Maicoin, Facebook talk about digital currency

By Kao Shih-ching  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Aug 22, 2019 - Page 12

Taipei-based cryptocurrency trading exchange Maicoin Ltd (現代財富科技) yesterday said it is in talks with Facebook Inc about participating in the latter’s plan to create a digital currency called Libra.

Maicoin wants to become a member of the Geneva, Switzerland-based Libra Association and operate a “node” on the blockchain-based network, which would validate and record transactions on the shared ledger, chief executive officer Alex Liu (劉世偉) told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Taipei.

The association, which debuted in June with 29 members, is tasked with overseeing the blockchain-based currency and maintain a real-world asset reserves to keep its value stable, Liu said.

It aims to eventually incorporate 100 members, with new members to be unveiled by the end of this year, he said.

Binance (幣安), the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by traded value, has reportedly considered becoming a node on the Libra network, but Taiwanese exchanges are more likely to take the lead in Chinese-speaking regions, Liu said.

Binance, founded in China in 2017, last year relocated its headquarters to Malta due to disapproval from Chinese regulators, while Facebook is still blocked in China, so Taiwanese firms have a better chance of being trusted by the US social media, he said.

While each member has to invest at least US$10 million into the operation of the Libra project, money would not be a key factor for the association when choosing members, Liu said.

“When we reached Facebook and discussed getting involved in the project, Facebook told us that it is looking for partners around the world that not only have high technical skills to protect the node, but also are confident of building a local user base of more than 20 million people,” Liu added.

Given that Taiwan has 12 million Facebook users, who embrace new services launched by the California-based company, Liu is confident that Taiwanese firms will meet the requirements, adding that Taiwan would be an ideal market for Libra.

Maicoin would not need approval from local regulators to become a member of the association, but if the exchange plans to allow investors to trade Libra with New Taiwan dollars, it would need regulatory approval, he said.

Libra is expected to be used in many operations, from payments and money transfer to cryptocurrencies trade, as association members include Mastercard Inc, Visa Inc and PayPal Holdings Inc, as well as other companies such as Lyft Inc and Uber Technologies Inc, Liu said.

It is too early for the Financial Supervisory Commission to give an opinion on Libra, but it would intervene if the digital currency is found to be similar to securities tokens, Securities and Futures Bureau Deputy Director-General Tsai Li-ling (蔡麗玲) said.