Tsinghua University PBC School of Finance and Bitcoin exchange Huobi have launched a joint Digital Assets Research Initiative. With this initiative, Tsinghua University joins MIT and technology giants IBM and Samsung as one of the world’s major institutions conducting research and development of blockchain technology, decentralized systems and digital assets.
Founded in 1911, Tsinghua University is one of the nine elite Chinese universities, and it is considered the top institution of higher learning in mainland China alongside Peking University. It describes itself as being dedicated to academic excellence, the wellbeing of Chinese society and global development. Often described as “the MIT of China,” Tsinghua was regarded as the top Chinese university by the 2015 Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings, where it was ranked 26th globally.
The PBC School of Finance at Tsinghua University was founded in 2012, as a joint venture between the University and the People’s Bank of China (PBC), with the mission of promoting excellence in the finance industry and financial regulation through top-notch education and cutting-edge research. In partnership with the central bank and national financial regulators, the PBC School of Finance established the National Institute of Financial Research (NIFR), with the mission of doing top-class research on financial reform and development, and providing policy analysis and advice for financial policymakers and regulators.
Huobi is China’s leading Bitcoin company. With financial backing from Silicon Valley investment firm Sequoia Capital, Huobi operates a Bitcoin exchange and provides services to individual and institutional clients. With a 16.34 market share, the Huobi Bitcoin exchange is one of the most active in the world.
PBC School of Finance Dean Liao Li, PBC School of Finance Vice President and Deputy Party Secretary Zhao Cen, Huobi founder and CEO Li Lin, and other leaders attended the Digital Assets Research Initiative launch event. Li Lin and Liao Li each gave a speech, and Vice President Zhao Cen signed an agreement formalizing the university’s long-term cooperation with Huobi.
The work of the Digital Assets Research Initiative will be jointly conducted by finance and technology experts from Tsinghua University PBC School of Finance and Huobi. It will be hosted at the Tsinghua PBC School’s Internet Finance Research Lab and Huobi will be the official sponsor of the program.
There are evident parallels between Tsinghua University’s Digital Assets Research Initiative and the MIT Digital Currency Initiative, recently launched by the MIT Media Lab to address some of the most critical challenges to creating a safe, stable and secure digital currency and directed by former White House senior adviser for mobile and data innovation Brian Forde. In both cases, a prestigious university with strong ties with the nation’s technical, financial and political establishments takes the lead in the digital currency space, with funding coming partly from the private sector.
It’s important to note that, as revealed by Goldman Sachs’ recent report about the future of money, 80 percent of bitcoin volume is exchanged into and out of Chinese yuan. Therefore, the Digital Assets Research Initiative could influence the positions of the Chinese government on bitcoin and digital currencies.
“Contrary to commonly held belief, the regulatory environment for operating a Bitcoin business in China is actually more accommodating than the United States,” said Huobi product manager Robert Kuhne in a recent interview on CoinReport. “It can’t be said with absolute certainty what the Chinese government policy will be in the future. It is likely that the government will not do anything until Bitcoin grows significantly. Today, Bitcoin’s total global value is a $4 billion U.S. dollars. This does not appear on the radar of Beijing bureaucrats who are responsible for managing the world’s second-largest economy.”
Giulio Prisco is a writer specialized in science, technology and business. He is persuaded that Bitcoin and its underlying technology are about to bring disruptive positive changes to finance, business, and society.