Inside money, markets, and big tech

China is following Facebook’s playbook to issue a centralized digital currency

An official says it can be used anonymously but still prevent money laundering, lol


China‘s upcoming state-controlled digital currency is to be similar to Facebook‘s proposed coin, which makes total sense, because Libra isn’t really a cryptocurrency.

Mu Changchun, deputy director of payments at China‘s central bank, explained the country was issuing its digital currency “to protect our monetary sovereignty and legal currency status,” Reuters reports.

“We need to plan ahead for a rainy day,” Mu added.

It’s likely these concerns reflect those of the European Central Bank. Earlier this week, a representative claimed that Facebook‘s Libra could undermine its power if it was readily adopted, as it could reduce overall demand for the Euro.

Next week: China discovers its digital token is capable of alchemy

Amazingly, Mu mentioned that his government‘s proposed tokens will be just as safe as China‘s paper-based fiat.

Payment platforms like WeChat and Alipay are to supposedly support them, and Mu promised they’ll even be usable without an internet connection.

More incredibly, Reuters reports that Mu said China‘s purported coin would find a balance between allowing anonymous payments and preventing money laundering.

Considering that China is considered by many to be a surveillance-state (with scholars now referring to its politics as “networked totalitarianism“), these claims are outright laughable.

So, while Facebook does its best to brand its Libra offering as a real “cryptocurrency,” China has taken notes on issuing an entirely centralized digital currency that’s susceptible to censorship.

If anything, the two deserve each other.

Published September 6, 2019 — 12:44 UTC