Is bank blockchain interest sign of Taiwan crypto pivot?
In a swearing in ceremony yesterday, the new head of Taiwan’s central bank, Yang Chin-long, in comments focusing in part on the risks to emerging markets from a shift in policy at the US Federal Reserve and worries about the size and volatility of capital movements, said fintech, and in particular blockchain, could play a part in improvements to bank operations.
“We will adopt artificial intelligence technologies and big data analysis to better predict and analyse global economic conditions,” Yang said. “We will be open to innovations and study how fintech development could later influence the whole financial industry,” said Yang.
He went on to say that the central bank – in common with many others around the world – will start experimenting with blockchain technology to see how it might be used to strengthen both the security and efficiency of bank operations.
Yang, 64, has worked at the bank since 1984, having joined as an economic researcher. He holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Birmingham in the UK.
Taiwan set up a regulatory sandbox environment in 2017 with the passing of the Financial Technology Experimentation and Innovation Act to allow financial institutions to develop blockchain solutions.
In early February vice-president Shih Jun-ji called for stronger regulation of cryptocurrencies in the country so that a possible collapse in the price of cryptos would not have a knock-on effect on the wider economy.
Taiwan has been mulling a bigger move into the crypto space in response to the banning of initial coin offerings in South Korea and China and the shuttering of exchanges by Beijing. The central bank’s turn to blockchain may be an indication of the intentions of the government to make the country crypto-friendly in the same way that Japan has.
Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC is thought to be considering expanding its footprint in the crypto-mining world with the development of ASIC (application specific integrated circuits) chips, a market currently dominated by Chinese manufacturers.
ASICs were developed specifically to mine bitcoin but elsewhere in crypto GPU chips are still widely used and favoured chips from Nvidia have double in price on re-sale markets in recent weeks because of supply shortages.
In the third quarter of the 2017 financial year TSMC captured revenue of up to $400 million from miners, according to the company’s joint chief executive Mark Liu.