Australia proposes central bank digital currency: Crypto Wrap

Australia proposes central bank digital currency: Crypto Wrap
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Updated 08 December 2021

Australia proposes central bank digital currency: Crypto Wrap

Australia proposes central bank digital currency: Crypto Wrap

RIYADH: Australia turned the heads of crypto enthusiasts on Wednesday with the country’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announcing a consultation on digital currency reforms.

In a speech in Melbourne, Frydenberg said the government is studying plans for a central bank digital currency, along with regulating the crypto market, as it seeks to reform how consumers and businesses in the country pay for goods and services.

The government will also consult on a digital version of cash that will be universally accessible and consider a license framework that allows crypto transactions in a regulated environment.

The Australian government expects to receive advice on both by the end of 2022, Bloomberg reported.

“If we do not reform the current framework, it will be Silicon Valley that determines the future of our payments system,” Frydenberg said in the speech. “These are significant shifts which we need to be in front of.”

Reacting to the speech, Mikkel Morch, executive director at crypto/digital assets hedge fund ARK36 said: “Governments around the world are waking up to the reality that cryptocurrencies have already become an entrenched part of the global payments environment - and one that is preferred over the legacy systems by a growing number of individuals.

“After the recent EU crypto regulation proposal, Australia has now announced its working on a similar document - and it is to be expected that other major jurisdictions will follow suit.”

“Importantly, the scope of the regulation outlined by the Australian Treasurer doesn't seem to be overly restrictive. Clearly, then, the regulators recognise the immense economic and innovation potential of crypto and don't want to stifle it,” Morch added.

Edan Yago, the lead contributor to the Bitcoin DeFi protocol Sovryn commented that it is a “question of time” before all payments and financial transactions are digitised on public ledgers, adding: “The future of money and finance is borderless and digital.”

India

India is considering appointing a capital markets regulator to oversee cryptocurrencies, as authorities look to classify them as financial assets, Bloomberg reported.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which is planning to introduce legislation in the ongoing Parliament session, will give cryptocurrency holders a deadline to declare their assets and fulfil any new rules.

The bill will likely use the term crypto assets instead of cryptocurrency and will not refer to the central bank's plan to create its own digital currency, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Violators can be fined up to 200 million rupees ($2.7 million) or imprisoned for a year and a half, according to the proposals.

The government may also consider setting a minimum investment level for crypto assets to protect small investors, Bloomberg News reported.

Daily Trading

Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency in trading internationally, traded lower on Wednesday, falling by 2.18  percent to $50,126 at 5:37 p.m Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, traded at $4,401, up by 2.38 percent, according to data from Coindesk.


Mine costing $200m to be built in Saudi Arabia after gold and copper discovery: mining chief

Mine costing $200m to be built in Saudi Arabia after gold and copper discovery: mining chief
Updated 11 sec ago

Mine costing $200m to be built in Saudi Arabia after gold and copper discovery: mining chief

Mine costing $200m to be built in Saudi Arabia after gold and copper discovery: mining chief

RIYADH: Gold, copper, zinc and silver has been discovered among 25 million tons of rock near Taif, western Saudi Arabia, by Gold and Mineral Co, a joint venture between global and local partners.

The unearthing of the metals has prompted the company to set out plans for a mine, according to the CEO of Gold and Mineral Co.

“To build a mine, it will cost us and my shareholders $200 million, creating jobs for around 700 people,” Brian Hosking told Arab News on the sideline of the Future Mineral Forum in Riyadh. 

The company expects to start producing in 2025, but will first have to complete the design of the mine that avoids environmental damages and assures local community engagement in the project.

Hosking expects higher demands on copper in the future thanks to its ability to conduct electricity compared to other minerals.

“The lucky thing is that Saudi Arabia has actually got many projects which are possibly for copper,” he said.

He also said he supports measures by the Saudi government to ensure mining is carried out in an environmentally responsible way.

“This is not about zero carbon, this is about that my children and your children have a future on this earth,” he added.

Gold and Mineral Co is a joint venture between the London-listed company KEFI Minerals and Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid and Sons Co., which has a 69 percent stake in the company.


South Korea, GCC agree to resume free trade negotiations

South Korea, GCC agree to resume free trade negotiations
Updated 17 sec ago

South Korea, GCC agree to resume free trade negotiations

South Korea, GCC agree to resume free trade negotiations
  • The free trade agreement between the two sides is expected to “contribute to strengthening the solid economic relations and strengthening the strategic partnership”

DUBAI: South Korea and the Gulf Cooperation Council agreed on Wednesday to resume free trade, with an agreement expected to be reached within six months from the date of the first round of negotiations.

During a meeting between South Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Moon Sung-wook and GCC Secretary-General Nayef Al Hajraf, both parties stressed the importance of “opening wide prospects for trade and industrial cooperation.” 

