China may be softening its tone towards cryptocurrencies, almost four years after demanding a crackdown on bitcoin (BTC), altcoins and cryptocurrency exchanges.
Li Bo, vice president of the People’s Central Bank of China (PBoC), was quoted by several media outlets, including CNBC and the South China Morning Post, for commenting on BTC, stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) at the Boao Forum for Asia, which was held in Hainan, China, on Sunday.
The vice president, who worked at PBoC for 14 years before taking on the post of deputy mayor of Chongqing in 2018, was appointed to his new position at the central bank last week. In his first major speech in his new role, he stated:
“We consider bitcoin and stablecoins to be cryptic assets. […] are investment alternatives. They are not coins in themselves. […] The main role we see for cryptocurrencies going forward […] It’s [como uma] investment alternative ”.
“Many countries, including China, are still researching [criptomoedas] and thinking about what kind of regulatory requirements [são necessários]. Perhaps [estes sejam] minimums, but we need to have some kind of regulatory requirement to avoid […] speculation with these assets [que] create any serious financial stability risks. “
The comments will cause astonishment both at home and abroad. Bitcoin’s popularity is still very high in China, despite the fact that many traders struggle to access this market. Regardless, interest in the over-the-counter market remains high, and Chinese officials have made a point of pointing out in the past that they never actually banned the token.
Li Bo also spoke in detail about the PBoC’s digital plans in yuan and reaffirmed the central bank’s intention to ensure that the token is up and running in time for the 2022 Winter Olympics – to be held in Beijing in February.
“For the next Beijing Winter Olympics, we were trying to make available [o yuan digital] not only for home users, but also for international athletes and [espectadores]. ”
The PBoC earlier this month announced that more regions – including Shanghai – have been added to the digital currency pilot.
But the deputy governor downplayed claims that the digital yuan was being launched as part of a broader plan to eliminate the dollar from its economy and its trading partners.
“Our goal is not to replace the dollar or any other international currency. Our goal is to allow the market to choose and facilitate international trade and investments. “
Former PBoC president Zhou Xiaochuan, speaking at the same event, hinted, however, that the digital yuan was being developed with an eye on the international scene.
“Our focus […] is that we want to establish a very solid domestic digital yuan first and build a healthy ecosystem while working with our international partners. Hopefully, in the long run, we will also have a cross-border solution. “
But he also added:
“We must respect the monetary sovereignty of central banks in other countries. Using digital technology can greatly improve convenience, but it is not a way to take over the world with a single currency. “
Li again refused to set a timetable for full national implementation, claiming that a number of technological issues still needed to be resolved before launch.