Macau explores use case for Chinese CBDC

Macau may be closer to adopting China’s state-backed cryptocurrency than ever before, based on a new report provided by Bloomberg.

The goal of bringing the central bank digital currency (CBDC) online in the special administrative region would be to tackle money-laundering and curb casino and gambling-related frauds.

Macau’s government has confirmed that it would work with China’s central bank to study the feasibility of issuing a CBDC and its implications. This new position is a U-turn from a statement Macau sent back in December 2020, when regulators said they would not get involved in the e-yuan.

In fact, Bloomberg released a similar report in 2020 and argued that China is actively looking to introduce the digital currency for the exact same purposes, something that authorities denied at the time. Back when the first hint about a CBDC was dropped, this led to a flurry of contrasting opinions.

On the one hand, Sanford C. Bernstein analysts argued that a digital currency could potentially tank the junket system or destroy it completely, causing potential financial ruin for this gambling segment. On the other, there have been calls for more government scrutiny to make sure that gambling operations stay above water.

Stakeholders, though, have all agreed that making the gambling industry “too clear” would possibly mean ending it, as companies and individuals would be scared to act under penalty of prosecution from mainland authorities.

Even today, China is ramping up the effort it puts in prosecuting individuals whom it suspects of being involved in cross-border gambling, and specifically organizing it.

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Updated: 04/16/2021 — 12:00