currency ultimately relies on its successful application. For a digital fiat currency (DFC) to show vitality and supplement or even replace traditional currency, it has to be user friendly and well received by the public. Currently, the issuance of fiat currency in China follows the 'central bank-commercial bank' system, and most of the social and economic activities are based on the commercial bank account system.

Therefore, if a digital currency can leverage existing IT infrastructure with a variety of applications and services, the costs of promoting digital currency would be significantly reduced and its use would be more convenient and flexible, facilitating the wide adoption of digital currency by the public. In addition, the incorporation of digital currency into existing applications would generate more diversified scenarios, which would contribute to a greater competitiveness of digital currency, providing better services.

Breaking ground

The most straightforward way to leverage the bank account system is to expand the scope of central bank's balance sheet. In fact, claims on a central bank of commercial banks and other financial institutions in the form of central bank deposits have already been digitized. However, should the central bank provide such services to broader counterparties? Should non-financial institutions such as households be allowed to open accounts at the central bank?

These questions have triggered a lot of discussions. The Bank of England, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Sveriges Riksbank have already studied this topic. Ben Broadbent, deputy governor of the Bank of England, has pointed out the concerns of commercial banks who worry that it would result in a transfer of deposits from commercial banks to the central bank, thus causing the entire banking sector to shrink. In fact, this is also a common concern of the regulators. Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China (PBoC), made an incisive yet illuminating comment on this issue, stating:

"The technological route of digital currency can be either based on bank account system (account-based) or not based on bank account system (non-account-based), and the two approaches may co-exist and operate at different layers."

However, there are various interpretations on how to implement the design idea. I would like to share some of my thoughts on this.

Digital currency attributes

To offset the shock to the current banking system imposed by an independent digital currency system (and to protect the investment made by commercial banks on infrastructure), it is possible to incorporate digital currency wallet attributes into the existing commercial bank account system so that electronic currency and digital currency are managed under the same account. The management of digital currency and that of electronic currency have some similarities in areas such as account usage, identity authentication and money transfer, but there are also differences.

Digital currency should be managed in compliance with the standards on wallet design specified by the central bank. The wallet is similar to a safe box which is managed by the bank based on an agreement with the customer (eg it requires both keys from the customer and the bank to open the safe box). All the attributes of digital currency and cryptocurrency would be preserved to enable customized application in the future.One of the merits of the aforementioned approach is that it leverages the current 'central bank–commercial bank' system for currency issuance.

Digital currency, categorized into M0 (a measure of money supply in a central bank), is the liability of the currency-issuing bank (referred to as the issuing bank) and is not on the balance sheet of the bank providing the account (referred to as the account bank). The approach would not lead to the commercial banks being channelized or marginalized because customers and their accounts are still managed by the account bank. Unlike money transfer, digital currency does not completely rely on bank accounts and the ownership of digital currency can be verified directly by the issuing bank, so as to realize peer-to-peer cash transaction via

Digital Currency Wallet on user's end.

Two types of issuance

The issuing bank could be the central bank or banks authorized by the central bank (as in the Hong Kong dollar issuance model, for example). Determining which model to follow should be based on an actual situation. This article is only for the purpose of academic discussions. Below is an elaboration on the two models. In the first one, the central bank is the only  issuer of digital currency, and in the second one, banks are authorized by the

Central Bank to issue Digital Currency.

It should be pointed out that the issuing banks are interconnected with the central bank and among themselves on an infrastructure designed by the central bank. Whether the infrastructure should be migrated to a distributed ledger

Architecture would be a huge topic for the Industry.

Designing a new kind of wallet

To follow the customer-centric strategy of commercial banks, digital currency wallet ID fields could be added to the bank account to enable the account-based and non-account-based models to co-exist and operate at different layers. The wallet serves as a safe box and is not involved in activities such as day-end counting and reconciliation, so as to minimize the impact on the existing core banking system.

The ownership verification of digital currency relies on the issuing bank. The combination of traditional bank account and digital currency can significantly enhance the bank's KYC and AML capabilities. The digital currency wallet should be designed in compliance with standards specified by the central bank. The wallet at the bank end is 'lighter', as it only provides security control measures and features at the account level. The wallet offered by the application service providers at the user end would be 'heavier', as the functions of such wallet would extend to the presentation and application layers. At the user end, the role of smart contracts can be played to the fullest and it would also become one of the core

Competitive Advantages of the Application Service Providers.

Wallets meet accounts

Imagine a scenario where earmarked subsidy is distributed by a central government authority to enterprises or individuals through multiple levels of government. It would be very difficult to track the distribution of the money in the traditional way because it heavily relies on data reported by the local governments at various levels, which usually leads to mis-match between information and cash flow due to poor execution or the lack of procedural compliance. With the traceability of digital currency and support from access management of smart contracts, the authority would be able to directly oversee the distribution status without relying on other parties. Misappropriation on the part of local governments would be prevented and the money would be assured for dedicated purposes.

