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How CBDCs Will Transform The World As We Know It

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Over the past couple of years, I have been working with my team at Broxus to develop the infrastructure necessary for central banks to deploy digital versions of their currencies. While we have been doing this work, and other projects have been engaged in similar endeavors, the dialogue around CBDCs has taken on something of a life of its own, colored by misconceptions about what Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) are and their purpose.

At their essence, CBDCs are digital versions of a country’s fiat currency that are pegged at a 1-1 ratio with the original currency. For example, if the US were to release a CBDC, that would be in the form of a digital dollar that is always equal to its fiat counterpart. While CBDCs are related to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, some key distinctions exist.

CBDCs are, by definition, recognized digital legal tender. That means that, unlike other similar digital assets like stablecoins, CBDCs carry the equivalent legal weight as fiat currencies. This is important as one of the main drivers of CBDC expansion is the shift occurring globally to cashless societies. As more societies become increasingly cashless, the current economic infrastructure has struggled to support local and international economies. CBDCs are a potential way of solving these issues.

Much of the disconnect has arisen from many’s perceptions concerning cryptocurrencies, and the association CBDCs have in the public’s eye with cryptocurrencies. The truth is, while cryptocurrencies remain primarily speculative, CBDCs are something else entirely. Here, speculation plays no role. CBDCs, if instituted correctly, would be able to optimize financial systems that have grown outdated and been failing to meet the needs of the world’s most vulnerable demographics from a financial perspective.

While the value of cryptocurrency is often tied to future developments and use cases, with CBDCs, the value is in the here and now. The utility of these digital currencies is something real, something that addresses shortcomings that are palpable around the world right now. I believe that the framework in which we discuss CBDCs needs to change so that ongoing efforts to integrate this technology into the fabric of the world economy may come to fruition.

Related: $465 Million of Robinhood Shares Linked to FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried Are in Question — What Now?

CBDCs and universal basic income

Social security systems of the 19th and 20th centuries have all required the construction of a significant state body to redistribute wealth. These bloated governance structures have generally not been able to adequately assist the people who find themselves in the more vulnerable spheres of society. To address this issue, an experiment was conducted in Finland that sought to provide a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to generally unemployed people. Rather than using a welfare model, benefits were given out in Finland through a €560 direct cash deposit each month. On the one hand, this provided direct support to those in need and, on the other hand, reduced the costs of collecting, accounting and spending funds that run high in welfare programs.

The final results of the Finnish experiment are now in, and the findings are intriguing: the UBI in Finland led to a modest increase in employment, greatly improved results in the material well-being of recipients, and increased positive individual and societal feedback.

CBDCs can be uniquely positioned to improve the performance of Universal Basic Income (UBI) programs. Since most of the launched pilot projects and prototypes for CBDCs are focused on a 0% deposit rate, i.e., a situation where CBDCs are subject to inflation and depreciation, central banks could gain more effective leverage in managing aggregate demand in the economy by collecting taxes and distributing part of them to UBI recipients. By issuing currency in digital form, central banks will be able to radically reduce the costs of the state to ensure the circulation of the national currency and social support for the population.

Related: Regulated Blockchain: A New Dawn in Technological Advancement

Reaching the unbanked

In 2021, according to the World Bank Group, 1.4 billion adults were still unbanked. That is a massive portion of the world’s population, and the failure to provide these people with adequate banking services is likely to prolong poverty cycles and have a stunting effect on global economic growth.

This problem is acute in South East Asia, and a good example of it can be seen in The Philippines, an area that we have focused on in our work. Just over half of the adult population in The Philippines has access to banking services. In a healthy economy, small and medium-sized businesses need access to banking services to thrive. With just over half of the population having access to those services, the Filipino economy cannot flourish, leaving the less affluent to bear most of the brunt.

Related: Crypto vs. Banking: Which Is a Better Choice?

Lowering the cost of money transfers

The lack of banking services has led Filipinos to utilize alternative financial methods and seek work in other countries. Nowadays, remittances from Filipinos working overseas and sending money home account for 10% of the Philippine GDP or roughly 70-80 billion dollars. At the same time, the cost of money transfers is approximately 8-10% of the total amount of the transaction.

Even here, CBDC technology can be effective in improving the situation. As part of our work in CBDC development, we have established a partnership between the Everscale network and DA5, one of the leading authorized direct agents of Western Union in the Philippines. The blockchain remittance service created by Everscale and DA5 will be the first technology in the Philippines capable of speeding up and lowering the cost of this process. As a result, people will no longer have to pay such high fees on their transactions once the service is launched.

