Last month Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress and delivered a warning to lawmakers: get behind digital currency Libra or risk losing “financial leadership” to China.
It seems his ominous prediction is coming true. In the weeks since, Chinese president Xi Jinping urged China to establish leadership in blockchain technology. Now, the People’s Bank of China has rapidly accelerated its plans for a sovereign digital currency.
On Monday, the central bank revealed an early partnership with Huawei to develop blockchain technology. PBOC representatives also visited Tencent – one of China’s leading payment operators – to explore AI security for payments.
As one insider put it:
“It could fast track the launch of China’s digital currency.”
In a statement to Congress in October, Zuckerberg urged US regulators to support a digital currency ecosystem. He said America’s reluctance to act means they risk handing financial power to China.
“While we debate these issues, the rest of the world isn’t waiting. China is moving quickly to launch similar ideas in the coming months… If America doesn’t innovate, our financial leadership is not guaranteed.”
Just a week later, Xi Jinping said China would “take the leading position in the emerging field of blockchain.” The country passed a new cryptography law and banned negative blockchain slurs.
“We must take blockchain as an important breakthrough for independent innovation of core technologies, clarify the main directions, increase investment, focus on a number of key technologies, and accelerate the development of blockchain and industrial innovation” – Xi Jinping
It appears China is now fast-tracking its plans for a digital currency. The PBOC’s vice governor Fan Yifei signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei this week. An anonymous insider said this laid the groundwork for the PBOC digital currency development. Meanwhile, the head of the central bank’s technology department, Li Wei, visited Tencent – the company behind WeChat Pay.
Zuckerberg’s warning echos Circle’s Jeremy Allaire who said that China would likely accelerate its digital currency in a bid to expand the yuan’s presence around the world.
“I look at this really meeting several goals. But, I think the bigger opportunity here is this is a way for the Chinese yuan to be distributed globally.”
Last modified: August 10, 2020 6:26 PM UTC