Saudi Arabia Central Bank Continues CBDC Experimentation

The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) continues to experiment on Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) as it is currently working on a phase of a project that focuses on domestic wholesale CBDC use cases in collaboration with local banks and fintechs. 

This project comes in line with several central banks CBDC initiatives across the globe and as part of SAMA's ongoing research and experimentation on CBDC. During this phase of the project, SAMA seeks to explore CBDC economic impact, market readiness, and potential robust and fast applications of a CBDC-based payment solution. In addition, SAMA seeks to review policy, legal and regulatory considerations before moving to the next phases of the CBDC journey to contribute to achieving the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.

The Governor of SAMA H.E. Fahad Almubarak stated that local banks and payment companies will always be a cornerstone of this project and its implementation, SAMA stated that it has engaged both local banks and fintechs, as well as other market players and third party consulting and technology providers, to gain a better understanding of CBDC's functionality and to test various design options.

SAMA is set to continue with its research on CBDC while consulting with relative international bodies, local government entities and public. Additionally, SAMA will continue to experiment on CBDC solution as an infrastructure enabler of innovation in financial services that has the potential to contribute to a more resilient payment ecosystem and accelerate digital transformation in the local financial sector.

SAMA stresses that although no decision has been made regarding the introduction of CBDC in the Kingdom, it continues to focus on exploring the benefits and potential risks of implementing CBDC. This will contribute to informed decision-making within SAMA and to CBDC explorations within the central banking community.

It is worth noting that SAMA successfully conducted CBDC experiment "Project Aber" in 2019, an initiative in collaboration with the Central Bank of the UAE to examine whether distributed ledger technology could contribute to seamless cross-border payments.


UAE to Bolster Crypto Adoption With Potential Inclusion in Trade

UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi hinted at the inclusion of cryptocurrency in the nation’s trade partnerships and policies in 2023, Watcher.Guru reports. 

Appearing at the 2023 World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, Al-Zeyoudi stressed the importance of global governance in relation to cryptocurrencies and firms.

The foreign trade minister further claims that when the UAE creates its regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies, the focus would be on making the Gulf nation crypto-friendly with standard security. Al-Zeyoudi further said,

We started attracting some of the companies to the country with the aim that we’ll build together the right governance and legal system, which are needed. 

Crypto is the Second Most Widely-Owned Asset Class for Women

According to data sent to Cointelegraph by eToro, crypto is now the second most widely-owned asset class for women, second only to cash. This comes from eToro’s latest Retail Investor Beat, which surveyed around 10,000 global retail investors in 13 countries.

According to the survey results, there is a significant rise in crypto ownership among women. Data shows that ownership increased from 29% in the third quarter of 2022 to 34% in the last quarter. According to the eToro team, this suggests that crypto is “succeeding where traditional financial markets have sometimes failed, " which is by bringing in more women.

While crypto adoption among women has taken flight in the last quarter of 2022, ownership among men only increased by one percent in the same time period. 

CRYPTO Bitcoin climbs above $20,000 first time in over two months

Bitcoin rose on Saturday above $20,000 for first time in over two months, CNBC reports. 

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, rose 4.6% to $20,853 at 01:01 GMT on Saturday, adding $922 to its previous close.

The cryptocurrency is up 26.4% from the year’s low of $16,496 on January 1.

Ether , the coin linked to the ethereum blockchain network, rose 5.91 % to $1,536.9 on Saturday, adding $85.90 to its previous close.

SEC Chair: Crypto Is The ‘Wild West’

Speaking in a Twitter space session hosted by the US Army late Wednesday, SEC Chair Gary Gensler said that the crypto industry is the “wild west,” reports Watcher Guru.

The SEC Chair asked traders and companies to exercise caution because most cryptos are currently “non-compliant” and aren’t adhering to the law. He commented:

Most of these, again, are not complying with the securities laws, but they should be.

Further elaborating on why most tokens will fail, Gensler said:

Most of these 10 or 15,000 tokens will fail. That’s because venture capital fails, new startups fail, but also because history tells us that there’s not much room for micro currencies, meaning, you know, we have the US dollar and Europe has the euro and the like.

Coinbase Fires 20% of its Employees

Coinbase is cutting about a fifth of its workforce as it looks to preserve cash during the crypto market downturn, CNBC reports. 

The exchange plans to cut 950 jobs, according to a blog post published Tuesday morning. Coinbase, which had roughly 4,700 employees as of the end of September, already slashed 18% of its workforce in June citing a need to manage costs and growing “too quickly” during the bull market.

“With perfect hindsight, looking back, we should have done more,” CEO Brian Armstrong told CNBC in a phone interview. “The best you can do is react quickly once information becomes available, and that’s what we’re doing in this case.”

Coinbase said the move would result in new expenses of between $149 million and $163 million for the first quarter. The layoffs, along with other restructuring measures, will bring Coinbase’s operating expenses down by 25% for the quarter ending in March, according to a new regulatory filing. The crypto firm also said it expects adjusted EBITDA losses for the full year to be within a prior $500 million “guardrail” set last year.