Libra becomes Diem, Free Bitcoin trading on LVL, UPCO2 Carbon Credit Token, ECB outlines Digital Euro payments, Will Biden's admin be good for CryptoAssets?
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Today's December 1st catch up on what is hot in Blockchain and CryptoAssets brings you the following 5 stories:
Facebook's Libra rebrands as Diem ahead of an expected 2021 launch.
LVL crypto exchange now offering free trades.
Blockchain coalition Universal Protocol Alliance launches a tradable carbon credit token.
European Central Bank outlines 4 work areas for digital euro payments.
What would a Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Andrew Yang mean for CryptoAssets?
The 27 members of the Libra Association are gearing up for a 2021 launch of their single currency, dollar-pegged stablecoin, and, with that, have announced a new name and a spate of recent executive hires.
Now called the Diem Project, the Association has been focused on ensuring that the project is designed to meet regulatory expectations. Diem's current focus will be on rolling out a payment network and not a digital currency as Libra was initially envisioned.
According to Diem's CEO, Stuart Levey,
“The Diem project will provide a simple platform for fintech innovation to thrive and enable consumers and businesses to conduct instantaneous, low-cost, highly secure transactions. We are committed to doing so in a way that promotes financial inclusion – expanding access to those who need it most, and simultaneously protecting the integrity of the financial system by deterring and detecting illicit conduct. We are excited to introduce Diem – a new name that signals the project’s growing maturity and independence.”
As part of the effort to achieve regulatory approval and progress toward launch, Diem has added a number of industry veterans to both the Association and Diem Networks, the subsidiary that is the regulated payment system operator.
This includes the appointment of Dahlia Malkhi as the Association’s 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.
Also announced were the appointments of James Emmett as Managing Director, Sterling Daines, as Chief Compliance Officer, Ian Jenkins as Chief Financial and Risk Officer, and Saumya Bhavsar as General Counsel.
The Association has committed that it will proceed only upon receiving regulatory approval, including a payment systems license for the operational subsidiary of the Association from FINMA. The licensing process is ongoing and the operational subsidiary of the Association is in active and productive dialogue with FINMA. The Libra Association announced in November that it was looking to launch a dollar-pegged version of Libra this upcoming January.
Notably absent in the media release was any mention of Facebook, which, along with the new name and focus, would signal that the project is trying to distance itself from any association with Facebook and exert its independence.
The LVL crypto exchange, which has been operating under a subscription model, has announced that it is now a free-to-use service. LVL is backed by Anthony Pompliano from Morgan Creek Digital, Dan Kloiber, TenOneTen Ventures, and Capital Factory, as well as notable advisors Willy Woo and Jimmy Song.
In today's announcement, LVL stated that
"The truth is that exchange fees are robbing people blind. The leading US crypto exchange charges 2-10% fees for consumers and 0.5% compounding for Pro users. When a second crypto exchange entered the US market in 2018, they copied the same fee structure. Even big consumer brands are entering the market with the same model - high transaction fees. Meanwhile, smaller players are flooding the market with “commission-free” trading products that hide the same fees in the spread."
LVL now offers a free crypto exchange, trading limits up to $300,000 per day, a full checking account, and a debit card - all 100% free. LVL will primarily generate revenue through merchant fees when you use the debit card or $5 same-day transfer fees to your bank account.
They will also offer a $9 premium service that includes access to a dedicated US banker which they are hailing as the first private banking service for Bitcoin, an automated trading strategy engine, reduced network fees for withdrawals, and a Black World MasterCard debit card.
LVL is currently available to customers in 28 US States and territories and hopes to cover 94% of Americans by the end of next year.
You can get started on LVL here.
The Universal Protocol Alliance (UPA), a coalition including Bittrex Global, Ledger, CertiK, InfiniGold, Uphold, and Fifth Era, announced the launch of Universal Carbon (UPCO2), the world's first tradable carbon token on a public blockchain that can be bought and held as an investment, or burnt to offset an individual's carbon footprint.
Each UPCO2 Token represents one year-ton of CO2 pollution averted by a certified REDD+ project preventing rainforest loss or degradation. Every Token is backed by a Voluntary Carbon Unit [VCU], a digital certificate issued by Verra and other international standards agencies, which allows certified projects to turn their greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions into tradable carbon credits.
According to the World Bank, demand for carbon credits in 2020 has outstripped supply by a factor of 4 to 1.
Universal Protocol Alliance Chairman, Matthew Le Merle, explained that
"The projects we support through carbon credit purchases prevent deforestation in the Amazon, Congo Basin and Indonesia as well as other threatened rainforests. For a new generation of investors looking for more than mere financial return, UPCO2 offers attractive social, economic and environmental benefits. At a key moment for climate change, UPCO2 allows people worldwide to do good for the planet and potentially do well for themselves."
