Palestinians hope to launch e-currency in five years

A Bitcoin (virtual currency) hardware wallet and coins are seen in an illustration photo taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, in this May 27, 2015 file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 13 May 2017
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Palestinians hope to launch e-currency in five years

NICOSIA: Palestinian officials are planning for the territory to have its own digital-only currency within five years, a move designed to safeguard against potential Israeli interference, the head of the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) told Reuters.
Palestinians have no currency of their own and use the euro, US dollar, Israeli shekel and Jordanian dinar in their daily lives. But with limited control over money supply and ultimately, inflation, authorities are mulling a bitcoin-style solution, Azzam Shawwa said.
“That is something we would like to see,” Shawwa said. “It will be called the Palestinian pound.”
Bitcoin is a global digital currency and payment system.
Shawwa spoke to Reuters on the sidelines of the annual meeting in Cyprus of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The EBRD said during the meeting it would start investing in the West Bank and Gaza via donations.
The PMA says on its website that it aimed to become a “full-fledged and modern central bank” for an independent Palestine.
But it is unclear how the planned e-pound would skirt the 1994 Paris Protocol agreement, which gave the PMA the functions of a central bank but without the ability to issue currency. The protocol recommended the use of the shekel and gave Israel an effective veto over a Palestinian currency.
There are practical reasons why Palestinians might consider a digital currency. The authority has no money-printing facilities of its own so all cash and coins currently come in from elsewhere.
“If we print currency, to get it into the country you would always need clearance from the Israelis and that could be an obstacle,” Shawwa said. “So that is why we do not want to go into it.”


US-China trade deal hopes grow as oil prices decline

Updated 19 June 2019
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US-China trade deal hopes grow as oil prices decline

  • Data suggested a smaller-than-expected fall in American crude inventories
  • Preparations underway for Donald Trump to meet Xi Jinping next week at the G20 summit in Osaka

LONDON: Oil prices declined on Wednesday as data suggested a smaller-than-expected fall in American crude inventories, as hopes for a US-China trade deal continue to grow.
Brent crude futures were down 51 cents at $61.72 a barrel.
US West Texas Intermediate crude fell 25 cents to $53.65 a barrel. On Tuesday, it had recorded its biggest daily rise since early January.
After weeks of swelling, US crude stocks fell by 812,000 barrels last week to 482 million, the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday, a smaller fall than the 1.1-million-barrel drop analysts had expected.
Official estimates on US crude stockpiles from the US government’s Energy Information Administration are due during afternoon trading.
US President Donald Trump offered some support, saying preparations were underway for him to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping next week at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, amid hopes a trade deal could be thrashed out between the two powers. Trump has repeatedly threatened China with tariffs since winning office in 2016.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi also offered a boost, saying on Tuesday that he would ease policy again if inflation failed to accelerate.
Tensions remain high in the Middle East after last week’s tanker attacks. Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the US have mounted, with Washington blaming Tehran, which has denied any role.
Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Iran having a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would approve the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies.
On Wednesday, oil markets shrugged off a rocket attack on a site in southern Iraq used by foreign oil companies.
“It is interesting to note that the crude oil futures market could not rally on hawks planting bombs in the Strait of Hormuz but could rally on doves planting quantitative easing,” Petromatrix’s Olivier Jakob said in a note.
“This is an oil market that doesn’t know how to react when an oil tanker blows up but knows how to react when the head of a central bank makes some noise.”
Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have agreed to meet on July 1, followed by a meeting with non-OPEC allies on July 2, after weeks of wrangling over dates.
OPEC and its allies will discuss whether to extend a deal on cutting 1.2 million barrels per day of production that runs out this month.