On Facebook, J-Coin, Cashless Societies and more
Last week, the New York Times reported that “Some of the world’s biggest internet messaging companies are hoping to succeed where cryptocurrency start-ups have failed by introducing mainstream consumers to the alternative world of digital coins.
“The internet outfits, including Facebook, Telegram and Signal, are planning to roll out new cryptocurrencies over the next year that are meant to allow users to send money to contacts on their messaging systems, like a Venmo or PayPal that can move across international borders.
“The most anticipated but secretive project is underway at Facebook.The company is working on a coin that users of WhatsApp, which Facebook owns, could send to friends and family instantly.”
Separately, Mizuho Bank, Ltd. (a unit of Mizuho Financial Group, Inc. – with $1.7 trillion in assets) announced it “will launch a new bank digital currency platform J–Coin Pay in March 2019, in cooperation with approximately 60 other financial institutions.
“J–Coin Pay employs QR codes to provide smartphone–based payment services. It will allow customers to make payments, send and receive transfers, and perform other financial transactions all on their smartphones. Customers will also be able to use the smartphone app to move funds between their J–Coin Pay accounts and their deposit accounts at their financial institutions for free, anytime and anywhere.
“With the new bank digital currency platform J–Coin Pay, Mizuho Bank and other participating financial institutions will work together towards the Japanese government’s goal of achieving a cashless society.”
As proponents of platforms such as Bitcoin focus on “trust-less” distributed environments, successful digit currencies need to: 1) be easy to use, 2) operate in a cost-effective manner, 3) maintain value with minimal price volatility and 4) develop the trust of their users.
It is likely that the offerings mentioned above will: 1) provide the ease-of-use associated with e-commerce platforms, 2) not require computationally intensive processes and 3) minimize volatility by aligning their price with fiat currencies such as the US dollar, Japanese Yen, and Euro. Trust is a critical component for all providers including financial institutions, governments, tech firms and retailers.
The market for digital assets will continue to expand, driven by global commerce. As the result, the role and nature of central bankers and regulators need to evolve and adapt.