Macau moves towards implementation of virtual currency

By Violeta Prockyte

Macau government plans to amend its laws to regulate the issuance of a virtual RMB. According to CEO Ho Iat Seng (pictured), the introduction of a digital currency will help combat money laundering and tax evasion. He also maintained that virtual currency is becoming widespread in the global industry, and the city will follow mainland China’s lead regarding the digital RMB. “We will keep communication with the People’s Bank of China and start a feasibility study around launching the digital RMB in Macau,” he said. “Therefore, we need to add provisions in relevant law to allow for the introduction of digital currencies.”

The introduction of the digital RMB was facilitated by the toll the ongoing pandemic has had on the gambling market in the city, which was especially affected by travel restrictions. The government has yet to publish any formal plans on the implementation of virtual currency. And currently, digital currency is active in only six cities in China.

BNN Bloomberg reported that some junkets catering to high-rollers are worried that the digital currency could put an end to the industry, while analysts have yet to fully evaluate the impact virtual currency would have. On one hand, they agree with junket operators that the mandatory digital currency would be a blow to Macau’s casino industry.

However, analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein also noted that in the long term, digital currency could offer easier access to the players. “Digital RMB would allow greater government scrutiny and control over money flows. But it would also allow easier money transfer,” said the analysts. “Mass and premium mass play could surely benefit due to ease of money flow.”


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