ELIAN D. ALVAREZ

- VENTURE CAPITAL - ANGEL INVESTMENT -
- ENTREPRENEURSHIP - LATAM - INNOVATION -
- INVESTMENTS - PRIVATE EQUITY - FINANCE -

National Currencies last breath?

Dec
18

The world of digital currency has gained massive popularity in the past couple of years.

Bitcoin has moved over $19,000, whereas, Ethereum is increasing in value every day and its price has crossed over $700. The continuing boom of cryptocurrencies might eventually lead to the next big step, i.e., the end of cash currencies.

Yes, you heard it right. Even the director and founder of Bitt, Gabriel Abed, is of the opinion that cash has been in the market for too long, and all the currencies will eventually be digitized.

 

Rise of the New Economic Age

All the cryptocurrencies, including Ether and Bitcoin, are basically issued by private organizations, groups, and individuals, they mine it through cryptographic protocols  and more and more countries are gradually heading in that direction.

  • Russia has recently announced its plans for a national digital currency called Crypto-Ruble.
  • China and Kyrgyzstan are following the lead.
  • In Japan, over 200,000 stores have been accepting bitcoin as a legal tender and some of the big banks are planning to create their own version of these cryptocurrencies.

In a highly innovative environment, efforts are being made to circulate digital currency in various economies. The Federal Reserve in the United States however, has no such plans of nationalizing the cryptocurrency.

 

Crypto-Ruble – A New Start for Better Russian Economy?

Putin is very strict about following law and order and despite the advantages of having a national digital currency, it has gray areas when it comes to its legal status. This is why he is a little skeptical about cryptocurrencies. Therefore, the aim of Russian official crypto-policy is to eliminate the chances of illegal transactions such as, human-trafficking, terrorism financing, and  money laundering, while at the same time using this technology to modernize the internal capital management of Russia. This is the main strategy behind crypto-ruble.

The crypto-ruble will serve as a connection between the real world and the crypto-world, which would enable the efficient tracking of capital flow in the Russian economy. Those who won’t be able to provide a paper trail of ownership will have to pay tax on crypto-ruble at the capital gain rates. It will encourage the development of low-cost crypto-payment systems, which allows the exchange of rubles for goods only in digital currencies where ownership can be tracked.

 

China Taking a Step to Cryptocurrency Implementation

People’s Bank of China has already created a prototype of a digital currency that may be circulating in the market in times to come, alongside Yuan. The country is testing possible scenarios in a simulated environment and running dummy transactions using digital currency with a few commercial banks in China.

 

Making Quantitative Easing Easier with National Cryptocurrency

The rise of new economic age with cryptocurrency as a national currency will make quantitative easing much easier. Quantitative easing is an economic concept, whereby the central bank purchases predefined amount of financial assets and government bonds to give a boost to the economy. By having a national cryptocurrency, it will be easier to execute the concept of quantitative easing.

 

Why is National Digital Currency a Better Idea?

Abed further added that nationalizing the digital currency is a better option as it is more transparent, immutable, and efficient. In fact, there have been talks between the Central Bank of Jamaica and Bitt to enable testing this technology. At the same time, the company has been running the active pilot programs in other Caribbean countries.

Jamaica is encouraging the FinTech startups by enabling them to operate in the country. The main reason behind these efforts is to foster innovation. A representative of the Caribbean Development Bank said that they do not want to be in a situation where regulatory authorities have a strong and dominant hand initially. He further said that the Caribbean can be used as a virtual space to test the new technology in a secure environment. These efforts will eventually enable them to take bigger steps in the future.

China Government and Venture Capital

Jan
12

In emerging nations, governments have greater influence over markets than ever due to regulations and political control. The ubiquity of a government can be seen in every economy through indirect or direct ownership of investment vehicles. China is no different.

The Chinese government started relaxing its grip on the economy during 70’s, which resulted in the escalation of investment and private entities. Since 1979, private and foreign investments have contributed a major role in making China one of the fastest growing economy in the world. Despite that, the country struggled to have standard financing mechanisms for businesses, including the availability of debt finance for smaller firms or presence of efficient equity markets. Although, it gave rise to a number of challenges, yet, it created opportunities for Venture Capital (VC) in China.

 

Rise of VC firms in China

The VC firms started making their way in the Chinese market during the early 80’s, and the impetus for this development was public policies, because the government still plays a dominant role in the country. The National Research Center of Science and Technology for Development suggested in 1984 that China should set up a VC system to encourage high technology market development. A number of local governments in the country supported and sponsored VC funds so that they could be invested in State Owned Enterprises (SOE) so as to level them up at a global standard in terms of quality and productivity. An example of such organization was China New Technology Venture Investment that was formed in 1985. Some of them were established for years, while others were formed only to make an investment in firms, especially the SOEs.

During 80’s, the primary focus of VC firms was to invest in property and infrastructure as there was an increasing popularity in hotel development and tourism sector. However, many of these investments couldn’t perform well and private equity investors lost interest in such investments. By the end of 1980s, interest in the Chinese market started brewing again. Due to steady economic growth and the government’s interest in such investments, VC was encouraged. But it wasn’t without a conflict as the government wanted to invest in high technology market and private investors wanted to keep their focus on low risk investments.

 

Evolution of VC in the Chinese Market

There was a lot of investment failure in the beginning as tourism and hotel development business couldn’t produce sufficient return. Moreover, a sudden proliferation of VC also turned out to be a failure, because the government officials and entrepreneurs didn’t have that experience.

As a result of such failures, a new body was formed in 2002, called the China Venture Capital Association, to improve the professionalism in this sector. Since then, the VC ecosystem has not only evolved but also shown tremendous growth.

 

Current Status of VC in China

While the investors in the developed nations are cutting their stakes in startups and golden age of unicorns is reaching the end, the venture capital fund backed by the Chinese government has brought together the biggest pool of startups in the world. It has reached 10 times the amount invested by VC in startups in 2015 ($32.2 billion).

 

Beijing Initiative

The country recently announced the formation of a $30 billion state-backed VC fund for encouraging the reform of SOEs and bolstering innovation. The fund is backed by the State Council and China Reform Holdings Corps, and it is established to find out the market-friendly ways to combine state assets and easily channel investments toward specific projects. It can turn out to be an effective move by the government in the long run despite the concerns regarding inefficient distribution and governance of assets. With the help of this initiative, if Beijing successfully upgrades its SOEs through effective investment in promoting high-tech companies, it can be helpful in rebalancing the economy of China by taking its reliance away from investments that focused on consumption based growth.

 

Other Investments Made by the Local Governments

China is struggling with economic difficulties as a result of ever increasing corporate debt, skyrocketing home price and reducing trend in exports. To combat such issues, local governments in China are also entering the VC sector, investing a total of ¥30 trillion. The purpose of this investment is to trigger the development of high-end manufacturing firms, internet and bio-technology so that it replaces the eroded economic growth of stumbling sectors.

Around 780 local government funds are competing to seed the upcoming multibillion dollar startups, including online emporium Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Xiaomi, and SZ DJI Technologies Co. (Drone maker company), as China is striving to create at least one Silicon Valley in more than 20 provinces.

 

If China is able to achieve a desired outcome of such investments, it will not only enable the country to avoid the middle income trap, but also scale the entrepreneurship and innovation at a massive level.