Voluntary carbon credits, which back all UPCO2 Tokens, offer major economic advantages compared with regulated credits. As dollar-denominated, globally-recognized, fungible and perennial assets, voluntary credits last forever, maintaining option value, until consumed or retired by a company or an individual seeking to compensate for carbon footprint.
Mr. Le Merle continued that,
"One year-ton of carbon means the same everywhere. As a globally-recognized asset, defined by international standards, a Voluntary Carbon Credit should eventually fetch the same price anywhere. We believe that the UPCO2 token has an important role to play in democratizing access to carbon credits, which could eliminate price arbitrage and produce a single global price. This was a light bulb going on for me. Combine a digital asset with a rainforest carbon offset and give everyone in the world access. How could that not be a great idea?"
The UPCO2 token is available now on Uphold.
As part of its mission to promote the smooth operation of the payment system, the Eurosystem has two main objectives in the area of retail payments. The first is to guarantee that people have access to efficient payment solutions that meet their preferences. The second is to ensure that transactions remain safe, underpinning confidence in our currency and the functioning of the economy.
Speaking on the Future of Payments in Europe, ECB Executive Board member, Fabio Panetta, outlined four work areas that the ECB and national central banks are exploring.
The ECB will test the compatibility between a digital euro and existing central bank settlement services like the TARGET Instant Payment Settlement (TIPS) service.
They will explore the interconnection between decentralized technologies, such as distributed ledgers, and centralized systems.
They will investigate the use of payment-dedicated blockchains with electronic identity.
They will assess the functionalities of hardware devices that could enable offline transactions, guaranteeing privacy.
In his presentation, Mr. Panetta stated
"The digital transformation is triggering a revolution in the financial sector, which will bring innovation but also risks. In particular, big techs and stablecoins could disrupt the European financial system. And while they could offer convenient and efficient payment solutions, they also risk endangering competition, privacy, financial stability and even monetary sovereignty.
Our policies provide a forceful policy reaction to the digital shock. We want to create the conditions for a resilient, innovative, diverse and competitive payments landscape that can better serve the evolving needs of European people and businesses. We are promoting safe, pan-European instant payments.
What is at stake is nothing short of the future of money. As private money goes digital, sovereign money also needs to be reinvented. This requires central bank money to remain available under all circumstances – in the form of cash, of course, but also potentially as a digital euro."
President-elect Joe Biden has nominated former Chair of the Federal Reserve and top economics adviser under President Clinton, Janet Yellen, to be the Secretary of the Treasury. If confirmed, Yellen would be the only person to have held the country's top three economic posts. She seems appreciated on both sides of the aisle and should not face tremendous difficulties being confirmed.
President-elect Biden also announced nominations for Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Council of Economic Advisers.
CEO of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden, will lead the OMB.
Princeton economist, Cecilia Rouse, will lead the Council of Economic Advisers. She served on the Council in the Obama administration. If confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first woman of color to lead the Council.
President of the Obama Foundation, Wally Adeyemo, was nominated for deputy Treasury Secretary. Adeyemo served on the National Economic Council of the Obama administration and would be the first Black deputy Treasury Secretary if confirmed.
Longtime economic advisors to Biden, Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, will also serve on the Council.
The hires continue to highlight what will be one of the most diverse Presidential administrations in history.
Last week, Anthony Pompliano said that
"Janet Yellen is likely to be Bitcoin’s greatest ally over the coming 4-8 years. She has never seen an opportunity to print money that she didn’t like. She has never seen a situation of high inflation that scared her. Given that we are currently living during a period of high unemployment due to the coronavirus, it would be my expectation that Janet Yellen will begin pulling out every tool of monetary stimulus to get unemployment lower."
Institutional and retail investors alike continue to see Bitcoin as a favorable store of value. Any policies that could devalue the dollar could have a positive impact on the attraction and price of Bitcoin.
No word yet on who bill be nominated as Secretary of Commerce, but one name being floated around is former Presidential candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Yang is crypto-friendly and part of his campaign platform promised to promote comprehensive regulation of CryptoAssets and tokenized securities.
“A national framework for regulating these assets has failed to emerge, with several federal agencies claiming conflicting jurisdictions. Other countries, which are ahead of us on regulation, are leading in this new marketplace and dictating the rules that we’ll need to follow once we catch up.”
He would also like to see blockchain-based mobile voting implemented and has criticized Congress' comprehension of technology:
“It’s embarrassing to see the ignorance some members of Congress display when talking about technology, and anyone who watched Congress question Mark Zuckerberg is well aware of this. Without a base level of understanding, it’s unreasonable to expect proper regulation of major tech companies, or the drafting of legislation that addresses the critical technological issues that we’ll continue to face in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.”
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