Even if facial recognition cameras and social credit in China are now well known, one would probably have to be a member of the Chinese One Party to imagine transposing this surveillance into the virtual worlds of metaverses. However, this is indeed the project of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC).
In China, no crypto should escape surveillance
After banning all cryptocurrency exchange platforms between 2017 and 2018, China more recently banned Bitcoin (BTC) mining in June 2021, followed by Ethereum (ETH) mining in late September.
But clearly, what little cryptosphere remains in Xi Jinping’s country seems to be seen as an insult to the Chinese Communist Party’s desire for total (and totalitarian) surveillance.
According to a report in local newspaper ThePaper, the director of the People’s Bank of China’s anti-money laundering unit, Gou Wenjun, has claimed increased scrutiny over any type of cryptocurrency projects.
“We must maintain a constant high level of vigilance, examine the evolution of digital assets and the development of their underlying technologies (…)”.Gou Wenjun, director of the PBoC’s AML fight
Metavers and NFT, a risk of money laundering?
Beyond classic cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum, what worries the PBoC framework are metaverse projects and non-fungible tokens (NFT).
For Gou Wenjun, NFTs and existing objects in metaverses could thus “easily” become money laundering tools for criminals:
“(…) monitoring and analysis of digital asset transactions should be strengthened (…) Banks and payment institutions, as the exchange link between legal tender and digital assets, should authenticate both parties taking part in the [crypto-asset] transaction with real names (…).”Gou Wenjun, director of the PBoC’s AML fight
As always with China, any form of privacy or confidentiality must be done away with, any crypto transaction must be traceable, transparent, and its participants clearly identified.
Usually very autonomous and independent of other countries, China would not hesitate for the occasion to “deepen information sharing and investigative cooperation” with more than 60 foreign financial intelligence agencies, according to this director of the PBoC.
The Chinese regime indeed wants to make a clean sweep of decentralized cryptocurrencies, to prepare for the advent of its own central bank digital currency (MNBC). Moreover, in parallel to its actions to undermine Bitcoin and cryptos, China has launched its seduction operation to introduce its digital yuan.