The first phase of the partnership will see the launch of Everscale’s new stablecoin, which will be tied to the Philippine peso. After the stablecoin is released, users in the Philippines can immediately exchange fiat for its digital counterpart at industry-low rates. But this is just a stablecoin; if The Philippines were to launch a CBDC, there would be benefits for all sectors of the economy.

The privacy debate

A common argument against CBDCs is their lack of privacy. However, this is only partially true: it can be shown that more centralized systems can allow more privacy than decentralized protocols. The bad privacy properties of Ethereum, in which states are made up of reused addresses, are widely known. In addition, users sometimes use uniquely linked domain names, making their transactions transparent to outside observers.

There is a trade-off when designing decentralized protocols: complete on-chain privacy can lead to an inflation problem within the protocol that cannot be tracked – because the recipient and quantities are not known. A sidechain like Liquid gets around this problem quite simply: no more bitcoins can be created inside the protocol than were received at the input. In a centralized system, one trusted oracle can be provided that determines the boundaries of the issue.

Centralized solutions based on Chaumian e-cash could use more advanced cryptographic methods to hide counterparties and quantities and selectively disclose this information at the request of the parties involved in transactions. In addition, there is no limitation on how privacy-enhancing features can be implemented since they are not bound to decentralized protocols with limited network resources and free space on the blockchain.

Related: Web3, Crypto, Cybersecurity, Rural Fintech: Trends To Look Out For In 2023

CBDCs as a vehicle for real and necessary economic change

The issues above are not going away, and as countries worldwide continue to develop, the people affected by them are likely to continue to suffer. Quite simply, governments have never had the tools necessary to implement adequate benefits programs for those who need them. Now, however, that opportunity is here.

That is the real utility that all of the efforts towards developing CBDCs are based upon, and that should be at the center of the discussion around this new technology.

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Entrepreneurship

10 Things Every Working Woman Should Do This Year

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Self-care has become an all-encompassing term that has strayed from the importance of everyday commodities that keep us in good health and spirits. Though pampering and “treat yourself” moments still have value, here are ten ways to invest in yourself to produce long-lasting, positive results.

Related: 8 Self-Care Tips From Wildly Successful Entrepreneurs

1. Put money into a 401(k)

It’s never too early (or too late!) to start saving for the future. Depending on your employment status, there are different retirement savings accounts. 401(k)s are the most common since these are employer-sponsored and often come with an employer match. However, freelancers also have options, such as a SEP-IRA or a high-yield savings account, to put away extra, tax-free dollars for retirement.

2. Schedule a health checkup

Self-care first includes taking care of your physical health. It’s easy to discredit regular checkups when you’re feeling healthy, but make this the year to get your blood work done. It creates a baseline for your health to identify areas needing improvement or extra attention.

Also, choose areas in your life where you can make small changes. Improving your health doesn’t always mean a drastic overhaul; it may be as simple as drinking more water or adding an extra 30 minutes of exercise to your day.

Related: 3 Key Tips for Optimizing Your Physical Health as an Entrepreneur

3. Review health insurance benefits

Many people with health insurance aren’t sure exactly what it does and doesn’t cover. If you’re unsure, talk with your HR representative or your health insurance provider to get an overview of deductibles, co-payments and other supplemental benefits you may not be aware of. Then, decide if the health care plan makes sense for your current lifestyle.

Are you paying for benefits you don’t use, or do you need additional benefits that aren’t covered? Selecting the right plan will help ensure you have what you need without paying the extra expense for anything you don’t.

4. Ignite your curiosity

Maintaining healthy cognitive functions through new pursuits gives a boost to the brain. Get curious and find what speaks to you. This can be anything from exploring local museums, embarking on different hiking trails, learning a new language or reading more books.

There’s no limit to what you can do, and these activities can ignite more creativity and motivation in your work. While it may be helpful to look to others for inspiration, make them enjoyable so you’ll want to make them a regular occurrence.

5. Prioritize mental health

Mental health has been at the forefront of people’s lives over the past few years, as many have experienced burnout. We often equate productivity with a value that drives us to go beyond our means and leads to anxiety, stress and depression. Take note of your everyday stressors and see how to reduce or eliminate them. Then, replace them with relaxing outlets that allow you to recharge.

There are various ways to prioritize mental health, from practicing positive self-talk to meditation to scheduling an electronics-free day. You may have to try different solutions before you find one that fits.

