Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

China may be taking the lead in the next evolution of money, as representatives of the country's central bank say a state-backed digital currency could be ready this year.

Why it matters: China already is outpacing the U.S. and much of the developed world in mobile payments, and a new digital currency that authorities say would be like cash and accepted everywhere would put China miles ahead in the currency space.

  • The Fed, ECB and numerous other central banks have stepped up efforts to study digital currencies recently but remain years away from being able to produce or regulate them.
  • China also is working to move away from the dollar as the global standard for payments, and a digital currency could provide another avenue for that process. (Its central bank and others have been buying fewer dollars while purchasing historically large quantities of gold for much of this year.)

Agustín Carstens, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, told the Financial Times in June that central banks around the world may need to issue digital currencies sooner than expected because of growing demand and increasing reliance on for-profit banks and the private sector to provide payment options.

What they're saying: “Why is the central bank still doing such a digital currency today when electronic payment methods are so developed? It is to protect our monetary sovereignty and legal currency status,” said Mu Changchun, deputy director of the People’s Bank of China’s payments department, per Reuters. “We need to plan ahead for a rainy day.”

How it would work: China's digital coin would resemble Facebook's Libra, Mu said. As proposed, the Libra would be backed by a reserve of real-world assets, including bank deposits, and overseen by a network of partners through its Calibra blockchain platform.

  • China's digital currency would be available on Tencent's WeChat and Alibaba's Alipay platforms, but would be overseen and issued by the central bank, and could function without an internet connection, Mu said.
  • That would secure the currency in case of emergencies such as a loss of power or if a private company issuing the currency went out of business.

Go deeper

AOC and Ilhan Omar want to block Biden’s former chief of staff

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are boosting a petition against Joe Biden nominating his former chief of staff to a new role in his administration, calling Bruce Reed a "deficit hawk” and criticizing his past support for Social Security and Medicare cuts.

Why it matters: Progressives are mounting their pressure campaign after the president-elect did not include any of their favored candidates in his first slate of Cabinet nominees, and they are serious about installing some of their allies, blocking anyone who doesn't pass their smell test — and making noise if they are not heard.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Butterball CEO Jay Jandrain talks turkey

Butterball estimates that it sells one out of every three Thanksgiving turkeys, but knows that this year's celebrations will be different than years past.

Axios Re:Cap talks with the turkey giant's CEO Jay Jandrain about what people are buying, what they're asking the "Turkey Talkline" and what the pandemic has meant for his business.

Biden introduces top national security team

President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Tuesday at an event introducing the incoming administration's top national security officials, where he told the story of his stepfather being the only one of 900 children at his school in Poland to survive the Holocaust.

What they're saying: "At the end of the war, he made a break from a death march into the woods in Bavaria. From his hiding place, he heard a deep rumbling sound. It was a tank. But instead of the iron cross, he saw painted on its side a five pointed white star," Blinken said.