Uber. Current Affairs - 2019
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After months of speculations and rumours, Facebook has officially announced the details of its new global cryptocurrency called Libra. This Facebook owned cryptocurrency Libra will be launched by social media giant in 2020.
The name Libra is a Roman unit of weight measure. Name is also tries to invoke a sense of financial freedom by using French stem “Lib,” which means free.
Libra: It will let its user to send or receive money and buy things at nearly zero fees. Users can pseudonymously buy/cash out their Libra online or even at local exchange points (ex- grocery stores), and can spend it using interoperable 3rd-party wallet apps or Facebook’s own Calibra wallet.
Objective: The mission behind launching Libra is to enable simple global currency and financial infrastructure to empower billions of people.
Subsidiary Company: Facebook is also launching its Subsidiary Co. called Calibra that will handle its crypto dealings. The Calibra will not share any information with its Parent company Facebook (i.e. will never mingle users Libra payments with your Facebook data) so as to protects users’ privacy so it can’t be used for ad targeting.
Digital Wallet: This new digital currency will be made available through a digital wallet Calibra that will be available in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp,(both owned by Facebook) and also as a standalone app. It is expected to be launch in 2020.
The Libra Association: To spur the adoption of cryptocurrency, Facebook recruited founding members of Libra Association, a not-for-profit organization which oversees development of token, reserve of real-world assets that gives it value and governance rules of blockchain. Libra Association, the crypto’s new oligarchy is based in Geneva, (Switzerland) and will meet biannually.
Libra Association council: Each founding member will pay minimum sum of $10 million to join and optionally become a validator node operator and gain 1 vote in Libra Association council. Each member (including Facebook/Calibra) will only get up to 1 vote or 1% of total vote (whichever is larger) in LAC.
Companies’ part of this association include: Uber, PayU, PayPal, Spotify, ebay, Lyft, Visa, Vodafone etc. They will promote open-sourced Libra Blockchain and sign up businesses to accept Libra for payment and will also give customers discounts or rewards.
The Libra currency: A Libra is a unit of Libra cryptocurrency which is represented by ≋ (a three wavy horizontal line). The Libra value is meant to stay largely stable, so that it stays a good medium of exchange, and merchants can also have confidence that they won’t be paid a Libra today that’s then worth less tomorrow.
Libra- A Stablecoin: Libra’s value is attached to a basket of bank deposits and short-term government securities for stable international currencies, such as dollar ($), pound, euro, Swiss franc and Japanese yen.
The Libra Association manages reserved that keep value of libra stable. It maintains basket of assets and can also change balance of its composition if necessary to offset major price fluctuations in any one foreign currency so as to keep value of a Libra consistent.
Libra Blockchain: Libra is maintained by nodes which are servers that help operate blockchain. Every Libra payment is permanently inscribed into Libra Blockchain which is a cryptographically authenticated database that acts as public online ledger and designed in a way to handle 1000 transactions/second. It would faster than other cryptocurrency, Bitcoin’s7 transactions/second or Ethereum’s 15 transactions/second. The founding members of Libra Association (each invested $10 million or more for say in Libra’s governance) will constantly verify blockchain and will have the ability to operate a validator node.
Other Cryptocurrency: Existing cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum were not properly engineered to scale to be a medium of exchange which made their unanchored price susceptible to huge and unpredictable swings further making it tough for merchants to accept as payment. But with Facebook’s deep relation with 7 million advertisers and 90 million small businesses and its user experience prowess, it is well-poised to tackle this problem.
The government is likely to introduce the Commercial Space Activities Bill in the budget session. The government has said in Lok Sabha that “Steps are being taken so that the Bill could be possibly introduced during the Budget session 2019”.
Features of the Space Activities Bill, 2017
The Space Activities Bill, 2017 is aimed at regulating space activities to ensure peaceful exploration and use of outer space. The important features of the bill are:
- The bill provides for a non-transferable licence to be provided by the Central Government to any person carrying out commercial space activity.
- The bill empowers the Central Government to formulate the appropriate mechanism for licencing, eligibility criteria, and fees for the licence.
- The Central Government would be required to maintain a register of all space objects (any object launched or intended to be launched around the earth) and develop space activity plans for the country.
- The Central Government would ensure safety requirements and supervise the conduct of every space activity of India and investigate any incident or accident in connection with the operation of space activity.
- The Central Government would share details about the pricing of products created by space activity and technology with any person or any agency in a prescribed manner.
- The bill provides for penal provisions if any person undertakes any commercial space activity without authorisation they shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or fined more than Rs 1 crore or both.
- The bill requires licensed entities to carry out operations in a manner that prevents the contamination of outer space or damage to the earth’s environment.
Shortfalls of the Bill
The criticisms against the bill are:
- The bill falls short in addressing the space-based activities separately.
- The bill tries to cover large swaths of the space value chain in one go. This would make the regulatory environment clumsy.
- The definition of space activity is ambiguous. The current definition puts every space object under its ambit; even hardware that carries GPS receivers could require a license.
- The bill will adversely affect the navigation services provided by companies such as Google Maps, Ola and Uber.
The bill had received responses from the public, Indian aerospace industry, related start-ups, space law experts, scholars, satcom companies and scientists. The government is in the process to address the concerns expressed by the stakeholders.