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Reserve Bank of Australia still researching the CBDC it says it doesn’t need

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The Reserve Bank of Australia has revealed it’s continuing to research a central bank digital currency (CBDC) less than a month after stating that there was no need for one.

The RBA also revealed it is considering the possibility of a more targeted “wholesale” CBDC.

Speaking at the University of Western Australia Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and Fintech Conference, Tony Richards — the Head of Payments Policy at the RBA — stated:

“We will be continuing to consider the case for a CBDC, including how it might be designed, the potential benefits and policy implications, and the conditions in which significant demand for a CBDC might emerge.”

Richards added that the public policy case for issuing a general purpose or retail CBDC in Australia is still to be made. According to reports in mid-September, the RBA was highly skeptical and did not believe there was a strong policy case for issuing a CBDC at the time.

Richards added that while Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are based on public blockchains, this would not necessarily be the case for a CBDC which may be developed using a permissioned and centralized digital ledger.

The RBA is also looking at a number of factors that could help shape a potential CBDC, continued Richards, such as whether it would be account-based or token-based, and whether it could be used offline.

Richards also revealed that separate to the central bank’s work monitoring cases for a retail CBDC, it is conducting research on the technological and policy implications of a potential wholesale CBDC which would be accessible to a more limited range of financial entities.

Richards stated that the Bank has an open mind on CBDCs and will continue to monitor developments in this area, adding;

“If some jurisdictions do move towards full implementations of CBDC, there will be many central banks like us who will be closely watching,”

The comments come as China ramps up its own digital currency/electronic payment (DCEP) testing by distributing a total of 10 million digital yuan ($1.5 million) to Shenzhen residents.



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Blockstack PBC changes its name to ‘Hiro’

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Blockchain software firm Blockstack PBC announced that it will be changing its name to “Hiro Systems PBC.”

Muneeb Ali, co-founder and CEO of Blockstack, told Cointelegraph that the team plans to focus on a narrower set of priorities once the stacks 2.0 mainnet launches — something they believe has the potential to unlock an “immense amount of value and possibility”:

“We’ll narrow our focus to building tools for developers that are building apps and smart contracts on Bitcoin. This is enabled by the fact that the ecosystem around Stacks has matured (…) With key functions being taken care of by other organizations, PBC will no longer need to spend the majority of its time at the ecosystem growth or pubic infrastructure (blockchain) layer.”

In a previous interview, Ali said that the best way to bring about a user-owned internet “is to anchor applications and smart contracts to the Bitcoin network in a way that uses Bitcoin as a reserve currency and its powerful blockchain as a security mechanism.”

In June, Algorand and Blockstack launched a joint open-source project to support the development of a smart contract language dubbed “Clarity.” Both companies claimed that existing smart contract languages are neither secure nor predictable enough to meet the growing needs of the emerging industry.



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South Korean telecom launches blockchain wallet for official documents

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The South Korean telecom giant SK Telecom has announced it will issue its first digital wallet for blockchain-powered digital certificate storage and management with the approval of the Ministry of Public Administration and Security.

According to NewsTomato, SK’s Wallet is compatible with the ministry’s own Government24 digital certificate initiative, which promotes the use of electronic certificate issuance and distribution systems in South Korea in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SK Telecom’s digitalized public certificates include copies of resident registration cards, health insurance qualification certificates, immigration certificates, among other documents previously issued on paper and signed by hand. They will be now issued through a mobile app backed by blockchain technology.

Certificates issued through the Government24 app can be received in the SK’s wallet and later submitted to public entities, financial institutions, and private companies as electronic documents.

In the initial stage, 13 types of certificates will be compatible with the wallet, but at the end of the year, SK Telecom plans to make it compatible with “a total of 100 types” of certificates, including tax-related documents.

Oh Se-hyun, head of SK Telecom’s Blockchain & Certification Business Division, argued that blockchain is an essential technology in a society that is “rapidly changing due to the need for non-face-to-face solutions where we need innovation in the process of submitting and processing certificates centered on paper documents and manual work.”

He also highlighted the security advantages that the technology could bring to such processes.

Recently, it was revealed that one million South Koreans have foregone their physical drivers licenses in favor of a blockchain-powered digital alternative used in conjunction with the PASS smartphone app.

This represents more than 3% of the entire driving population in South Korea, which sat at 32.6 million licensed drivers in 2019 according to Statista.



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In China, most blockchain R&D funds are going toward this segment

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A report published by Securities Daily explained how China’s publicly-listed companies spend the millions they have allocated toward blockchain R&D. The study surveyed 23 companies in China who began working with blockchain back in 2016. Figures suggest that companies allocate an average 20% of their annual revenues toward such purposes. The majority of these funds are spent to further government-related solutions.

The report highlighted that Yuanguang Software, an enterprise software provider, have increased their related research spending by around $24.3 million since 2016. Other companies, such as Xinchen Technology, have actively spent funds on blockchain-related government research projects in an effort to strengthen the nation’s financial sector.

Chen Xiaohua, the chairman of the China Mobile Communications Federation’s Blockchain Professional Committee, commented on how blockchain interest has grown amongst publicly-listed Chinese companies:

“Listed companies can use blockchain technology to improve their products on the one hand. Awareness and brand promotion, on the other hand, use blockchain technology to improve its own technological level, break the structural constraints of the traditional Internet model, and an in-depth layout of the digital economy.”

According to a report titled “2020 Blockchain Industry Development”, Chinese companies have applied for 4,435 blockchain patents — over half of all global blockchain patents. This surge in interest followed Chinese president Xi Jinping’s endorsement of the industry.



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