In 2017, the South American nation of Venezuela made international headlines when President Nicolás Maduro announced plans to create a new, government-backed cryptocurrency called the Petro. While many observers claimed that the Petro was likely a last-ditch attempt to save the country’s heavily sanctioned, hyper-inflation prone, and rapidly disintegrating economy, the basic idea behind it seemed surprisingly plausible. If cryptocurrencies were the future of finance, after all, why couldn’t a country create its own crypto token?
Today, the idea of major countries introducing state-backed cryptocurrencies and currency-backed stablecoins isn’t even controversial. Many smaller nations have already launched their own state-backed cryptocurrencies — the Marshall Islands’ Sovereign Coin (SOV) and Dubia’s Emcash, for example — but these are clearly experimental pilot programs. When a large country with a substantial GDP decides to fully commit to launching a fully integrated cryptocurrency, however, it could start a sea change in global finance.
That day may be just around the corner. In this post, we’re taking a look at seven countries that have publicly expressed an interest in creating a national cryptocurrency.
1. U.S.A.: In October of 2019, Congressmen Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) and Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) sent a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell asking the central bank to look into the development of a U.S.-backed cryptocurrency. Speaking at a community banking conference in St. Louis on the same day, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker said that a Fed-backed cryptocurrency was “inevitable,” although he noted that it was unlikely to happen in the next five years.
2. Cuba: In July of 2019, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel announced plans to develop a state-backed cryptocurrency similar to Venezuela’s Petro. No further details about the token have been announced, although the token would probably serve the same sanction-avoiding purpose as the Petro.
3. China: The People’s Bank of China has been quietly developing a cryptocurrency-like digital payment system since at least 2017, although few details about the project have been publicly confirmed. Known only as the “digital yuan,” the token is rumored to use a centralized version of blockchain technology, and could launch as early as 2020.
4. Russia: Since 2015 Russian financial authorities have publicly discussed the idea of a “BitRuble” or “CryptoRuble,” even as the country’s lawmakers have attempted to criminalize cryptocurrency transactions and mining. In June of 2019, however, Bank of Russia Chairwoman Elvira Nabiullina confirmed that the central bank is investigating the idea of launching its own token in the next few years.
5. Iran: Much like Venezuela, the oil-rich country of has Iran’s has limited access to the global financial system due to U.S.-backed sanctions. In June of 2019, the Central Bank of Iran revealed plans to roll out a gold-backed “crypto-rial” cryptocurrency token intended for international payments. No launch date for the token has been revealed.
6. Turkey: In July of 2019, the Turkish government released a five-year economic development plan that, among other things, called for the creation of “blockchain-based digital central bank money.” Turkish officials have called for the creation of a so-called “Turkcoin” since 2018.
7. Ukraine: In February of 2019, the National Bank of Ukraine revealed that its blockchain-based digital currency, the “e-Hryvnia,” had completed its first phase of testing. The central bank also strongly emphasized its view that the e-Hryvnia should not be considered a true cryptocurrency, even though it shares many features with peer-to-peer payment tokens.