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Saga launches SGA token to rival Facebook's Libra

Myron Scholes

Patrick Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

One blockchain company thinks it has an alternative to Facebook's digital currency proposal.

With an advisory board that includes top economists like Nobel Prize-winner Myron Scholes, U.K.-based firm Saga hopes to introduce a global currency that regulators find agreeable.

The company on Tuesday launched its saga (SGA) token, a virtual currency tied to a basket of currencies in order to maintain a stable value. That's not too dissimilar to Facebook's libra, which was met with a barrage of regulatory opposition moments after being announced. But one key thing that sets it apart from that project is what Saga bases the currency's value on.

Rather than creating a new asset basket like libra's, Saga is pegging its token's value to bank deposits in the same group of currencies that form the International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights (SDR) — these are international reserve assets held by central banks to supplement their official reserves. The basket is heavily weighted in dollars, as well as the euro, Chinese yuan, Japanese yen and British pound.

Another distinction with libra is the fact that Saga won't be profiting from it. It's only acting as an issuer of the token, rather than building its own digital wallet for users to store and exchange it like Facebook is doing with Calibra. The SGA tokens will initially be available to purchase on Saga's website and is being listed on the cryptocurrency exchange Liquid.

"Unlike other players, we don't want to be the issuer and the payments layer and the custodian," Saga founder Ido Sadeh Man told CNBC in an interview. "We're focusing on the monetary part of it, on the issuance of a sound currency for global use, and we will increasingly liaise with partnerships in the realms of custodianship and of payments."

Like libra, SGA features the characteristics of a so-called stablecoin, which seeks ...

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