Related: 5 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health as an Entrepreneur

6. Implement good sleep habits

Consistent sleep is one of the essential factors of good health but one that is often overlooked. For many, it can be challenging to wind down from the workday. Therefore, you must “train” your body to prepare for sleep by getting into a nighttime routine.

Create a sanctuary for yourself to improve your sleep habits. Enjoy a soothing cup of herbal tea, perform a skincare routine, and snuggle in with a good book rather than scrolling through your phone. Additionally, ensure your bedroom is dark and cool for ideal sleep comfort and turn on soothing sounds if it helps lull you to sleep.

7. Try something new

What have you wanted to try but have always held back? Maybe it’s public speaking or contributing to a blog. Whatever “new” has been on your to-do, make a plan, schedule it on your calendar and go for it. It’s common to hold back from these activities due to fear of the unknown or failure, but trying new things helps create confidence and can be the catalyst you need to push you to the next level.

8. Learn to set boundaries

Boundary setting is crucial to relationships yet can be difficult to master. It doesn’t always involve simply saying no to people’s requests. Instead, it requires protecting your own values when people violate them. Setting boundaries may mean spending less time with certain people, removing yourself from toxic situations, or declining invites to events that don’t improve your life. Explore areas where boundaries will help you grow, and keep in mind growth itself is a work in progress.

Related: How to Set Boundaries to Build Thriving Relationships

9. Spend quality time alone

Learning how to enjoy time spent alone is a valuable gift. We are inundated by a false sense of connection through the internet, which often makes us feel lonelier than ever. Then, we overschedule our calendars to make up for human connections, only to feel drained afterward. Slow it down and plan a few solo dates a month to see how it feels to be truly present with yourself.

For those who aren’t used to spending quality time alone, it can feel awkward and uncomfortable initially, but these stem from your own perceptions. Take in a matinee, sit in a coffee shop and read, or enjoy a concert or event you’ve wanted to attend. Alone time has been linked to improved stress management and greater life satisfaction, so it’s worth trying to give yourself more time.

Related: Turns Out, Those Who Like Being Alone Can Be More Creative

10. Get active

Getting active can take on several directions. It can be physical, emotional or spiritual. The point is to engage with people and pursuits that feed your soul. Whether volunteering within your community, setting yourself an exercise goal, or learning more about personal development, there are endless ways to get active and invest in yourself this year.

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Are You a Winner? How to Truly Define Winning in Your Business

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Businesses gauge their performance typically with dozens of goals and metrics. But you can’t do everything at once. The challenge is to get people focused on the one thing that’s most important right now. If it moved in the right direction, it would eliminate a weakness (or capitalize on an opportunity) and improve financial outcomes. You improve that, and you win.

However, not every company clearly defines winning. A catalog of goals can pull the organization in multiple directions and stretch finite resources. Numerous goals can inherently be at odds, working against each other and for conflicting purposes. For example, a cost reduction goal might undermine an innovation goal requiring a significant investment.

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Gen Z Is Making Ugg Boots Fashionable Again: Report

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Ugg boots, the furry, sheepskin boots that defined the 2000s are back, apparently, with spiking interest and Gen Z cachet, according to data from shopping website, Lyst.

The site’s annual quarterly report that highlights the “hottest” 20 fashion brands was released on Thursday, and, as Insider noted, Ugg is on it for the first time since the index began in 2017.

“Gen Z shoppers are breathing new life into once dormant brands … with over 1.2 billion mentions on TikTok — Ugg’s influence is undeniable,” the report notes.

The boots were also sold out of stores during the holidays, it added.

Generation Z, or people born between 1997 and 2012, has demonstrated a penchant for bringing back old technology and trends, from flip phones to “vintage” headphones with cords.

But Ugg boots go back much further — the word “ugg” is actually a general term in Australia that means boots made from sheepskin and fleece, according to the BBC.

The company that created the “UGG” boot, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, is based in the U.S. and has tried and failed to trademark the word in Australia (where a court decided it was a generic word and thus could not be trademarked), the outlet added.

The company says the boots began to gain popularity in California in the 1980s. They were first featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2000 (a huge brand-maker back then) and became “cherished commodities” early in the decade, according to Vogue.

The boots later gained prominence again with a fashion movement that prioritized “ugly” clothes, and have since become an unironic Gen Z favorite, per Insider. Kylie Jenner was also spotted wearing them in November.

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