If digital currency wallet attributes are not embedded into the bank account system, government agencies at various levels and all the beneficiaries would have to activate and use digital wallets, which would make the adoption of digital currency very complicated as it requires the selection of physical media of digital wallet and the involvement of various parties. Moreover, the central bank would have to deal with users directly. On the contrary, by leveraging the com And by using existing accounts, the user experience would remain the same in a sense that users can enjoy digital currency service through existing channels such as bank counters,

Online Banking and Mobile Banking.

  

Summary

In a digitalized world, the economic and financial implications of the digits should by no means be confused simply because they are presented in the same numeral form. The same digits may represent different types of assets – a notion that we should keep in mind when designing digital currency. In terms of the conversion of physical currency into M1 or M2, it's easy to distinguish between physical form and digital form. However, the digital M0 money supply may make people ignore such a distinction. Does the faster conversion between digital assets mean that the distinctions between different types of digital assets are disappearing?

Fan Yifei, vice governor of PBoC, once wrote:

"Digital fiat currency would certainly be influenced by [the] existing payment system and information technologies, but it should be distinguished from [the] current payment system so as to focus on service delivery and play its role in replacing traditional currency. Theoretically, the payment system mainly deals with the portion of current deposits in 'broad money', while the digital currency serves as part of M0 money supply."

By incorporating digital currency attributes into the commercial bank account system, the DFC is integrated into the 'central bank-commercial bank' system by leveraging existing financial infrastructure. More importantly, this approach takes into account the role of digital M0 in commercial banking system and enables digital currency to either operate independently or run in an environment where bank account and digital wallet co-exist and operate at different layers.

This approach ensures clear division of duties and clarifies roles of different parties, where the issuing banks are responsible only for digital currency itself, the account banks conduct specific business and the application service providers enable the realization of functions. With the adoption of other measures, for example collecting management fees (which practically means negative interest rate), the emergence of 'narrow banking' would be less possible.

The incorporation of digital currency attributes is also an innovative step for the commercial bank account system. Commercial banks would be able to not only provide digital currency services based on existing infrastructure but also explore new service models that leverage features of digital currency, which will enhance their service quality and competitiveness. This article is only a beginning of a series of discussions.

Further studies may focus on standards of wallet design with possible questions to think about as follows:

  1. How to set differentiated currency usage cost and asset pricing policies so as to strike a balance among banknotes, DFC and commercial bank deposits during the transition period?
  2. How to build an ecosystem that involves the central bank, issuing banks, commercial banks, wallet service providers, payment service providers and digital currency users?

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Will Palestinians Consider
Cryptocurrency as a De-Facto Currency?

The Palestinian Monetary Authority is considering the possibility of introducing its own cryptocurrency in the next few years.

Bitcoin has already proven its potential

to act as a universal currency, overcoming geographical, cultural and political differences. The cryptocurrency has been a savior to many in suffering economies, throwing them the much-needed lifeline in the form of an alternative currency. The recent legalization of Bitcoin in Japan and Russia’s consideration to assigning a similar status to the digital currency has got another geographical region thinking along the same lines.

According to reports, the Palestinian officials are planning to create their own digital currency in the next five years to establish an autonomous financial system. The new cryptocurrency based system is expected to reduce the region’s dependence on its neighbor Israel while safeguarding itself against potential external interferences. Currently, people in the region do not have their own legal tender, and most of the transactions happen either in euro, US dollar, Israeli shekel and Jordanian dinars. With the new digital currency, the Palestinian state will be able to conduct transactions with its own legal tender. The Palestine Monetary Authority already has a name for it, and they intend to call it Palestinian pound.

The decision was made public by the Head of Palestinian Monetary Authority, Azzam Shawwa while participating in the annual meeting of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development held in Cyprus. The ease of creating a digital currency, compared to printing banknotes may make this project successful in the conflict-ridden region. However, there are concerns about the 1994 Paris Protocol Agreement which has effectively revoked the monetary authority’s power to print its own currency. Mentioning the monetary authority’s choice of cryptocurrency over conventional banknotes,

Shawwa said,

“If we print currency, to get it into the country you would always need clearance from the Israelis and that could be an obstacle, so that is why we don’t want to go into it.”

As the state continues to build the necessary infrastructure to rebuild its financial system, the Palestinian pound is not going to make an appearance anytime soon. It may take almost five years before the first Palestinian pound transaction can take place. But it is a good start nevertheless.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.