Q&A: Bobby Lee, Chinese Bitcoin legend and founder of crypto wallet, Ballet

By Staff Writer

Bobby Lee founded one of China’s earliest Bitcoin exchanges BTCChina which closed down in December 2013 shortly before the Chinese government announced a ban on crypto exchanges. His latest venture is a new crypto hardware wallet, named Ballet. Blockchain Asset Review caught up with him during the Coin Desk Invest: Asia summit in Singapore last month to talk about PBOC digital currency, Facebook’s Libra and the future of cryptos in China and around the world.

Q: What is the current status of cryptocurrency regulations in China?

A: China currently does not allow for exchanges to operate. So, there are no exchange platforms. But people still buy and sell cryptocurrency through OTC channels.

Q: What do you think about PBOC’s proposed new cryptocurrency? 

A: I’m excited to hear about that. When they are going to launch, we don’t know and how it looks like. I’m excited to find out about it. But, essentially what we expect is a stablecoin that is run and created by PBOC issued down to the commercial banks and issued to the users through electronic or digital wallets. It could be sort of like consortium blockchain.

Q: How are people going to use it?

A: If you think about before the cryptocurrency. There are actually two kinds of fiat money. There is a paper and coin version like regular money and the other one is electronic money, which is used in bank transfers, such as VISA Pay & Ali Pay. So, money today already exists in two forms, the physical version and the electronic version. The third form is the digital version. In digital and electronic version, there are several nuances. The electronic version is run on existing infrastructure used by the banks and the digital version is run by blockchain.

Q: Is there a new competition for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or is it going to help accelerate the adoption?

A: I think it will help accelerate the adoption. It will bring awareness among people about cryptocurrency.

Q: What is the difference between Libra and Chinese digital currency?

A: The difference is Libra is not backed by a central bank while the Chinese digital currency is backed by PBOC. So, Libra today is facing a lot of regulatory pressure. The regulators don’t like the fact that Libra and Facebook organization has sort of mastered fiat currency. So, that’s why they are getting pushback from the regulators. So, we will see whether the Federal Reserve will issue a US dollar-backed cryptocurrency.

Q: Do you think Libra will take off?

A: I think Libra is good. Will it get launched? It depends on the regulators. If it gets launched, I think it will take off. It has good potential. But, if it does not get launched, it’s then dead on the tracks.

Q: What are the chances of Libra getting launched now?

A: I don’t know. It’s hard to say it at this point. I think there is a lot of backlash but I keep an open mind.

Q: Can you tell us a bit more about Ballet?

A: It’s a wallet that is meant for everyday person. Ballet is our first physical hardware wallet that has multi-currency support. So, we are very excited!

Q: In China, can you use Ballet as there is a ban on cryptocurrency?

A: There is a ban on cryptocurrency exchanges. Ballet is just a wallet. There is no ban on trading or holding or owning cryptocurrency. A cryptocurrency like bitcoin is private property. We are allowed to own it, trade it and exchange it for goods and services. We are even allowed to sell and buy it.

Q: So now Chinese currency coming to market backed by PBOC, can they put it on Ballet?

A: We don’t know it yet. But, you can put Libra on the Ballet card. Maybe the Chinese government has to sanction the wallets.

Q: What do you think generally happening in the crypto sector and what is the future?

A: There is a lot of speculative trading. It will take some time for it to go mainstream.

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