Both men discussed the challenges facing GCC countries, which prompted them to reduce dependence on oil incomes, enhance non-oil revenues and focus on renewable and clean energy, according to a statement issued by the council. 
The free trade agreement between the two sides is expected to “contribute to strengthening the solid economic relations and strengthening the strategic partnership between us,” the statement added.


TASI edges down amid rising oil prices, lingering omicron worries: Opening bell

TASI edges down amid rising oil prices, lingering omicron worries: Opening bell
Updated 6 min 55 sec ago

TASI edges down amid rising oil prices, lingering omicron worries: Opening bell

TASI edges down amid rising oil prices, lingering omicron worries: Opening bell

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s main stock index, TASI, started the day in the red territory amid lingering omicron-driven fears and higher oil prices, which hit a seven-year high on Tuesday.

As of 10:15 a.m. Saudi time, TASI edged 0.2 percent lower to reach 12,177 points, and the parallel market Nomu was flat at 26,056 points.

Early morning losses were propelled by an adverse performance in Saudi Arabia's financial sector.

The Kingdom’s largest bank by market value, Al Rajhi Bank, fell 0.3 percent.

Shares in the Saudi British Bank, or SABB, Bank Aljazira, and Riyad Bank were down 1.4, 0.5, and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Saudi Aramco opened 0.14 percent lower.

The oil giant signed one agreement and nine MoUs with leading South Korean entities to advance its downstream strategy and support development of low-carbon energy solutions, while creating new financing options for the company.

Tadawul group, owner of the Saudi Exchange, went up to its highest value since listing of SR170 ($45.3), with over SR90 million worth of shares changing hands during early trading.

Shares in Saudi real estate developer Red Sea International Co. gained 1.5 percent, after it signed a SR60.5 million deal with The Red Sea Development Co., TRSDC, to develop three complexes in the Saudi Western region.

Riyadh-based consumer durables and apparel company Thob Al Aseel Co. led the gainers, up 3 percent.

In energy trading, Brent crude reached $87.9, and US WTI crude oil traded at $86 per barrel as of 10:30 a.m. Saudi time.


UK inflation accelerates to near 30-year peak

UK inflation accelerates to near 30-year peak
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Updated 17 min 46 sec ago

UK inflation accelerates to near 30-year peak

UK inflation accelerates to near 30-year peak
  • Economies worldwide are battling against decades-high inflation that is forcing central banks to hike interest rates

British annual inflation accelerated in December to its highest level for almost three decades, official data showed Wednesday, fuelled by price gains for clothing, food and furniture.


The rate hit 5.4 percent last month after striking a decade-high in November on jumping fuel costs, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.


Inflation was last higher in March 1992 when it had stood at 7.1 percent.


Economies worldwide are battling against decades-high inflation that is forcing central banks to hike interest rates, including the Bank of England which last month raised its key borrowing cost.


"The inflation rate rose again at the end of the year and has not been higher for almost 30 years," said ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner.


"Food prices again grew strongly while increases in furniture and clothing also pushed up annual inflation.


"These large rises were slightly offset by petrol prices, which despite being at record levels were stable this month, but rose this time last year."


Fitzner added that last year's Covid lockdowns had impacted some items but the overall impact on headline inflation rate was "negligible".


Saudi Arabia’s US treasury holdings fall to a 5-year low

Saudi Arabia’s US treasury holdings fall to a 5-year low
Updated 41 min 42 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s US treasury holdings fall to a 5-year low

Saudi Arabia’s US treasury holdings fall to a 5-year low

MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia's holding of US Treasuries decreased by $1.5 billion in November to hit $115 billion, the lowest level since January 2017.

The relatively marginal monthly drop followed a bigger decline of $7.8 billion recorded in October driven by a $6.8 billion decrease in short-term U.S. Treasury bills. The $1.5 billion slip experienced in November was driven mainly by the disposal of the long-term U.S. Treasuries from the country's portfolio.

In the group of other oil-exporters, it's worth noting that Norway continued its disposal of treasuries as its holding fell for the second month in row. The country's holding of US Treasuries fell by $4.8 billion in November to $100.2 billion after a much bigger drop of $15.8 billion in October.

The UAE also continued selling its treasury holdings, falling by $5 billion in November after a similar $5.1 billion drop in October. This represents quite a significant share of the country's total UST holding which fell to $48 billion in November from $58.7 billion in August.

In addition, Kuwait's holdings declined by $1 billion in November to $45 billion.

As for China, the world's second largest holder of US Treasuries, its holding grew in November by $15.4 billion to $1.08 trillion.

Japan, the number one holder, increased its US treasuries by $20.2 billion, the second consecutive monthly rise.

Globally, the total holding of US Treasuries by non-US residents increased by $88.8 billion to $7.75 trillion.