The Sweet Spot for Programmable Money

Bank of Thailand just announced a project to develop a prototype system for a CBDC issued on a blockchain, accessible to businesses.

This is meaningful to me for two reasons:

  1. I was part of the original team that created the Inthanon series of projects in 2018, and it’s great to see that these early pioneering efforts continue to be built upon.
  2. I think that they have hit the near-term sweet spot for programmable money. They really seem to get it.
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The New Libra Coin – An Unofficial Explainer

I’ve been looking at the design of the new Libra coin (LBR) in the updated Libra Whitepaper. Here’s what I think the differences are between this new “synthetic” coin and the previous iteration of the coin as described in 2019. Hope it’s helpful!

Note, this is just my attempt to explain it with the information that is available. It is probably still subject to change. If you’ve found it useful, feel free to share!

Audiobook Launch – The Basics of Bitcoins and Blockchains

Happy news! (and some insights into the mechanics of authoring and publishing a little further down the page)

I’ve just been told that the audiobook version of my book “The Basics of Bitcoins and Blockchains” is now available for preorder on Audible. It’s a great use of your Audible credits! If you’re not already on Audible, you get your first listen for free when you sign up. Click it!

This means you can upskill on bitcoin, blockchains, payments, and money when you’re out and about (ha)… Or more likely, when you’re inside, trying not to go insane, and wishing you could be out and about. What a great use of lockdown time!

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Ray Dalio on What Coronavirus Means for the Global Economy

Ray Dalio is one of the best economic thinkers alive. On 9 April 2020, TED interviewed him about what coronavirus means for the global economy. Here is my summary. Any errors, omissions, misunderstandings are mine.

Ray Dalio on What coronavirus means for the global economy

Interviewer: Corey Hajim (TED)
Interviewee: Ray Dalio, Founder of Bridgewater Associates
Released 9 April 2020

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Three currency wars, not one

This short blog post describes three different types of currency wars that seem to be happening at the moment.

The phrase “currency wars” is not new – typically is has referred to deliberate devaluation of one’s own currency to increase competitiveness of exports.  If your currency is worth less, then your goods are cheaper to foreigners, so they buy more of them, which is generally good for your country.

Yet with increased discussion and relevance of fintech, wallets, central bank digital currencies, Libra, bitcoin, etc, it seems to me that there is more going on.  I’ve identified three distinct wars (battles? fronts?) being fought:

  1. Currency devaluation to increase competitiveness
  2. Offshore e-money supremacy
  3. Public money vs private money
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How unlike cash will CBDCs be?

In this post I discuss several differences between physical cash, and what I imagine retail Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) might end up looking like. The main differences between CBDCs and cash are accessibility, anonymity, and interest.

Accessibility means “who can use it?”. Pretty much anyone can use cash.

Anonymity describes how much information about the payer and recipient’s identity is needed to make a transaction. Cash doesn’t require the payer or recipient to provide any identity information.

Interest describes how much the number goes up if you leave it sitting in its natural state without lending it to anyone. Physical cash does not have interest.

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KYC in Stablecoins

Summary: Issuers of today’s fiat-backed stablecoins (such as PAX, USDC and TUSD) need to identify (or KYC) only those users who convert between bank account money and stablecoin, not all holders.

Some people might be surprised that intermediate users of stablecoin may transact without needing to being identified by the issuers. Yet few people know that there are kill-switches built in that can hinder bad actors. This arrangement can be described as permissioned pseudonymity. Stablecoin issuers have permission by their regulators to have pseudonymous users in their network.

Permissioned pseudonymity is positive for innovation while the industry explores the most productive uses for stablecoins.

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