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Daily briefing - 28 August 2019

The EU Chamber of Commerce in China (no, we never heard of it before today either) is warning that Chinese authorities are starting to apply China's 'social credit' scoring system to foreign companies. Western journalists writing about China's social credit system seem obliged to offer some comment about Orwell, who they probably haven't read in the first place. "While Beijing has since 2015 assigned new companies a unique code for recording credit scores, and has enlisted tech companies to create a central database of ratings, some analysts say such a system will be slow to emerge. 'The social credit system is still in its infancy and is unlikely to develop into the fully functional, unified, centrally run system many envision by 2020,' said Michael Cunningham of corporate consultancy Control Risks." Turns out that much of this extension of social credit to the corporate world means that companies are largely obliged to follow the law. The tut-tutting about China also eases the gnawing feeling that everything is under surveillance in the West too. Not only have Silicon Valley businesses already built sophisticated global surveillance systems, they have been paying close attention to Chinese operators too. As Fast Company reports, US companies have looked hard at the Chinese-style technologically-driven social credit system and decided they like it and will build out the same thing internationally.

What's happening with Facebook's Libra project? Facebook's Dublin headquarters is hiring people for the Libra team but company spokespeople gave little else away. Telegram, founded by Facebook-of-Russia founder Pavel Durov, is going to shortly deliver to investors the tokens sold in last year's initial coin offering, which raised $1.7 billion for Telegram, the messaging service that's popular in places where WhatsApp in banned. "The messaging app Telegram is planning to send out the first batches of its digital currency, the Gram, within the next two months, according to a New York Times report. A test version of the Gram network will be released within the next two weeks. Gram digital wallets will be made available to Telegram's 200-300 million global users, and Grams will make it possible to buy and sell other goods on Telegram."

In fact, Libra is going ahead full steam, and building up the technology, including partnering with Hacker One to develop a bug bounty. "We are launching this bug bounty now, well before the Libra Blockchain is live," said Dante Disparte, Head of Policy and Communications, Libra Association, in a statement. "Our hope is that people around the world can turn to Libra for their everyday financial needs, so the infrastructure must be dependable and safe. It's important to note that the Libra Blockchain remains in testnet, which is an early-stage version of the code that is far from final. We remain committed to taking the time to get this right and we will not launch the Libra Blockchain until regulatory concerns have been taken into account and required regulatory approvals have been received." The release of the Telegram tokens indicates that the new protocol of value inside messaging is going to be a phenomenal success. Most central bankers and payments regulators have singularly failed to grasp the digitalisation of money, as evidenced by the current panic that the only way out of a ten-year long cycle of negative interest rates is to offer digital central bank currencies.

Stop the press: Adyen and Alipay today announced a partnership. Read more here.

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