Facebook Libra Gets Another Competitor: “Venus” by Binance

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Heads turned throughout the cryptoeconomy earlier this year when social media giant Facebook unveiled plans for its Libra stablecoin. Heads are turning again now that the crypto space’s own giant brand, Binance, just revealed its own project Libra-inspired project.

Announced on August 19th as an initiative to create local stablecoins pegged to currencies from around the world, the “open blockchain project” Venus will serve as the foundation for these new regional fiat-pegged digital assets.

Notably, Binance’s Chinese announcement went into further detail than the English one; the Chinese version specifically likened Venus to an “independent and autonomous, regional version of Libra,” a detail that was lacking in the English copy.

The Malta-based exchange said the blockchain initiative would be generally focused on financial independence, namely to “empower developed and developing countries to spur new currencies.” To accomplish that mission, Binance said it wanted to create “new alliances and partnerships with governments, corporations, technology companies, and other cryptocurrency companies.”

The unicorn company noted that Venus wouldn’t be its first stablecoin rodeo and highlighted the work the firm has done through Binance Chain to create reliable on-chain fiat currencies like the pound-pegged Binance BGBP Stable Coin (BGBP). In other words, the exchange feels completely comfortable moving forward on Venus and has the resources and know-how in place to do so.

“Binance will provide full-process technical support, compliance risk control system and multi-dimensional cooperation network to build Venus, leveraging its existing infrastructure and regulatory establishments,” the exchange said.

Binance is planning to launch a project similar to Facebook’s Libra.

We are entering a new world.

One where true competition of digital and fiat currencies rages on across jurisdictions.

Things are going to get very interesting.

— Pomp 🌪 (@APompliano) August 19, 2019

Commenting on the news later, Binance chief executive officer Changpeng Zhao suggested Venus was hardly a death knell for Libra and could actually help pave the way for the Libra’s eventual arrival:

“[We’re] Pushing adoption, yes. Domination, no. Always happy to co-exist. In fact, this should help Libra, if you think about it. Will leave it at that.”

A Tale of Two Announcements

Dovey Wan, a partner at cryptoasset fund Primitive and a Chinese speaker, outlined in the wake of the Venus reveal how its English announcement read like a simple press release while the Chinese version read like a political “manifesto.”

The Binance "Venus" Chinese announcement has much richer context than the English one, if read it side by side, it's a quite a significant difference IMO 🧐

here are some outstanding differences in the Chinese one which is not in the English version, thread 👇👇👇 https://t.co/TEU90cCV5K pic.twitter.com/URU4xFD98K

— Dovey Wan 🗝 🦖 (@DoveyWan) August 19, 2019

To this end, Wan speculated that the Chinese document was aimed directly for Chinese regulators as a “VERY BOLD message.”

“It’s Binance’s dream to break the financial hegemony and reshape the world financial system,” Wan translated from the Chinese.

If Wan’s speculation is on the right track, such a message comes as an interesting time. Rumors and reporting in recent weeks have indicated that China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), has been exploring a digital version of the yuan.

Some of the ensuing chatter — including PBoC officials’ comments on Facebook’s Libra — led some analysts to wonder if the bank would use blockchain technology to underpin a digital yuan. However, new patent applications suggest the project wouldn’t be an actual cryptocurrency.

The Libra Sparked Activity, And We’re All Still Responding

Love it or hate it, the Libra stablecoin got stakeholders inside and outside of the cryptoeconomy considering the cryptocurrency space like never before. From the PBoC to American regulators, many different international bodies have been racking their brains over project.

For example, reporting broke over the weekend that U.S. lawmakers would be visiting with financial officials in Switzerland to discuss the Libra. That’s because Facebook has planned to base Libra’s administrative foundation in the central European country.

What will come of the meeting remains to be seen. But that news and Binance’s Venus are only the latest dominos to drop around Facebook’s stablecoin, though they certainly won’t be the last. It’s possible Venus beats Libra to market just on the basis of Facebook getting slowed down from being so large and having so much regulatory baggage.

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